PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Pauls Jonass, the 18-year-old Latvian with the Red Bull KTM team in the 250 Grand Prix series, was on top of the world after taking over the points lead following the Lommel GP. He held off all combatants through the next round in Italy, but he came unraveled in the sand of Assen, Netherlands. A second-moto spill left Jonass with a mangled front brake. After a pit stop, Pauls raced back up to 13th. It was a valiant effort, but not enough to maintain the red plate. Slovenian Tim Gajser rode brilliantly on the man-made track, going 1-2 for the overall win, and claiming the red plate with only two rounds remaining. The photo above, courtesy of KTM, does little to show the championship implications of Jonass’ misfortune on Sunday, but it certainly captures the challenge of riding in the sand.
IN A WORD: 2016 MODEL IMPRESSIONS
Below is a brief synopsis of what we would tell our buddies about the line-up of 2016 450 four-strokes. Of course you’ll need to read the reviews in their entirety, which you can find in the latest issues of MXA.
2016 Kawasaki KX450F:
If you’re a Kawasaki rider then it’s a much better bike than the previous generation. The ergonomics are slimmer and the KX450F feels more agile than in the past. We’ve had some problems with the engine backfiring on deceleration, which hasn’t been fixed yet with mapping. The forks are considerably better than the 2016 Suzuki RM-Z450 Showa SFF TAC forks. The engine isn’t as explosive off the bottom, but it transitions smoothly into the midrange. We noted that the 2016 KX450F has more focus on the front end, meaning that it no longer feels like it needs to be steered with the throttle.
2016 Husqvarna FC450:
The airbox is still closed off. There are only two small holes that we could find, so there’s restriction of air going into the airbox. There’s also a big baffle in the exhaust, so we switched it for the KTM 450SXF exhaust. It seemed to help. It’s strange how the FC450 doesn’t feel identical to the KTM 450SXF, but that’s because there are slight changes between the two. We’ve also heard that the suspension settings are different from what comes in the KTM WP units. The mapping switch makes a noticeable difference. The aggressive setting livened up the engine.
2016 Honda CRF450:
Great power off the bottom and there’s not as much need to use the clutch, which is good because the clutch isn’t very good. However, the engine runs out of steam really fast. It’s amazing how light and nimble the CRF450 feels, especially in the air (even though the KTM 450 and Kawasaki KX450F are bother lighter on the scale). Heavier riders went to a stiffer shock spring. In turn, the bike felt more balanced fore to aft.
2016 Suzuki RM-Z450:
Never a light bike, the RM-Z450 is now really heavy in comparison to the KTM, Kawasaki and Honda. It still corners very well, and the engine is pleasant, but the forks are horrid. We have struggled to find a good fork setting. Certainly the Showa SFF TAC fork on the RM-Z450 has good bottoming resistance, but that’s because the fork doesn’t move. The best attributes of the bike is that it turns on a dime and the engine is easy to ride.
2016 KTM 450SXF:
This bike has the broadest, easiest powerband of all the 450’s in the group. It’s forgiving for slower riders, and downright scary fast for those willing to hold the throttle on. We love the brakes and clutch. It’s handling is intuitive. Of course how can we not include the electric starter on our list of likes. We cannot understand why KTM would depart from the orange frame color for black. The suspension is improved, although not on the par with Yamaha SSS suspension. WP’s choice of the shock spring rate creates a problem for riders under 180 pounds.
LOOKING AHEAD: THIS WEEK AT MXA
The Nationals are over, the 100 degree weather in SoCal has broken and our deadline is quickly approaching. What do the MXA editors do? We flee to the east to avoid the our computers in favor of riding Justin Barcia’s bike at the JGR compound near Greensboro, North Carolina. Daryl Ecklund and I won’t be riding Barcia’s practice bike, but instead the real deal. The JGR Yamaha YZ450F rolled out of the semi from the last National, and MXA will be the first people outside of anyone working for JGR to take a spin on it. Perhaps you’ll recall the last time we tested Justin Barcia’s race bike. That great day came at the end of the 2012 National series, and Bam Bam was graduating to the 450 class the following year. It’ll be interesting to note any changes in Justin’s preferences. We know that one thing’s for sure – Barcia’s bike will be a rocketship, evidenced by the fact that he holeshot 11 motos during the Nationals. Look for a rundown on Barcia’s YZ450F in next week’s Mid-Week Report. We’ll also be testing a JGR Yamaha YZ250F, as well as a pristine Cycra Racing Yamaha YZ250 two-stroke replete with cutting edge new plastics kit. Trust me when I say that it looks amazing. Stay tuned for those photos, as well.
CRANK THE VOLUME: 2016 KTM 125SX TWO-STROKE WIDE OPEN
SNEAK PEEK: WE TEST SHORTY’S BTO SPORTS KTM 450SXF
We’re pleased to report that KTM gave us the opportunity to test Andrew Short’s BTO Sports KTM 450SXF for an upcoming issue. Photo rider Johnny Jelderda twisted the throttle for Daryl Ecklund’s camera, but not before Daryl got up close and personal with Shorty’s WP AER air forks. Take a look.
PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT: FMF RACING 2016 HUSQVARNA FACTORY 4.1 SYSTEMS
Press release: With over 40 years of building the most dominant performing exhaust systems, FMF Racing introduces the new 2016 Husqvarna Factory 4.1 Exhaust Systems. Built 100% In-House in our Southern California State-Of-The-Art manufacturing facility using proprietary blends of alloy metals and Patented championship winning parts such as the Megabomb header (Patent # 7510050) the 2016 systems are performance driven with the classic FMF style. Developed and tested in conjunction with the World Husqvarna Factory race teams and athletes. Available directly through FMF Performance Dealers and www.fmfracing.com.
-Full System over 3 LBS lighter than stock, Slip-On over 2 LBS lighter than stock.
-Huge Power Gains throughout the RPM Range
-RCT (Resonance Chamber Technology
-New RTS (Rapid Tuning System)
-FIM/AMA Sound and Spark Arrestor Included
-FMF Wash Plug Included
-MADE 100% in the USA
2016 Husqvarna FC 250
Factory 4.1 Slip On From $374.99
Factory 4.1 Megabomb System From $799.99
2016 Husqvarna FC 450
Factory 4.1 Slip On From $374.99
Factory 4.1 Megabomb System From $799.99
HONDA RACING: BETWEEN THE MOTOS
TEAM INTERNATIONAL AIR HAMMER & BROC GLOVER TEAM UP
Press release: Team International Air Hammer is proud to announce that we have joined forces with YZ490 Legend and 6 time AMA National Champion Broc Glover. Our collective goal is to help raise both funds and awareness for cystic fibrosis, a disease that affects Broc’s son Dayne. Broc spends lots of his time raising money and awareness for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation through Team DayneGerous (http://fightcf.cff.org/site/TR?team_id=38895&fr_id=3498&pg=team). Team International Air Hammer will be running the Team DayneGerous logo on the tanks of our bikes to help Broc, Dayne, and the thousands of others that fight CF on a daily basis. This cause is close to Team International Air Hammer’s hearts as it affects one of our own, someone that we all here look up to. Our team of Greg Crater, Joanne Halpin, Mossey Drennan, Paul Cawsey, Rory O’Neill, Rory Sullivan and Troy Cardiel leave for the Vets Motocross des Nations at Farleigh Castle in England next week and will be supported by a bunch of great companies (editor’s note: visit https://www.facebook.com/TeamInternationalAirHammer for the entire list).