Ask Ping

Ask Ping

September 4, 2015 10:30am

Dear Ping,

I have lived and loved 450s. They are fast and easy to ride. You can jump anything on them by just twisting the throttle. The problem is you can get in over your head on one in the blink of an eye.  Oh, and there is no "saving it." Once one of these complicated, expensive, depreciating, heavy, loud, time bombs decides to spit you off, you are done. I think that you can get in a "situation" on a 250F or any 2-stroke (not counting 500s) and "save it." Is there a way to phase these out? It is hard not to race on one when you have to line up against one.  We are almost being forced to buy these stupid things if we want to be competitive. I would love to see the Monster Cup be limited to 250ccs and see what kind of racing we get. Do you think two strokes or four strokes would have the advantage? 

Best Regards,

Big A 

Part of the solution?
Part of the solution?

Big A,

Stop holding back, and tell me how you really feel! Your vague indecisiveness isn't doing any of us any good…. Do you like four-strokes or not? Look, I hear this from so many people and there is only one thing that is going to change the status quo: money. If manufacturers aren't selling enough 450cc units, they will be forced to take a long, hard look at the direction they've taken the sport. And the fact is, 450s aren't selling that well. I know that there are talks in very significant circles about what the sport needs to do as a whole to start growing again, and that includes decreasing CC size. If we can't get folks interested in buying motocross bikes again, the sport is in trouble.

Does a 125cc class fit into that equation somewhere? Straight-up 250cc racing? 350cc? I don't have the answers, but racing entries are way down and the grass roots level of the sport is hurting. Manufacturers will produce what the market demands—so what do we want? I think most of us would agree we want a more affordable, simpler entry-level machine and bikes that don't throw you the length of a football field the first time you get some arm pump and make a mistake landing from a jump. Those seem like reasonable requests…. Let's see how the manufacturers respond. 

PING

Hey Ping, 

First off I want to say that I enjoy reading your column and your words of wit every Friday. You keep us on our toes when it comes to the questions that are presented to you. We don't know if you are going to have a legit answer or a sarcastic one. Keep up the good work. Now to get down to my question: I was wondering if the factory/Satellite riders are given practice bikes to ride for testing/training? I didn't know if they were given bikes to practice/test on or if they had to purchase them at a discounted price or if they had to go out and buy one from a local dealer. I know most of the privateers practice on their race bikes. But I wasn't sure about the factory/satellite teams. Any insight you may have would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Worm

Little known fact: This is the training tool that led Jeff Stanton to his six titles. True story.
Little known fact: This is the training tool that led Jeff Stanton to his six titles. True story.

Worm, 

Free bikes for practicing/testing? Oh, man, wouldn't that be nice! No, sir, I'm afraid that just isn't in the budget for any of our top race teams. The sport's very elite typically work out some sort of agreement with their local dealers for a cost-plus-ten-percent deal on a bike for them to practice on. These negotiations have a lot of ins-and-out and what-have-yous and are typically brokered by the finest agents in motocross. The offers and counter-offers can last for days or weeks. Oftentimes riders will opt to pick up a "gently" used bike if they come across a good Craigslist find in their area. But those luxuries are reserved for the Ryan Dungeys and the Justin Barcias of the world. For riders without a long list of titles or a sick Dirt Shark video, the plan for practicing is significantly different. Many riders will simply gear up and run around their local track several times to simulate riding while getting an excellent cardiovascular workout. Others, like Andrew Short, will search his farm to find the surliest donkey of the bunch and ride laps on that as a way to prepare. Not every rider has a farm, however, and oftentimes the best a rider can do is go to the park and rock back and forth on the little toy bike mounted on a large spring in the play area. Don't even get me started about how privateers are forced to practice. I hope my insight has been very helpful.

 

PING

 

Mr. Pingree,

As we in the moto masses turn to you for guidance—and salvation—in all things moto (at least when google fails us), I have noticed a trend in the outdoor scene that I find somewhat disparaging in the ongoing effort to keep things fresh: Promoters aren’t running their tracks backwards anymore. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that for a period there you could count one or more of the 12 national tracks in any given year to run their course in reverse to keep the riders challenged. And that doesn't appear to be the case anymore. I know Budds Creek used to do it regularly and in the somewhat recent past such historic venues as Hangtown, Southwick and Glen Helen (I'm sure I'm leaving several out) have changed things up in various years. Can you please access your vast database of moto omnipotence and tell me (us) what gives?

Much gratitude,

CW

Go left NOW! Turn left! Left
Go left NOW! Turn left! Left

CW,

You make a fine point and I'm not 100 percent certain why we haven't seen direction changes in recent years. I'll offer some theories: First, tracks have invested significant money into the layout and infrastructure of their facility, which can require certain parts of the track to remain permanent. When you have a start straight that is in a fixed location, the only way to change directions is to turn the opposite way in the first corner. In some cases, like Washougal or RedBud, that wouldn't really work. Other places have never really run backwards, like Unadilla or High Point, and the start plays into the equation at those venues as well.

The only other reason I can think of is, because we are in the northern hemisphere, the tracks have to circulate in a clockwise direction. If not, the toilets won't flush or something like that, right? Actually, I'm not to sure about that last one, so let's just scratch that.

I agree that it used to be fun to change directions every other year. Maybe one of the track promoters will read this and be super motivated to run their track backwards next year! Who am I kidding—they don't read this garbage.

Wait, I've got it! Watch the races from the opposite side of the track next year and it will seem like they are going the other way. I knew I would find an answer for you. You're welcome.

PING

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