Ken Roczen announced the news on his popular Instagram feed yesterday, and we’ve since confirmed the details through other sources. For his 2014 450 debut season, Roczen will now employ championship-proven trainer Aldon Baker. Our staff provides an early take on it. Be sure to add your comments below.
Jason Weigandt (Enjoys eating raw vegetables):
We've come a long way, baby. Just a few months ago Ken Roczen was leading the 250 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship while mentioning surfing, visits to In N Out burger, and a penchant for eating funnel cakes. And it was working so well that I heard many theorize that Ken works best when there's a little bit of chaos in his program. He's still young and rides best when he's having fun. Some at KTM claimed that if he were to batten down the hatches, it would impact him mentally and actually make him ride worse. How often do you hear these guys say they ride better when they’re having fun?
Well, the hatches will be battened down now. In N Out is out. Kenny doesn't, to me, seem like the most likely candidate to go for the Aldon Baker program, but, Aldon has hit a home run with just about everyone he works with. Maybe these two can make it work.
Jason Thomas (Short in stature, long pro career):
Ricky Carmichael has been playfully badgering Ken Roczen on social media for years about his diet and extracurricular activities. With Roczen winning the 250 SX West Region title this year, all seemed well with whatever Kenny seemed fit in his program. The summer months may have changed that mentality though as Eli Tomac wore Kenny down and laid waste to the field as the summer wore on. With the jump to the 450 and the imposing task of battling not only Tomac but the Ryans, things have a taken a serious turn. Roczen has gone to the man behind not only Carmichael's titles but Ryan Villopoto himself. It’s a surprising move (to me anyway) but also a move that many feel is the missing ingredient in the German hero's recipe. He now has the most successful trainer in the history of motocross in his corner. I hope ol' Ken has gotten his fun out of the way because from my experience, it's about to get real for the 94. It's time to get to work.
Steve Matthes (Owns a treadmill. Seriously.):
In our sport we sometimes make the mistake of thinking a team, or a bike, or a trainer make a rider. In fact, the opposite is true. Riders themselves are overwhelmingly the reason why they succeed or fail and even with Ken Roczen hiring Aldon Baker that old adage is still true. Yes, Baker's riders like Carmichael, Stewart and Villopoto have all won before but he's also worked with Ben Townley, Tyla Rattray and Jake Weimer to name a few. But make no mistake about it, Baker's program will be an improvement and Roczen will be much improved if he follows what Baker tells him to do.
In short, no matter who he hired as a trainer (even me) Kenny Roczen is going to determine whether or not Kenny Roczen is successful (sorry for channeling my inner NFL announcer there with the full name usage). I never believed the "Roczen is too busy surfing and eating Chipotle to win" routine by those that judge someone just off their Twitter, but there's no doubt he can get better in the fitness department and with what I'm sure he's paying Baker, Roczen appears to be very serious about this jump up to the 450 class.