PRO TAPER PRESENTS MXA’S MID-WEEK REPORT #43 BY JOHN BASHER
Rider: Josh Hansen
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles
Date: August 2, 2010
Photographer: John Basher
Camera: Canon 1DS Mark II
Lens: 300mm f/4.0
Focal length: 200mm
Exposure: 1/640 sec.
IT’S HERE! 2017 YAMAHA YZ250F
Although the MXA wrecking crew have already tested, raced and written a full report on the 2017 Yamaha YZ250F, I hadn’t slung a leg over the blue bomber yet. That’s the major downfall of living on the opposite side of the country from Jody, Daryl Ecklund and Dennis Stapleton. However, thanks to Yamaha’s Motorcycle Media Relations Manager, Marcus DeMichele, I was on my way to Interstate Cycles in Mooresville, North Carolina on Saturday to pick up a brand new 2017 YZ250F.
Yamaha is the first manufacturer to ship out a motocross bike to yours truly. Their open-mindedness and generosity will be handsomely rewarded. I’ve already ordered parts to build the most ridiculously cool 250 four-stroke, which will appear in a future issue. Along the way I’ll document various steps of the build right here in the Mid-Week Report. Prepare to have your mind blown. Special thanks to Marcus and the crew at Yamaha Motor USA, as well as Jesse Maahs from Interstate Cycle. And, yes, I still love two-strokes.
MXA VIDEO: 2017 HONDA CRF450
RIDER REVIEW: 2017 HONDA CRF450
By now you have probably researched what all of the magazines and websites have said about the 2017 Honda CRF450 from last week’s introduction at Monster Mountain in Tallassee, Alabama. Everyone has an opinion on the most buzz worthy bike of 2017. Given that I spent two days riding the bike, it’s my journalistic obligation to dole out useful snippets of information regarding my experience. However, you should take my opinions lightly. For starters, the bike introduction was held at one of the very best motocross tracks on the planet. Monster Mountain offers endless traction and forms perfectly arcing ruts. Any motocross bike feels like Ryan Dungey’s KTM 450SXF around Monster Mountain. Second, your riding ability is probably different from mine. I have Vet Intermediate speed with Vet Novice endurance (I blame fried southern comfort food for the expanding waistline). I’m 6’1” and carry 195 pounds of flab, some muscle, bone and modestly sized love handles. Suspension and handling react differently depending on rider weight and speed. So, unless you’re built like me and get tired after five laps, your interpretation of the CRF450 performance could be different. And finally, I only had two days of riding the 2017 Honda CRF450, and only the CRF450. There weren’t other 450 four-stroke brands around to compare.
If you want the full scoop on the 2017 Honda CRF450, you’ll have to wait until the MXA gang gets the bike back to California and puts the poor CRF450 through hours of abuse. However, if you’d like to know my thoughts on the hyped-up Honda, read on.
The all-new Unicam engine is improved. Blessed with decent power off idle, the engine works best in the midrange. For me, the powerband was actually a bit surprising. Honda believes in building bikes that make usable power that can be put to the ground. The 2017 CRF450 is more aggressive than I thought it would be. Unlike the older model, which never seemed to tire me out, the new design got my tongue wagging. It’s not fair to compare the Honda to other 450 four-strokes, given that I couldn’t do back-to-back testing. Suffice it to say that the 2017 CRF450 delivers power to the ground like the old iteration, only with more zest and personality. I was able to carry third gear in most corners and lug the engine, yet the bike pulled well at low rpm. Flame-out was a minor issue, but wasn’t nearly as evident as on older CRF450 models.
An aesthetic nod and slight weight savings (41.5 grams lighter), Honda moved the map switch above the kill button. It makes sense, so I like it. The CRF450 comes preprogrammed with three power modes–standard, smooth, and aggressive. I personally liked the standard mode most of the time, but when the track was disced deep I preferred the aggressive setting. The smooth option made the throttle feel heavy and neutered the powerband.
Not once did I miss the KYB PSF-2 air forks. I liked that I didn’t have to fiddle with air pressures. Most of all, I liked how the Showa spring forks always felt grounded. There wasn’t any vagueness, particularly when the forks were unloaded. I’d rather have feedback come through the handlebars than nothing, followed by violent action when unexpected. In truth, I wasn’t initially sold on air forks. The best air forks I’ve ridden with to date are KYB’s PSF-1 A-Kit units on my Yamaha YZ125, and the WP AER forks that come on the 2017 KTM models. But I digress. In stock trim, the 2017 Honda CRF450 Showa 49mm forks were on the soft side. I chased compression clickers and tried different rebound. Ultimately I came up with a comfortable setting, which wasn’t too far off from stock. That’s the good news. The Showa shock needed more work. I ran 110mm of race sag, because as the bike sits it has a stinkbug stance–a standard Honda trait since the 2009 CRF450. I prefer a balanced chassis. Too much front-end bias made the ’17 suffer from minor headshake at high speed in a straight line. It wasn’t like “Hold on for dear life!” scary, but it was unnerving nonetheless.
To combat the problem I dropped the fork legs by 5mm in the clamps. That changed the cornering traits. At the stock fork leg height I was oversteering in some sections. Slacking the head angle helped alleviate the issue, with the added benefit of reducing headshake. It’s important to note that the 2017 CRF450 doesn’t come with the HPSD steering damper, which was used for cornering stability and not straight line stability. Still, if you’re interested in trying out the HPSD, the mounting brackets are still there.
Brakes: Good, workmanlike and relatively consistent, although they don’t hold a candle to the KTM/Husqvarna brakes.
Clutch: The old CRF450 clutch was a joke. I’m happy to report that I wasn’t able to roach the 2017 Honda CRF450 clutch, and I really rode like a fool for a number of laps. I was impressed with how the clutch withstood my abuse. You will notice that clutch pull is hard, and the disengagement point is in a strange spot. Still, it’s leaps and bounds better than the old design.
Shifting: I didn’t miss a shift once. That’s kind of a big deal. Then again, I’ve never had any problems catching gears. I’m not talking about a Kawasaki or Suzuki, after all…
Ergonomics: Love them. The 2017 Honda CRF450 has that familiar Honda feel. The engineers did open up the cockpit by raising the seat height by 5mm and moving the footpegs back. That only strengthened my love for the ergonomics.
Starting: No, I didn’t get to try out the electric starter. I wish I had, especially when the bike was hot, because I would have spared a few calories trying to get the engine fired. The bike is rather finicky. Sometimes it started on the first kick, while other times (notably after a few laps) it didn’t want to do anything. I’ll chalk it up to poor technique (something KTM/Husqvarna owners don’t have to worry about).
Is the 2017 Honda CRF450 the best thing since sliced bread? Should you rush to your local Honda dealer and plop down $8849 on new CRF450? Will podiums from Seattle to Southwick be flooded with a sea of red? No, maybe, and possibly. The 2017 CRF450 is improved from the previous iteration. It’s too early to tell whether it’s the best bike ever, much less the best bike in its class. That question cannot be answered after riding a bike for two days. I do think it’s good enough that if I was in the market for a 450 four-stroke, I’d take a hard look at the CRF450. I was impressed with the bike’s overall performance. As for Honda ruling the racing scene once again like they did from the late 1980s through the mid-‘90s, well, they have a runner in Kenny Roczen. What I learned at the 2017 Honda CRF450 is what I had known going into the event. First, Monster Mountain is an epic track that should hold an AMA National. Second, I need to kick my fried chicken and sweet iced tea habit.
For the full rundown on the 2017 Honda CRF450 you’ll have to wait until the February 2017 issue of MXA. And before you get all huffy puffy, remember that testing takes times.
TWO-STROKE SPOTLIGHT: DAN WILLIAMS’ 2014 YAMAHA YZ250
I’m finding that Two-Stroke Spotlight followers have an affinity for Yamaha’s. And so it goes with Dan Williams. While he was short on sending bike photos, he elaborated on his list of modifications. Take it away, Dan.
“Here is my submission. It’s a 2014 Yamaha YZ250. I took an 18-month break from motocross after a long string of injuries, and when I got back I decided to ride just for fun. The YZ250 was the perfect bike to do so. Although it’s a work in progress, here it is in it’s current state.
“I used black Excel Takasago wheels laced to turned-down stock hubs that have been powder coated black. Notice the flo green spoke wraps. I completed the wheels with Michelin Starcross 5 softs. I also had the triple clamps coated black while the hubs were getting done. The bike uses Renthal 994 Twinwalls to better fit my 6’2″ height, along with Renthal chain and sprockets. The suspension was done by Race Tech, with Gold valves and new springs for my weight. The engine has had the head cut and jug modified by C4MX, with a Pro Circuit Works Pipe and Shorty silencer. I use Hinson clutch plates and springs to get the power to the ground. To get the thing to stop I bolted on a 270mm front brake rotor and a Ride Engineering braided front brake line. To keep my control on the bike I fitted 2014 YZ450F wide footpegs and a Motoseat seat cover. DeCal Works topped it off with their always stylish graphics on UFO Restyle plastics.”
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!
INDUSTRY NEWS: CHRIS ALLDREDGE SIGNS WITH BPRMX
BPRMX Home Depot Yamaha is proud to announce Chris Alldredge has joined the team for the 2017 season. Alldredge had this to say, “I’m super excited to be getting back on Yamaha’s with the Barn Bros Racing Team this coming Supercross season. After riding the Yamaha motorcycle for most of my amateur career, it’s nice to be back on the bike that I had so much success on. And I can’t thank the Barn Bros team enough for giving me another opportunity to show the Supercross world what me, and the team, are capable of doing.”
For more information, visit www.bprmx.com.
THEY SAID IT: SHANE McELRATH
“This is a really crazy event [Red Bull Straight Rhythm] because even though it’s only 40 seconds long, my heart rate is definitely at a super high rate. It was cool to see Troy Lee Designs represented so well in the Lites class. I’m really happy to pull out a win.”
2017 PRO TAPER SPONSORSHIP NOW OPEN
From kids on KTM 50s to Senior Class racers in their 50s, now is the time to get the holeshot on your 2017 racing season. ProTaper is proud to announce the opening of our 2017 Sponsorship season! Now is your chance to become a member of ProTaper’s racer support program.
“Our products are race proven and champion-approved,” says Brand Manager Paul Perebijnos. “From the Micro Handlebars run on the KTM Junior Supercross minis to the Fuzion and EVO bars used by professionals like Jason Anderson and Jeremy Martin, ProTaper has your bar needs handled.” But ProTaper has plenty more to offer when it comes time to upgrade your riding experience, including grips, sprockets, chains and brake pads. And did we mention colors?
“Our Race Spec rear sprockets have been completely revamped for 2017, and are now available in red, orange, green, blue, and black,” he adds. With our RS rear sprockets, Contour and SE handlebars, and extensive grip line available in a wide range of colors, ProTaper makes it easy to personalize your bike.
“ProTaper is proud to sponsor top athletes around the globe in Supercross, MXGP, EnduroCross and the Off-Road arena. Top pros including Jason Anderson, Jeremy Martin, Colton Haaker and Max Nagl all pick ProTaper.” ProTaper not only sponsors professional athletes but racers of all levels from grassroots local level amateurs to national and world champions. “We encourage all racers who want to give ProTaper a positive representation both on and off the track to submit a request for sponsorship.”
The gate drops on ProTaper Racing’s 2017 Sponsorship Program now through the end of November. To be considered for the 2017 ProTaper sponsorship program, please choose from ONE of the following methods to apply:
· Submit a digital application through MxSponsor at: http://mxsponsor.com/companies/pro-taper
· E-mail your complete resume with your contact information, including your results for the past two seasons, career highlights, and your upcoming race calendar to: [email protected]
· Mail your complete resume with results for the past two seasons, career highlights, and your upcoming race calendar to:
ProTaper Rider Support
1621 Alton Pkwy Ste. 100
Irvine, CA 92606
See the entire collection of ProTaper’s race-proven products in the 2017 catalog: http://online.fliphtml5.com/lxnd/gxac/#p=1
Note: We only accept sponsorship requests for racers within the United States. Thank you for being a fan of the brand and part of the ProTaper Team!
WRONG WAY, DENNIS!
Dennis Stapleton is more than an ex-Pro, world traveler, chief tester at MXA and owner/operator of StapoMX motocross vacations. He’s one of my very best friends. We’ve been buddies since 2005, when he drove overnight from Santa Cruz down to Glen Helen and rode for photos on the 2006 Honda CRF450. It was only fitting that Stapleton and I celebrate our ten years of brotherhood by attending the 2017 Honda CRF450 introduction in Alabama this past week.
Dennis has probably done more than a hundred photo shoots since first wearing the orange helmet. We’ve had good times and made great memories over the years. These days we’re older, but not necessarily wiser. Take the 2017 Honda CRF450 intro, for example. Stapo was circling the Monster Mountain grounds in search of the perfect photo location. He stumbled across a retaining pond. Surrounded by fall foliage, Dennis planned on making a turn in the sand. Although good in theory, he had no idea how soft the sand was. Dennis sunk the brand new bike up to its axles.
I watched the whole thing unfold and laughed uncontrollably as Dennis tried pulling the bike out from the muck. Seriously, I bet the Honda engineers thought I was insane. I pointed and laughed until I ran out of breath. After a few minutes I realized that Stapleton was stuck. By the time I ran over to help I was too late. The track workers, seeing Stapleton’s plight, rushed to his aid. Wrong way, Dennis!
FOR A GOOD CAUSE: RIDE FOR KIDS CHARITY EVENT
The Ride for Kids and Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation will be making its annual appearance for the 2016 Los Angeles Ride for Kids charity event on October 29th. American Honda Motor Company will commemorate its 25-year anniversary by serving as the presenting sponsor and teaming up with Ride for Kids to host the event at its Torrance headquarters. Local communities are highly encouraged to work together by coming out to support the event and help eliminate the challenges of childhood brain tumors.
Ride for Kids is the longest-running, most successful motorcycle charity event in the nation. Since 1984, motorcyclists have raised funds to help children with brain tumors, which are the top cause of cancer death in children.
The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation was created in 1991 by the founder of Ride for Kids, and is now the leading nonprofit funding research into childhood brain tumors. The events also fund free educational resources, college scholarships for brain tumor survivors and emergency financial aid for families.
More than $125,000 was raised during the 2015 Los Angeles Ride for Kids event, consisting of a massive turnout that witnessed the gathering of nearly 700 supporters. For 2016, donations have already exceeded $90,000 and the overall goal is to continue the events growth by raising $145,000.
The 40-mile motorcycle ride will begin at the Honda headquarters in Torrance before makings its way towards CRAFTED at the Port of Los Angeles. All participants who are looking to join the ride aboard their motorcycles should come equipped with the necessary safety gear that is required by state law. The event will provide plenty of fun-filled activities for families throughout the day, including a costume contest, entertainment, giveaway of a new motorcycle and other prizes.
For more information on how you can get registered or make a donation to the Ride for Kids event visit www.curethekids.org.
WHAT: 2016 Los Angeles Ride for Kids
WHEN: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 29
Registration – 8 a.m.
Ride Begins – 10 a.m.
WHERE: American Honda Motor Company, Inc.
1919 Torrance Blvd.
Torrance, Ca. 90501
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: TONY CAIROLI
“I cannot believe that motocross and Supercross in America is as long as it is. I have spoken with a lot of guys at the races and I think it is very difficult to have so many races. In MXGP we had 18 races this year and maybe next year it will be 20, so it is just too many races. It is better to have 12 or 13 races on a very good schedule, and a good setup with a good crowd. We are now going in some places where there are 2000 spectators. It is better to go where motocross is famous, the people come to watch the races, and the atmosphere is better for everyone.”
Click here to read an honest interview with the eight-time Grand Prix Champion.
2017 RACE SCHEDULES: BE THERE OR BE SQUARE
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.
2017 MONSTER ENERGY SUPERCROSS SERIES
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 http://www.supercrosslive.com/ to purchase tickets
2017 AMSOIL ARENACROSS SERIES
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 http://www.supercrosslive.com/ to purchase tickets
2017 LUCAS OIL PRO MOTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP
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
2017 FIM MOTOCROSS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
March 5…Pangkal Pinang…Indonesia
April 23…Valkenswaard…The Netherlands
July 9…Baldasserona…San Marino
July 23…Loket…Czech Republic
September 10…Assen…The Netherlands
September 17…Villars sous Ecot…France