S TIL E Z
Æ’ O R M /L E S
STI LE Z ROB E RTSON TOPS TWMX MINI MAJOR
NEW YEAR. NEW GOALS. NEW GEAR.
'17 SPRING COLLECTION DROPS WITH THE GATE AT ANAHEIM 1 1/7/17
OFFICIALLY LICENSED APPAREL T H E 2 0 1 7 C O L L E C T I O N B Y FA C T O R Y E F F E X
SEE T HE ENT IRE 2017 COL L ECT ION AT
F E B R U A R Y 2 0 17
PRO CIRCUIT KAWASAKI KX85
2017 450 SHOOTOUT
2016 MINI MAJOR
090 AXELL “SLAY” HODGES
JEREMY “TWITCH” STENBERG
TRANSWORLD MOTOCROSS magazine (ISSN 1533-6212, USPS 021-404), Volume 18, No. 02, is published monthly by TEN: The Enthusiast Network, LLC, 261 Madison Avenue, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10016. Copyright (c) 2017 Grind Media, LLC. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A. Reprinting in whole or part is forbidden except by permission of Grind Media, LLC. Mailing List: We make a portion of our mailing list available to reputable ﬁrms. If you would prefer that we don’t include your name, please write us at the Palm Coast address. POSTMASTER: Send all UAA to CFS. (See DMM 707.4.12.5); NON-POSTAL AND MILITARY FACILITIES: send address corrections to Transworld Motocross Magazine, PO Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY and additional mailing ofﬁces. Subscription rates: $12.00 for 12 issues. Please add $12.00 per year for Canadian addresses and $24.00 per year for all other international addresses.
5 SERIES WINGMAN
O N E FA M I LY, O N E B R A N D W E L C O M E T O T H E F O X T E A M C H A D, E L L I E , TAT E , K I A H & PAC E
PHOTO BY MIKE EMERY
Back in the 1990s one of the guys who always gave me fits in the 250 Novice class was my friend Scott Mumford. Truth be told he usually beat me because I was always pulling over to suck on the asthma puffer I tucked into my jersey sleeve, but that’s irrelevant (ha ha!). What matters now is that his son, Carson, is currently one of the nation’s fastest minibike pilots. Mounted aboard what’s basically a works Honda CRF150R, Carson rides for the AMSOIL-branded amateur division of the powerful GEICO Honda race team. Watching Scott and Carson interact gives me a small peek into what it would have been like to be a mini dad, and I’m not sure that I could have pulled it off! Going racing at that high of a level requires total commitment, and I still like riding and racing too much to hang up my own boots. A regular in the TWMX Race Series, Kawasaki Team Green rider Stilez Robertson—like Carson—has become one of my little buddies, and I told both of them quietly that
“I BEL IE VE THE MINI MA JOR IS GOING T O BE THE MOS T IMPOR TANT R ACE F OR K IDS.” — S T ILE Z ROBER T SON
the winner of the premier class at the Mini Major would be awarded the February cover. The intensity that the duo attacked the track with in the SuperMini Open class was mindblowing, and in two of the three
I never had a mini bike. When other
be involved at any level as a young-
ety I felt while watching them ride
motos they were separated by only
kids my age were honing their skills
ster. And while nothing bums me
leads me to believe that I wouldn’t
a bike length or two—Stilez scream-
on Yamaha YZ80s on the week-
out more than seeing an out-of-con-
have been a gnarly mini dad if I had
ing the heck out of his Kawasaki
ends, I was more concerned with
trol mini-bike parent at the races, I
a son who raced. Granted, swap Jr.
KX85 and Carson floating the valves
whether my mom had bought me
love watching the smiles, hugs, and
would have had the coolest bikes
on his little red thumper. In the end
Ding Dongs or Twinkies to eat while
high-fives shared at the finish line at
and gear made, but I can’t see my-
it was Stilez who prevailed, and this
I watched Saturday morning car-
our TWMX Race Series events, and
self as one of those dads who yells at
month becomes the first mini racer
toons. That said, I’m pretty jealous of
in the Pee Wee classes in particular.
their kid for not doing a triple jump.
to ever grace the cover of TransWorld
the kids I see nowadays who get to
Would I have been a gnarly mini
This month we held the second
go to the tracks with their parents—
dad had my wife and I had boys in-
annual TWMX Mini Major, a three-
The 2016 TWMX Mini Major was—
I wish that I had shared something
stead of two daughters? It’s hard to
day championship event designed
by all accounts—a huge success,
like motocross with my mom and
say. While I always used to joke that
just for kids on minis. While I’m
and I can’t wait to see what next
dad when I was a kid.
I was the Tony Alessi of girls’ soccer,
used to competing and working
year has in store for our third-annu-
I was never too aggro on the side-
at the normal TWMX Race Series
al running. Turn to page 44 to see
We’ve all heard that saying before,
lines, but that was mostly because I
events, I really enjoy the Mini Major
what the biggest thing to happen
but I really believe it to be true. After
didn’t know a thing about the sport!
because I get to sit back and watch
to mini-bike racing was all about.
all, without the support of your par-
My daughters dabbled in moto
the interaction between the kids
Thanks for reading!
ents, it’s pretty much impossible to
when they were young, but the anxi-
and their families.
Motocross. Congrats, Stilez!
WELCOME TO THE SIDI FAMILY MATT!
Weâ€™re proud to present our newest rider Matt Bisceglia and wish him all the best racing for JGRMX/Suzuki Team.
Only Sidi boots purchased from an authorized Sidi-Motonation dealer are covered by our product warranty.
Toll Free 877.789.4940
I S S U E 02
What’s the first thing you change on a new bike and why?
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M A N AGING E DITOR
I always install my favorite handlebar: the Pro Taper Fuzion bar.
It doesn’t feel right until FMF has uncorked the bikes hidden potential.
I don’t need warning stickers to know I’m gonna fall down and go boom.
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SENIOR CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
At the very least new grips. I like ’em sof t!
New grips. Most OEM units are rock hard!
Handlebars and grips. I typically don’t like OEM handlebars.
SENIOR CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGR APHER
Ryne Swanberg Number backgrounds. Gotta look factory ASAP.
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Canada Post: Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to IMEX Global Solutions, P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2. SUBSCRIBERS: If the post ofﬁce alerts us that your magazine is undeliverable, we have no further obligation unless we receive a corrected address within two years. Back Issues: To order back issues, visit tenbackissues.com Reprints: For high-quality custom reprints and eprints, please contact The YGS Group at 800-290-5460 or TENreprints@theygsgroup.com FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE AND SUBSCRIPTION QUESTIONS,
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P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235
At the forefront of motocross progression, stands the 2017 Husqvarna Motorcycles motocross range. It features the all-new TC 250 2-stroke, alongside the innovative FC 4-stroke models with their cutting-edge electronics that tame the most powerful engines on the market. Smooth and controllable, yet deceptively fast â€“ functional design combines with the new WP AER 48 forks to give riders the conďŹ dence needed to break new ground in their never-ending quest for success.
Photo: H. Mitterbauer
PROGRESSION IS INEVITABLE
Please make no attempt to imitate the illustrated riding scenes, always wear protective clothing and observe the applicable provisions of the road traffic regulations! The illustrated vehicles may vary in selected details from the production models and some illustrations feature optional equipment available at additional cost.
RYDER DIFRANCESCO | FOR THE WORLDâ€™S FASTEST RACERS CHECK OUT OUR ENTIRE YOUTH OFFERING | TROYLEEDESIGNS.COM
BY ERIC JOHNSON
PHOTO COURTESY OF MONSTER ENERGY
JONATHAN RE A “I’m just a failed motocrosser—that’s what I am,” Jonathan Rea said with a laugh while riding in the back of a rental car on his way to yet another post-season media event. For a brilliant motorcycle racer who posted up 23 podium finishes and nine victories in his joy ride to the 2016 Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme World Superbike Championship, it may sound a bit odd that the native of Lame, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, is such an unabashed fan of all things motocross and Supercross. Yet he is, and there’s absolutely no denying it. The first racer to win back-to-back World Superbike championships since the legendary Carl Fogarty pulled it off at the end of the millennium, Rea and his mighty Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R resolutely stamped their authority on the classification in 2016. Rea, however, would likely think long and hard if asked whether he would trade it all in to line up against Jason Anderson, Eli Tomac, Ryan Dungey, Ken Roczen, and Chad Reed at Angel Stadium this approaching January. Two-time World Superbike champion—that has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? I’m super happy. It’s not really all setting in, because it’s quite raw from the last race weekend. It was nice to get it done. You start the year with that target in mind, and it’s a long and sometimes stressful and challenging year, but at the end we were able to get it done. You were on the podium 23 times during the 2016 World Superbike season and essentially controlled the championship throughout. Nonetheless, you have mentioned on a number of occasions that the title didn’t come easily and you really had to work for it. Was this second championship more difficult to achieve? Yes, 100 percent, because we had to work so much harder. Last year happened very automatically. I jumped on a bike that was at the very end of its development at a really high level. For 2016, Kawasaki came out with a completely different bike with a different character that took a little bit of a different philosophy to get the best out of it. We were lucky to hit the sweet spot a few times during the year, but still, we had been searching for that base-setting to be super, super comfortable. I think we managed the season in quite a good way. When we could win we made sure we did, and when we couldn’t we picked up what we could on that day. I think we can be quite proud, because we ended this year with a completely new model from the ground up. As a team to finish one-two in the championship and to win the Manufacturers’ Championship, it shows we’re the strongest team right now, and it’s encouraging to know that.
Going back to 2009, you put in six World Superbike seasons
BY ERIC JOHNSON
Are you going to put any time in on
grew up motocross riding. It’s done
your motocross bike?
a lot by road-race guys who never
Yeah, I actually did a race back
grew up in motocross, and that’s
home recently. It was at the Isle of
where accidents sometimes happen.
Man, and it was the final round of
It’s almost like my team is overcau-
the IOM National Championship. It
tious because they don’t know me
was the first-ever time in my career
and my history. I mean, anything can
that I’ve been able to finish my year
happen, but it’s kind of like telling
in World Superbike and compete in
an ex-Formula 1 driver not to spin
a proper motocross race—that was
the wheels in a rental car because
cool. Then in January I’ll do a two-
they might lose control. The really
week motocross camp in Spain.
tough thing about our sport is that it’s too expensive to ride every day.
with Honda—you won races and were always very competitive, but the championship never came. You moved to Kawasaki for
How was it being out there at the
You can’t hire private tracks every
2015 and everything just clicked, and now you have two in two
Isle of Man race and being a moto-
day. To start my bike it takes a team
years. Do you ever think about that?
cross guy again?
of people with laptops and whatnot.
I do—I look back now over three or four years. I was speaking
It was awesome! I pretty much went
You don’t ride the bike every day. It’s
to my wife the other day, and in the last four years we’ve been
three for three with holeshots. In the
not like motocross where Eli Tomac
married we’ve had two kids and two championships. It’s been
first moto I crashed on the first lap just
can throw his bike in the pickup and
an incredible four years for me personally and professionally.
because I was like a rabbit in the head-
go with his mechanic and trainer to
I don’t think this kind of moment will sink in until I face some
lights. After I settled down I came back
the track. We can’t do that. The clos-
real difficulties in the sport or when my career ends, and after-
to second, and in the last two races I
est thing we can do on the motor-
wards you can look back and look from the outside. Right now
was third. I really, really enjoyed it.
bike is motocross. Unfortunately it’s a high-impact sport, so when you
I’m in the bubble where you’re with a factory team and you’re paid to go out and win, and that’s all you’re
Motocross fans may not realize what
do crash sometimes you get injured.
a massive fan of the sport you are.
Sometimes it’s tough for a rider
So much so that when you were
when something goes wrong and
Some other racers I know who compete in
younger you refused to even look at
everyone says, “Well, you shouldn’t
other forms of motorsport have told me that
road racing because you thought it
have done that.” But it’s also like,
to be a champion you almost have to have a
would be boring.
“Well, what do you expect me to do?
type of “you’re only as good as the last thing
I come from a normal middle-class
Go and run in a straight line for 10
you do” mentality. Do you agree with that?
family, and we didn’t have money to
kilometers every day?” That has no
Yes and no. You have to believe in your abili-
burn. I got to a point at the British
relevance to my actual day job. It’s
ties and you have to be realistic and under-
Championship-level where if I were
kind of a catch-22 situation.
stand that in some moments it’s possible to
to progress and motocross was go-
win and in some it’s not possible. You can’t
ing to become my job, my dad need-
If you could be at the top of the
live by those words that you’re only as good
ed to write checks out to get me on a
world in road racing or Supercross,
as your last race, because of course I race
good team. We didn’t believe in that
which would you chose?
against 23 or 24 other guys who also have really high ability
direction. It just came about that Red
One hundred percent would be Su-
but maybe don’t have the same opportunity, so it’s about being
Bull gave me the road-racing oppor-
percross! You know we’re all closet
patient and realistic about where you are and the equipment
tunity in 2005, and that took a lot of
motocross geeks, us road racers.
you have and just having that same belief. There are guys who
weight off of my family. I enjoy mo-
Maybe they would say the same.
have gone through their careers completely under the radar
tocross a lot—probably even more
I’m sure if you ask a professional
and then all of a sudden they come and win a championship.
now than racing because racing is
Supercross guy if he wanted to ride
So I guess I sort of disagree with that mentality. I think it’s more
my job. I love it. When you grow up
MotoGP, he would be into it. I never
about work ethic and belief and the right mental attitude.
in motocross you never lose your
got to ride at the Supercross level,
speed. You lose your timing and fit-
so I can’t imagine. To roll out at Ana-
What will you be up to now that the off-season is upon us?
ness, but I do enough to stay in it
heim I into a packed stadium after
This November is like the busiest time of the year. Between trade
and ride with some pretty fast guys
the light show and the lights come
exhibitions and marketing events there’s a lot to do. Then there’s
at home. I love it. It gives me a feel-
on for the first moto, I think that
a lot of testing, and then they’ll be some charity dinners that I’m
ing like nothing else.
would be incredible. My first love is
“YOU MY FIRST LOVE IS ALWAYS GOING TO BE MOTOCROSS, AND EVERY TIME I GET THE CHANCE TO JUMP ON A BIKE, I ALWAYS DO. ”
always going to be motocross, and
involved in. Then on December 12, I’ll pack my bags and go to Australia to start preparations for 2017. While November is a
Have the teams you raced for ever
every time I get the chance to jump
busy month, it’s quite easy on the athlete side because I com-
voiced their concerns about you rid-
on a bike, I always do.
pletely take a break from all training and just ride the bike the
ing around on a motocross bike?
few times while testing new parts. Right now it’s kind of busy, but
Yeah, of course—they don’t like me
Do you ever look to MotoGP and
it’s quite easy.
going to tracks with big jumps. I
think about being there? I’ve had
PHOTO COURTESY OF MONSTER ENERGY
plenty of people tell me you’d do
ago, and I never grew up the GP
cians. I think for me the motivation
because maybe one day there could
very well in MotoGP. You’re a two-
way. If the Superbike guys have ever
to go there on privateer machin-
be some interesting opportunity to
time world champion, and a winner
bridged the gap to MotoGP, they’re
ery or subpar machinery where I
go there, but right now home is in
is a winner, you know?
not the front-running guys because
couldn’t actually show my full po-
Superbike and my heart is in Super-
Exactly. That winning mentality is
they haven’t grown up with it and
tential wouldn’t be that motivating,
bike and I’m with Kawasaki. That’s
what keeps me in World Superbike,
they don’t get the factory bikes.
whereas in Superbike I have that
where I see my career panning out
because in MotoGP I missed the
With the factory bikes come new
involvement with the factory and I
for the next two years anyway, and
boat on a factory ride some years
materials and all the good techni-
really enjoy it. I can never say never
then after that we can make a plan.
PHOTOS BY MIKE EMERY CASEY DAVIS
T WMX R ACE SERIES R ACER OF THE MONTH
A second-generation racer, Maxi-
With a father who has accomp-
mus Vohland has some big footsteps
lished so much in racing, one must
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
to follow in, as his dad, Tallon, was a
wonder if Max looks to Tallon as
Sponsors: KTM, Red Bull, Acerbis,
very successful Supercross, National
“just Dad” or one of the sport’s he-
The TWMX Race Series is proudly
Scott, FMF, Troy Lee Designs,
MX, and World Championship GP
roes: “It’s more like, ‘Oh, that’s my
supported by SPY Optic, Bell, FMF,
John Moore, R&D Racing, Dunlop
competitor in the ’90s. Already a top
dad,’” he says with a laugh. “Because
Yamaha, Next Components, DT-1,
rider in the mini classes in NorCal,
I definitely feel like I’m going to do
ODI, MTA, Action Sport Canopies,
Max, along with his family, makes the
better than he did—at least that’s my
Race Awards, Streamline Brakes,
trek down to Southern California to
plan! He was very fast, but I’m going
EVS and Spectro Oils.
contest as many TWMX Race Series
to turn pro and work hard at it and
events as possible. “It’s great to
try to get as many championships as
come down here and race,” he says.
I can. Of course I wouldn’t be here
“There are lots of competitive rac-
if it wasn’t for him. He’s raced at the
ers in my class, and TransWorld also
top level before, and he knows every
puts on a great series and I like the
mistake he made and knows how to
tracks in SoCal.”
keep me from doing the same.”
Follow Max on Instagram at @maxvohland.
Find everything you need for your Jeep, Truck or SUV at 4 Wheel Parts!
SUSPENSION PACKAGES + RACKS & BED ACCESSORIES + WHEELS & TIRES + TOWING & RECOVERY GEAR + LIGHTING & BUMPERS
PHOTO BY DONN MAEDA
The 2017 KTM 250 SX-F contended for Bike of the Year honors in our annual
Hannah Jensen is a 25-year-old model from Anaheim Hills,
250cc Shootout, as its super-powerful engine, great suspension compo-
California, who’s been modeling since she was 18, doing every-
nents, and razor-sharp-handling character make it a favorite among TWMX
thing from fashion to commercial to runway work. The newest
test riders. In standard condition the bike makes most of its power in the
Rockstar Energy girl, Hannah landed her gig by “sliding into the
middle to upper portions of the RPM range, and it’s best suited to faster
DMs” of Rockstar Energy Models boss Crystal Cannon. “I liked
riders who really like to scream the bike. In search of more roll-on torque,
the image that the Rockstar Energy girls had,” she says. “Plus I
we installed a FMF Factory 4.1 Megabomb system and were stoked with the
love motocross and Supercross, so I thought it would be a great
low-end gains it yielded. Split Design Co. and SDG USA handled the graph-
way to work and be involved.”
ics and seat cover to complete this month’s poster-bike look.
We asked Hannah, who sports multiple tattoos, if they help or hinder her career as a model. “They used to hold me back from some jobs,” she answers. “But lately it seems like they’ve
begun to help as tattoos gain more acceptance.
Follow Hannah on Instagram at @hannnahjensen
SHOWCASE SPOTLIGHT 100%
PHOTOS BY DONN MAEDA
SHOWCASE SPOTL IGHT 100% The crew at 100% have made a name for them-
The $120 Mode Hooded Puffer Jacket that Chris-
selves with high-quality performance goggles for
tian Craig is wearing features a 100-percent Nylon
motocross racing. In the years since the legend-
ripstop outer shell and a 100-percent polycontrast
ary brand was re-launched it has expanded into
lining with Lycra edge binding at the hood, body,
mountain bikes, sunglasses, and gloves. In 2017
and sleeve openings. Craig is also wearing the
a full line of technical casual and outerwear will
GEICO Team Rev Beanie, which costs $25.
make its debut for the brand, and 100% will complete its team sponsorship of the GEICO Honda
Trainer John Wessling, meanwhile, is wearing the
squad with team apparel and accessories.
Technique Hooded Softshell Jacket. Also $120, it has a full-zip bonded two-layer soft shell with twoway stretch and has an athletic cut with a drop-tail design. Also available are the GEICO Team Bond Trucker Hat and GEICO Team Haversack Backpack, which cost $28 and $45, respectively. ride100percent.com
TR A IL TES TED Specialized S-Works Epic
RIDER CHRISTIAN CRAIG
Trail and enduro mountain bikes are fun, but when it comes to serious training a cross-country
ultimate performance on the bike both up and down the mountain.
steed is what you need. The Specialized Epic is
The 2017 S-Works World Cup version of the
a full-suspension cross-country bike that’s de-
Epic comes equipped with SRAM’s flagship Eagle
signed solely with the purpose of translating all
drivetrain, which features 12 speeds and a mas-
of your pedal power into forward momentum.
sive 50-tooth bailout gear for extreme inclines.
Suspension bob is the enemy of a rider looking
The World Cup also boasts a more aggressive
to efficiently climb on a mountain bike, and the
front-end geometry than the rest of the Epic line,
suspension design of the Epic addresses this
and this allows the bike to slice its way down tight
problem head-on. The proprietary Specialized
single-track with minimal rider input. We’ve spent
Brain is a shock with an inertia valve mounted
the better part of three years pedaling an S-Works
near the rear axle, and it can tell the difference
Epic World Cup around SoCal, and although the
between downward forces being placed on the
new 2017 version’s biggest change on paper is
bike’s rear-suspension system by rider input and
the Eagle drivetrain and SRAM Level Ultimate
from inconsistencies in the trail surface. What
brakes, we’d swear that Specialized has made
does this mean? The system allows the Epic to
their top-of-the-line cross-country racer even
climb with the efficiency of a hard-tail bike but
better somehow. Thankfully all of the suspension
offers the bump and impact absorption of a
technology that makes the Epic such a great bike
suspension bike. The same technology is incor-
is included in every version, all the way down to
porated into the RockShox fork allowing for the
the super-affordable $2,800 Epic Comp.
PHOTOS BY DONN MAEDA
M A X I M A C H A I N P R O DR Y L UBE $ 9 . 9 5
100% RIDEFIT GLOVE $27.50
Using a bicycle-specific chain lube on your mountain bike can extend
Available in sizes small through double extra large and in six differ-
chain life and provide quieter and more accurate shifts in between
ent colors, the 100% Ridefit Glove is one of the most comfortable
gears. Trust us: You don’t want to use WD-40, and you certainly can’t
gloves we’ve worn while mountain biking. Sure, we’ve all cycled in
use the same stuff that you use on your motocross bike chain! Maxi-
motocross gloves and that works fine to a point, but a glove that’s
ma Chain Pro dry formula chain lube is perfect for our SoCal locale,
designed specifically for mountain biking is more comfortable and
as it’s designed for use in dusty conditions. It goes on clean, doesn’t
functional. The single-layer Clarino palm resists bunching and offers
attract buildup, and lasts a long time in between reapplications. Best
great feel on the grips, and the low-cut wrist offers no restriction and
of all? It smells like a yummy dessert.
a secure closure. The glove is highly absorbent and is great for wiping sweat from your brow, and the fingers feature touchscreen com-
patibility for your Garmin or smartphone. ride100percent.com
2017 Specialized S-Works Epic World Cup Price: $9,000 Frame: Carbon fiber Wheel size: 29” Drivetrain: SRAM Eagle 1x12 Brakes: SRAM Level Ultimate Front suspension: RockShox SID with Brain Rear suspension: Fox Shox with Brain specialized.com
PHOTO BY DONN MAEDA
YOSHIMUR A RS - 9T T I TANIUM/C ARBON F IBER FULL SYS TEM Price: $1,499 Application: 2017 Honda CRF450R
What It Is The 2017 Honda CRF450R is new from the ground up, and thanks to its association with the factory Honda HRC race teams in America and Japan, Yoshimura has a nice head start developing a high-performance aftermarket exhaust for the machine. Yoshimura offers stainless-steel and titanium versions of the RS-9T exhaust system, and both come with carbon-fiber muffler end caps.
Hits • Quality and craftsmanship of the Yoshimura system is beautiful, and the system almost seems too nice to get dirty. The titanium tubing is stunning and the welds are flawless. • Installation is a breeze and the Yoshimura system fits perfectly. The slip-fit joints have a precise fit and feel. • The titanium and carbon-fiber system weighs a whopping 1.5 pounds less than the OEM exhaust. • The stock exhaust has a loud, raspy exhaust note. The RS-9T sys-
tem is noticeably quieter and has a deep, throaty exhaust note.
• Let’s not kid ourselves: $1,499 is a serious chunk of change for an aftermarket exhaust system! Fortunately a stainless-steel
• Power is boosted everywhere throughout the powerband of
and carbon-fiber version that offers the same performance
the new CRF450R with the system installed, but the biggest—
gains (but not weight loss) is available for $977.
and most appreciated—gains are in low-end roll-on power when the bike is set in the aggressive map-three mode. This gives the
bike big, beefy power everywhere throughout the RPM range
The 2017 Honda CRF450R is a huge improvement over its pre-
that’s easy to control and make good use of.
decessor, but the bike is not without flaw. The Yoshimura RS-9T exhaust system does a great job of both filling the holes in the
• In the map-one setting, the Yoshimura system produces big
bike’s powerband and expanding on the areas in which it al-
gains in the middle and top of the powerband, making the dis-
ready performs well.
tinction between the standard map-one and aggressive mapthree settings very similar.
all the joy in the world can be found on two wheels
Jeremy Martin | #6
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PHOTOS BY MIKE EMERY & DONN MAEDA
MINDF X SUPPLEMENT S
Price: $4.95 (3 Pack), $19.95 (15 Pack)
What It Is A walk down the starting line at a pro race will reveal a number of prerace energy supplements, with MindFX being one of the most
POWERDOT DUO MUSCLE STIMULATOR
popular choices. Endorsed by trainer Aldon Baker and his roster of riders, the blend of organic ingredients enhance mental concentration when taken just before an athletic activity. Hits • MindFX recently redeveloped their original formula and now of-
fer two blends: Mixed Berry and Orange Mango. Compared to the previous product, the taste is much better.
What It Is
• To aid in hydration there are Pro versions of both flavors that con-
The PowerDot Muscle Stimulator is an FDA-approved device that harnesses
tain sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
the benefits of electrical muscle stimulation (EMS). The pods are controlled by a smartphone application via Bluetooth and can aid in recovery following
• Each packet of the mix is proportioned and dissolves quickly in
a strenuous workout. We’ve seen many top racers using the PowerDot post
water without the need of a special blender bottle.
workout and wanted to see what the fuss was about. The product is designed to have strength and speed training benefits, but initially we were most inter-
• There’s a definite increase in sharpness felt shortly after drinking
ested in testing it as a recovery aid.
that’s helped us push through motos, bicycle rides, and edit deadlines.
• Unlike other products there are no strange jitters, sudden come-
• The PowerDot Muscle Stimulator pods charge via USB cables and are com-
downs, or harsh side effects.
pletely free of any plugs or long wires to get entangled. They may be worn as you walk around and perform every day functions.
• All products are WADA compliant.
• Synching and controlling the device with your smartphone is a cinch, and
the app software is easy to use and understand.
• Although the tastes are a drastic improvement over the predecessor, they might not appeal to everyone.
• Benefits of using the PowerDot to aid in recovery on tired or strained muscles after a hard workout or race are easy to feel. Soreness is minimized,
• Because it’s caffeine, moderation is key. Do not take MindFX after
and when used right after a workout the PowerDot can prevent those late-
having coffee or energy drinks, or if sensitive to caffeine in general.
night leg cramps. The Verdict • One of our test riders suffers from bad arm pump while racing. Using the
There are a number of protein, hydration, and concentration supple-
PowerDot to warm up his forearm muscles helped alleviate the problem.
ments offered to motocross riders, and some seem more helpful than others. With natural elements and a noticeable effect, MindFX has
• Using the PowerDot to warm up and loosen muscles before exercise and/or
earned a place in both our gear bags and camera bags.
motos has proven to be very beneficial, and it eliminates the stiff feeling we have right out of the gate. Misses • Every once in a while the pods become un-synched from the app and must be restarted. The Verdict The PowerDot Muscle Stimulator has become a regular part of our riding and training routine. Cycling is one of the most effective ways to train for motocross, and using the PowerDot to help your legs recover right after a ride produces excellent results. mypowerdot.com
PHOTOS BY MIKE EMERY & DONN MAEDA
NIHILO CONCEP T S ONE -P IECE BILLE T T I TANIUM FOOT PEGS
Price $699.95 Application: Available for 2009-2017 KTMs (more models to follow soon)
What It Is Nihilo Concepts is best known for its aluminum accessories, but its
EBC DRC CLUTCH K I T
new One-Piece Billet Titanium Foot Pegs are sure to be the brand’s flagship product. Made of 6AL4V titanium, the pegs are carved from a single block of material and feature no welds, as they are truly one solid piece of titanium. Hits
• The Nihilo Concepts foot pegs are light! Standard KTM foot pegs
Application: Available for all bikes (tested here on 2017 Yamaha YZ250F)
are already minimalistic, but the titanium pegs from Nihilo weigh 160 grams less (nearly one-third of a pound). • Take a look at the massive teeth on the Nihilo pegs! They abso-
What It Is EBC is best known for its excellent
• We’ve tested aftermarket clutch
lutely grab the soles of your boots and don’t let go. If you’re a rider
line of aftermarket brake pads, but
kits before that had a distinctively
who enjoys plenty of traction on your pegs, these are for you.
the company also produces com-
different feel than stock, but the
plete clutch kits for all dirt bikes.
EBC DRC Clutch Kit enjoyed the
•The wide platform provided by the pegs disperses energy from
The EBC DRC Clutch Kit comes
same modulation and feel at the
hard landings over a wider area of your sole, making for better-
complete with friction and steel
clutch lever as OEM parts.
clutch springs. EBC’s alloy-article-
•The fit and finish of the pegs are excellent. We’ve tested some af-
• The clutch pull is noticeably firmer
termarket pegs that don’t slide easily into the frame mounts and
claimed to wear longer and resist
with the stiffer springs installed, but
don’t pivot freely. No such issues with these pegs.
burning better than stock, and its
that’s only a minor complaint as the
steel drive plates feature a dimpled
firmer springs undoubtedly help ex-
pattern that’s designed to spread oil
tend plate life.
• When you have teeth this aggressive on your foot pegs some-
plates as well as a complete set of friction
thing has to give, and in this case it’s the soles of your boots. That’s
between the plates more efficiently. Lastly, the clutch springs are 10 to
15 percent firmer than stock springs
For the most part, clutch plates are
ensuring more positive engage-
a high-wear item on a dirt bike, and
ment and longer plate life.
the EBC DRC Clutch Kit is a nice op-
There are a couple other options on the market for high-end titanium
tion that offers improved durability
foot pegs, but the Nihilo Concepts One-Piece Billet Titanium are the
over OEM parts.
apple of our eye.
the price you must pay for primo traction and control, though.
• This will sound trivial, but it was nice to open the EBC package and be able to install all the plates within minutes. Stock plates are all packaged separately and removing each and every one from the plastic is an annoyance. • We have a test rider who can smoke a clutch in his 250cc four-stroke in only a few hard motos due to his overexuberance with the clutch lever. We were pleased to find that he did enjoy a greater clutch lifespan with the EBC DRC kit installed.
PHOTO BY MIKE EMERY
KEEP CALM AND MOTO ON HANDLING PRESSURE W/ MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI TEAM GREEN’S STILEZ ROBERTSON Racing motocross can cause a rollercoaster ride of emotions for a rider of any level—young, old, beginner, or even professional. It’s a high-speed, high-heart-rate, and sometimes-dangerous activity that gets a rush of pure adrenaline flowing through you from the drop of the gate all the way to the finish line. With all of these race-day emotions comes mental pressure, whether it’s self-instilled to do well or from the need to deliver for major sponsors who support you. One young racer by the name of Stilez Robertson certainly endures more pressure than most kids his age on any given race day and does so with style and grace. There aren’t many kids his age who have lined up behind a gate that drops inside a sold-out stadium like at Monster Energy Cup! At this year’s TransWorld Motocross Mini Major, Stilez was an obvious standout, won plenty of races, and spent numerous laps leading those races even with a very fast Carson Mumford thumping his four-stroke rev limiter right behind him. Stilez and a few others were also told by editor-in-chief Donn Maeda prior to the Mini Major that we were toying with the idea of putting the Supermini Openclass winner on the February cover, marking the first mini rider ever on the front of TransWorld Motocross! Pressure? Yeah, that’s a little bit of pressure. To say Stilez handled it well that weekend would be an understatement, and racers of all ages and skill levels could learn from him. Whether you get nervous about the start, feel pressure from family and sponsors, or you’re just a mental train wreck, these tips from Robertson may help you keep calm and moto on at your next race.
Pre-Race Prep: I just try to stay focused on what I’m going to do
stead of riding your own race. Also, when someone is right behind
to make myself be the best I can be in that race. I focus on things
me and I can hear them I talk to myself! I’ll just be like, “Okay, let’s
I need to improve on and things that I could do better—I go over
open this up a little bit!” or “Sweep this corner and get a better
line choice in my head and stuff like that. You should think about
drive.” Really, I just talk to myself so I’m not listening to the bike
the jumps on the track and where you’re going to hit them. If
of the other rider.
there are certain things you struggle with on the track, think about how you’re going to approach them. This way you’re not thinking
Creating Pressure To Improve: I put a lot of pressure on myself,
about the people next to you on the gate, you’re thinking about
and I can be really hard on myself. I always want to perform to the
your own race. I also don’t talk much! I don’t like talking on the
best of my ability and never leave anything out on the track. I’m
gate; I’m always just going over what I need to do in my head,
really bad about wearing my emotions on my sleeve, and after the
which keeps me calm.
first moto at Monster Energy Cup I was livid. My team asked, “Why are you so mad?” and I said, “I shouldn’t have left the door open!”
Keeping Rituals: I always say, “I love you, Mom, I love you, Dad,”
So if I lose a race, I fuel my motivation for the next race with the
as I leave the pits to head to the gate, and even though my dad
thought of beating that rider, and at Monster Cup it worked and
comes to the gate with me, I still say it! My dad has taken me to
I won. Even when I win, if my lap times weren’t the fastest it can
the gate my whole life, and we kind of have a plan on how we
infuriate me. If I win, I want to be the fastest! I use all that to stay
always do it. I always put my gloves on first, too. I don’t know why,
motivated to succeed.
but I do! Holeshot Nerves: Just think about what you’re going to do when On Race Pressure: During a race I try not to look back, and I stay
the gate drops. Think about the start, like “Okay, I gotta let the
focused ahead on hitting my marks. Don’t worry about the guy be-
clutch out smooth.” I’m big on visualizing myself getting the hole-
hind you, because if you worry about them then you’ll start going
shot—I sit there and see myself getting the holeshot and winning.
backwards instead of forward. You’ll end up riding defensively in-
Just think about that!
RIDER STILEZ ROBERTSON
I N V E S T iN G i N T HE F U T U R E
s E C O n D - A NN U A L
T WM X
M iN i
MA J O R
BUI L D S
D O NN M A E D A
BY M I K E E M E R Y
ON OU R
10th anniversary we de-
cided it was time to step up and do our part to help grow the sport. Our local racing scene was dwindling, and it was common to see fewer than 100 riders show up for a race on any Sunday even though the tracks were packed on open practice days. Long days, crappy track prep, and the high cost of racing were the negatives associated with competing—according to those we polled about the phenomena—so we set out to create a better racing experience with the TWMX Race Series. It’s been six years since our first gate drop, and we’re proud to say that we’ve given racing on the West Coast a big shot in the arm. Average turnout at any of the 28 races we hold per year hovers between 400 and 500, and racing in our area is alive and well again. Two years ago one thing we noticed at our events was the high level of participation in the mini classes no matter what the age group or displacement size. Watching the parents flock to the infield after the start of their kids’ races was like watching
ABOVE, LEFT: SPY Optic brought out a bouncy house for kids to goof around in when
a colony of ants swarm over an er-
they weren’t racing out on the track. Needless to say, it looked like the 91 Freeway at rush
rant piece of candy. And that’s when
hour in there throughout the weekend! ABOVE RIGHT: Turnout for the second-annual
it hit us: Why not hold an event just
TWMX Mini Major, presented by MTA Distributing, was massive. Full gate drops in every
for kids? With no big-bike racers to
class highlighted the weekend.
satisfy, we could design a track that was tailor-made for mini bikes and concentrate solely on improving the racing experience for the little guys (and girls). Children are, after all,
sponsorship from Wienerschnitzel,
classes—were packed with full start-
massive slide for the kids to play on
the future of our sport, and keep-
BTOSports.com, Seven MX, ProTaper,
ing gates. Three motos for each class
in between motos, and the big hill-
ing them on motorcycles instead of
FMF Racing, SPY Optic, and Nihilo,
were held over Saturday and Sunday
climb area created at Milestone for
being wooed away by other sports
and the sophomore running of the
(Friday served as practice day on the
a recent grand prix provided hours
is the best way to ensure that we’ll
one-of-a-kind event attracted over
all-new track), and the 34-class pro-
of dirt-surfing entertainment for the
have plenty of McGraths, Villopotos,
650 entrants. Now that’s a growth
gram went off without a hitch.
kids who camped at the track.
and Reeds in the years to come.
curve that we like to see! Now known
The atmosphere at the Mini Ma-
Needless to say, the future of
as the “just for kids” Amateur National,
jor is unlike that of any other major
motocross racing looks bright, and
TWMX Mini Major was held at Mile-
the three-day event at Milestone MX
championship event. For lack of a
the TWMX Mini Major is fast be-
stone MX Park, and it was greeted
Park brought in racers from eight dif-
better analogy, the pits are kind of
coming the kids’ party to be at with
with plenty of success and enthu-
ferent states, with some coming from
like a motocross-themed Chuck E.
some great racing thrown in for
siasm. The event drew nearly 500
as far away as Alaska and Hawaii! Elite
Cheese’s pizza parlor with groms
good measure. If you missed this
entries, and the buzz about the kids-
factory-backed SuperMini racers who
everywhere playing in the dirt with
year’s event, be sure to mark your
only race was high. With the excel-
are on the cusp of big-bike stardom
toy motorcycles and riding bicycles,
calendars for next November 3, 4,
lent premiere, we couldn’t wait to
showed up to do battle in the pre-
pit bikes, and even off-road scoot-
and 5, and plan on being at Mile-
see what year two would bring. For
mier classes, and every division—all
ers. SPY Optic even brought out
stone MX Park for the third-annual
2016 the TWMX Mini Major enjoyed
the way down to the entry-level PW50
a bounce house complete with a
TWMX Mini Major!
ABOVE: Seven MX built an awesome viewing area for parents and support crews to watch the action out on the track. LEFT & BELOW: Gordon Teuber III was the lucky winner of the Factory 105 contest sponsored by Motorcycle Superstore, Boyesen Engineering, and TransWorld Motocross. He went home with a brand-new Kawasaki KX105 SuperMini built to the hilt with great products from the contest sponsors.
ABOVE: Jett Reynolds was one of the biggest surprises of the weekend, as the 12-year-old topped his more experienced and older competitors in the first SuperMini race of the weekend. BELOW: Bjorn Viney travelled down from NorCal to compete in the Mini Major, and he earned third- and fourth-place finishes in the uber-competitive SuperMini classes. BOTTOM: Hunter Yoder is always a threat aboard his KTMs, and he topped the 85-150F Open 8-12 class.
FUTURE STARS The SuperMini class at any Amateur National is a good place to catch a glimpse of the big names that will soon rule the sport. In 2016, 34 of the Nation’s fastest SuperMini racers showed up to do battle in the weekend’s premier classes including Kawasaki Team Green’s Stilez Robertson, Dilan Schwartz, Bjorn Viney, and Jett Reynolds; and AMSOIL Honda’s Carson Mumford aboard his factory electronic-fuel-injected Honda CRF150R. The first surprise of the weekend was a runaway moto-one win by Reynolds in the opening SuperMini 2 moto, as the diminutive 12-year-old topped his older, more experienced competition. Sadly, crashes and bad luck haunted the speedster from Bakersfield, California, in most of his remaining motos throughout the weekend, and he emerged with no Mini Major titles in 2016. Mumford and Robertson topped the second and third SuperMini 2 motos, but it was consistent 3-2-2 finishes that ultimately earned Schwartz the class championship. Throughout the weekend, all eyes were on the SuperMini Open class, as it was the fastest group of racers at the event. Robertson rode flawlessly in all three motos aboard his Pro Circuit Kawasaki KX85 and turned in a perfect 1-1-1 sweep. Mumford was second overall aboard his thundering Honda fourstroke, and at times he proved to be the quickest rider on the track as he hounded his longtime rival for the lead position. Ultimately, however, it was average starts that held the Honda rider back. Third on the weekend went to Viney, who consistently ran toward the front of the pack aboard his Kawasaki.
ABOVE:Dilan Schwartz was a frontrunner in every class he entered, and the teen has one of the coolest riding styles weâ€™ve ever seen on a mini. ABOVE RIGHT: The SuperMini Open class was topped by winner Stilez Robertson (left), third-placed Dilan Schwartz (center) and runner-up Carson Mumford (right). BOTTOM RIGHT: Son of former 125 National and GP winner Tallon Vohland, Maximus Vohland won three motos throughout the weekend, but bad luck in his other races kept him from an overall championship.
050 COVER ME Stilez Robertson has been a regular in the TWMX
The Mini Major—being a race just for kids—is a pret-
Race Series since its inception, and he’s highly
ty unique concept. Do you agree that having a race
regarded as one of Kawasaki’s future stars of the
like this is important?
sport. Well spoken beyond his years, his charis-
I think it’s really cool. This weekend it worked out
ma is outshined only by his on-track speed. Fol-
great because the Vet World Championships were
lowing his clean sweep of the SuperMini Open
going on at Glen Helen at the same time we had
class at the Mini Major we decided that the kid
the kids’ race here. This race is important for the
from Bakersfield should be rewarded with more
future racers of our sport, and I think that it will only
than just one of the cool trophies FMF Racing
get bigger and better each passing year. Having a
created for the event—we gave him his first global
race just for kids is a great idea, and it’s easily one
of the most-fun events of the year. The track develops a lot differently without the big 450s. The only suggestion I have is that next year you should have a SuperMini-only section with some big jumps or a
Stilez, congratulations on a very successful week-
rhythm section! I’ll even come help design it!
end at this year’s Mini Major! It went a lot better than last year’s race.
You’ve had quite the run in the past few weeks. You
[Laughs] Yeah! Last year my bike blew up in my first
won Monster Energy Cup in Las Vegas and now this.
moto and we went home! This year—other than my
Is this your last hurrah on minis?
first two motos in the SuperMini 2 class—I won ev-
No, I’ll be staying on SuperMinis for a while. I have
ery moto I lined up for. The whole weekend was a
the Mini O’s later this month and Loretta’s next
great confidence booster for me, and I had a blast!
year. Hopefully I’ll be tall enough by the end of
The track was awesome and the competition was
next summer to move up to 250Fs. I’m looking
great—I believe the Mini Major for sure is going to
forward to that!
become the biggest National.
ABOVE: At times, Stilez Robertson and his lifelong rival Carson Mumford (122) flew around the Milestone MX track in perfect formation, separated by less than a bike length. ABOVE: TWMX editor-in-chief tells Robertson that in addition to the cool prizes and trophies, he will be awarded the cover of TransWorld Motocross. Robertson is the first amateur to ever grace the cover of our magazine.
ABOVE, LEFT &RIGHT: Brian Deegan has evolved from the Metal Mulisha general into a first-class mini dad. His son Haiden is one of the fastest mini pilots in the Nation, and he used the Mini Major to make his 85cc class debut with great success. LEFT: Nick Wey and his son Vincent have become regulars at TWMX Race Series events in 2016. With plenty of experience and knowledge to pass along to his son, Wey looks to have many days and weekends at the track ahead of him.
A L O H A , B R U D DA H S This year we had a surprisingly large contingent of racers who made the trek to SoCal from the Hawaiian Islands. Among them, the most successful was 12-year-old Levin Takahashi from Nānākuli, Hawaii. In addition to his waist-length black hair that streamed out the back of his helmet, Takahashi stood out in the 85cc Novice class as the only TM-mounted racer. “My dad was going to pay a lot of money to have my bike shipped here in a container, but the people at Gravity Racing TM helped me out with a bike,” said Takahashi, who was accompanied by his family. “The Mini Major is a lot of fun because there are so many kids to race against. Back on Oahu there’s only one other fast kid on a mini bike for me to race with.” When we asked Levin how he ended up being a motocross racer instead of a surfer, his eyes widened and he said, “I ain’t a surfer because I don’t like sharks! I don’t want to go in the ocean. Dirt bikes are better!”
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Prizes and free stuff—who doesn’t love prizes and free stuff? The TWMX Mini Major, presented by MTA Distributing, offers up the coolest trophies and goodies of any Amateur National. Mountain bikes from Specialized, hand-made trophies from the crew at FMF Racing, unique Mini Major plaques, and even Micro Bar kits from Pro Taper— does it get any better?
BY THE TEST ING STAFF OF TRANSWORLD MOTOCROSS PHOTOS BY MIKE EMERY & CASEY DAV IS
COMEBACK OF THE YE AR It’s an exciting year to be in the market
most), we sent all six machines back to the manu-
for a new 450cc motocross machine,
facturers for a quick once-over before converg-
as each and every offering from the six
ing on Central California’s Zaca Station MX for our
major players are capable of winning races in the
initial day of comparison testing. To ensure that
right hands. Unlike the 250cc class where power
traction was consistent and not a determining fac-
reigns supreme, each one of the 2017 450cc mo-
tor, we outfitted all six bikes with Bridgestone’s
tocross bikes in this year’s comparison test pro-
excellent Battlecross X30 intermediate terrain
duce far more power off the showroom floor than
tires. We’ve consistently been blown away by the
most riders can take full advantage of. That said,
feel and predictability of the X30 tires, and they
the handling, suspension, and power characteris-
were an easy choice when it came to choose a
tics of each machine all play equal roles in deter-
standardized tire for the shootout. Representa-
mining which bike is most comfortable for each
tives from all six manufacturers were on hand to
help our panel of six test riders set up each bike
This year more than ever before our test-rider
ideally for their individual preferences. Following
choices for Bike Of The Year honors varied radi-
our initial day of testing at Zaca, we raced and
cally. What does this mean? Although there was
rode all of the bikes at the next two rounds of our
a clear-cut favorite among the testing staff, the
TWMX Race Series at Los Angeles County Race-
mixed bag of results means that even the sixth-
way and Cahuilla Creek MX. When all was said
placed machine is a winner in someone’s book,
and done, we were very pleased to see that an
and all of us would be perfectly happy riding and
unprecedented comeback was accomplished, as
racing any of them for the season.
last year’s sixth-place finisher pulled off a surprise
After spending plenty of time on all the bikes
win by a healthy margin. Which bike won 2017
(some more than others, as some—like the Honda
TransWorld Motocross Bike Of The Year honors?
CRF450R—were released to the press later than
Read on to find out!
R I DE R : K Y L E P UE R NE R
HITS + EX C ELLENT C O R N ERIN G PR O W ES S + TR U STW O RTHY H AN D LIN G + S M O OTH PO W ER B AN D TH AT ’ S EASY TO UTILIZE MIS S ES - S H O WA TAC FO R K PER FO R M AN C E LEAV ES PLENTY TO B E D ESIR ED - BIKE H AS A V ERY D ATED LO O K FIX ES + W E H AV E YET TO B E B LO W N AWAY WITH ANY AFTER M AR KET S H O WA TAC FO R K S ETTIN G S , AN D EV EN TH E M EC H ANICAL-S PRIN G C O N V ER SIO N KITS LEAV E A BIT TO B E D ESIR ED AS TH EY M AINTAIN TH E SIN G LE- FU N CTIO N D ESIG N . W P C O N E VALV E AC C ES S O RY FO R KS B O LT RIG HT O N AN D W O R K AM AZIN G LY W ELL .
RIDER IMPRESSIONS Emery: “This is a proven bike that Suzuki lovers will enjoy, but it’s middle-of-the-road when it comes to power. I don’t love the fork, but the classic Suzuki handling and cornering suits me well, and I’m reasonably comfortable on the RM-Z450.” Huntley: “The Suzuki is pretty mellow and could use more grunt, but overall it’s a really easy bike to ride. The fork is harsh throughout the stroke and unforgiv-
SUZUK I RM-Z450
ing in rough sections of the track. The Suzuki corners like a scalpel, and this is its best trait.” LaFountaine: “The Suzuki is obviously a great bike with some work, but in stock condition the suspension is just terrible and the engine is too soft for racing at the
In stock condition, the Suzuki RM-Z450 is quite possibly the easiest-to-ride, most friendly bike in the bunch. While it has a heavy feeling when you lift it
pro level. I’d have to modify everything about the RM-Z to choose it as my race bike.”
off the stand, the Suzuki feels much lighter out on the track and requires very little rider input, and it corners with precision in ruts, berms, and sweepers.
Livingston: “The Suzuki has a great engine with a great
Stable at speed, it’s blessed with a chassis that responds well both on the
hit that’s easy to ride. It’s a shame that the fork is the
ground and in the air. Power is smooth and tractable, and the RM-Z is easy to
only thing that’s holding this bike back. Change the
ride aggressively, as it will not break the rear wheel loose or come on the pipe
fork and it’s a winner! I’m excited to see the 2018 Su-
unexpectedly. The yellow bike is down on raw arm-jerking power in compari-
zuki RM-Z450, because I hear it’s all new.”
son to the rest, but in all honesty it’s more than powerful enough to get the job done at all but the highest levels of competition.
Maeda: “I always enjoy riding the RM-Z450 because
The Showa TAC fork is the Suzuki’s Achilles’ heel. While the Showa shock
it’s so friendly and easy to go fast on. I’m sorry, but the
does a great job of delivering a trustworthy, controlled ride out back, the
Showa TAC fork is horrible and the biggest negative
front-end is easily the worst-performing part of the entire bike. Oddly enough
that holds the bike back. With a WP Cone Valve fork kit
the same basic Showa TAC fork is not nearly as offensive on the Kawasaki
this bike would be badass.”
KX450F, and that has to do with the rigidity of the RM-Z’s chassis, which was beefed-up considerably several model years ago. No matter what air pres-
Puerner: “The Suzuki is very rider friendly, but let’s face
sure settings we ran, the front-end of the Suzuki remained harsh and uninspir-
it: It’s a decade old and needs an update. The fork has
ing with a lack of control on larger impacts. If it weren’t for the performance
issues. It has very little movement initially and then
of the fork, the Suzuki RM-Z450 would be without flaw, but as is, it’s a great
blows through the stroke. It’s a very fun, predictable
easy-to-ride bike that needs some extensive front-end suspension work.
bike—with a better fork it’d be a contender.”
YAMAHA Y Z450F
Emery: “As always the Yamaha is a solid performer with great power and suspension. It has its cornering quirks and lacks confidence-inspiring traits in the turns, but the main thing I wish for is a thinner feel between my knees while I’m riding it.”
Now in its fourth year of production, the current-generation Yamaha YZ450F is a familiar friend with some very predictable traits. As always, the YZ450F
Huntley: “I love the Yamaha engine as it hits hard down
produces a big, broad spread of power that delivers an uncanny amount of
low and pulls all the way through. The suspension is
forward traction at the rear wheel. Where other bikes will spin and slide, the Ya-
firmer than the rest, but it works great as you ride it
maha claws at the ground and drives forward—we suspect this is thanks to the
harder. The front end pushes in the corners a bit, but if
rearward-facing-engine design and where the powerplant is mounted inside
you really commit, it works better.”
the aluminum chassis. The YZ450F is one of the more-powerful bikes in the class, but it’s no longer the horsepower king it was a few years ago.
LaFountaine: “The Yamaha has great power and sus-
As always the Yamaha is blessed with the strongest suspension package,
pension, but it really struggles in the corners. It’s good
and its Kayaba shock and AOSS mechanical-spring fork stand head and shoul-
if you can find something to bank off of, but it’s hard to
ders above the rest for feel, control, and overall performance. In this era of air
cut to the inside if you need to make a last-second line
and single-function forks, Yamaha has wisely elected to stay “old school” with
change. It also has a wide feel I don’t like.”
the more expensive yet superior spring forks. While the width and girth of the YZ450F will always be a debate, it’s the
Livingston: “The Yamaha has great power that rolls
front-end’s triple clamp offset that remains the biggest chink in the blue bike’s
on smoothly, is plenty beefy, and easy to control. The
armor. In 2015 the bike was blessed with 22-mm offset triple clamps. After-
suspension is amazing, and the fork gave me the most
market offerings of 21- and 20-mm offsets provided even greater front-end
confidence of all the bikes. The bike corners a bit unpre-
traction in corners, but oddly enough Yamaha went the other direction—25-mm
dictably, and I found myself chasing the front.”
offset—in ’16. The result is a light, vague-feeling front-end when entering and through the middle of corners. Thankfully new triple clamps are an easy—albeit
Maeda: “I love the Yamaha for many reasons—great
pricey—fix that helps the bike regain its cornering ability.
power, the best fork, excellent durability—but the thing that puzzles me about it is the new triple clamp offset that robs it of front-end traction and predictability. Slap a set of 22-mm offset clamps on and win.” Puerner: “The Yamaha requires you to sit farther for-
ward when entering corners, but that flaw is outshined by its super-fast engine and the best fork, hands down. The bike hooks up the best in the class. I could get comfortable on it with minimal changes.”
HITS + STRONG POWERPLANT THAT ENJOYS GREAT TRACTABILITY + BEST-IN-CLASS FRONT SUSPENSION + RENOWNED RELIABILITY MISSES - WIDE FEEL AT RADIATOR SHROUDS - LACK OF FRONT-END TRACTION ENTERING AND IN THE MIDDLE OF CORNERS FIXES + INSTALLING A SET OF STOCK 2015 (22-MM OFFSET) OR AFTERMARKET TRIPLE CLAMPS RESTORES THE YAMAHA’ S ABILITY TO CORNER WITH AUTHORITY.
R I DE R : M I K E E ME R Y
HONDA CRF 450R
Emery: “The new Honda is way better than the 2016 bike. It has smooth, strong power delivery, and the chassis is super planted and just wants to track. This is the bike people want to buy in 2017 and there is good reason for it. Honda has hit a home run.”
There’s no doubt that the most anticipated bike of the year is the all-new Honda CRF450R, and we were understandably wowed when we first rode it
Huntley: “A huge improvement over years past. The CRF
at the press launch at Monster Mountain MX in Alabama. Once we got it back
is well balanced and has a consistent feel through the
to our local tracks it was very interesting to see how it stacked up against the
suspension stroke. The bike corners and handles great
competition. Test riders were divided about the bike’s handling, but everyone
for me. This is one of the easiest bikes to get on and go
agreed that the new powerplant packs a great punch with three distinctly dif-
fast right off the bat.”
ferent personalities thanks to the triple-option map button. Most prefer the third and most-aggressive-map setting, as it hits hard in the middle and revs
LaFountaine: “I think the Honda is a major improvement
forever. Bottom line? The new CRF450R is head and shoulders more powerful
over last year’s, but it needs a few tweaks to the suspen-
than its predecessor.
sion. The new Showa fork works better than the air fork
The bike has a traditional Honda feel—short wheelbase, quick handling, and compact ergonomics. Suspension on both ends is set up very soft as de-
on the Kawasaki and Suzuki, but it’s not nearly as good as the Yamaha’s like I expected it to be.”
livered, and as a result some testers felt that the bike was pitchy and suffered from too much front-to-rear weight transfer. This made it difficult for some to
Livingston: “Back to springs! Smart move. The new Hon-
set up in corners, as the weight shift would cause the bike to stand upright
da fork feels much better than years prior. The new fork
in corners. The large, 49-mm Showa spring fork is an improvement over the
is very predictable; however, the bike knifed on me a few
Kayaba PSF fork it replaces, but as delivered it’s far from being as amazing as
times in the corners. I never quite found my perfect set-
the Kayaba spring fork that comes on the Yamaha. We’re anxious to try a set
ting, but I was generally happy.”
of stiffer springs and a firmer valve setting in the Honda’s fork. The CRF450R is stunning aesthetically, and details like the titanium fuel
Maeda: “I was really excited to ride the new CRF450R,
tank, inlaid graphics, and all-new bodywork make it the most appealing bike
and maybe that’s why I was a bit let down. The bike is
on the showroom floor. All in all this is an excellent debut for the newest
a huge improvement in every way over the ’16, but as
delivered it’s too soft on both ends, and that made the bike handle oddly in corners.” Puerner: “This bike didn’t ‘wow’ me like I was hoping it would. It’s better in every way than last year’s, but it left plenty to be desired thanks to its soft suspension and
R I DE R : TA L L ON L A F OUN TA I NE
HITS + GREAT LOOKS AND MASSIVE SHOWROOM APPEAL + STRONG POWERBAND WITH THREE MAP SETTINGS + COMFORTABLE ERGONOMICS MISSES - BIKE IS OBNOXIOUSLY LOUD - SUSPENSION IS TOO SOFT AS DELIVERED FIXES + WE INSTALLED A YOSHIMURA EXHAUST AND WERE PUMPED ON THE ADDED LOW-END POWER , BUT WE WERE REALLY THRILLED WITH THE QUIETER , YET THROATY EXHAUST NOTE.
quirky cornering habits. The engine is plenty strong with great versatility but not the strongest.”
HITS + STRONG ENGINE WITH GOOD LOW-END, GREAT MIDRANGE, AND AMPLE TOP-END OVERREV + STABLE YET QUICK-HANDLING AND GREAT IN CORNERS + IMPROVED FRONT SUSPENSION PERFORMANCE MATCHED TO EXCELLENT REAR SUSPENSION ACTION MISSES - SHOWA TAC FORK STILL SUFFERS FROM HARSH INITIAL FEEL - CLUTCH FADES UNDER HEAVY ABUSE FIXES + WE’ VE BEEN TESTING A REKLUSE TORQDRIVE CLUTCH IN OUR TEST BIKE AND HAVE BEEN VERY PLEASED WITH ITS RESILIENCY. FURTHERMORE, IT IMPROVES THE BIKE’ S LOW-END THROTTLE RESPONSE.
RIDER IMPRESSIONS R I DE R : DONN M A E D A Emery: “The Kawasaki is strong and powerful, and it handles amazingly well. On the track, it feels lighter than all of the other bikes and it begs to be flicked around. The Showa TAC fork had that typical stiction initially, but I had no issues other than that.” Huntley: “All around, the KX450F has great power and is
K AWA S AK I K X450F
blessed with great handling characteristics. It’s an easy bike to go fast on, as it is very neutral and confidence inspiring. I could use a little more low-end power, but it is still a very impressive motor.” LaFountaine: “I think the Kawasaki is one of those love-
Now in its second year of production, the current-generation KX450F re-
it-or-hate-it bikes, and for me it’s not my favorite. I can
ceived a handful of key changes that include revised settings in its Showa
see why some people love it, but I find it to be nervous
TAC fork and new, more-rigid triple clamps. It’s thanks to these revisions that
and unpredictable. The fork is by far its weak link, and it
the TAC fork is more impressive on the KX450F than on the RM-Z450 with
needs some work.”
less stiction in the initial portions of the travel and better control throughout the stroke. Suspension balance is excellent, and the Showa shock is well
Livingston: “The Kawasaki’s engine is super powerful
matched to the fork allowing the bike to be predictable and trustworthy in
but not difficult to control. I like how narrow the bike is
the roughest of conditions. The Kawasaki has a long wheelbase feel, but that
and its ability to lean over in the corners, and it also has
doesn’t prevent the KX450F from being a nimble, quick-handling machine.
a light, flickable feel. My biggest gripe? The handlebars
Stable at speed, the green bike corners with precision and enjoys a great
and grips have a cheap feel.”
front-to-rear-wheel-weight balance. The Kawasaki has a broad powerband with smooth throttle response.
Maeda: “I was shocked with the improved ride of the
Low-end power is average, but midrange and top-end is excellent. Two op-
front-end, especially since I hated last year’s fork set-
tional EFI couplers allow you to make the powerband more aggressive or
ting. The powerband is ideal for me with smooth low-
smoother and easier to control, but most riders preferred the well-rounded
end, great midrange, and plenty of top-end. The Kawa-
standard setting. The KX450F is a top performer in the power category, and
saki feels big, but it’s surprisingly nimble.”
its smooth delivery makes it tractable and effective in all track conditions. One of the most unique features of the Kawasaki is its wide range of ad-
Puerner: “The KX450F has a great overall feel, and it’s
justability. Four handlebar positions and two foot-peg settings allow the bike
very trustworthy from the first lap. The fork is still harsh
to be fine-tuned to fit riders of all shapes and sizes. Ergonomically the green
in small bumps, but the suspension package is much
bike is comfortable and easy to maneuver on, as the bodywork is seamless,
improved. I love the engine, and it’s broad and easy to
thin, and easy to grip.
control whether you rev or lug it.”
HITS + MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF POWER THROUGHOUT THE POWERBAND + TRACTION CONTROL SETTING REALLY WORKS IN DRY, SLICK CONDITIONS + THE WP AER 48 IS THE BEST AIR FORK MADE MISSES - THE SX-F IS HONESTLY TOO POWERFUL FOR LESS-EXPERIENCED RIDERS - TO CHANGE THE EXHAUST SYSTEM YOU MUST PRACTICALLY REMOVE THE REAR SHOCK FIXES + WE’ VE PLAYED AROUND WITH A ONE-TOOTH-SMALLER REAR SPROCKET AND HAVE BEEN PLEASED WITH THE WAY IT SOFTENS THE BIG LOW-END HIT.
RIDER IMPRESSIONS Emery: “The KTM 450 SX-F is a monster with the gnarli-
R I DE R : JE S S I E HUN T L E Y
est powerband period. It demands to be ridden hard, and it has a much-improved fork that instills confidence. The WP AER 48 is a big win, and the bike feels well-balanced and trustworthy.” Huntley: “I prefer the KTM set in the aggressive maptwo setting, but the standard map-one setting is probably better for most riders, because the bike has so
K TM 450 SX-F
much power. The bike handles very well with no shortcomings, and I can’t really find a flaw in it.” LaFountaine: “The KTM has a lot of power—sometimes it can be too much. I like the steel frame and believe it gives the bike a softer, more forgiving feel that’s better
With a much-improved suspension package over last year, the KTM 450 SX-F is practically without flaw. The engine is amazing, and it makes the most
suited for a bike this powerful. The controls and components are top notch as always.”
power of all the bikes everywhere throughout the RPM range. This could also be the bike’s biggest downfall, though, as some riders found the massive
Livingston: “Holy smokes, Batman, the motor is a mon-
powerband difficult to control even when the bike was in the standard map-
ster! Major fork improvements make the bike much
one setting. When overrevved—and especially so in the map-one setting—the
easier to fine-tune, and I love the way the bike handles.
KTM vibrates excessively and makes it feel heavier on the track than it really is.
The KTM would have been first for me, but the gnarly
Suspension performance is excellent, as the WP AER 48 delivers the best
power is simply too much for my needs!”
ride and control of all the air forks. Out back the shock is predictable and well-matched to the fork, and the entire SX-F as a whole is nimble, quick-
Maeda: “I’m gonna be realistic here and admit that the
handling, and confidence-inspiring. The SX-F has a narrow, light feel, and the
KTM 450 SX-F is too powerful for me. Thankfully it has
bike responds well to rider input. Cornering is—as always—the KTM’s strong
two map settings and traction control, which brings its
point, and the orange bike corners with precision. It’s also pleasantly stable
powerband back to reality. The new WP AER 48 fork is
at speed and inspires confidence in all track conditions.
super impressive, as well.”
Fit and finish of the machine is fantastic from the electric start and hydraulic clutch to the billet aluminum triple clamps and standard-setting Brembo
Puerner: “This bike is ready to race right off the show-
brakes. Tool-free access to the air filter for servicing is a plus, and the inlaid
room floor. It’s super powerful, has excellent suspen-
radiator-shroud graphics keep the bike looking fresh for months. Our only
sion—finally!—the best brakes, clutch, and components.
complaint is that the Neken handlebars seem to translate more vibration and
It handles great and has a light feel. This is my first
impact sting to the rider’s hands than other brands do.
choice, and it was last year, too.”
HUSQVARNA FC 450
Emery: “Overshadowed by its orange brother, the Husqvarna FC 450 needs to be recognized as a badass bike on its own. The power hits really hard, but thankfully the map setting and traction control features allow you to fine-tune the hit.”
Here’s how—in a nutshell—Husqvarna leapfrogged all five of its competitors to win this year’s 450 Shootout: Unlike its sister brand KTM, which produces
Huntley: “The Husky has a lot of power, but the deliv-
two different models—one for the United States and one for the rest of the
ery is so smooth that it’s deceivingly fast. The suspen-
world—Husky sells the same bike around the globe. This year for the first time
sion is excellent and well-balanced. It always takes me
ever it elected to use suspension settings developed by the crew of United
a while to feel comfortable on European bikes, but this
States test riders rather than those established in Europe. This, coupled with
is the best I’ve ever felt on one.”
the more-restrictive Euro-spec muffler, made the Husky a better handling, easier-to-control bike than its orange brother.
LaFountaine: “This is the best that Husqvarna has ever
Where the KTM 450 SX-F packs an almost violent punch that’s hard for the
been. It has a great chassis and motor, and now it has
average rider to control, the Husky has a much smoother rider-friendly power
amazing suspension, too. The white bike is great in ev-
delivery. The FC’s less-efficient airbox design may hurt the smaller 250, but
ery area of performance, and I think that it’s the 450 to
when it comes to the 450 it helps produce a far more controllable powerband.
beat in 2017.”
But don’t be mistaken: The Husqvarna is not slow! Equipped with the same dual-map switch and traction control like the KTM, the Husky has plenty of
Livingston: “If you’re looking for a fast, comfortable
horsepower on tap at all times—it’s just delivered in a more efficient manner.
bike that inspires confidence you’ll be stoked on the
Suspension action on both ends is superb, and the WP AER 48 fork is the
Husqvarna FC 450. It has plenty of easily tuned pow-
best-performing air fork available. And while they’re not as amazing as the
er, unlimited suspension tuning, and stunning good
accessory WP Cone Valve fork, they are light-years ahead of the WP 4CS
looks. This is an easy first choice for me.”
fork they replace. Other small differences between the Husky and KTM that set the FC
Maeda: “For me the Husqvarna FC 450 wins the most-
450 apart are its different seat shape that we prefer, slimmer and smoother
improved award. With US-spec settings for the suspen-
bodywork, and excellent ProTaper handlebars. Believe it or not, the Husky’s
sion it’s absolutely awesome and no longer has that
ProTaper bars do a much better job of isolating the rider from track feed-
strange soft, spongy Euro feel that haunted it in the
back than the Neken bars on the KTM.
past. I love the Husky.” Puerner: “I could race this bike bone stock. It’s very fast, and it has a linear, smooth powerband. The suspension is excellent, and the bike feels light and responsive. I like the Husky’s Magura hydraulic clutch as it has better control than the KTM’s.”
HITS + EXCELLENT POWER THAT’ S STRONG YET EASY TO CONTROL + TWO MAP SETTINGS PLUS TRACTION CONTROL ALLOWS THE RIDER TO FINE-TUNE THE POWERBAND + EXCELLENT SUSPENSION PACKAGE WITH THE BEST AIR FORK IN THE CLASS + PROTAPER HANDLEBARS IMPROVE THE FEEL OF THE FRONT SUSPENSION MISSES - SOME TESTERS FEEL THAT THE SEAT COVER IS TOO AGGRESSIVE FIXES + WE INSTALLED AN SDG INNOVATIONS SEAT COVER WITH TRACTION RIBS.
R I DE R : T E D L I V I NG S T ON
Mike Emery Age: 32 Height/Weight: 5’10”, 170 lbs. Ability: Intermediate Bikes Ridden: 2016 Honda CRF450R
1. HONDA CRF450R 2. KAWASAKI KX450F 3. HUSQVARNA FC 450
4. KTM 450 SX-F 5. YAMAHA YZ450F 6. SUZUKI RM-Z450
Wow—all six bikes are so good! For me the Honda and Kawasaki were my top two choices, as I felt completely at home on both bikes. While I actually prefer the green bike best, I gave the nod to the Honda simply because it’s equipped with a spring fork. Having spent last season on an air fork, I really grew to hate the maintenance that came along with it. The Husky is a solid third for me because it’s an easier-to-ride version of the KTM. Rating the Yamaha and Suzuki in the last two spots is tough, because I could easily race any of them with a smile.
Jessie Huntley Age: 22 Height/Weight: 5’9”, 165 lbs. Ability: Pro Bikes Ridden: 2015 Kawasaki KX450F
1. HONDA CRF450R 2. KAWASAKI KX450F 3. HUSQVARNA FC 450
4. KTM 450 SX-F 5. YAMAHA YZ450F 6. SUZUKI RM-Z450
I felt the most comfortable on the Honda CRF450R. It has a good engine package and feels the lightest and easiest to ride. I love the new spring fork, and I felt as if I could put the CRF anywhere I wanted to. The Kawasaki is as it always is: solid with no real flaws. The Husky was one of the most impressive machines for me, because I’m really particular about forks, and I was blown away by the AER 48 fork. This is also the most comfortable I’ve ever been on a non-Japanese bike, and I could easily see myself racing the FC 450.
Donn Maeda Age: 48 Height/Weight: 5’9”, 175 lbs. Ability: Vet Intermediate Bikes Ridden: 2017 KTM 350 SX-F
1. KAWASAKI KX450F 2. KTM 450 SX-F 3. HUSQVARNA FC 450
4. YAMAHA YZ450F 5. HONDA CRF450R 6. SUZUKI RM-Z450
I’m not a fan of the Showa TAC fork, but the changes made to its valving plus the new stiffer triple clamps on the 2017 Kawasaki KX450F render the front-end far less offensive than it was last year. With that said, I feel the Kawasaki is the best choice for me, because I love the way it handles and has plenty of power on tap everywhere. The KTM and Husky are both so great that it’s impossible not to rank them both near the top. Both bikes produce amazing power, handle incredibly well, and have adjustability and features that none of the other bikes have.
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Kyle Puerner Age: 48 Height/Weight: 5’11”, 187 lbs. Ability: Vet Intermediate Bikes Ridden: 2016 Kawasaki KX450F
1. KTM 450 SX-F 2. KAWASAKI KX450F 3. HUSQVARNA FC 450
4. YAMAHA YZ450F 5. SUZUKI RM-Z450 6. HONDA CRF450R
It’s hard to find a shortcoming in the KTM 450 SX-F— it’s the most powerful bike, has one of the best forks, and handles like a dream. I don’t think I would change a thing about the bike before heading to the races on it, and that says a lot about a stock bike. The Kawasaki is a close second for me, and it sneaks in between the KTM and Husky just because I feel so comfortable on it. I feel like I can put the Kawasaki anywhere I want on the track with minimal effort. And then there’s the FC 450—the tamer, friendlier version of the KTM. I love it, too!
Tallon LaFountaine Age: 22 Height/Weight: 5’5”, 140 lbs. Ability: Pro Bikes Ridden: 2016 KTM 450 SX-F
1. HUSQVARNA FC 450 2. KTM 450 SX-F 3. HONDA CRF450R
4. YAMAHA YZ450F 5. KAWASAKI KX450F 6. SUZUKI RM-Z450
The Husqvarna was the best all-around bike for me, as it was comfortable and smooth. The thing that gives the Husky the edge over the KTM is that the power is more user-friendly on the FC 450, and it’s easier to make good use of. I was surprised at how much better this year’s Husky is! I was also really impressed with the new Honda CRF450R. It has a lot of potential, but it would need some suspension work for me to race. I can see the red bike winning the 450 Shootout in the near future if they stiffen it up and improve the suspension balance.
Ted Livingston Age: 32 Height/Weight: 5’8”, 120 lbs. Ability: Beginner Bikes Ridden: 2016 Yamaha YZ250F
1. HUSQVARNA FC 450 2. HONDA CRF450R 3. KTM 450 SX-F
4. KAWASAKI KX450F 5. YAMAHA YZ450F 6. SUZUKI RM-Z450
I had the most fun on the Husqvarna FC 450, and I think others will, too. It’s got a great powerband with a ton of adjustability—four settings to be exact!—it handles amazingly well, and it now has one of the best front forks of all. It’s a damned good bike, and the best looking to boot! Throw in great finishing touches like the ProTaper handlebars and ODI Lock-On grips and you have a winner. I was very impressed with the new Honda because it’s light and fast, but money needs to be spent on better bars and grips. Can’t wait to see how it fares at the pro level.
NEW Battlecross X20
Sometimes, you just have to state the obvious. The Battlecross X20 for soft terrain. X30 for intermediate terrain. And the Battlecross X40 for hard terrain.
I M P R OV E D H E AT D I S P E R S I O N â€˘ E N H A N C E D T R A C T I O N â€˘ I M P R OV E D G R I P F O R A L L C O N D I T I O N S
BY MICHAEL ANTONOVICH PHOTOS BY MICHAEL ANTONOVICH & PIRELLI
RACE ON SATURDAY, SELL ON MONDAY I N A S P O R T W HE R E W OR K S P A R T S A R E T HE S TA ND A R D , P I R E L L I B U C K S T HE N O R M B Y G I V I N G T HE I R P R O R A C E R S P R ODUC T I ON T I R E S .
It’s been more than a century since Pirelli first
Pirelli made automotive tires the center of their
put their rubber tires on a racetrack, and in the
brand long ago and publicized their new technol-
time since they’ve become synonymous with au-
ogy with racing endeavors around Europe.
tomobiles around the world. And while the Italian
Pirelli’s motorcycle line started in 1900 and has
brand is best known in car circles, they have al-
never ceased production, as motorcycles have
ways played an important part in motorcycle cul-
remained an integral part of transportation. The
ture and have reignited their efforts for motocross
brand again used racing as a way to display their
in recent years. With the release of a new product
works and has accomplished numerous titles in
line, we were invited to Europe for a firsthand look
road and off-road divisions. Motocross is a small
at the company’s research and testing procedure.
part of the company, but it’s one of the most suc-
In 1872 engineer Giovanni Battista Pirelli found-
cessful, and Pirelli has claimed 66 world champi-
ed the initial company, G.B. Pirelli & C, in Milan, Italy.
onships since entering the category. But for all
With a special take on the derivative process of India
of the triumph in Europe, Pirelli has previously
rubber, the company made products that ranged
missed the mark with motocross in the United
from consumer goods like raincoats and hot water
States. And that’s something they intend to cor-
bottles to industrial uses with insulated electrical
rect with the MX32 line, which was developed
cables. Their first tires for bicycle applications were
with rider input from around the world and targets
produced in 1890, and in 1901 they filed their first
patent for a car tire, the tipo Ercole. Although cable products remained in the company’s portfolio until 2005 when the division was sold to Goldman Sachs,
W I T H S I C I LY â€™ S W A R M YE AR -ROUND WE ATHER, THE P IRELL I S TAFF IS ABLE TO RIDE FOR 12 MONTHS. THE TEST DEPARTMENT WILL USE OVER 8,000 TIRES IN A YEAR ON THEIR ROAD AND OFF-ROAD MOTORCYCLES.
MILAN HEADQUARTERS Pirelli currently has manufacturing
ment are placed on spring-assisted
facilities around the world including
concrete block, which prevents seis-
Europe, Indonesia, and Brazil, which
mic activity interference, and are
are where all of the company’s non-
kept in independent climate-con-
radial tires—like the ones used in
trolled rooms. In one room a tire is
motocross—are produced. Yet the
run at full speed until it disintegrates
heart of the company remains in Italy
under the eye of a high-speed cam-
with a campus of restored red-brick
era, while the loads experienced at
buildings and new glass structures
extreme lean angles are measured
that cover a sizeable part of a Milan
on a different tire by another ma-
suburb and where the various de-
chine just meters away. An incred-
partments of the company are scat-
ible amount of data is collected from
tered throughout the area. Pieces
the tests, and engineers are able to
of Pirelli memorabilia decorate ev-
pair the numbers with real-world
ery room and hallway, and there’s
testing information to predict the
a shared energy between the en-
performance of a product.
gineers, marketing managers, and
The rise in the electric-car market
corporate executives. As impressive
has also meant changes for Pirelli, par-
as the buildings are from the street
ticularly due the noise generated by
level, they are simply a cover for the
the rubber on the road and the power
intense technical research that goes
characteristics of the motor. This has
on underground. It takes a guided
resulted in tires that are designed to
tour from Matteo Giusti, the global
be quieter and to take the instanta-
brand manager for the motorcycle
neous load of torque. Although the
marketing division, to truly see how
electric demographic is still nearly
each idea goes from prototype to
something that the group will likely
No corners have been cut for the research facility. Pieces of equip-
have to address for their two-wheeled divisions in the near future.
ABOVE: On this machine the base of the tire is recorded when under various forces of pressure but without motion. This determines the distribution of force and the footprint that it covers on the ground. LEFT: Pirelli’s mass test center sits nine meters beneath the streets of downtown Milan, Italy. The entire environment has been built with testing in mind, as each room has its own climate control system and is mounted on a slab of spring-stabilized concrete, which prevents outside factors from impacting the results.
ABOVE: Every prototype tire starts as one massive piece of round slick rubber that’s sprayed in a thin white paint and etched with a laser to show the intended tread pattern, which is then hand-cut by a technician. It’s a slow process but allows small changes to be made instantaneously without significant retooling.
Their American counterparts Doug Schopinsky and Josh Whitmire were crucial when it came to getting information from the AMA series, and Schopinsky’s pedigree in the sport helped him relay the riders’ needs to the designers of the MX 32 Pro. The designers decided to increase the tread spacing for an increased footprint on the track surface, change the dimensions to the side knobs, and increase the size of the center block for improved grip. A series of prototype tires were tested with Andrew Short and also with the Joe Gibbs Racing team, and with each new design they came closer to the final product. “Our philosophy is that we sell what we race,” Schiavolin continued. “The prototype tires that we develop are only used for a short time, because then we decide what we want and transfer the technology to the new product for sale.” ABOVE: To measure the pressure at various conditions, tires are subjected to this treadmill-style test. When
To get an idea of the feedback
the belt is in motion, tires can reach speeds up to 250 kpH and sensors record the dynamic behavior of the
firsthand, we headed to a track in
tire, including applied force and temperature. The data from this test is paired with other recorded data and
nearby Caltagirone. With a surface
can help Pirelli predict the characteristics of the tires.
that was more like concrete than dirt, it was the perfect place to test the durability of the intermediate compound. “It’s important for us to
S I C I LY T E S T C E N T E R A few thousand kilometers south
in the saddle. During a presentation
create the worst conditions in com-
on the small island of Sicily is where
from Pennisi and off-road R&D man-
parison to the real race,” Pennisi said.
much of Pirelli’s motorcycle testing
ager Andrea Schiavolin, the two make
“If the tire can make it okay in the test
takes place. Salvo Pennisi manages
it clear just how much Pirelli wants to
conditions, it should be okay in the
the activity on the island, which in-
create a universal tire that appeals to
race conditions.” The fleet of Yamaha
the international market. They explain
and Honda bikes were outfitted with
cruiser, and motocross machines
how feedback from top riders around
MX32 and MX32 Pro tires, and over
and staff of mechanics and test rid-
the world (including those in both the
the course of the day’s motos it was
ers who specialize in certain seg-
AMA and MXGP series) goes directly
obvious where the tire improved
ments. The pleasant climate of the
into the consumer product and how
over Pirelli’s past offerings, particu-
Mediterranean Sea allows for year-
the American riders have different
larly in flat and slick sections. Calta-
round riding, and thanks to this the
needs than the Europeans. “We saw
girone is just one track that the Sicil-
staff is able to conduct thousands of
during the development that riders
ian crew has access to, as they also
tests each year. Pennisi and the crew,
in Supercross want to start and finish
conduct tests at a handful of public
which includes former Italian pro rac-
the day with the same tire because
tracks on the island, Antonio Cai-
ers Vincenzo Lombardo and Antonio
they know its traits,” Schiavolin ex-
roli’s private compound, and even a
Mancuso in the motocross division,
plained. “The problem in Supercross
special sand track that requires local
are passionate about their jobs, a
is the changing of the track, so they
government approval. In addition to
must when countless hours are spent
would change tires.”
this, test riders around the world pro-
vide feedback for the tires.
O N G O I N G DATA C O L L E C T I O N “Getting the tires to respond to dif-
paddock in the MXGP series, two
ferent needs is our first priority. To
factory-supported teams in the Unit-
build a special tire for a certain rider
ed States, and numerous privateers.
or bike for every race doesn’t help
In addition to their own data, they
the final user,” stated Giorgio Bar-
have stiff competition in rival brand
bier, the racing director of Pirelli’s
Dunlop. “We have experience from
motorcycle division, at the Charlotte
all people and develop the tires
round of the Monster Energy FIM
from their feedback, and to have
Motocross World Championship. The
Dunlop in the paddock is good for
traveling series has allowed Pirelli to
us because it’s a continuous stimu-
collect information from environ-
lus,” Barbier shared. “If I just raced
ments around the world, and while
with Honda and made a great front
they’ve learned that the needs of the
tire for Honda but tried to put it on
American and European riders are
a Kawasaki, it might not work at all.
starting to show similarities, there
Having more teams allows us to con-
are still many differences. “We take
tinue our improvement. It won’t be
information from our American and
a big jump, but every year we put
European technicians because we’re
something in and in the long term
trying to understand what will be the
we will make a lot of improvement.”
future for all of the championships.
In motorcycle racing Pirelli has
In Europe things have changed a
made it a point to put their elite rid-
lot in a few years with tracks being
ers on the same products that are
prepped to adapt to the needs of
sold to the public. It’s a very inter-
racers,” Barbier continued. “What
esting take on tires, especially in a
happens in the US is helping us with
sport that’s so accustomed to one-
riders in Europe. When the World
off parts that are often built to only
Championship moves from Europe
go the distance of a race and not
to around the world, like Argentina
much longer. It’s not as though Pire-
or Mexico, the preparation is more
lli doesn’t have the power to make
like what we see in the United States.”
special items, which they did early
With these changes the group
in the return to Supercross, but they
continually monitors riders at the
would much rather use the resourc-
races through their various teams,
es to make a better tire for all of their
which includes the majority of the
riders and in turn, the masses.
BELOW: TransWorld Motocross’ Michael Antonovich with Pirelli testing department manager Salvo Pennisi, off-road R&D manager Andrea Schiavolin, and test riders Antonio Mancuso and Vincenzo Lombardo.
BY THE TESTING STAFF OF T WMX
PRO CIRCUIT BUILDS A COMPETITIVE KAWASAKI KX85 WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK
As we mentioned before, the Kayaba fork features a fixed rebound setting that cannot be changed in stock condition. The rear of the bike then becomes subject to the action of the fork, and this results in an unbalanced feel to an otherwise excellent chassis. Pro Circuit offers products that address the issue, most notably a set of accessory fork caps that replace the OE units and add a full range of rebound—24 clicks in total—which also go with the standard compression control. A variety of linkage arms are offered for the shock and are made to match a rider’s height. These parts were added to suspension that received the standard service of valving, set spring rates, and
The color scheme of the starting line at a mini-bike race has become a
warmer hue in recent years. Once dominated by blue and green bikes, orange machines are now without a doubt the most popular choice with 85cc
ON THE TRACK
riders. Kawasaki has fought valiantly to retain their place in the prepubescent
Once kicked to life, we could tell that
class and revamped the popular KX85 model in 2014 with an all-new engine,
the Pro Circuit KX85 had plenty to offer.
updated suspension components, and fresh body panels—all of which put it
The jetting of the short carb was crisp,
back in contention with the powerful competition from KTM and Husqvarna.
perfect for our SoCal sea-level local, and
But even with the updates the small Kawasaki leaves something to be de-
fed the touched-up engine without fault.
sired in the engine and suspension departments. The power from the stock
On the track the modifications to the en-
engine pulls smoothly from the bottom-end through the middle yet is still a
gine and suspension worked perfectly
few ticks off of the KTM’s top speed. The suspension—specifically the Kayaba
in sync. The nimble chassis tucked into
fork—offers very few adjustments and isn’t up to par with the demands of
tight corners, and the pleasant low-end
fast or heavy riders. As a major supporter to Kawasaki’s Team Green amateur
power remained controllable even as
racing program, the crew at Pro Circuit was well aware of the shortcomings
the throttle opened up. This pull contin-
and took it upon themselves to find solutions. Their remedies ranged from
ued through the middle and up to the
a simple slip-on pipe to a full-on SuperMini-engine masterpiece, but since
top of the powerband, and it was pos-
the budget of an average amateur family allows for far less than a full-factory
sible to stretch a gear out a few seconds
bike, PC settled on a selection of tweaks to the internals of the engine and
longer than on the machine in stock
suspension that would make the bike competitive in the Mod class.
form. Even at high speeds, like through fast straightaways and sweeping corners, both ends of the bike remained planted to the ground. With a stable
IN THE SHOP
platform and powerful engine, the bike
While it’s possible for Pro Circuit to put together an engine that
elevated the rider’s confidence when
suits a specific rider’s desires, the intention of this build was to
against all track conditions.
create broad, usable power that would benefit all skill levels. The process started with a special
MONEY WELL SPENT
slightly shorter modified carburetor
It’s easy for an over-enthusiastic mini
that perfected the fuel and air mix-
parent to max out a credit card on the
ture for increased throttle response.
Pro Circuit catalog. The famed hop-up
Both the cylinder and head were
shop can get the most from every major
sent to the workbench where the
motocross machine and their creativity
cylinder received the port and pol-
knows no limits, but even they know that
ish procedure while the head was
work to a few key areas and the corre-
reworked to cleanly burn VP Racing
sponding parts can take an average bike
Fuel. As expected, the fumes were
to the next level—and that’s exactly what
flowed through a Pro Circuit Works
they did with the KX. The engine had
pipe and R-304 silencer. Even with
plenty of manageable power, and the
this list of work, the engine did not require a high-compression
suspension was suited to the rigors of
or enlarged piston. Billet aluminum accessories and high-flow
the racetrack. These are important traits
hoses served as finishing touches to the power plant but didn’t
for a mini machine, and any young rider
up the horsepower numbers.
would excel on this 85.
“ W IT H A STABLE P L AT F OR M AN D PO W ERFUL EN G I NE , T H E B IK E E L E VATE D T HE R ID E R ’ S CO N F ID EN C E W H E N AG A IN ST ALL TR AC K CO N D IT ION S.”
RIDER BROCK BENNETT
PHOTO BY DONN MAEDA
PRO CIRCUIT KAWASAKI KX85
PHOTOS BY MIKE EMERY
RIDER IMPRESSION E NG INE Service R&R head and cylinder: $149.95 Head and cylinder service: $349.95 Rider: Brock Bennett
Right off the bat I was immediately drawn to the Pro Cir-
Carburetor mod: $249.95
cuit Kawasaki KX85 simply because of its looks. The Pro
Works pipe: $241.95
Height/Weight: 5’11”/115 lbs.
Circuit Works pipe along with the blue radiator hoses and
R-304 silencer: $134.95
red N-Style number plates make this bike almost too good
Billet ignition cover: $199.95
Bikes Ridden: 2016 Husqvarna TC 85
looking to ride, but I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
T-6 clutch cover: $189.95
Once I got out on the track I found that the KX85 corners really well, and thanks to the low-end power,
Radiator hose kit: $74.95 Maxima Coolanol: $15.25
even the tightest corners are easy to conquer. One aspect that I thoroughly enjoyed was that I wasn’t forced to shift up immediately following the exit of a corner, because the low-end power seems to
SUSP E NSION Service R&R: $99.95 Fork revalve internal parts: $499.95
pull endlessly. The ported and polished cylin-
Fork revalve labor: $$194.95
der along with the short carburetor all work
Shock revalve internal parts: $90.85
well together and deliver the right amount of
Bladder cap kit: $58.85
power without being overwhelming. I noticed that I didn’t feel any front-end
Shock revalve labor: $164.95 Linkage: $324.95
push, and I also felt that the rear of the bike was firmly planted everywhere on the track. The KYB fork felt great,
ACC E SSORIE S
and I didn’t have to change a thing about them even
RK chain: $40.22
though the Pro Circuit fork caps offer more adjustability. I
Team graphics: $199.95
went out on the compression two clicks with the shock to
Axle blocks: $59.95
soften it up a little bit.
Billet shift lever: $99.95
Overall I think this Pro Circuit KX85 is a great bike, and even though it’s considered a Mod, it doesn’t go overboard with power; however, there’s plenty of it. Honestly I think the only negative review I could offer up is that the rear brake felt a little spongy.
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A X E L L’ S W O R L D L E T T I N G S T Y L E A N D G O O D T I M E S L E A D T H E W AY, A X E L L H O D G E S H A S C A R V E D H I S O W N PAT H .
BY MIKE EMERY
Palm trees, sunshine, and a laid-back surf culture—welcome to Encinitas, a post-
what I do every day and put it out there. It’s super fun.
card example of true coastal Southern California. Spanning a total of 20 square miles and located about 25 miles north of San Diego, Encinitas is probably
And way easier, right?
the last place you’d expect a young up-and-coming freeriding motocross
Yeah, it’s easier! I don’t have to
star to live, but such is the case for Axell “Slay” Hodges. The 20-year-old rider has garnered a huge social following by just riding and being him-
be training 24/7 or racing just
self—oftentimes just goofing around in his yard with buddies. Fans and
trying to make a paycheck. I can have more fun and even enjoy my
companies have taken notice, and the doors of his future have just be-
life a little bit more and make way
gun to open as a result. Welcome to Axell’s world, and as you read on
more money instead of spending
you’ll become increasingly envious of both his skill set on a dirt bike
money to race my dirt bike.
and his have-fun-24-hours-a-day lifestyle. Want to see more? Just follow along on social media!
And you’ve switched out to quads for So people have really gotten to know you through your social me-
cross training? Those videos crack peo-
dia, freeriding, and best-whip contests, but let’s first go back to
ple up. Are you a certified #quadgod yet?
your racing roots—you actually won an amateur title at Loretta
[Laughs] I kind of get on the quad to keep my wheelie skills up to par and flat-track it
Lynn’s, right? Yeah, in 2012 I won a Loretta’s title in 250 C Stock class.
and get it sideways. I mean, it is kind of a
So would that be the highlight of your amateur career?
but riding the thing does help, you know? In
joke when you think about getting on a quad, The next year I almost got another one in 450 B, but Aaron Plessinger was there and he was just kind of spanking
some situations it gives you the experience to know what to do.
me around, so I got second. After that I never really did Do you just laugh the entire time you’re on it? The
anything in racing.
Kawasaki Brute Force Realtree Edition is quite the unit. I think the last time I saw you race was Monster En-
The thing is actually pretty fun. I started riding it as a
ergy Cup in 2015 where you entered the Biggest
joke just because my brother was messing around on
Whip contest during the day and then raced Ama-
it, but it’s actually really fun. The thing is fast!
teur All-Stars at night. It was kind of a hectic day going back and forth
The four-wheeler community is going to love you, too. Yeah, and that thing is kind of scary when you crash it. I
from my 450 and my 250!
haven’t put any of those out there on the Internet, yet [laughs]. You gotta pay your dues!
And you got second in the whip contest, right?
Let’s talk about X Games. This year was your first year, and you
Yeah, behind Jarryd McNeil.
earned a medal? So you progressed quickly into the world
Yeah, I got a silver medal in Best Whip.
of whips and freeriding and pretty much left the racing world behind. Do you agree that it’s really been a quick progression of success just in this past
Didn’t you eat shit there, too? I ate shit pretty good in Step Up. They sent me out there and I was the first guy. It was my first time at X Games. I was sitting on the line for like five minutes, and I just had a lot going through my head. I was
year alone? Yeah, definitely! Last year I feel like
looking at the bar and kind of just pinned it off the lip as hard as I could
more of my stuff was just taking off
to make sure I got over and didn’t look like a complete goon. Then I
with all the Instagram videos I’ve
crashed and ended up looking like a complete goon anyway. It was a
been making. When I was racing
little slicker than it was in practice and I spun into it, and then it hooked up
I still made videos, but now it’s more lifestyle and having fun
going up the lip and it just sent me to the moon. I dislocated my shoulder on that one.
doing what I like to do every day. People seem to enjoy it,
But that happened before Best Whip?
so it’s cool that I can just do
Yeah, that was before the whip contest.
“ T O B E I N X G A M E S A N D S AY I H A V E A N X G A M E S M E D A L I S P R O B A B LY M Y B I G G E S T A C C O M P L I S H M E N T.”
years—my whole life. He’s been down
Earning a silver medal riding with a hurt shoulder is pretty gnarly. Your nerves at X Games
the road the entire time, and I just always
must have been at an all-time high. Yeah, but it’s different nerves than racing. When I was racing, just being on the line I think
looked up to him. I mean, he’s a seven-
it was more like fear when you’re on the gate with like 40 guys. At X Games I felt like I just
time Supercross champion! Growing up I
had more pressure of what people were expecting out of me and what I was going to do.
wanted to be just like him; he’s definitely the biggest standout guy that I’ve looked up to growing up.
Riding X Games helped link you up with the Hot Pockets deal, right? Hot Pockets came through the X Games Real Moto contest.
Does he heckle you for not training and racing like he did?
Did you just have stacks of Pockets at the house—microwave running strong all day? At the time I did, but not so much anymore just because I’ve eaten so many of
He did when I was racing. Now he sees how things
them. It doesn’t feel the best on the stomach the next day when you’re eating
have evolved, and he’s behind me and supports me. Hopefully I can make some videos with him, be-
a lot of ham and cheese every day—just Hot Pockets [laughs]. They were good,
cause he’s the guy I looked up to. He has so much
though, and it was a cool sponsor to do some stuff with.
bike skill, and I always looked at his style and tried to be like that.
Is it still going? Not fully. It was more of an X Games thing, but I just kind of like running the Hot Pockets on the jersey because it’s kind of funny and it starts conversations.
What do you think is your biggest accomplishment to date?
Your house has become a place where you can practice on ramps and
My favorite thing is probably my silver medal at X Games.
ride around at times, but Encinitas is a pretty quiet neighborhood. How
I’ve watched X Games and thought it was the coolest thing since I was a little grom, and to be in X Games and say I have
do you swing that with the neighbors?
an X Games medal is probably my biggest accomplishment.
Most of the neighbors around are cool with it! We have a couple neighbors that are up above, and it echoes off the canyons, so
And your worst day in the office? I know the Monster Energy Cup
they’re pretty bummed on it. We’ve been there for like 25 years,
FMX High Rollers contest was a rough one on you.
and everyone knows my dad from my Snapchat and stuff—he’s kind of the crazy guy who gets shit done. He knows how to handle that stuff. We put spark arrestors in the pipes, and when I hit the
There have been worse days where I’ve gotten hurt, but at a contest that was probably one of my roughest days. I felt like I had the quar-
ramps I try not to rev it and go complete X Games-mode on ev-
terpipe contest in the bag. To get blown out like that really pissed me
eryone [laughs]. I try to keep it mellow and just ride at the right
off—especially getting second behind McNeil! I wanted to beat that
times of the day. I keep it minimum to around 30 minutes to
dude just because he always gets me, and it pisses me off.
an hour at most. I saw you’re in for X Games Snow Bike racing. What’s the plan there? Encinitas is not a place anyone would ever think you’d be
Throw a Seven turtleneck on and head for the mountains? I’ve ridden snowmobiles and stuff, and I grew up snowboarding, so I kind of
able to pull that off. When my dad moved here no one else was really back
have an idea of what it’s going to be like and how things are going to work.
here, so it was cool to ride around when my older
I think it shouldn’t be too hard—it’s like a dirt bike. Most of the guys I’m racing
brothers were growing up. They had tracks and jumps
are freestyle guys, so that could work out in my favor being an amateur racer.
in the hills, but now there are houses everywhere. It’s
I could say I know how to go pretty fast. It’s going to be different; I’m excited. I
also a horse community, so you have to be respect-
haven’t ridden one yet! We’re going out to Glamis to film Doonies for four days,
ful of the horses and shut off your bike. Sometimes
and I’ll get some testing in there. Then we’ll just go out to Aspen and pin it.
they’ll come by and I think I’m disturbing them, but they’ll say, “Oh no, we’re just watching!” So it’s kind of cool.
With social media you’ve been a rider who has completely used it to your advantage. How much of a tool is it these days? The pro guys all have their social media and stuff, and some do it in a way that makes
Growing up, who was your childhood hero? Definitely Jeremy McGrath.
it seem like they’re getting paid to do it. I like to film the same stuff I normally would but just wear a shirt of a sponsor that supports me. Even stickers—I’ll put stickers on things in my Snapchat—my brother’s Sunken Skum sticker for example—and people just blow me
And you were lucky enough to grow up down the road from him, right? Yeah, I’ve lived in the same house for 20
up asking, “Where can I get that sticker!” With everyone having a phone these days and looking at it 24/7, I think it’s a good way to promote stuff. With the views I’m getting the numbers are starting to add up, and it’s starting to work out.
“ I C A N H A V E M O R E F U N A N D E V E N E N J O Y M Y L I F E A L I T T L E B I T M O R E A N D M A K E W AY M O R E M O N E Y I N S T E A D O F S P E N D I N G M O N E Y T O R A C E M Y D I R T B I K E .”
So you’re looking at the numbers and fully understand it’s your biggest marketing tool. Yeah, and now Hookit has all the numbers and ranks. I think I’m ranked number two on social media in motocross right now behind Ken Roczen. It’s mostly because my
Definitely. Okay, let’s talk high fashion. [Laughs] High fashion? We had a shoot come up that a guy named Jacob recommended to my dad, and my dad thought it would be a good thing to do
interactions are so big, but I need to work on my followers!
for this fashion magazine. So I was like, “Yeah, I’ll do it,” and we were riding all day. The last outfit they want-
Throw a shout out of the names for the readers! [Laughs] Instagram is @axellhodges, Snapchat is just @Axell, and Twitter I believe
ed me to wear was a crop top. I don’t know if it was the best thing to do on my part, but I just said screw it and, uh,
yeah, I was riding my dirt bike in a crop top, and I’m kind of Fill us in on the real important matters—does it really go down in the DMs? I mean, it does happen—there are a lot of girls who will actually DM me. You’d probably think it’s cooler than it actually is, just because the amount
bummed on it [laughs]! I’m just scared of what kind of heat I’ll be getting from everyone when it comes out! But yeah, I rode my dirt bike in a crop top.
of girls I don’t want to hang out with. Occasionally there may be one I’d That’s what high fashion will do to you! So Doonies is next?
want to, but most of the time it’s pretty gnarly—kind of a lot of beaters,
Yeah, we’re going to Doonies and then snow bikes at X Games, and
if you want to call them that [laughs]! Even me, I’ve probably DM’d like two girls in my life. I feel lame talking to a girl through DM. I’d
then I’m a stunt double in a movie that I got picked up for, so I’ll be working on that doing some stunt work. I’ll be busy these next few
rather do it the right way and meet a girl in real life.
months, but it’s worth it because I’m making money riding my dirt bike. Are there times on trips where you look around and think, Do you think it’s important for kids to understand there are other paths be-
“Damn, I’m here because I’m riding my dirt bike”? All the time! The places it’s taken me now, it’s kind of cool. I get to travel to all these cool spots and film, and pretty much every time I think about that. Like, “Oh, I’m riding my dirt bike right now—it could be a lot worse!” And then the guys I’m riding with is the gnarliest part—guys I’ve looked up to my whole life like Twitch [Jeremy Stenberg], Tyler Bereman, and those guys. To be able to ride with them and at their level is pretty cool.
sides racing and chasing that dream? It can go different ways for different people. I feel like there are kids out there that do enjoy racing and find it fun. I just kind of felt it wasn’t my thing working out and training every day—you can’t really be a kid. I feel like I missed out on a lot
of things I could have done, and I feel like the route I’m going could benefit a lot of kids just because racing is so expensive and the return isn’t that good. I get to have more fun, ride my dirt bike, and be creative. You just have to be a creative person and know how to put your own spin on it, and it could work out.
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“ I ’ M J U S T S C A R E D O F W H AT K I N D O F H E AT I ’ L L B E G E T T I N G F R O M E V E R Y O N E W H E N I T C O M E S O U T ! B U T Y E A H , I R O D E M Y D I R T B I K E I N A C R O P T O P. .”
“ E V E R Y O N E K N O W S M Y D A D F R O M M Y S N A P C H AT A N D S T U F F —HE’S KIND OF THE CRAZY GUY WHO GETS SHIT DONE. ”
Describe your family for the readers—they’re all individuals
Drop some sponsors or key people who make this all possible. I know your dad is
and heavily involved in the moto scene.
back home prepping and putting a paddle tire on your bike as we do this interview!
I feel like my family just wants to have good style. They
Yeah, definitely first off is my dad. He’s put in so many hours and spent so much money on me just so I can ride my dirt bike. He’s given me the opportunity just to do what I’m doing. And my mom—dirt bikes drive my mom crazy. She doesn’t like to watch but is supporting me now and completely has my back. Sponsor-wise, Monster Energy has definitely stepped up and given me more freedom to
like looking good, being cool, and they do their own thing. My brother Austin has Sunken Skum, which is like a Harley/lifestyle thing, and then Ash has his Dirt Shark videos. We’re all doing different things, but they all kind of work out to
where we can work together. That’s what’s cool: I’m riding my dirt
do what I want. Traxxas is a huge help, too, and Seven MX gear has been
bike, but I also get to work with my brothers every day and make
behind me doing their thing. Do I just sit here naming them all off?
videos just hanging out with my family. It’s bringing our family closer [Laughs] People will see them on you and your bike. I was more
now that we’re all interacting more and doing the same stuff.
looking for key people or brands. My brother Ash, supports me, helps me, and gives me good advice. Just growing up he’s done so much for me sponsor-wise
Livin’ the dream. Yeah, livin’ the dream! Definitely blessed.
and helped us out. I can’t thank him enough.
090 BY CASEY DAVIS PHOTOS BY CASEY DAVIS & DONN MAEDA
PRESER V ING RELE VANCE JE R E M Y “ T W I T C H ” S T E NB E R G In this day and age, maintaining relevance in a sport that’s ever evolving after an athlete’s retirement is something that very few have mastered. After officially stepping away from freestyle motocross contests in 2009, Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg has managed to preserve his image in the public eye and remain in the spotlight. Now 35 years old, the six-time X Games gold medalist spends just as much time on a motorcycle as he ever has freeriding in the hills and working on the sequel to his popular 2014 movie Chasing The Storm with his brother-in-law, filmmaker John Sanders. When he’s not on two wheels, he’s often on four competing in the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series. In 2016 he earned two second-place finishes, a career-best for the MAVTV truck driver. With his passion for freeriding at an all-time high, his recent success in the off-road truck-racing world, and his drive to produce endless content for his followers, there’s seemingly no end in sight for the freestyle motocross pioneer.
What’s been going on lately, Jeremy?
During a recent trip to Nonamers’ Canyon you really
Man, a whole lot of riding, a whole lot of shoveling, and a whole a lot of fun
educated us on the amount of prep and maintenance
that goes into these riding spots. Talk about the importance of all that work before you even begin riding.
You’ve been hitting the hills a lot lately as you film for your next movie,
Before we even unload we already have a plan or a
Chasing The Storm 2. Have you guys been to any notable spots yet, or do you
schedule set in place that will give us the best lighting
have any unique locations planned?
for each of these spots. You want to take into consid-
Yeah, we’ve been filming a lot lately—primarily out in Nonamers’ Canyon,
eration the shadows on jump faces since the sun can
because we know the dirt has been good lately. We want to take advantage
make it really hard to see, but also what lighting will
of it right now, so we’ve been shoveling like crazy. We love Nonamers’, but
make for the coolest shots. The prep work allows us to
we know that we have to go to other locations if we plan on outdoing the
get in a longer riding session before the dirt begins to
first movie. You probably could film an entire movie solely inside Nonamers’
break down. We want to ride as long as we can so that
Canyon because of the amount of jumps, but either way we’ve got some
we can get as many shots as we can. We would rather
plans in the works. We’re heading to Glamis next week, and then I think we’re
leave knowing that we have more than enough con-
going to head up to a different part of Bakersfield. We’re on a bit of a dead-
tent than stressing about not having enough. It makes
line when it comes to time, but we want to go to Colorado and Utah, as well.
it easier for all of the videographers and photogra-
It’s been super cold up there, so it’s hard to say if we’ll be able to pull it off
phers, too. We always keep in mind the background
or not. It’s usually hard to predict what trips will end up happening since
because that has everything to do with a great shot.
everything depends on the weather—we’re literally chasing the storm. I’m
Basically we’re planning everything around the goal
constantly on my phone keeping up with the weather, so then if I see a storm
of obtaining the best content possible.
pop up in San Diego, we can start coming up with a game plan. When that happens we usually try to plan it out so we can see the spot before the rain
Recently you’ve been poaching public spots on your
and maybe even begin the building process. It’s been super fun, and it’s
dirt bike like you were doing a few years ago. What
something I look forward to once the winter months roll around. All of the
gave you the idea to do that stuff again?
shoveling and prep work that goes into building a new jump is well worth it
Yeah, we did it a lot back in the day for an ad cam-
when you see it the next day after a good rain.
paign for a company, but that’s something that I’m al-
ways doing anyways—looking for unique spots to ride at. I do that all the time, especially when I’m driving down the freeway. That’s where I found that house that I jumped on and off of on the side of a hill. I’ve driven down that freeway for the last 12 years, and I’ve always wanted to jump over that thing or something cool like it. When my brother-in-law and I were filming for my X Games Real Moto video, the goal was to do something different—something that everyone talks about doing but they’re too afraid to sack up and do. The worst-case scenario would be that the cops show up and they impound my bike, but I’d have the bike back in 30 days! I just told my brother-in-law to film everything no matter what, because if the cops came, it would make for a cool part in the movie [laughs]. I finally told myself that I’m going to do everything that everyone is too afraid to do. I want to continue to make a living riding my dirt bike for as long as I can, because it’s something I’m good at and it’s something that I’m passionate about.
Let’s move on to your four-wheeled racing career. Recently you’ve had some impressive finishes along with a career-best finish. It sounds like you had a pretty good season. Everything’s been going well for us. We came into this season with a brand-new truck, so I knew that we were going to struggle at the beginning of the season because we hadn’t quite dialed it in yet. That was hard, because I want to be the best at everything I do. At about the halfway point in the series we finally figured it out, though, because I got two second-place finishes—a career-best for me. I had a good number of top fives, too, but now I know that I have what it takes to win next season. The crazy thing, though, is that there were only three guys prepping my truck this year: my crew chief Steve Drew, Jeff Goorsky, and myself. We may not be the most knowledgeable guys in the sport, but we always figure it out. These guys who I’m racing against have a huge advantage over us, because they already have their go-to setups for each location. We don’t have that quite yet,
You’ve managed to stay relevant in the sport long
so we’re still learning what works best at each
after your retirement from competition, which
track. A lot of these guys have that knowledge of
could be attributed to the amount of work you
the circuit, but my friends and I—with the help of
put into your social media. You’re constantly up-
Stronghold Motorsports—have been holding our
dating your followers with what you’re doing, and
own out there. We know next year is going to be
it’s almost become your own little media outlet.
a good season for us.
Yeah, social media has been a huge marketing tool for me. Back when I was still competing I
Since you’re constantly jumping from truck racing
really enjoyed the contests, but at the same time
to dirt bikes, are you ever faced with having to
it was often an unfair game. It got extremely po-
pick one priority over the other?
litical when it came to the judges—who would
For me, all of that works out pretty good. Truck-
sometimes have their favorites in the contest—
racing season happens during the summer when
and you’d better believe that not every judge
I’m not riding my bike as much as I want because
got along with every rider. I worked my ass off to
the dirt is so dry everywhere. The racing season is
be the best so that those judges wouldn’t have a
from March to October, so that’s when I’m training
reason to give someone else a better score than
my ass off and focusing on driving as much as I
me. Toward the end of my contest career is when
can with a little bit of riding here and there. Once
social media began to gain some momentum. I
freeriding season rolls around I continue training
kept an eye on it and realized that it could be a
and riding as much as I can with a little bit of driv-
great tool to market myself and allow me to still
ing. It works out great for me, because I get to en-
have fun freeriding with my friends. I wouldn’t
joy both of these sports entirely without having to
have to work my ass off to get fourth place in
choose one over the other. What I’ve set myself up
a contest that I know I should have won. I real-
to do these last few years has worked out great,
ized that I could give my sponsors a lot more in
and I really have nothing to complain about. I’ve
return with social media than I ever could win-
planned everything out pretty well, because I’m
ning some of those contest. Social media is cool
still having fun, I can still make a living, and I’m
because it allows the fans to get to know us a
making my sponsors happy. I’m 35 years old, and
little more in depth. It’s easy to get the wrong
let’s face it: How long can you make a living do-
idea of someone based on what you see on TV. It
ing something you’ve loved doing since you were
allows you to connect with your fans on a much
15 years old? This career path has lasted 20 years
more personal level. I can really show my fans
so far; that’s something that I never would have
who I am and what I’m about, and without them
expected. I’m extremely grateful for everything!
I wouldn’t be living the life I live.
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Freestyle motocross as we know it has taken a turn that many may not have predicted. A lot has changed since your days riding freestyle, but what is your take on the current state of FMX? I feel that freestyle could still be big like it was, but the promoters are ruining the sport. A lot of them are out to benefit themselves, so there was never a lot of effort that went into the building of those courses. The only guys willing to progress freestyle right now are Tom Pages, Taka Higashino, a few Europeans, and a few Australians like Jackson Strong. Those guys are out there busting their asses and taking that risk to learn new tricks, and for what—one freestyle event a year here in the United States? Do you really want to work all year for one contest that may not work out in your favor? And it’s not like there’s some huge payout that you can live on for the rest of the year. The only people putting on legitimate contests are the guys in Europe like Night Of The Jumps. These tours that Travis Pastrana is doing are great, but how many years can you do the same tour on the same ramps with the same dudes? To me
Where do you see FMX in 10 years?
that shit gets stale. FMX is not in a good spot
I honestly believe that freestyle will al-
right now, but I saw that X Games is bringing
ways be around one way or another, be-
everything back to their event, so hopefully
cause there will always be that one kid
that will give the sport the exposure that it
who wants to come out with a trick that’s
deserves again. Something else that needs
bigger, better, and new. But I don’t
to change is the actual courses and ramps.
know if these guys will still be able to
We had X Games at the Home Depot Center
make a living doing it. The other thing
back in the day, and that was cool because a
is that you need personality these days.
lot of guys got really creative on that course.
You can be the guy winning every con-
These days the ramps are laid out in a circle.
test or every race, but if you don’t have
People want to see these riders do something
the personality, then you’re not selling
creative, not the same trick by the same rider
the product. The sponsors aren’t just
looking like Gumby. I love FMX and I always
looking for results anymore; it goes a lot
will, but something really needs to change.
deeper than that now.
P: MIKE EMERY
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P: MIKE EMERY
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TYLER BEREMAN P: DONN MAEDA
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BY MIKE EMERY
AMSOIL HONDA’S CHRIS T IEN DUCHARME If you’ve paid close attention to the amateur ranks of our sport over the past few years, you already know that the big teams have invested further and further into up-and-coming talent. A recent acquiHometown: Derby, VT
sition of a gifted young Carson Mumford marked AMSOIL Honda’s (GEICO Honda’s amateur racing
Years Wrenching: 1
program) deepest dive yet into motocross’ youth, and alongside him keeping the wheels turning is a
Rider: Carson Mumford
fresh face in the industry by the name of Christien Ducharme. Having recently graduated through Pro SX MX Tech, an eight-month school program in West Virginia designed and started by retired factory mechanic Scott Adkins, Christien immediately found himself working alongside AMSOIL Honda for his first gig as Carson’s personal mechanic. “I didn’t think I’d be moving to California from Vermont to start working with a team like this within eight months!” Christian says about the quick placement. “I talked to Carson’s dad, they flew me out, and we just meshed really well. He’s probably one of the most focused 14-year-olds I’ve ever met. He takes this so much more seriously than a lot of the other racers. He’s just really driven and has a lot of knowledge for being so young.” Hiring a championship-caliber rider like Carson also called for some key changes to the CRF150R model to match his riding capabilities, and in speaking with the chief-developer of the race bike, team crew chief Kristian Kibby, he summarized just how this machine came to be: “Basically when we were approached by Honda to do something with the CRF150R, the current production model still had a carburetor on it and there were certain upgrades needed to prep the bike for a rider of Carson’s skill level. Our goal was to bring it up to speed with today’s technology and also to not have to run around with a jetting kit at all the races. It was a matter of machining and welding some parts and grafting on some components to add fuel injection. We’d like to think that if and when Honda revamps the model, this is close to what they might release.” We knew we had to learn more, and Kibby was nice enough to break down some more details for us below.
Engine: Engine-wise it’s a similar treatment to what
front wheel. We then have a KTM front caliper paired
bigger bikes, so you’d be forced to drop the cool-
we do to the pro race-team bikes, just scaled back a
to a Honda front master cylinder, and we’re using a
ant and the transmission oil in order to change the
little so it balances the amateur-level budget, perfor-
Moto Stuff 250-mm front disc. The rear brake is stock
clutch. The Hinson cover allows you to retain those
mance, and reliability. We have the ability to set the
aside from a steel-braided rear hose. The wheels are
fluids, permits quick clutch changes, and is avail-
rev-limiter where it’s safe for him to ride it as hard as
D.I.D Dirt Star hoops laced by Dubya USA using
able to the public. As far as the clutch itself goes,
he can, and the engines go a full 15 hours before
heavy-duty spokes, and he runs Dunlop MX3S tires.
we use a full-Hinson clutch setup.
it’s primarily just a piston and rings that we change,
Fuel Injection: It’s really just basic components con-
Monitoring Abuse: Being a small-bore machine,
and maybe around 30 hours it’ll get a full rebuild.
figured together to add the fuel injection to the bike.
Carson has to do a lot of shifting—it obviously
We have years of experience from the 250 race team
First of all, it needs more power generated from the
doesn’t have torque like a 450 where you can
bikes utilizing the key design factors of their valve
stator, so we used a CRF250R stator. Then it requires
leave it in just a couple gears. Typically the thing
train parts that are developed both in house and by
signal from the crank, so we used a CRF250R ignition
we’re looking after quite a lot is the condition of
a company called HPD [Honda Performance Devel-
rotor, which explains the custom ignition cover on
the transmission gears and shift dogs, which is just
opment, a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co.
there that houses those larger components. Another
a product of Carson having to shift a lot. We don’t
involved in the design and development of race en-
key component is an ECU from a CRF250R, which
have problems with anything breaking, but when
gines and chassis for IndyCar]. Things like the valves,
is a Vortex unit that’s completely programmable to
the transmission is used as hard as it is you need
valve springs, valve retainers, cam profile design—it’s
manipulate its settings to better suit the 150cc en-
to keep a close eye on things and replace them
all that type of stuff that allows a race bike like this to
gine. Then we used a fuel pump mounted inside the
when they wear.
stay reliable at such high revs.
tank to give the bike its fuel supply, and we’re using
we do any type of service on them. Even at 15 hours
a throttle body from a CB300 street bike. It’s all tied
Trick Bits And Pieces: Carson runs the ProTaper Evo
Chassis, Suspension, And Wheels: We added a lon-
together with some OE sensors including the cool-
handlebars, ARC clutch perch and lever, a stock
ger custom aftermarket swing arm and XTRIG triple
ant temperature sensor and a reconfigured CRF250R
brake lever, and ProTaper grips. The fuel tank is
clamps. We’re utilizing a WP fork but still retain the
wiring harness that was opened up and modified as
obviously a custom-made aluminum unit that was
Showa shock, which are both re-valved in-house by
needed to make it work on this bike.
built by Olson Fabrication to house the fuel pump unit. The exhaust system started as a production Yo-
Factory Connection Suspension. That WP fork would typically be fitted to a KTM hub and front axle, but
More Aftermarket Covers: The bike has a Hinson
shimura unit, and the only changes we made were
we have a Honda hub and front axle and are cur-
primary cover, and paired with that is a Hinson
opening up the tip and using a different core. This
rently using some spacers and sleeves that we ma-
clutch-inspection cover. Most mini bikes don’t come
pipe design may go into production down the road
chined in house to facilitate the use of the Honda
with a separate clutch-inspection cover like the
using our R&D into the updated design.
we are yt. WORLD CUP WINNER. FIRST TRY.
NATIONAL CHAMPS. TWICE.
GOOD TIMES. ALWAYS.
! R IN COLO
CONTACT JOHN @ 760-707-1981 firstname.lastname@example.org
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