Rider: Ben Robinson
Location: The GOAT Farm
Date: November 17, 2016
Photographer: John Basher
Camera: Canon 5D Mark III
Lens: 70-200mm f/2.8
Focal length: 200mm
Exposure: 1/1000 sec.
F-stop: 4.5
ISO: 500


Ricky Carmichael has a motocross track, with a fast lap time in the 2:10 range. The dirt is a mix of clay and sand. This is the exact spot where Ricky trained when he completed two undefeated outdoor seasons.

Suzuki and Ricky Carmichael teamed up for the fifth annual Suzuki Camp Carmichael this past week. The top ten 250/450 Suzuki contingency earners and top ten 85cc Suzuki racers were invited out to Ricky’s Farm for a riding clinic by the GOAT himself. Thursday was dedicated to the big bike riders. Ricky opened the day with a rider’s meeting. Following that was a 15-minute free riding session to learn the track, which included quite a few sizable doubles and Ricky’s signature step-up. Once the free practice concluded Ricky gathered the riders up and began working sections of the track. Carmichael focused on body positioning, carrying momentum, braking and line selection. Listen up, folks. He didn’t stress on jumping whatsoever. As Ricky put it, “Rarely did I lose a race because I didn’t do a jump. I won because I could corner better than my competition.” That ‘jump for show, corner for dough’ mentality netted Ricky millions.

Ricky explains starting technique to a group of youngsters. 

Suzuki Camp Carmichael isn’t a cake walk. Ricky had riders do sections until he saw improvement. If the invited guests weren’t producing there was H E double hockey sticks to pay. I felt bad for them until I realized they were getting an exclusive opportunity to learn from the best motocross racer ever. After a catered lunch, the riders met inside Ricky’s cabin for an hour-long question and answer session. Most riders were focused on training and sponsorship advice. The session concluded after a rider asked Ricky what was going on with RCH Suzuki in 2017. Ricky was brief in stating that there’s no news to report. With that, the top ten Suzuki contingency earners headed back out to the motocross track. The afternoon consisted of more drills and ended with a free riding session as the sun dipped down below the tree line.

Carmichael likes to get in the mix and challenge his pupils. Imagine having Ricky breathing down your neck.

The next day followed with the same general schedule, only with the 85cc racers. That group includes three of Suzuki’s top Amateur riders–Crockett Myers, Nikko Capps and Casey Cochran. It was interesting to see how Carmichael tweaked his program to accommodate the younger riders. He was reasonably more forgiving with them. However, young and old were cheered on by Ricky regardless of skill level. His interaction among the group was equal and fair. Having gone through a few Ricky Carmichael Universities myself, I can vouch for Ricky’s teaching chops. He’s more than a glorified cheerleader or time keeper. Everyone who attends a Carmichael training session should learn something from the experience.

Click here to find out more about Suzuki Camp Carmichael. If you’re not a Suzuki rider but have interest in attending a riding camp at the GOAT Farm, click here.


The 250/450 Suzuki riders await instructions from Carmichael.

Parents watch their kids do drill during the second day. The Suzuki product demo semi showed up on Friday. Riders were allowed to demo the 2017 Suzuki motocross models on Saturday’s open practice.

A mother documents the action from Suzuki Camp Carmichael.

One of the drills consisted of weaving through cones, riding over a plank, riding up on another and stopping, followed by riding to a cone and stopping.

Once the riders stopped at the final cone, Ricky’s agent JH Leale (yellow shirt) counted how many seconds each rider could balance for before touching the ground. The record was six seconds. 

Ricky Carmichael the cheerleader.

Ricky had some fun demonstrating a corner exercise while wearing another rider’s open-face helmet. Leale (background) wasn’t too happy, given that Carmichael is contractually obligated to wear a Fox helmet with Monster Energy logos.  

To make JH and Ricky’s sponsors happy, here’s a photo of Ricky’s actual helmet. Don’t sweat it, JH. 

Carmichael over his signature step-up double during golden hour.

Suzuki race manager Chris Wheeler is a rare mix of talent. As an ex-Pro, longtime Suzuki test rider, working in management and now controlling the direction of Suzuki’s race program, Wheeler in a jack of all trades. He even took time to break in a few 2017 Suzuki demo bikes. As for the gear, Wheels came unprepared to Suzuki Camp Carmichael, so I let him borrow my set. As a past MXA photo rider, Chris felt right at home blowing up berms. Carmichael gave him the name “The Berminator.” 

Crockett Myers–Suzuki Amateur 85cc program.

Casey Cochran–Suzuki Amateur 85cc program.

Nikko Capps–Suzuki Amateur 85cc program.


The big problem with sinking time and money into a project build, but it a two-stroke or four-stroke, is that it consumes you. I’ve gotten way in over my head several times, only escaping because Jody was getting on me about writing the bike report. Heck, my buddy Mark Chillzone, who has a cherry Kawasaki KX125, has been working on his bike for years. He’s gone so far as using the excuse of having surgery to keep from getting his bike dirty. Just kidding, Mark. Or am I? The point is, bike builds can take over your life. I’m not saying that Alex Kenison is stuck in that trap, but after hearing about his YZ250, one has to wonder. And you know what? I’m happy for the guy, as are Pro Circuit and Ride Engineering! Moto heads like Alex keep the lights on at various aftermarket companies. Without further ado, Kenison explains his 2013 YZ250 build.

“I’m writing you after seeing my buddy Danny Williams’ bike in your Two-Stroke Spotlight. Danny and I have been building our bikes up at the same time and helped each other along the way. My current setup is a 2013 Yamaha YZ250 that I uncrated in my shop, stripped down before it ever got fully assembled, and greased everything. The first things to go on were a Pro Circuit Works pipe and R304 silencer. It also immediately got Renthal 997 Twinwalls, Moto Tassinari VForce 3 reeds, ASV C6 levers and pro perch, Ride Engineering steel braided lines, a Braking Batfly 270mm rotor and a complete SDG seat.

“After that I laced up a set of Pro Wheels to factory hubs and spline drive spokes, and sent my suspension out for a Race Tech revalve a few months later. In 2014, after turning my front wheel into an octagon, I got some Excel A60s that I laced up to my stock hubs. The winter of 2014 things got a little crazy. I stripped it down to the frame and sent the frame, swingarm, subframe, triple clamps and hubs out for powder coating. I also sent out my suspension to Odi at Feal Suspension to have his ‘Privateer package’ done to my suspension. All of the parts were stripped and re-anodized a factory brown, and other miscellaneous parts red. Then I rebuilt everything with Pivot Works bearings. I ordered up some black spokes from Dubya, and a few other little odds and ends, as well as a fresh piston and new Pro Circuit Works pipe and carbon silencer. I sold my first pipe to Danny. I picked up some custom DeCal Works kits for this bike and a matching kit for my Kawasaki KX125. I threw on the Restyled front and rear fenders and side panels.

“For 2015 I only got to put about 12 hours on the bike after doing all that work due to a busy construction season. Over the winter in 2015 I sent my cylinder out to Eric Gorr and had him touch up some porting and reshape the dome in the head. He then matched that up with a Rekluse Torque Drive clutch. I also picked up a Ride Engineering billet caliper and WR master cylinder. All I can say is wow! Unfortunately, this year I only got to put in about 10 hours, as working 65 to 70 hours for six days a week doesn’t allow for proper bike prep and ride time.” 

Please keep those submissions coming. 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 build. 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 Taylor Swift concert tickets or email me spam. I already celebrate T-Swizzle’s entire collective, and there will be “bad blood” if you send me junk mail. See what I did there? Happy submitting your smoker.


After weeks of phone calls, emails and trips to JGRMX, my project 2017 Yamaha YZ250F is complete. I spared no expense in the build; well, I didn’t splurge and get titanium bolts, a carbon fiber tank and subframe, or a fully modified engine. Everything else, from the KYB Factory Kit suspension to the Dubya wheels, FMF titanium/carbon exhaust, Hinson clutch, high-compression piston, titanium valves, Xtrig triple clamps, Pro Pegs titanium footpegs and more was used in the project.

What’s the end goal? Believe it or not, it wasn’t to spend thousands of dollars. Fair warning, I didn’t spend a dollar on the build. Instead, a bunch of specialty aftermarket companies and my buddies in JGRMX’s retail department hooked me up. That fact must be clear, because I’m not trying to pull any punches. I chose parts based on what I thought would be best for the YZ250F. The objective was to make a 2017 Yamaha YZ250F that has more horsepower than the class-leading Husqvarna FC250; broader brakes and clutch than the KTM 250SXF; broader power than the Kawasaki KX250F; and cornered better than the Suzuki RM-Z250. Of course, some of these targets are nearly impossible to reach without frame geometry changes and a complete engine overhaul. Keep in mind that my number one rule was that I don’t run race gas.

Did I succeed? I’m not sure yet, because I’m not testing the bike until Wednesday morning (and the Mid-Week Report goes live every Tuesday night at 7:03 pm PST). On paper, the modifications should make a difference. I didn’t need to do much to the 2017 Yamaha YZ250F, as it’s already a great bike. The YZ250F won MXA’s 250 Four-Stroke Shootout the last two years (2017 results will be released in the January 2017 issue). Check back next week for a full report, including action photos from ClubMX’s Front track.



[Press Release]

Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., is proud to announce that its bLU cRU Supercross/Motocross/Off-Road Racing Contingency Program returns for 2017 with several new enhancements, including a total payout of $4.6 million for the highly popular rider support program.

“Last year, registration for the Yamaha bLU cRU Contingency Program was up over 13%, with more than 4,000 Yamaha off-road racers participating in the Program,” commented Keith McCarty, Motorsports Racing Division Manager for Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. “And, with the Program enhancements and additional support we’re adding for next year, we expect that number to grow even larger in 2017.”

For 2017, Yamaha Contingency support has been extended to bLU cRU riders competing in three additional motocross series–including the AMA District 34 Ultimate Series, Junior Moto-X Indoor Amateur Motocross, and the Ohio “Buckeye Series”– and two additional off-road racing events–including the Full Gas Sprint Enduro Championship and Louisiana Cross Country Series.

Also new for 2017, bLU cRU support for American Flat Track (AFT) racing has been increased. Payouts have been expanded to include Yamaha bLU cRU riders finishing in the top five of each of the AFT Twins and AFT Singles main events, with an additional $83,250 available. Also, Championship bonuses will be paid out to Yamaha bLU cRU riders, with $25,000 awarded to the AFT Twins Champion and $10,000 awarded to the AFT Singles Champion, if those riders compete aboard Yamaha machines throughout the entire AFT season.

“We’re pleased to be able to continue offering Contingency support to Yamaha bLU cRU racers for 2017, and also to expand the Program to support Yamaha bLU cRU riders in five additional racing series,” commented Mike Guerra, Racing Department Manager for Yamaha. “And, in addition, our increased support of Yamaha bLU cRU riders competing in the American Flat Track racing series shows Yamaha’s strong commitment to the thoroughly American sport of dirt track racing.

“All bLU cRU Contingency money will be paid directly to the riders’ reloadable bLU cRU Debit Card. In addition, each bLU cRU rider will receive a $45 credit on, as well as discounts on Yamaha GYT-R parts and accessories.”

For complete details on how to register, along with specific information on which racing series, events, and classes are included, visit the Off-Road Racing Contingency page of the Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., Website at


“It’s great to finally wrap up the 2016 EnduroCross championship. I had more crashes tonight than in the rest of the series put together, but I did what I needed to do. I didn’t want to ride at 50% and just take it easy – I really wanted to give my all tonight. I got a great start and felt good but the track bit me a couple of times and things didn’t go quite as well as I hoped they would. Second is still a good result but getting the championship is what really matters. It was my results in the seven rounds prior to tonight that earned me the title. There were a couple of pivotal moments during the series, and that allowed me to come into tonight with a good points lead. I’m going to enjoy this and then look forward to going to Europe to defend my SuperEnduro title.”


[Press Release]

Polisport broadens its line of bike protections with the new Ignition Cover Protectors, developed with exclusive Polisport design.

Finally, you can have these parts, in the aftermarket, for the main of the off-road brands and models. Polisport Ignition Cover Protector will excel in rocky terrains and protects your ignition cover from impacts and scratches, preserving the looks of the ignition cover and keeping it in good shape.

Abrasion and impact resistant
Built-in rubber o-ring
Easy and intuitive installation
Hard shell in hard resistant polyamide
Available in black and brand colors

Ignition Cover Protectors
Mounting hardware

MSRP (Europe): 29.95€
MSRP (USA): $34.99

Available for: YZ250F; YZ450F; KX250F; KX450F; CRF250R; CRF450R; EXC-F/XCF-W 250/350; SX-F/XC-F 250/350; FE/FC 250/350


From the Caselli Foundation: “The Kurt Caselli Foundation completed its second set of intensive brain injury studies at the final round of the GNCC Series in Crawfordsville IN. The study funded entirely by the Kurt Caselli Foundation and its donors focused on collecting head acceleration data from youth, female, and elite athletes in hopes of gaining a better understanding of the forces these athletes undergo during a grueling races. The ultimate goal of this research is to offer the results of our peer-reviewed data to any party with interest including helmet and protective gear manufacturers. We hope that our efforts will continue to bring awareness to the issue of concussion and mild traumatic brain injury.”


MXA has done a 250 two-stroke versus 250 four-stroke comparison before. You’d have to look back about eight years to find that shootout. Just to give you an idea how long ago it was, Cole Seely was one of the photo riders at the Gorman shoot. MXA pitted a Yamaha YZ250 against a YZ250F. What conclusion did we come to? The two-stroke was the overall winner, unless testers were riding on hard pack. There wasn’t any way the horsepower and handling of the YZ250 could lose to the slower and more subdued YZ250F.

Guess what? MXA revisited the two-stroke versus four-stroke discussion, thanks to Jamie Ellis from Twisted Development. Jamie is a whiz at modifying bikes and getting the most out of every engine. He built two fully modified bikes–a 2016 Yamaha YZ250 and ’17 YZ250F. We wanted to know if amped up race bikes made a difference in the results. While I’m not at liberty to discuss the final results, I can assure you that MXA test riders were surprised with their findings. I hate to leave you hanging, but that’s how these things go. The full story will appear in a future issue.


“I was nervous the first day that I went to the track to ride with Ryan [Dungey] and Marvin [Musquin]. After talking with them and being around their mechanics, the experience has been amazing. They are competitors, but they were all so welcoming. It was a really neat experience, so I think it is a great place for me to be now, and I am happy to be there.”

Click here to find out Canard’s thoughts on switching to KTM, working with Roger DeCoster, and the possibility of a longer Supercross series.


Yes, those are two sets of Showa factory forks collecting dust.

While covering Suzuki Camp Carmichael this past week I stumbled upon Ricky’s old barn. And, yes, it’s not actually Carmichael’s barn, but instead a house on his riding property. I didn’t want to say it was Ricky’s house, because he never lived inside. Barn seemed more appropriate. Maybe I should have gone with shack or shanty. Whatever the case may be, I don’t much care. The point is that inside was a treasure trove of factory parts and cool memorabilia. Click here to see the gallery and read about the unique experience.


California is the richest race state in the union, with seven major events in 2017. Folks in Michigan should rejoice, as Supercross (Detroit), Arenacross (Grand Rapids) and the Lucas Oil Nationals (Red Bud) visit “The Great Lake State.” And those residing in the Pacific Northwest will be happy hosting a bevy of events, from Supercross to the AMA Nationals.


January 7…Angel Stadium…Anaheim, CA (West)
January 14…Petco Park…San Diego, CA (West)
January 21…Angel Stadium…Anaheim, CA (West)
January 28…University of Phoenix…Glendale, AZ (West)
February 4…Alameda Coliseum…Oakland, CA (West)
February 11…AT&T Stadium…Arlington, TX (West)
February 18…U.S. Bank Stadium…Minneapolis, MN (East)
February 25…Georgia Dome…Atlanta, GA (East)
March 4…Rogers Centre…Toronto, Canada (East)
March 11…Daytona Speedway…Daytona, FL (East)
March 18…Lucas Oil Stadium…Indianapolis, IN (East)
March 25…Ford Field…Detroit, MI (East)
April 1…America’s Center…St. Louis, MO (East)
April 8…CenturyLink Field…Seattle, WA (West)
April 22…Rice-Eccles Stadium…Salt Lake City, UT (West)
April 29…MetLife Stadium…East Rutherford, NJ (East)
May 6…Sam Boyd Stadium…Las Vegas, NV (East/West)
*Visit to purchase tickets


January 7-8…U.S. Bank Arena…Cincinnati, OH
January 13-15…Van Andel Arena…Grand Rapids, MI
January 20-22…Royal Farms Arena…Baltimore, MD
January 28-29…Bridgestone Arena…Nashville, TN
February 4-5…Freedom Hall…Louisville, KY
February 18-19…Sprint Center…Kansas City, MO
February 24-26…Georgia Dome…Atlanta, GA
March 3-5…Landers Center…Southaven, MS
March 11-12…Smoothie King Center…New Orleans, LA
March 18-19…Moda Center…Portland, OR
March 24-26…Livestock Events Center…Reno, NV
April 1-2…Golden I Center…Sacramento, CA
April 22-23…Denver Coliseum…Denver, CO
May 5-7…Orleans Arena…Las Vegas, NV
*Visit to purchase tickets


May 20…Hangtown…Sacramento, CA
May 27…Glen Helen…San Bernardino, CA
June 3…Thunder Valley…Lakewood, CO
June 17…High Point…Mount Morris, PA
June 24…Muddy Creek…Blountville, TN
July 1…Red Bud…Buchanan, MI
July 8…Southwick…Southwick, MA
July 22…Spring Creek…Millville, MN
July 29…Washougal…Washougal, WA
August 12…Unadilla…New Berlin, NY
August 19…Budds Creek…Mechanicsville, MD
August 26…Ironman…Crawfordsville, IN


February 25…Losail…Qatar
March 5…Pangkal Pinang…Indonesia
March 19…Neuquen…Argentina
April 2…Leon…Mexico
April 16…Trentino…Italy
April 23…Valkenswaard…The Netherlands
May 7…Kegums…Latvia
May 21…Teutschenthal…Germany
May 28…Ernee…France
June 11…Orlyonok…Russia
June 25…Maggiora…Italy
July 2…Agueda…Portugal
July 23…Loket…Czech Republic
August 6…Lommel…Belgium
August 13…Frauenfeld…Switzerland
August 20…Uddevalla…Sweden
September 3…Charlotte…USA
September 10…Assen…The Netherlands
September 17…Villars sous Ecot…France

2017 race schedules2017 yamaha yz250fbike buildCOLTON HAAKERjgrmxJOHN BASHERMID-WEEK REPORTpro taperricky carmichaeltrey canardtwisted developmentwhipitwednesday