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5 Minutes with...Ryan Beat

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This weekend in Washougal there will be a couple new factory riders out on the track that fans aren’t quite familiar with. First off, if you’ve been paying attention to our website, you know that privateer Scott Champion is getting to ride Josh Hill’s Factory Yamaha YZ450F this weekend. Another privateer filling in and competing aboard a factory 450 on Saturday is El Cajon, CA’s Ryan Beat, who will be aboard a Monster Energy Kawasaki. We talked to the 23-year-old Kawasaki test rider about his opportunity today.

  • Ryan Beat will be aboard a Factory Monster Energy Kawasaki KX450F this weekend at Washougal.
Racer X: Ryan, I understand you’ll be a factory Monster Energy Kawasaki rider this Saturday! That’s not bad for only racing one 450 national so far this year! How did this opportunity come about?
Ryan Beat: Well, I don’t know if many people know, but I’m a test rider for the Kawasaki factory team, and it kind of came about through me testing and being around the shop and the bikes. Ryan [Villopoto] is hurt, Timmy [Ferry] is hurt, and Ricky Dietrich can’t race this weekend because he has to fulfill his Endurocross obligation. So I was in the shop on Tuesday, and Fish [Mike Fisher, team manager] walks over to me and goes, “Hey, where are you riding this weekend?” I was just hanging out and said, “Oh, I’ll probably ride Barona or one of the local tracks.” He then goes, “Well, why don’t you ride Washougal? You want to race?” And then I said I’d love to and we talked it over. I’m a tester getting to play the role of a racer for the weekend.

Is anyone else going to be under the tent with you?
I’m not sure, actually.

This has to be a dream come true, right?
Oh, for sure. I’m very excited and it’s kind of what I always dreamed of. I didn’t really take the normal path to getting where I’m at right now, but I can’t complain. I’m super-pumped to be able to get the chance to go and race the bike, have fun, and experience what it’s like to be a factory racer.

Since you’re the test rider, do you ever get to ride a full-on factory bike?
Nope. We get to ride similar stuff when testing, but it’s not a full-blown race bike. This will be the first time I get to ride the full race bike.

What’s a typical week like for you as a test rider?
A typical week usually consists of testing two days a week, whether it be suspension or motor stuff, or the team trying new settings. Any area where we think we can improve the bike, that’s what we focus on. The guys in the shop put in endless hours to make sure these bikes are good, so I put in a lot of long days at the test track to make sure things are the best they can be.

The past few years you’ve been a privateer racer, so is this sort of like a dream job for you?
Totally! It’s totally awesome! Being a privateer coming up through the ranks or whatever is so hard. Now seeing what the factory guys get and knowing what privateers get, privateers deserve a lot more recognition than what they get, especially the guys who run good on privateer equipment. It’s pretty cool to come from a privateer and see this side of it. I love it. It’s good for me because realistically, a guy like myself who rides around the top twenty, we don’t really make a lot of money. There are plenty of guys like me who just need a chance and might not get it. It’s cool to see both ends of the spectrum.

How did you get the Kawasaki test job?
The Kawasaki driver, Brian Barnhart, I’ve known him since I was really little. And I’ve known Fish for a while, too, and right after the San Diego supercross Brian told me they were looking for a new test rider, and I talked to Fish, and a few weeks later I got a call asking if I wanted to test for them. All I had going on was riding my old clapped-out Yamaha, trying to get to the next race, so it was a definite, “Yeah.” It’s a cool job. I get to stay on my motorcycle and still train and ride, still be around my buddies, and make money at it and not struggle.

{LINKS}You’re still a young guy, and fast, so do you still have aspirations to someday make it as a professional racer?
Oh yeah, I’d love to! I didn’t race for a really long time when I was younger — I took almost twelve years off and didn’t even touch a motorcycle — so I just started riding about three and a half years ago. So I was just getting with the program, learning new techniques and styles of riding, and it was kind of an uphill battle. I’ve been working my butt off and I feel that maybe one day I could put together some good rides and get a good ride. I’d love to be able to race one day, but it comes to a point where you have to pay bill and provide yourself with a living. I’m just happy to be paid to ride my dirt bike right now.

What’s your best finish as a pro?
I’ve had a couple top twenties. I scored points in both supercross and motocross, but I got an 18th one year at Glen Helen. I got a lot of 18ths and 20ths.

You’re no stranger to having a “guest ride” with a team; you did some races for the Motoworld team a couple years back, right?
Yeah, Paul Lindsey helped me out. I was coming up through amateurs and I knew the owner for Motoworld of El Cajon, and they had a couple guys get hurt, and it was right after the arenacross season and Paul called me and asked if I wanted to do some outdoors. I did a few and scored a few points and just enjoyed it.

  • Here's a photo of Ryan from 2008.
Is this just a one-race deal?
I’m not sure right now. We talked a little about it, but it just depends on the riders — Dietrich and Ferry. I’m pretty sure Dietrich has a few more conflicts, so we’ll see how it goes. We’re just going to take it week-by-week.

Who is going to be your mechanic?
Dana Wiggins.

You have any goals?
Yeah, I feel in my heart I have top-ten or top-fifteen speed, but as long as I score some points I’ll be happy. That’s where I’m setting my goal. Fish and everyone in the shop told me not to worry about it, that I’m just the tester.

You probably saw that Scott Champion is getting a ride with Yamaha this weekend.
Yeah, that’s awesome. I hope we both can do good and show that there’s a lot of untapped talent out there.

I know you’ll be running #131; what kind of gear will you be wearing?
One Industries. They’ve been with me for a long time, so a big thanks to them.

Good luck, Ryan.
Thanks a lot!

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