_DSC1672_Yamaha four-stroke releases Jody Daryl Stapleton Justin MuscottDaryl Ecklund (far left) suggests that Dennis Stapleton (blue shirt) have a second breakfast burrito for the umpteenth time. Stapleton declined. He’s racing Loretta’s in a few weeks.

By Kyoshi Becker

While we already had our greasy fingers on both the 2017 YZ450F and YZ250F,  last Wednesday was the first day we could take them out on the track. Yamaha had held a 2017 motorcycle release party a few weeks ago, but this was the official motocross bike release. The conditions were prime at Glen Helen, as it was overcast for a good portion of the day. Dennis Stapleton got to ride the YZ450F while we had test rider in training, Justin Muscutt, test the YZ250F (he normally rides Yamahas). The YZ450F is a mid-cycle revamp and featured some small changes. The air filter cover was revamped and the countershaft oil seal was redesigned. If you have a 2016 YZ450F and you don’t race for a living, there isn’t a huge reason to move to the newer bike (but don’t tell Yamaha that).

The 2017 YZ250F was much newer bike with a whole host of changes. While the plastics appeared the same, the internals had many updated features. The engine featured a strigher intake tract to allow for more fuel to get into the combustion chamber. With the change in the intake tract a new throttle body joint had to be made along with a 15mm shorter air boot. The engine also features stronger connecting and thicker gears. The clutch was also revised, as was the shift drum. Included in the modifications was the head pipe diameter, while some parts were heat-treated. Even the frame of the 2017 YZ250F was changed, as Yamaha change the width of the forging at the swingarm pivot by 12mm to better handle stress near the swingarm. While it wasn’t like the all-out modifications the Kawasaki KX250F went through, the YZ250F is a great example of how Yamaha isstaying on top of any issues that come up. Many of the modifications were responses to customer issues, as well as troubled parts they found during inhouse testing. Now we just have to see how it holds up to MXA’s type of testing… racing.

_DSC1707 Justin MuscuttJustin Muscutt is not fond of the high handlebars. He rolls them back on almost every bike he rides.

_DSC2496 Engine ChangesThe fuel intake tract into the  head on the 2017 (right) is angled more to allow fora straight shock at the intake valve. Note the size difference of the intake port.

_DSC2511 Yamaha Cylinder ArmAs more fuel is going in with the improved intake, the engine needs to be stronger. The 2017 connecting rod (right) was beefed up and got upgraded metallurgy to help handle hopped-up race engines.

_DSC1801Dennis Stapleton takes the YZ450F out for a swing. Dennis raced a YZ450F for two years on the AMA National and selected Pro events.

_DSC1966-1Stapo slingshotting up into the SoCal smog.

_DSC2167Ripping berms and slinging dirt.

_DSC2290MXa test riders don’t always maintain their composure. It’s all part of the job.

_DSC1859Justin Muscutt pilots the new 2017 YZ250F.



_DSC2522When your office is Glen Helen, you don’t worry about computers or paperwork.  Daryl spins wrenchee (left), while Dennis Stapleton checks his phone. That’s Jim O’Neal’s dog strolling by.

Thursday is our day to take our regular spot in the upper level of the Glen Helen pit area. Two bikes for every van, truck and trailer (and Jody squeezed three into his Toyota Tacoma). We had a 2017 KTM 125SX, KTM 250SX, KTM 450SXF, TM 250FI-MX, Kawasaki KX250F and the unwashed 2017 Yamaha duo from the day before (YZ450F and YZ250F) all at our disposal. The day started with reshoot of some 2017 KTM 450SXF action photos. Then came the never-ending testing. We were lucky Glen Helen was not overrun by factory riders last Thursday, making it easier to get in laps. When the test riders weren’t doing laps they opted to do drag races on the back roads and power tests up Mt. St. Helen. Among the things we tested were suspension setups, different gearing and map combinations on the various bikes. We were able to get a lot of work done.

_DSC2777“Lets go drag racing. How about some In ‘N Out after?” Dennis reiterated to Daryl that he has Loretta Lynn’s coming up and is on a water and celery diet.

_DSC2631Dennis Stapleton stumbled upon a dirt moving operation. That big red thing is a rock screen, good for removing rocks from fresh dirt.

_DSC2654-1Who could pass up a fresh pile of dirt, so with the top loader working in the background, Dennis proceeded to test the freshly sifted soil to see if it still had any rocks.

_DSC2858Tending to KTM spokes is like flossing. You can’t skip one, or else bad things will happen over time. Jody uses a Powerlift electric stand as a stool while he checks the 2017 KTM 450SXF spokes. Yes, the one by the rim lock was loose.

_DSC2736Adjusting forks is among the most commonly performed tasks at a test session.

_DSC3045Daryl Ecklund levitates the KTM 125SX two-stroke before returning to working on the jetting of the new 38mm Mikuni TMX carb.


_DSC3581 Jeff Niblack and David CincottaBattles were on at REM this weekend.  Jeff Niblack (737) and David Cincotta (861) fought for the lead in the first moto of the Over-40 Intermediates.

_DSC3864 Hunter YoderHunter Yoder was flying down the track in the 85 Expert class. He was lapping riders in the 250 Novice class that was he was racing alongside.

_DSC3347 Joe Prizament and Tyler NicholsNeither Joe Prizament nor Tyler Nichols wanted to be last, and neither was afraid to bang bars.

_DSC3952 Bradley Lionett Deegan Von LossbergDeegan Von Lossberg (423) tries to shut the door on Bradley Lionett (321) entering the first uphill climb inthe 250 pro class.

_DSC4153 Justin MuscuttJustin Muscutt dives back into the main portion of the REM track. There is a nice view of how high this hill is. At this point he should was getting comfortable on the 2017 TM 250FI-MX.

_DSC4372Chris Alamangos piloted MXA’s Husky TC250 two-stroke. Chris loves to take the outside line, even if everyone else was going inside.

_DSC3370 Bradley COleBradley Cole rips through a corner.

_DSC3407 Dennis StapletonDennis Stapleton Jr. gets cheered on by Dennis Stapleton, Sr.

_DSC3443 Tony Houston and Kenneth ClarkLas Vegas’ Tony Houston (693) and Kenneth Clark swapped places a few times. Clark would emerge victorious with a 6-5 to Tony’s 7-6.

_DSC3554 Rafael Rivera Keith R McmillenRafael Rivera (129) made the pass on Keith R. McMillen (12) and went on to win the Over-40 Novice class.

_DSC3824Blake Paschal (314) runs the high line.

_DSC4422Robert Reisinger (96) won both the Over-40 Intermediates and the over-50 Experts edges. David Cincotta was second in the Over-40 Intermediates wasn’t old enough for the Over-50 Experts.

_DSC4435Joe Sutter takes the perfect line as TM importer Ralf Schmidt takes his TM 125MX wide.

_DSC4721 Dennis StapletonDennis Stapleton looking racey.


LMP_9211_Brian-Converse_Jeremy-Martin_High-PointJeremy Martin at High Point Photo: Brian Converse

Jeremy Martin entered the 2016 season as the top dog. While his 2015 season had many ups and downs (like having an electrical issue before the first moto at Glen Helen), the two-time Champion held off KTM rider Marvin Musquin to keep his 2015 points lead. The big question would be who could challenge him in 2016? The answer lay with the three riders that podiumed at Hangtown earlier this year— Joey Savatgy, Cooper Webb and sibling Alex Martin. Seven races into the season and J-Mart still has yet to win an overall. While he is 38 points down from Star Yamaha teammate and leader Cooper Webb. There are still five races to go and he is within one point of second place in points.

Starts: 24
Overall Podiums: 9
Moto Podiums: 15
Overall Wins: 5
Overall Win Percentage: 20.8%
Overall Podium Percentage: 33.3%
Overall Points Earned: 491

Starts: 6
AMA Series points: 252 (He is third in points)
Season Bests: Second overall at Glen Helen, Thunder Valley and Southwick.


LMP_3273_Brian-Converse_Eli-Tomac_Southwick_2016Finally! Eli Tomac gets that overall win he has been working hard to get. Photo: Brian Converse

AMA Nationals 450 Class: Eli Tomac.
AMA Nationals 250 Class: Cooper Webb.
MXGP 450 Grand Prix: No race until July 24th in the Czech Republic.
MX2 250 Grand Prix: No race until July 24th in the Czech Republic.
Australian National 450: No race until July 17th at Conocdale.
Australian National 250: No race until July 17th at Conocdale.
Canadian 450 National: Matt Goerke.
Canadian 250 National: Cole Thompson.
Maxxis British 450 National: No race until July 17th at Blaxhall, Suffolk.
Maxxis British 250 National: No race until July 17th at Blaxhall, Suffolk.


LMP_3463_Brian-COnverse_Cooper-Webb_southwickCooper Webb came from behind in both motos to take the overall win. Photo: Brian Converse


  • Cooper Webb extended his points gap over Joey Savatgy by 37 points. Ironically, Savatgy’s bike number is 37.
  • Troy Lee Design KTM’s Shane McElrath put on a great show in both motos, holding the lead for half of the first one and dueling second place in the second one. A spectacular crash a few turns from the finish on the final lap unfortunately ended his 2016 season.
  • Eli Tomac went 1-1 for the win, passing Ken Roczen in both motos to take the lead.
  • Justin Barcia lived up to his nickname at Southwick with an aggressive block pass on Marvin Musquin. It was his first overall podium this year.
  • Justin Barcia wasn’t the only one to pull a block pass that resulted in a tip-over. Christophe Pourcel pulled one on Justin Bogle early in the second moto.
  • Rookie Austin Forkner landed his first overall 250 podium this year, finishing 5-2 for third overall.


Back when you wouldn’t get sued for using the word Superbowl in an non-NFL ad. Oh! how far Supercross has come.


_DSC3867Talon Hawkins racing REM.

Who was hunting Hunter Yoder Saturday? Talon Hawkins, of course! Talon is a well-rounded rider that dabbles in all forms of action sports. In the highly contested 85cc class he places near the top in both skill and speed.



Motocross is a dirty sport and at times it can get dusty, too. While dirt is great, dust can rob your images of nice punchy contrast and vivid colors. Additionally, if fine enough, it will get inside your lenses and camera bodies, putting a fine coat of diffusion on the glass. Looking at the photo above, you will notice the lack of contrast in the band near the center. While that is what the camera produced, it was not what my eyes saw nor my other cameras captured. A lot of basic contrast is lost, you can see the blacks aren’t totally black in the above photo, which is the best indicator for how good contrast will be. The best way to avoid contrast issues is to shoot with clean gear and focus on track spots that are well watered. If you don’t do both, the image can be corrected in Photoshop with a few tools in the raw editor, but that takes extra work. The more you do in-camera the better.


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