Ask Ping

Ask Ping

March 3, 2017 9:25am


Every week I listen to riders talk about how they struggle with set up. It seems bizarre to me that they are changing things every week. As an off-road racer when I get a new bike I get the correct spring rates for my weight, set the sag, find a compression/rebound setting I like and I am good to go. It would seem with the endless set up changes you would never get comfortable with the bike being different every week. When you were racing did you fiddle with your setting every week? So what's up? How much are they changing each week? Or is this just another way of saying I sucked this week?


Southern Arizona

The bad boy didn’t have as many options in 1984. He had to make it work.
The bad boy didn’t have as many options in 1984. He had to make it work.


I think there is a little of both things going on. First of all, technology has given riders so many options in terms of mapping, suspension settings, and chassis setup that the possible combinations are endless. The factory air fork can work incredibly well on one track, but feel off when you get to another track with different dirt and jumps. Fuel mapping and ignition timing changes can make a bike feel completely different as well. So, often times you’ll find a setting you love at one track and it doesn’t feel that great at another. For these elite riders even a small change can be the difference between feeling comfortable and being able to push or just getting through the night and salvaging points.

The other side of the argument is that “setup” has become an easy scapegoat when riders simply didn’t get the job done on Saturday. The bike might have been great, but they sucked so they blame the bike. Personally, I just wish they would say they didn’t get it done and they are going to head back to the drawing board and give it hell the next weekend. But, that means owning your own issues and this generation hates doing that. Let the excuses begin.


Dear Ping,

It seems that a lot of local motocross tracks these days aren't any "good" unless they have jumps that will permanently disable, or kill you if you make a mistake.  My question is: Why are local tracks moving towards becoming so gnarly that if you're not an intermediate or pro you have to roll more than half of the jumps, and realize how bad you suck? To me that is a great recipe for serious injuries, shrinking the racer turnout, and lawsuits from greedy scumbags that will shut tracks down. I know tracks need to be challenging for everyone, but I am seriously considering buying a skid plate and hand guards for my bike. I never thought I'd say that. What say ye grand master Ping? 

Cody aka "Not doin the big double"

Fun and safe.
Fun and safe.


This has become a major problem for our sport. Local tracks in 2017 look more like a supercross practice track from the early 1990s. I understand that the sport should progress, but at what cost? European tracks still have big, fun jumps but they are tabletops and step-ups instead of doubles with huge gaps that will kill or maim you when you mis-time them. Thanks to the unreal power and torque of modern four-stroke bikes, riders who don’t have the talent or technique to jump large obstacles are fumbling their way through the turns, lining up to the jump, and pinning it. They may pull it off for a while but at some point those riders end up going down in a big way and the injuries are ugly. The vast majority of injuries occur when you leave the ground. The bigger and more technical the jumps, the more frequent and severe the injuries will be. There are ways to make big, fun jumps that are safe [relatively speaking], but track builders are too lazy.

This week was our annual Race X Ride Day and we held it at the famed Castillo Ranch. I spent several hours the day before marking out a grass track in the unimaginably massive hills surrounding the main track. The recent rains provided perfect prep and the result was something that was challenging for pro riders and safe enough for mini bikes to ride. And the only jump was a rolling tabletop that was maybe 20 feet across the top. Despite the lack of jumps, most of the folks that came up said it was the best time they have had on a bike in a long time. I’m not saying we should build tracks with no jumps. But if you have good dirt, utilize the elevation change, and make the jumps safe, everybody has fun and goes home safe.



I'm gonna double dip here. First one. Why don't the big race teams remove neutral from the transmissions from the gearbox on the main race bikes? Obviously this would be a terrible move for practice bikes but on the full on race motors that have the clutches replaced nearly every time they come off the track, wouldn't have much idle time with the clutch pulled in and motors tore apart after every main event I would think this would prevent guys like Osborne (most recently) from hitting neutral in the corners or worse before a big triple and causing a severe injury. Other than pushing the bike to the line or warming up the motor I see more good than not. Just a thought.

Second one. What's up with so many guys ditching the neck protectors? Dungey, Reed, Millsaps, Grant etc. These guys all used to wear them and now put them to the side for one reason or another.

Thanks for the weekly entertainment.

Finally Nat'l # 81 AFT Twins


Did you eat a lot of paint chips as a kid? I’ve heard some interesting theories and ideas but removing neutral from a race bike is one for the books. How do you propose starting the bikes? Bump start them on the way down the tunnel? And you don’t think the clutch would be on fire leading up to the start of the race? I’ll just save you some time and say that it’s not going to work. We would have half the field looping out like Blake Baggett by the time the gate dropped.

I don’t have an answer about the neck protectors. For most riders the testing results are too inconclusive and the braces themselves are too constrictive.

Thanks for reading, Zakk. And keep the innovative ideas coming.