MXA VIDEO: OLD COUNTRY–JASON ANDERSON
IN THE WORKS: PROJECT YAMAHA YZ125
Since moving to North Carolina I’ve been desperately searching for a used motocross bike to buy. Contrary to popular belief, bike manufacturers don’t often provide multiple units of the same bike. Given that MXA is based in SoCal and our fleet of test bikes are kept in Jody’s barn, I’ve been out of a bike since August. Fortunately, riding opportunities have presented themselves time and again since I made the leap to the east coast. By way of bike tests, the occasional trip to SoCal, and borrowing a bike from my dad and his buddy, I’ve been able to satisfy my throttle fix.
Two weeks ago I convinced my dad to let me take his prized 2007 Suzuki RM125 to Jimmy Weinert’s Crystal Coast Motocross Facility. A short, 45-minute drive from my house, Weinert’s place has everything that a motocross nut needs–several challenging tracks with varying soil content (they like their sand here in North Carolina) and an open pit area to stretch out. My buddy, Eric Carr, and I trekked out to Maysville for the day. The conditions were reasonable, given a nasty rainstorm the day before, and “Jammin” Jimmy Weinert stopped by to say hello. It’s too bad the day went sideways from there. I fired up my father’s RM125 and proceeded to blow it up after a few laps. The ring basically melted to the piston. Oops. Check out the photo from the aftermath below. Fortunately, the cylinder was in good shape. A short time and a new Wiseco top-end kit later, the RM125 was as good as new.
Even though my dad’s Suzuki was operational once again, I could see the writing on the wall. It was time I got serious about getting my own bike. Just like the time I was shipped off to grade school, I needed to put my big boy pants on be independent. Doesn’t it stink to grow up? So instead of driving down to my nearest motorcycle dealership–which, by the way, is about an hour away in Jacksonville–I did what any rider on a budget would do…I hopped online and pulled up Craigslist. The only problem was that the popular private-party sales site offered little in the form of clean and reasonably-priced motocross bikes. I scoured the site for several days, but came up empty. It didn’t help that I was primarily on the lookout for a used 2006 or newer Yamaha YZ125.
Leave it to my dad to find a diamond in the rough. Last Saturday morning I checked my email to discover that dear dad had emailed me a link to a Craigslist ad. Lo and behold, a 2005 Yamaha YZ125 popped up on screen. My knee-jerk reaction was to close the window, given that it was an ’05, which is the year before the YZ125 came with Kayaba’s award-winning SSS suspension. I’m glad that I had second thoughts.
The bike, listed at $1500, had the stock graphics, chain and sprockets. Mind you, this was an 11-year-old machine. A rare find indeed. A Pro Circuit pipe and silencer, along with a Moto Tassinari VForce3 reed block and Acerbis wraparound hand guards, graced the YZ125. The seller, who wanted to offload the bike after looping it out, initially planned on selling it to his buddy’s kid. Thankfully the kid dragged his feet. I happened to call at the right time, as several other interested buyers reached out to the seller in days previously. However, the seller declined the offers, thinking that his friend’s son was going to drop coin on the Yamaha. Maybe it was destiny, but I called at the right time. A few hours later I was at the guy’s house with cash in hand. The seller was offering an assortment of aftermarket parts, as well as the bike stand and loading ramp, but I declined. Instead I asked if he would come down on the sales price if I only wanted the bike. He said yes. I offered $1350. He obliged. Done deal.
The first thing I did when I got home was get out the pressure washer. Actually, the first thing I did was scream for joy like a tween at a Justin Bieber concert when I pulled into my driveway, but that admission is a bit embarrassing. No matter, I went to work scrubbing off old oil sediment. An hour later, the wheels looked brand new, as did the swingarm and forks. Again I screamed for joy, which probably gave my elderly next-door neighbor a minor heart attack.
After drying the YZ125 off, I tore off the hand guards and stared at the bike’s beauty. Then I rang up my dad and told him the good news. He sounded pleased that I was no longer going to mooch his bike, but more impressed that I landed such a prized steed at a good price. In the days that followed my dad and I tore down the bike (see the photo above) to check the crank, piston, swingarm and frame. And so begins the makings of the ultimate Yamaha YZ125–or at the very least the ultimate YZ125 for my pay grade. I have already called in favors to the various aftermarket companies that have supported my in previous YZ125 builds (there have been two, with this being the third and likely final build). What’s my vision? Slight engine modifications inside a possibly anodized chassis, suspended by Kayaba A-kit suspension and grounded by a Dubya wheel set, all put together with titanium fasteners and loaded with the top aftermarket components…that is my hope.
From time to time I’ll use this web feature to update my progress of the Craigslist 2005 Yamaha YZ125. I will try to convince my dad to ride his Suzuki RM125 in the meantime. After all, the KTM two-stroke race fuel by ETS Racing that just arrived at my doorstep isn’t going to test itself! Stay tuned.
MINI-VIEW: BOBBY REGAN–STAR RACING YAMAHA OWNER
By Jim Kimball
Bobby, how does a successful Mississippi businessman get involved in owning a Pro race team? Well, I have been doing this for a long time, back from the early 1980’s. I started riding motorcycles later in life, but was pretty good. Later, I just had a dream of becoming a team owner, but had never believed that I would achieve the level that I have. It’s really been a lifelong ambition to get here and be a team owner.
It was back in 1999 when you formed your team. What were some of the hurdles that you faced? We had been running an Amateur team for some time prior, and it was in 1998 when I decided that I wanted to take it to the Pro level. We began as a true privateer team, and it was a pretty big struggle. But we got a big boost when we teamed up with the Johnson family in Albuquerque. They really helped us a lot, and they truly were the catalyst that moved us forward into doing bigger and better things. I had a truck, and they needed to get their bikes to the races, so they asked me about sponsoring them the next year. It was just a very natural fit. They were all great riders, and with Keith Johnson we won Supercross Privateer of the Year honors in 2003. That helped us begin a relationship with Yamaha. The Johnson’s helped us get some core sponsors in this industry. They owned a Yamaha dealership back in New Mexico, and that helped us to align ourselves with Yamaha to where they recognized us and knew who we were.
When did you get factory-level backing from Yamaha? I think it was in 2005 or 2006 when Yamaha of Troy was the factory backed 250 team. That team was having a few problems, and Yamaha approached us to maybe join up with Yamaha of Troy. We were able to join together and do the good things that we did, and couple them with the good things that they did, and make one good team.
Did your competitors receive you guys very well coming into the Pro scene? I think so. This team was always run pretty aggressively and we never really backed down from anyone. We were known to bring a rider into our team who usually would then become an over-achiever. We didn’t really have any trouble coming onto the Pro scene. I think the industry accepted us for all the good things that we did. It just took a while to get there.
These past couple years you guys have achieved a lot–race wins, titles, and even have gone to the Motocross des Nations. It’s fair to say that you’re the premier 250 team. Yes, if you look at the last couple of years we have had a lot of success. We have won a couple championships. Aaron Plessinger took Rookie of the Year honors in Supercross and motocross. We went to the Motocross des Nations, and Yamaha has even brought us to Japan the past two years. So it’s been quite a ride, and we have all achieved more than we ever thought we would. When Yamaha came out with this new motorcycle it was extremely helpful in propelling us forward. We had raced the old carbureted bike for a couple years while everyone else had the newer EFI bikes. It’s been especially nice, as the same people that are here with me now have been here from the start. This is a very over-achieving team, and has been right from the start. We just didn’t have the latest equipment to succeed. It’s all handled within the team, and we coordinate about everything directly with Yamaha. They trust our judgment on the riders we go after, and give us a 100-percent support.
You’ve assembled a dream team with Cooper Webb, Jeremy Martin and Aaron Plessinger. Yeah, it is a dream team [laughter]! To have these good athletes all at one time has been amazing. At the same time, we know what we are looking for in a rider, and that’s what we saw in these kids. They have been such a joy to work with, and to see the levels of success that they have had.
Are Cooper Webb and Jeremy Martin enemies? No, they are not enemies, but they are competitors. When they are on the track they are competing as anyone would. As far as them not liking each other, that is not true. We take many, many trips together and have all been overseas together. We sit together all the time. There are no problems with them.
Do you have any desire to move into the 450 class? No, I don’t. We are a 250 team. This is where all of our knowledge is, and this is where Yamaha wants us. They are very happy with us, and we have made many enhancements to the production YZ250F, so we are right where we need to be. We have been somewhat involved with the recent return to racing by the factory Yamaha 450 team, and I would not be surprised to see some of our riders over there. We will just have to wait and see.
Mitchell Harrison is the newest rider that you have on your team. Do you still do much with the amateur scene? We don’t at the moment. In the past we have always had one amateur rider that we were helping. Cooper, Jeremy, and Aaron have all come out of our amateur team, as did Mitchell Harrison. Right now we do not have an amateur rider. I go to as many amateur races as I can, and we all try to keep our eyes open for potential riders.
You have achieved so much success already. What do you see in your future? Well, we still have a lot of goals that we would like to achieve, like winning all three championships in one year. It’s very important to sustain a winning program for many years. Once you get on top, it’s difficult to stay on top. Everybody is shooting for you. To maintain the level of achievement that we have over the years is difficult. We just need to keep working hard.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: AARON PLESSINGER
Click here to read the full interview.
IN MAILBOXES NOW: MXA MAY 2016
1. We pitted a Factory Services Husqvarna FC350 against a stock Husqvarna FC450. Why? We wanted to find out if the smaller displacement and decreased weight of the FC350 could hang with a box-stock FC450. Market sales illustrate the 350 four-stroke’s popularity–much to the chagrin of the AMA’s old head honcho, Steve Whitelock–although the bike gives up power on starts and straightaways. As a result, we tried to level the playing field thanks to the generous use of money.
2. This issue has something for every type of bike lover. Are you a four-stroke fan? You’re in luck, as there’s an entertaining review of the 2016-1/2 KTM 250SXF (although WP probably won’t think it’s funny). If two-strokes are your thing, then you’ll be interested in learning how we rebuilt a Yamaha YZ250 for $1000. Heck, there’s even a KTM 125SX versus Yamaha YZ125 two-stroke shootout. Or maybe the latest and greatest technology isn’t your thing. Fear not, as we brought a 2006 Yamaha YZ250F back to life. Like I said, the May issue has something for everyone.
3. Statisticians and engineers alike will enjoy combing through our 2016 MXA dyno shootouts. We reveal which bikes are the power mongers, and those left wheezing. I don’t want to give away too much, but know that there’s great disparity between the horsepower haves and have nots.
4. Do you know who Roger DeCoster’s right-hand man in? If you said Ryan Dungey, then guess again. South African Ian Harrison was an aspiring Pro racer, but he traded in his boots for wrenches long ago. Since then he worked for Greg Albertyn, moved to America, and met “The Man.” Learn how one man achieved his dream, as well as how important he was in influencing Roger’s decision to switch from Suzuki to KTM. By the way, pay no attention to the byline at the bottom of the interview. I didn’t actually ask Ian the questions, rather our interviewing guru, Jim Kimball, put in the effort. Sorry again for the mistake, Jim!
5. Maybe you don’t follow Arenacross, but I bet you’d like to see the bikes of the Arenacross stars. We spoke with the top mechanics and asked them about their rider’s preferences and a bevy of other interesting questions. Naturally we also show the race bikes in all their artistic glory.
6. Do you own a 2015 or 2016 Honda CRF250 and want better performance and big gains out of it? Of course you do. MXA made 20 big changes to the bike. One of them included spending $5000 in engine modifications at Pro Circuit. While you don’t need to burn your hard-earned money at the mod shop, you can still make headway by following several of our steps.
AMSOIL ARENACROSS: ONTARIO HIGHLIGHTS
TRAVIS FANT’S ONTARIO ARENACROSS GALLERY
FUN FACT: NOT SO FUN FOR KAWASAKI
Of the eight 250 West and four East rounds this season, Kawasaki is the only brand not to score a holeshot. Below is a breakdown of brands:
Honda…7: Jordan Smith (2), Jimmy Decotis (2), Christian Craig (2) Malcolm Stewart
KTM… 2: Jessy Nelson, Shane McElrath
Husqvarna…1: Zach Osborne
Suzuki…1: Matt Bisceglia
Yamaha…1: Aaron Plessinger
Here’s another fun fact. Four different brands in the past four rounds have scored a holeshot–Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and Husqvarna. Oh, want another fun fact? Geico Honda riders nailed holeshots in six straight races.
THE FASTEST OF THE FAST
An ongoing list of the top qualifiers and holeshot winners from each round of the 2016 AMA Supercross Championship
FASTEST QUALIFIERS: 450 CLASS
San Diego 1…Ryan Dungey
Anaheim 2…Ken Roczen
San Diego 2…Eli Tomac
Santa Clara…Eli Tomac
FASTEST QUALIFIERS: 250 CLASS
San Diego 1…Cooper Webb
Anaheim 2…Zach Osborne
San Diego 2…Zach Osborne
Santa Clara…Cooper Webb
HOLESHOT AWARD: 450 CLASS
San Diego 1…Chad Reed
Anaheim 2…Davi Millsaps
San Diego 2…Ryan Dungey
Santa Clara…Jason Anderson
HOLESHOT AWARD: 250 CLASS
San Diego 1…Jordan Smith (West)
Anaheim 2…Jimmy Decotis (West)
Oakland…Christian Craig (West)
Glendale…Jimmy Decotis (West)
San Diego 2…Jordan Smith (West)
Arlington…Christian Craig (West)
Atlanta…Shane McElrath (East)
Daytona…Malcolm Stewart (East)
Toronto…Matt Bisceglia (East)
Detroit…Aaron Plessinger (East)
Santa Clara…Zach Osborne (West)
Photos by John Basher, Kyoshi Becker, Daryl Ecklund and Travis Fant.