PRO TAPER PRESENTS MXA’S MID-WEEK REPORT #30 BY JOHN BASHER
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: MITCH PAYTON
“I remember in 2004 how bad four-stroke reliability was. Those engines were ticking time bombs. At Red Bud one year we had ten engines in the truck, and we used every single one. Every week we thought we had the problem solved, and then something else would break. By the end the cases had a big plate mounted on, because the cases would break. We had to keep the case intact, even though it would be cracked.”
Click here to read the insightful interview.
2017 FOX GEAR INTRO
Fox Racing rolled out the red carpet this weekend for the introduction of their 2017 collection. Everything, from the hotel accommodations to restaurants, track location and more, was first rate. The weekend’s festivities included indoor mountain biking, VIP access to watch the Washougal National, dinner at a swanky restaurant on Saturday night, and a ride day on Sunday at Mountain View MX park. I’m telling you all of this because I still can’t believe it happened. It was one of those pinch my type of weekends.
Let’s forget for a minute about all of the Fox Racing swag and the list of A-level motocross celebrities they brought out to support the event (Ken Roczen, anyone?). Instead, it’s important to talk about the gear, which is pretty much all new. Fox revamped their popular 360 line (which, by the way, earned its name for the 360-degree stretch paneling they came up with on the knees). The 360 pant uses 900D polyester panels in high wear areas, such as the thighs, and full grain cow leather panels in the knees to ward off burning from pesky four-stroke exhaust pipes. Everything on the pant was designed with the rider in mind. As Fox Racing is known for, they combined fashion and function for a vast line of attractive and comfortable gear. My favorite part about the new 360 pant is the knee section, which uses four-way stretch TruMotion panels. I wear knee braces, and the flex characteristics of the new 360 pant are awesome.
Fox Racing’s signature Flexair line is back. The premium line maintains the simple and bold style of the previous season offerings, only with new colorways. If you’ve never ridden in Flexair gear, it’s like wearing nothing at all. The pant only weighs 28 ounces (size 34), and the jersey tips the scales at a mere six ounces (size Large).
There are several other new additions, as well as revisions, to Fox Racing’s lineup.
(1) The V4 helmet has been discontinued. Fox reps noted how similar the V3 and V4 were in performance features and price point, so they opted to focus on the V3. The helmet comes with MIPS technology, dual density foam, and has a carbon construction. It’s lightweight as it is comfortable.
(2) Kids will be thrilled about Fox’s commitment to bringing premium gear to smaller sizes. The Youth 360 line comes in one design (Youth Creo) and three colorways. The pant retails for $134.95, while the jersey is $44.95.
(3) Offroad riders should rejoice that Fox has a revamped line of offroad-specific gear. They even made a Instinct boot with a large, open lug pattern sole and full coverage around the toe box.
(4) Forget everything you thought about Fox Racing gloves, because everything except the model names changed. It’s obvious that Fox used input from expert testers in redesigning their 360, Pawtector, Airline and Dirtpaw gloves. I rode with the 360 gloves and they felt like a second skin. There wasn’t any balling up in the palm areas, and the finger length was true to size. In what is a first, Fox incorporated internal TPR “knobbies” on the inside of the index and middle finger of both gloves. The nubs give a more tactile feel and grip when pulling in the clutch and front brake lever.
I cannot thank the Fox Racing staff enough for their hospitality this past weekend. Daryl Ecklund and I each left Mountain View MX with a gear bag full of 2017 product, apparel, and big dopey smiles on our faces. For more information, visit www.foxhead.com.
GALLERY: FOX RACING 2017 GEAR LAUNCH
Ken Roczen showed up to speak with the media. That’s Mark Finley, Fox Racing’s Global Category Director of Moto, next to Kenny. Shortly after this photo was taken, Roczen exited the tent and hung out by a spread of donuts. He grabbed a donut and quickly ran off before any of the media could see. You can’t hide from us, Kenny. Busted!
TWO-STROKE SPOTLIGHT: NICOLAS GIRARD’S HONDA CR250AF
It seems like a lot of the submissions I’m receiving are from racers who stuff a two-stroke engine in a four-stroke chassis. And so it goes with Nicolas Girard’s Honda CR250AF, which the Canadian calls his “Frankenbike.” The CR250-inside-a-CRF250 idea isn’t new; however, Girard did all of the work himself. That’s admirable (especially for a guy who made it happen while expecting a baby!). Learn more about the Honda below.
“My name is Nicolas Girard from Montreal, Quebec Canada. I’ve been riding and racing for the past 19 years. I even drove all the way from Montreal to Glen Helen in 2013 to race the World Vet Championships.
“Here’s my two-stroke story. At the end of the 2014 season I was looking for a new motocross bike project. We were expecting our second child and I knew I would have plenty of time in the garage. That November I purchased a brand new 2014 CRF250 and a 2001 Honda CR250. The goal was to built a CR250AF. To make sure I didn’t change my mind I never started the CRF250 and removed the engine the first day. At that time only Service Honda and an Italian guy had built this type of Frankenstein-like bike. No information was available on how to put it together. All the motor mounts, frame and airbox modifications were custom made by me. Only the fuel pump conversion, and in 2016 the CR500 air boot, were purchased.
“On the track the bike surprises everybody who tries it. The bike weight 212 pounds full of gas. In 2016, I had the help from Exxtreme MX to work on the suspension with some A-Kit parts. It totally changed the way the bike handles. Gone is the front end diving and head shaking. Even though the engine is now 15 years old, all riders are surprise how tight, powerful and fun this powerband is.”
If you would like your bike to be featured in the “Two-Stroke Spotlight,” please email me at [email protected] 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!
RACE TECH OFFERING SUPPORT AT LORETTA LYNN’S
Press release: Race Tech will be setup on site at Loretta Lynn’s to support all the riders competing for National Championships. If you are competing at Loretta Lynn’s, stop by the Race Tech booth. Our team of highly-trained technicians will be offering bike setups all week long; as well as, have the tools and staff needed to provide rebuild, revalve and repair service on your suspension.
Riders traveling to Loretta’s anticipating service work during the event, please contact Rider Support Manager, Sydney Ruge at 951.279.6655 ext. 2 or via email at [email protected] to ensure we have an appointment and appropriate parts ready for you.
“There isn’t a bigger event in Amateur motocross than Loretta Lynn’s, and we’re excited to be on-site to support all the riders as they chase their dreams. Just qualifying for this event is a challenge, and every rider on the starting line at Loretta Lynn’s is a winner and someone we want to support,” stated Race Tech’s Director of Marketing Chris Riesenberg.
“Our staff is traveling to Loretta’s, along with representatives from many of our Race Tech Centers and Dealers around the US to ensure all the #RTRippers are provided with the best support in the industry. We have a strong number of riders who have made their way through the various Area and Regional qualifying rounds to make it to the big stage, and it’s important we are there to make sure they have all the tools needed to compete at such a high level,” said Riesenberg.
He continued, “I’ll definitely have my eyes peeled all week long looking for the next list of riders to add to Race Tech’s support program. Any riders at the event are encouraged to stop by and take advantage of the knowledge of our staff to get their bike setup no matter whose stickers are on the forks, and also, introduce themselves for an opportunity to join our Rider Support Team.”
Race Tech will be on-site beginning July 30th through the conclusion of the event onAugust 6th in Hurricane Mills, TN at the ranch of famed country singer Loretta Lynn.
REPERCUSSIONS OF THE SAVATGY/WEBB FRACAS
The Joey Savatgy/Cooper Webb run-in this past weekend at Washougal has been talked about and scrutinized in the days since Savatgy ran Webb wide, only for Webb to pass Savatgy back and give him the nasty brake-check business. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, take a look at the video below.
The resulting effects of the brake-check gone wrong are well documented. Cooper Webb tipped over, Joey Savatgy stalled his KX250F, poor Jeremy Martin got hit from behind while trying to avoid the bottleneck, and rookie Austin Forkner dashed away with his first ever Pro moto win. Now that the dust has settled, what are the ramifications of Cooper Webb’s decision to hit the binders? Believe it or not, the move worked in Webb’s favor. Here’s why.
1. Of the three title contenders that went down (Webb, Savatgy and Jeremy Martin), Webb left the melee ahead of the other two. He crossed the first lap in 20th and worked up to sixth.
2. Jeremy Martin was tagged in the back by what looked like a footpeg. The two-time defending 250 National Champion was down for quite some time before remounting. Martin came back to 17th. This, of course, came after he started the moto in the top five. His 17th place finish dropped him even farther behind teammate Webb in the standings. Cooper actually gained 11 points–his second-largest points advantage of the series–on Martin. It extended Webb’s overall points lead to 51 over Martin (it was a 38-point gap following Millville the weekend before). Jeremy Martin had this to say on his personal Instagram account following Washougal, “Rough weekend at washougal Mx [sic]. 4-17 for Moto finishes. Little to [sic] much testosterone up front in Moto 2 took me down and got smashed from behind. The race is 30+2 not one lap. Glad we get a decent size break before the next round.”
3. Joey Savatgy rounded the first lap of the second moto in 23rd. A crash on the fifth lap slowed his advance, and Savatgy ended the moto in 11th. His 10 points gained were good enough to keep him two up on Alex Martin for third in the overall standings, but he is 53 points back of Webb. In fact, second through fourth are on separated by four points.
So while Cooper Webb blew a chance of winning the second moto and possibly capturing the overall, he probably did more damage to Martin and Savatgy by slamming on his rear brake. Of course, the stunt could potentially open up a can of worms. Joey Savatgy will likely be looking for revenge, and obviously Jeremy Martin is unhappy with his teammate. These last three rounds should be very interesting.
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COVERED: MARCH 2004
Four bikes were prominently displayed on the March 2004 cover of MXA–the Honda CRF450, KTM 125SX, Yamaha YZ250F and Suzuki RM250. Now that 12 years have passed which bike would choose out of the four? Two-stroke or four-banger? Small bore or cubic advantage? Having ridden all the bikes, I’d go with the Yamaha YZ250F, followed by the KTM 125SX, Suzuki RM250 and Honda CRF450. Honda didn’t refine the CRF450 into the ultimate package until 2008, and then they radically changed everything about the bike. The YZ250F, with its steel frame and KYB AOSS suspension, wasn’t all that good compared to Yamaha’s current offering, but it was the best of the 250 four-strokes in 2004. KTM’s 125SX was a finicky ordeal. Sometimes I wake up in a cold sweat after having nightmares about the no-link PDS shock. And then there’s the Suzuki RM250, which was very good. I just happen to find 250 two-strokes a bit too unhinged and unfriendly for my tastes. To each his own.
My favorite part about this cover, which isn’t very attractive by the way, is the photo of Tim Olson wearing the Arai XD helmet. It was the second time Tim’s mug appeared on the cover (the other time was on MXA’s old sister publication, Motocross Journal). Tim is now the media relations manager at American Suzuki. His days of modeling are long behind him, but at least he can say he was a helmet model (twice!) on a worldwide publication.
MINI-VIEW: EVGENY BOBRYSHEV
By Jim Kimball
Photos by Massimo Zanzani
Evgeny, how did you get involved in motocross?
My father was a motorcycle racer, and one time he brought me home a little dirt bike as a gift. At the time I was seven years old. My motocross life started in front of my house. The first couple rides were a disaster. It was in the beginning of spring, so we actually still had some snow. I kept crashing just trying to turn around, but after trying over and over again I learned what to do and never let that happen again. I really learned a lot very quickly, and after a few days we went to a proper track. I had a lot of fun riding, and then I began racing. Motocross in Russia is very small, and the people are very poor. I started getting better, and we moved to the European races. That’s when I recognized that maybe I could make motocross a professional career.
What do you remember about racing as an amateur?
When I first began racing the 85cc class there were a lot of good riders and teams. There were probably about five riders who could win the championship. Back then we had about 11 rounds to the series, and ever single race was very exciting. When I moved up to the 125 class I really only had two competitors–Astaikin and Mikhailov. The three of us had very good races.
Didn’t you also try your hand at road racing?
Yes, I did. My dad had a good sponsor that was also a friend. His name was Nifontov, and he really knew a lot about the sport. He actually raced Dakar often. Anyways, he had some pretty good contacts in the road racing world, so we decided to try it. I wanted to see if it was anything that I had the opportunity to make into a career. In the beginning it was not at all easy switching from a motocross bike to a road bike, and I had a pretty awkward style. It didn’t exactly go as planned!
Your first 250 GP was in 2008. What was that like?
I rode for the Yamaha Van Beers Racing team. Racing a GP was a whole new world for me. It was very challenging, and it took a while to get going. Then I had the same sponsors in 2009, along with Yamaha Moscow. I had to race the Russian Championship then, so I did miss some rounds of the GP series. It was kind of an up and down season with racing in Russia, and then traveling through Europe for some GP’s.
In 2010 you moved up to the 450 class in MXGP and soon got on the podium. Was that a surprise?
I should have moved up much sooner! I rode for the CAS Honda team, and very quickly felt confident on the bike and with the team. With my body style, riding the 450 was much easier. I am a bigger guy and could use the extra power. So, I made the best of my situation, and I really had a lot of good times with CAS Honda. Then the following year in 2011, I signed with Factory Honda! It was on another level, and I felt like I was riding on another level, too. I was gaining a lot of confidence and getting better and better at every GP. I had some podium finishes, and even won the German GP! By the end of the year, even with missing some races, I finished fourth overall, so it was a very exciting year.
It has been a long time since there was a Russian motocross rider as successful as you. That must make you pretty proud.
That’s very true. It has been many years since there has been a top Russian motocross rider. It’s very difficult to make it from racing motocross in Russia to racing in MXGP. It’s difficult financially, and with getting a visa. I think if you bring MXGP into Russia people would quickly get interested. We also have Aleksandr Tonkov racing the World MX2 series. He is a strong guy, and if he continues working hard then I believe that he can be on top. Also, now Bryliakov is getting some good results.
You’ve had very good results, but also injuries. Has it been difficult bouncing back from those problems?
Those were some tough years at times. I seemed to have injury after injury, but I always kept my head up and never gave up on myself. I was in pain a lot, but always would work through it and get my fitness back up. 2013 was a very special year, because I became a father with a little baby girl. Without my family, close friends and the support of Honda I would have never gotten through it. During this time with a couple bad years I had set a goal of finishing in the top three, and I reached it in 2015. I had really worked a lot on being consistent and strong. It was great to have a good year.
How’s your relationship with Honda?
I have been with Honda for six years now, and there have been many changes. There are now many more global resources, and the team works with Japan and the USA. Being a part of Honda and involved in the development is not always easy, as I am so busy and traveling a lot, but it is very exciting. To be able to work with all the Honda groups is very exciting. I am very appreciative of this opportunity. I now have many friends in Japan and like it there a lot.
Can you win a MXGP title?
As far as my riding, I feel good, and I want to be fighting for the podium. Sometimes it hasn’t been enough, but I am continuing to work hard to be there. There are so many good riders right now. Cairoli, Nagl, Paulin, DeSalle and Strijbos are all good. Then you have the younger guys like Tim [Gajser] and Romain [Febvre] who have such good speed. They seem to be the guys to beat now. I know the direction that I have to go, and the work that I have to do. It won’t happen in one day, but I’m working to be top three at every race.
What’s in your future Evgeny?
I would really like to come over and race a AMA National, so you may see me sometime soon!
THEY SAID IT: HRC HONDA TEAM MANAGER DAN BENTLEY
“I’m really bummed [about the fact that all of the HRC Honda riders were injured and missed Washougal]. In all my years with Honda, I can’t remember one time where we didn’t have any riders at all racing at an event. It’s been a tough season for us. Trey and Justin are both out with concussions, and Cole is still recovering from surgery on his hand. Hopefully this doesn’t happen again and we can have the Oklahoma boys back for Unadilla. In the meantime, we appreciate our loyal fans’ continued support and well wishes.”
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: 2017 SUZUKI RM-Z450
It has been since 2013 that Suzuki made major updates to the RM-Z450. For 2017, Suzuki’s premiere race bike is mostly unchanged. The 2017 model features aesthetic updates, such as the black/yellow body panels, black-anodized Excel rims, black triple clamps, new graphics and a different colored seat. To the general consumer, the 2017 Suzuki RM-Z450 probably isn’t as exciting as, say, what Honda will likely unveil in the next few weeks with their new from the ground up CRF450. However, that doesn’t mean the RM-Z450 is a failure. Quite the opposite, actually.
Not a single 450 four-stroke turns tighter than a Suzuki. Then there’s the broad and metered powerband, light chassis feel in the air, comfortable ergonomics and those oldie but goodie Bridgestone 403/404 tires. Yet like nearly every bike past or present, the RM-Z450 has its problem areas. First is the Showa SFF TAC air forks, which aren’t necessarily bad—instead they have horrendous valving that’s a cause for concern. Then there’s the lack of overall horsepower, heavy static weight, weak clutch and poor brakes. I speak from experience in stating how good the RM-Z450 can be, but it requires a generous financial commitment to fix the flaws.
Yet despite the numerous issues, it’s hard not to like the 2017 Suzuki RM-Z450. The bike is one major fork setting change away from being very good. On Sunday, Daryl Ecklund and I tried to find that magical setting at Mountain View MX in Sandy, Oregon. The track was relatively smooth, with various sized jumps and a whoop section. Ruts and ripples formed, along with a few square-edged bumps. It was in those bomb holes where the forks were especially problematic. The good news is that we could land short or go long on jumps and not worry about clanking the forks.
Our shakedown of the 2017 Suzuki RM-Z450 was a good experience. The bike is being shipped down to SoCal, where we’ll pick it up and resume testing. Given that the ’17 is basically unchanged from this year’s model, we already have solutions for the forks (send them for a revalve), power (better buy a exhaust), brakes (go big or go home) and clutch (stiffer clutch springs make a big difference). The RM-Z450 is a really fun bike to ride, especially on tight tracks with ruts. Turning is its saving grace.
For more information, click here.
VIDEO: 2017 THOR PRODUCT LAUNCH
FASTEST OF THE FAST: AMA NATIONALS
An ongoing list of the top qualifiers and holeshot winners from each round of the 2016 Lucas Oil AMA 250/450 Nationals.
FASTEST QUALIFIERS: 450 CLASS
Glen Helen…Eli Tomac
High Point…Jason Anderson
Muddy Creek…Christophe Pourcel
Red Bud…Christophe Pourcel
FASTEST QUALIFIERS: 250 CLASS
Glen Helen…Cooper Webb
High Point…Zach Osborne
Muddy Creek…Adam Cianciarulo
Red Bud…Adam Cianciarulo
HOLESHOT AWARDS: 450 CLASS
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
Southwick…Justin Bogle / Justin Bogle
Millville…Justin Barcia / Marvin Musquin
Washougal…Phil Nicoletti / Marvin Musquin
HOLESHOT AWARDS: 250 CLASS
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
Southwick…Jeremy Martin / Cooper Webb
Millville…Alex Martin / Alex Martin
Washougal…Alex Martin / Cooper Webb