Rider: Daryl Ecklund
Location: Los Angeles County Raceway
Bike: 2009 KTM 450SXF
Date: July 24, 2008
Photographer: John Basher
Camera: Canon 30D
Lens: 70-200mm f/2.8
Focal length: 90mm
Exposure: 1/1000 sec.
F-stop: 2.8
ISO: 400



Photo by Brian Converse

“I was initially in front of Kenny [Roczen] in one of the motos, but he blew by me like I was standing still. This week [Justin] Barcia and I swapped moto finishes, and I feel like I really earned third overall. The class is stacked. I don’t want to make this sound disrespectful by any means, but I think that I just wanted it more than Barcia. He just backed off and gave me third in the second moto.”

Click here to read the interview.


This week’s featured two-stroke was an easy choice. How often do you see a KX500 thrown into a KTM 250SXF chassis? Darr Riggert’s build is along the lines of a Service Honda creation. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, folks, the KX/KTM union tells a story. If pictures aren’t your thing, read below for an explanation from the man himself on what went into the build.

“Here’s my 2007 KTM 250SXF chassis with a 2002 Kawasaki KX500 two-stroke engine grafted in. I powder coated the frame and swingarm after the modifications were made. The pipe is a Pro Circuit made for a Honda CR500 with the KX head manifolded welded on it. That’s because I couldn’t find a lowboy KX500 pipe, so I built my own version. The silencer is from Pro Circuit and has a spark arrestor. I cut four inches out of the muffler but kept the spark arrestor. I also used Tusk Impact wheels. Riley at DeCal Works helped me with the Dungey “KTX” graphics. I built the engine with new cases. There’s also a new cylinder, which is ported and moved the water outlet. I also put in a new crank. Works Connection titanium footpegs, Moto-Master rotors, Cycra plastics and skid plate, and I put on a whole bunch of other stuff I don’t remember right now! Thanks for featuring my bike.”~Darr Riggert, Action Auto Body

If you would like your bike to be featured in the “Two-Stroke Spotlight,” please email me at All I ask is that you give a breakdown of your bike and a detailed description of the thing. Please also send a few photos of your steed. By submitting your bike for the “Two-Stroke Spotlight,” you agree to release all ownership rights to the images and copy to MXA. Please don’t email me spam or try selling me beachfront property in Arizona. Happy submitting your smoker!


Yamaha kept the 2010 YZ450F hush hush for months, although the motocross industry was buzzing with rumors about the radically new 450 four-stroke. As is the case with most hearsay revolving around motocross bikes, there was a kernel of truth amid a bunch of crazy speculation. The 2010 YZ450F didn’t come with an electric starter or hydraulic clutch. What it did have was far more impressive. Yamaha wasn’t the first manufacturer to reverse a motorcycle engine or embrace the centralization of mass theory; however, they committed fully. Big Blue obviously still believes in the benefits of down draft fuel injection, the snake pipe and a reverse cylinder, as evidenced by the 2017 YZ450F which has those design characteristics.

Around August of 2009, Tim Olson–then the Yamaha Media Relations Manager–wheeled two bikes into MXA’s warehouse. Cloaked in dark cloth, the 2010 YZ450F was still under embargo. Anyone who agreed to see the bike also agreed to sign their life away. Yamaha didn’t want the secret getting out (even though someone infiltrated Yamaha in Japan and took photos of the YZ450F blueprints and uploaded them to the world wide web a month prior). As for the reason why Yamaha brought two bikes into MXA’s studio, the marketing team decided to have key areas of a YZ450F cut apart. The cutaway revealed the new technological aspects. Yamaha also had a race-ready YZ450F, although that bike didn’t interest the MXA wrecking crew as much as the cutaway bike. It was so cool, in fact, that we just had to feature it on the November 2009 cover.


Cycra Racing KTM 350SXF with KYB fork internals.

On Thursday alone, separated by 2400 or so miles, the MXA gang tested four bikes. Jody and Dennis Stapleton were at Glen Helen, while Daryl Ecklund and I were in North Carolina with the Cycra Racing and FTI Suspension guys. Daryl flew to the “Tar Heel State” on Wednesday. I picked him up in Charlotte and drove north to Greensboro. The next day we drove to North Carolina Motorsports Park in Henderson to test ride a Cycra Racing 2016 KTM 350SXF and Brewer Cycles 2016 Kawasaki KX250F.

It had been a long time since Daryl and I had done a photo shoot together. Needless to say, there was some ring rust that needed to be knocked off before we began jiving. Fortunately, less than ten minutes into the shoot Daryl remembered how to blast a turn while I started getting Daryl in focus. The next two hours were pure magic, just like a Steven Spielberg flick. We laughed and cried together. I yelled at him every time he blew out a corner. Daryl got revenge by roosting me with dirt. All in all a fun time.

“Did you get the shot? That’s the only time I’m doing it, and I can’t do it any better.”–Daryl Ecklund

What of the bikes? We tested a Cycra KTM 350SXF that Cal Northrop from FTI Suspension took the WP internals out and replaced with KYB SSS internals. Never had I ridden a KTM with such plush suspension (although, truth be told, I missed out on riding the ESR KTM WP forks that were praised by Jody and Daryl last year). FTI Suspension’s mod turned the KTM into a smooth riding machine. The spring rate was rather soft for our tastes, so Cal installed stiffer springs for the following day’s test session. Stiffer springs made a big difference, especially when slapping down the front end off jumps or barreling into braking bumps. The forks remained plush, but held up better initially. If I were a KTM owner I would have no doubts about replacing my WP 4CS internals with KYB SSS units.

Brewer Cycles 2016 Kawasaki KX250F.

Daryl and I also tested a Brewer Cycles Kawasaki KX250F that was built specifically for B class rider, Kobe Heffner, to ride at Loretta Lynn’s. The bike was a rocket ship. Practically every part of the top end was massaged or modified. Add in Ohlins A-Kit suspension and you have the recipe for a successful racing machine. I’ve had the fortune of testing several high-powered KX250F race bikes in the past, including Ryan Villopoto’s MXDN-winning 2007 KX250F and an assortment of Pro Circuit bikes. The Brewer Cycles bike was impressive, given that it was made for an amateur rider. Daryl and I mentioned to Tyler Brewer, Vice President of Brewer Cycles, that the engine could stand more overall power to ensure that Heffner nailed a few holeshots at Loretta Lynn’s. Tyler took our constructive criticism by going back to the shop and having the engine ripped out. Apparently Brewer Cycles is going to have the bottom end gone through. That’s commitment to the cause.

Ecklund churned up the North Carolina Motorsports Park soil on the Brewer Cycles KX250F. The bike was blessed with an abundance of power and great suspension. 

On Friday, Daryl and I journeyed to Lake Sugartree in Axton, Virginia. For those born in early 1990s, Lake Sugartree was a famous staple on the AMA National circuit. Run by Gary Bailey and used as David Bailey’s old stomping ground, Lake Sugartree is a picturesque facility that winds around a lake. Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided to dump two inches of rain on Axton Thursday night, effectively washing out the main track. It wasn’t a big deal, as track manager, Ryan Smith, fired up some heavy equipment and disced up a turn track. As the sun began to peek out Ryan turned his attention to the stadium Supercross track. The red clay turned over nicely, and before long both tracks were buzzing with activity.

Cycra Racing Yamaha YZ250.

Daryl and I weren’t worried about the conditions, because we were too busy drooling over a Kevin Windham replica 1998 Yamaha YZ250 two-stroke. The YZinger was a 2014 model, replete with retro graphics and a color scheme from nearly two decades ago. It brought back fond memories. Daryl felt right at home on the YZ250–a bike that hasn’t really changed since Bush was in office–evidenced by the corner speed that oozed from a confident throttle hand.

As the sun bored down and the humidity kicked up, it was finally my turn to ride. That’s how it goes. Truth be told, I’m not a 250 two-stroke fan. I love 125 two-strokes to death, because they’re lightweight and have predictable powerbands. In my tenure at MXA I’ve spent the least amount of time on 250 two-strokes. They’re just not my bag, baby. I should have expected to feel like a fish out of water when I jumped on the Cycra YZ250. I rode like a spode who gets beat by every other spode. The bike was good, just not good for me. I parked it and moved on to the Cycra KTM 350SXF. That bike turned my frown upside down, and all was well again.

You can’t find dirt like that in SoCal, or any green foliage for that matter.

If you’re looking for full tests on the KTM 350SXF, Kawasaki KX250F and Yamaha YZ250, you’ll need to be patient. Copy is coming down the pipeline, and the tests should start showing up as early as the October issue. For more information on these bikes, take a look at, and


The last time Lake Sugartree held an AMA 125/250 National was in 1991. Mike Kiedrowski won the 125 class on a factory Kawasaki, while Jeff Stanton captured the 250 class on his factory Honda.
Seeing the downhill right-hand first turn start will send a chill through any motocross racer’s bones. This photo fails to illustrate the humidity in the air. You could cut through the moisture with a dull butter knife. That’s part of Lake Sugartree’s charm in the summer months (and one of the reason why tough guy Jeff Stanton won there). How’s that for an old sign? The far section of the track has a long straightaway with big jumps. It was too bad Mother Nature rained down on Virginia the night before we were set to launch these beauties.



After taking his first career 250 National moto win at High Point, Rockstar Husqvarna’s Zach Osborne is ready for more. Since the 2016 series has moved eastward, Osborne’s finishes have improved. Now with another podium at Red Bud, Osborne is hovering around the top five in the standings. We caught up with Zach after his third overall at Red Bud to hear more.

By Anna and Jim Kimball
Photos by Scott Mallonee

Zach, it seems that you have found your groove since the Nationals moved east. Why?
I struggled somewhat at the first few rounds in California. I don’t know if it was due to bike setup or simply me not being ready, but it just seems like when the series moves east I catch a little more fire. I do better when the tracks are deeper and rougher. I know that I have the fitness, and know that I can pass guys deep into the motos. I always look forward to the tracks moving east, but it stinks to have lost so many points in California.

You were really strong at the end of the motos at Red Bud and had the speed to win. What’s it going to take for you to win an overall?
In the second moto I think that I started around 15th and worked my way into second, and was only a second or two off the win. I won that moto at High Point, and I know that I can win some more. I just need to put myself into better position from the gate drop.

Describe the feeling of winning a moto at High Point.
Getting that win was huge for me. I started the first lap around fifth and worked my way up to win the moto. It was a great feeling, and definitely a step in the right direction.

You’re in your second year on the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team. Were there any teething problems after signing with the team?
It was a big adjustment at first with racing a Husqvarna, but we started to gain some good momentum at the end of last year. We got another new bike this year, and it really seemed to help all of us a whole lot. I feel like we will have more of an advantage going into next year, as the bike will not likely change that much. We already have a lot of good base settings, and hopefully we can carry the momentum that we have into next year.

Are you looking at the point standings now? Cooper Webb has moved into the lead and has a slight advantage, but the rest of the top five are not too far apart.
It’s all still up in the air, and it’s only halfway into the series. I am fifth in points, but I am definitely not out of it. As you saw at Red Bud, a lot can happen. I’m not very far out of third. I have my eyes set on a couple guys and I need to make some things happen pretty soon. Right now I need to focus on my starts. I think my average first lap position has been around 13th or 14th. To be getting the finishes that I have been getting with poor starts has been pretty good. If I could just start in the top five it would be a huge help. I want to win more motos.



Photo by Scott Mallonee

“I had a little incident this week so I’ve been super sore. I got rear ended by a drunk driver on Monday, and was in the hospital. So it’s been a tough week for me. I really didn’t know if I was going to race, and just decided to come and do my best. I ran out of tear offs during the first moto and wasn’t able to put a good race together. I had a better start in the second moto and dug deep to finish seventh, despite a lot of cramping. I’m just thankful that I’m okay and was able to race. I’m really looking forward to racing next week at Southwick. Hopefully I don’t get rear ended again this week.”


What would you do if you saw the #2 behind you?


The people and things that inspired the 1982 National and Supercross Champion

Donnie Hansen (right) and Johnny O’Mara (headband). 

“My dad used to race scrambles and flat track in the 1960’s. He got me into riding when I was seven. Then when I was 13, I raced both scrambles and flat track for a few years.”

“Ron worked in construction and had a lot of money, but he wanted to help someone out in racing. He wanted to work with me, but the deal was that I had to race motocross. I borrowed a Yamaha 250, won my first race, and he liked what he saw. Ron basically gave me a factory ride in motocross right away, because he gave me new bikes every three or four months. Sadly, he passed away.”

“I had a lot of respect for Dave Arnold, who was my team manager at Honda, and Roger DeCoster, who was the team consultant. Between those two guys, they really inspired me. We did a lot of testing together, and fortunately we also did a lot of winning together. In a short period of time, we accomplished a lot.”

“Brian was the only mechanic that I had. He worked his tail off to take me riding, and we went to local races together even though he wasn’t required to go. Brian helped me stay on top of my game and he contributed a lot to my success.”

“Hannah was a tough guy, and I know that his work ethic made him who he was. Mark Barnett also pushed me to do better, because he was one of my main competitors and I wanted to beat him. He also had a tremendous work ethic, just as Bob Hannah did.”

“Watching my son Josh ride around a track really inspires me. He is so talented. When I watch him and the way that he flows around the track, it really blows me away. He is a great inspiration to me.”

“I believe that I inspire my wife. There are things that I do where she lets me know how proud she is of me. Other than that, I think I inspire the kids that I teach at my riding schools. A lot of kids want my autograph after they take my classes, which is pretty nice.”



An ongoing list of the top qualifiers and holeshot winners from each round of the 2016 Lucas Oil AMA 250/450 Nationals.

Photos by Scott Mallonee


Hangtown…Eli Tomac
Glen Helen…Eli Tomac
Lakewood…Eli Tomac
High Point…Jason Anderson
Muddy Creek…Christophe Pourcel
Red Bud…Christophe Pourcel


Hangtown…Joey Savatgy
Glen Helen…Cooper Webb
Lakewood…Jeremy Martin
High Point…Zach Osborne
Muddy Creek…Adam Cianciarulo
Red Bud…Adam Cianciarulo


Hangtown…Cole Seely / Ryan Dungey
Glen Helen…Trey Canard / Ken Roczen
Lakewood…Ken Roczen / Trey Canard
High Point…Ken Roczen / Justin Barcia
Muddy Creek…Cole Seely / Broc Tickle
Red Bud…Justin Bogle / Justin Bogle


Hangtown…Joey Savatgy / Jessy Nelson
Glen Helen…Tristan Charboneau / Jeremy Martin
Lakewood…Cooper Webb / Adam Cianciarulo
High Point…Jeremy Martin / Adam Cianciarulo
Muddy Creek…Adam Cianciarulo / Shane McElrath
Red Bud…Austin Forkner / Shane McElrath

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