PRO TAPER PRESENTS MXA’S MID-WEEK REPORT BY JOHN BASHER
Rider: Carey Hart
Location: Zaca Station, California
Date: July 29, 2014
Photographer: John Basher
Camera: Canon EOS-1D Mark III
Exposure: 1/1250 sec.
MXA VIDEO: OLD COUNTRY–TREY CANARD
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: JASON ANDERSON
“We get paid a lot of money to be up front, and if we get on the podium we also make some decent money. There can be a big difference between getting a fourth and getting a third. I’m not going to just follow people around and let them cash the bonus checks.”
Click here to read the interview.
MINI-VIEW: MALCOLM STEWART
By Jim Kimball
Malcolm, in spite of being very sick, you took the win in Detroit and now have the points lead. Talk about a turn of events! You are right! It was a great turnaround. I really cannot thank the Geico Honda team enough for getting me through this. It’s been rough, but to get the win and take over the points lead is a heck of a feeling. We are now just going to move on, and keep doing our best.
You were a very fast amateur, but did you take motocross seriously when you were younger? No, I didn’t at all. I didn’t take motocross all that seriously. I grew up in my brother’s shadow. It all hit me once I turned 16. I could always go back to fishing and hanging out. I suddenly realized that I could always fish when I got older, but I could only race motocross professional when I was young.
I can still remember from talking with your brother some years ago that hHe thought you were going to become a professional fisherman. Yeah, I probably could have had a future with it if I would have stayed with it. Now it’s all about dirt bikes for me. I am glad that I have made this decision in my life. You can be a professional fisherman at almost any age. I’m really happy that I made the right choice by racing dirt bikes. Hopefully I can win some races and a championship or two. I want to achieve my goals and then go from there.
Has your larger stature hurt you at all in racing? Probably to a weight-to-power ratio I am a bit big to race a 250, but at the end of the day I am just happy to throw my leg over a factory bike. I really can’t complain. My goal is to move up to the 450 class as soon as I can. If I can’t, then I’ll stay in the 250 class and be happy where I am at. There are already a lot of riders that get moved around. To be honest, I do not want to do what i did in 2014, where I didn’t have a deal lined up. If I have a factory 250 ride and I am eligible to race it I will, and I will be happy. If I don’t have a 450 ride then I will stay back. I have to go where it makes sense and is financially wise. The career of a professional racer is too short. The goal is to plan a career, and hopefully sometime soon I will get to join the 450 class with my brother.
Speaking of your brother, you guys are very close, aren’t you? For sure we are. We grew up very close all my life. It was very difficult in 2015 when he was out of racing, and in parts of 2016 when he has been injured. Not having your brother at the races with you is very different. Regardless, I know that he is supporting me, and actually he is probably texting me right now.
You have always come across as such a lovable, happy-go-lucky person, but I imagine you take motocross very seriously. I always get very serious when it comes down to racing. You can have a fun side and a serious side, and I am lucky that I found the happy medium. I enjoy life, and I enjoy racing, but I take racing very seriously.
Photo: Brian Converse
Are you pleased with how your racing career has progressed? I am just happy that each year I have gotten better and better. My training has improved a lot, and I am really glad to be at Geico with a full factory ride. Every team that I have been on has been great, but each year it has gotten better and better. I am really happy to be where I am right now. I have matured, and I am in my prime. I have learned from too many mistakes in the past, and I am trying to move forward. Like I just said, I am very happy right now, but my goal is to get on a full factory 450 team.
What actually happened to you last year, when you couldn’t race the AMA National series? It’s difficult to even pronounce the name, but I think its ragdoll. Basically it dehydrates all your muscle tears. I still don’t even know how exactly it happened, or what it was, but I am just glad that it’s behind me. Now I have beaten it, and I am just moving forward.
You have been doing great in 2016. How do you feel? I feel great, and I also feel that I deserve to be up front. Each race to date has been good. I am getting better and better, and I will keep seeing what I can do. I can win championships.
VIDEO: SHADOW BLAKE BAGGETT AT DETROIT
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A MAN’S LOVE FOR ONE MACHINE
Two years ago I pulled out a Yamaha YZ125 engine and held two of my loves in my arms–the other being my son, Brayden (who is celebrating his third birthday today, by the way).
I’ve written articles and columns about my undying love of the Yamaha YZ125 two-stroke. Heck, I even pulled a YZ125 engine out of its carcass and had my wife take a photo of me smooching it. It’s a sickness, I suppose. The YZ125 is the gold standard of two-stroke motocross bikes. For a decade it had no equal. Not until KTM revamped their 125SX in 2016 did the Austrians finally manage to surpass the YZ125 in performance. However, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the YZ125. We’ve been through good and bad times together, although the bad washes away with every blip of the throttle.
It’s a shame that two-strokes have gone by the wayside, at least in racing circles. However, they’re still popular at practice tracks and among neophyte riders. For that I’m thankful. Two-stroke diehards are an passionate lot. They love premix and fight loudly for their spot at the table. Some are kooky, but in general they’re a good group. In some ways I agree with their anthem–down with four-strokes! Life was simpler and riding was less expensive when two-strokes ruled the roost. Conversely, it’s nice to have choices. Some of my riding buddies can’t ride a two-stroke if their life depended on it. Others refuse to ride four-strokes. As for me? I ride with more intensity on a 125 two-stroke, but go fastest on a 450 four-stroke.
In the past few years I’ve tested three Yamaha YZ125s that really stood out from the crowd. Not to toot my own horn, but two of the bikes were built by yours truly. See below for three of the greatest Yamaha YZ125s ever built***.
***That’s a matter of personal opinion, and there is no factual basis for that statement.
MXA’S 2014 YAMAHA YZ125
The YZ125 engine is bulletproof, so I didn’t feel there was any need to mess with a good thing. I slapped on a Pro Circuit pipe and silencer, Boyesen RAD valve and Power X-Wing. In place of the meek front rotor was a Moto-Master 270mm Flame rotor; gone went the stock clutch, replaced by a full Hinson unit; UFO Restyled plastics enhanced the bike’s image; Dubya wheels eradicated any chance of a wheel failure; and I added all of my creature comforts–Renthal TwinWall bars, Kevlar grips, Works Connection titanium footpegs, and a MotoSeat cover. My project 2014 YZ125 was a solid machine, although not groundbreaking. It was a good first step, but there was still room for improvement. Which brings me to…
MXA’S 2015 YAMAHA YZ125
I hit it out of the ballpark with this build. Just look at that bike! Even four-stroke-only riders would want to throw a leg over the MXA YZ125 from 2015. I should make it known that, once again, I did very little to the engine. Why would I? The powerband is broad and doesn’t require much effort to stay on the pipe. Naturally the amount of power is lacking a bit, given that it’s a 125 two-stroke. I bumped up the horsepower by slapping on a Pro Circuit pipe and silencer, Boyesen RAD Valve, Power-X Wing and Twin Air Powerflow kit. Handling was improved with Ride Engineering 22mm offset triple clamps and steering damper, as well as a Ride Engineering lowering link to stiffen up the initial part of the shock’s stroke. Note that I didn’t touch the Kayaba SSS suspension, because why in the world would I? That stuff is so good right out of the crate.
What you don’t see is the Think Technology light seat foam and light crossbar pad foam. Together those two items shaved just over a pound off the stockers. Cycra Racing helped out with a PowerFlow front fender, Stadium front number plate and fork guards. Other modifications included a full Hinson clutch (yes, I’m aware that it’s a lot of money, but it’ll last the lifetime of the bike); Renthal chain, sprockets, Kevlar grips, 997-bend TwinWall bars; Works Connection clutch, front brake lever, radiator braces and holeshot device; Torc1 shifter and rear brake pedal; Dunlop MX32 tires; Pro-Pegs titanium footpegs; T.M. Designworks chain side-n-glide kit; and Moto-Master rotors. The bike was unreal. MXA test rider, Johnny Jelderda, piloted the project YZ125 to the overall win in the 125 Pro class at last year’s World Two-Stroke Championship.
ICW RADIATORS’ 2013 YAMAHA YZ125
ICW Radiators owner, Brett Koufas, has the same fascination in the YZ125 as I do. The only difference is that he spared no expense in building his 2013 YZ125. It has all of the bells and whistles that you’d expect–Kayaba A-Kit suspension with 50mm fork legs and a 16mm shock shaft; a bevy of titanium bolts; carbon fiber throughout; and so much more. The real beauty is found in the Chad Watts-tuned engine. The bill for the engine modifications alone? $5500. Koufas has to run race fuel, but that’s the price he has to pay in order to get lot of extra ponies out of the engine.
As a result, the ICW Radiators YZ125 was on par–perhaps even better–than the old Yamaha of Troy race bikes from a decade ago. I suppose that’s to be expected, given that Brett Koufas spent $15,000 in modifications to his prized steed. I was stoked to put some seat time on Brett’s YZ125 at South of the Border MX in Hamer, South Carolina.
WE BRING THE STORIES TO YOU
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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
Photo: Brian Converse
Anaheim 1…Trey Canard
San Diego 1…Ryan Dungey
Anaheim 2…Ken Roczen
San Diego 2…Eli Tomac
FASTEST QUALIFIERS: 250 CLASS
Anaheim 1…Cooper Webb
San Diego 1…Cooper Webb
Anaheim 2…Zach Osborne
San Diego 2…Zach Osborne
HOLESHOT AWARD: 450 CLASS
Anaheim 1…Cole Seely
San Diego 1…Chad Reed
Anaheim 2…Davi Millsaps
San Diego 2…Ryan Dungey
HOLESHOT AWARD: 250 CLASS
Anaheim 1…Jessy Nelson (West)
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)