Bench Racing Ammo: Chad Reed

Bench Racing Ammo Chad Reed

Earlier this week, Monster Energy Factory Yamaha’s Chad Reed appeared on the Pulpmx Show with Steve Matthes and guest-host Kris Keefer. Reed, the active winningest rider in AMA Supercross, has struggled at times this year, but looked great in Atlanta before going down in the main event and coming back to seventh.

The trio spoke on a number of topics, including track designs, if Reed is ready to retire, and more.

[Note: This article has been edited. If you wish to listen to the entire interview, you can here

The Pulpmx Show airs every Monday at 9:00 p.m. EST on Pulpmxshow.com or on the Pulpmx app.

Racer X: This weekend you qualified well. You got second in the heat, and I think a podium spot was definitely in sight until you crashed. After you got up you were like 12th, 13th. You rode hard to get seventh.
Chad Reed: Yeah. On paper the result doesn’t look as good as what the weekend was. It was a positive weekend, for sure. Truthfully right away from Tuesday—I only rode on Tuesday. We got rained out for the rest of the week, so I was lucky. We tried a few things. I finished riding on Tuesday and knew that it was going to be a better weekend. The feeling was there. Just something that was missing was found. I carried that over into the weekend through the practices, qualifying, the night show, and then the main event. Should have, would have, could have—but I believe that I was a second or third place guy. I think like Eli [Tomac] showed it was an uphill battle to catch [Ryan] Dungey when he has free track like that. I think that I had a second or third in me.

The new Chad Reed is getting out in front in practice right away. I like it.
I’ve been off and on on that over the years.

Do you have a plan like that when you come out, or it is what it is?
No. Sometimes you feel it and you want to go. There was a stupid sand section. I didn’t want to get roosted. I wanted to get out front.

The guys in the press conference really destroyed that sand wall. The sand section itself was kind of dumb, but the sand wall, nobody liked that. They were kind of saying those walls were put in to slow us down when we didn’t have timed mains. Now we have timed mains and we don’t need those walls. I got to say, in my opinion—I’m not racing—I like the wall, the visual of the wall, and all of that. You were launching off it. You were one of the first guys to just fly off of it. I imagine landing on the flat ground isn’t the greatest, but I think it’s cool. No? It’s no good?
I don’t think the location of it was awesome. It’s easy to say now after the race has been said and done, but I didn’t love it. It was fun to jump and to launch into the sand. I like that. That’s fun for me. I didn’t like the location of it.

See how all the sand ended up roosted over to the front side of the wall? Reed thought the location of the wall jump could have been improved.
See how all the sand ended up roosted over to the front side of the wall? Reed thought the location of the wall jump could have been improved. Jeff Kardas

Like turning as you hit it?
Yeah, it was a 90-degree. In practice it was a wall jump, but then obviously over time when they fixed it for the night show—they took all the sand and pushed it up onto the backside of the wall jump. So then we were essentially doing it more like a wall and then accelerating on the backside and just roosting all the sand. So then the sand was blowing onto a 90-degree turn and pretty much more going to the outside. So then what was a pretty useless berm then became even more useless because it had all sand built up on it. I just think the location—I would have liked to have seen it somewhere like you go through the sand, you turn, we went the gator back, we did the off-camber, you kind of did a short straightaway, 90 degree and then we went double, triple, double. I would have liked to have seen us go double, wall jump, sand into the triple or something like that. Or double triple … somewhere where you can hit it in a line. I like how it is at Monster Cup. Everybody can race through there. I want to say last year or the year before we had it in Toronto where we landed off the triple and then we went into a wall jump into the sand. That was fun. I just think that it should be in a straightaway. It doesn’t need to be vertical. The sand is what makes it difficult, not the wall jump. So that’s my opinion. I think the location of it wasn’t very good. You could kind of see on the track map. Right from the get go that track was kind of a failed track. It was its third design. What I have at my house from pre-season and then what they actually built was totally different from what we seen. So it kind of went through three different configurations.

What obstacle would you like to see more of in the races versus if we don’t have some right now?
I would like to see big, round whoops come back. I hate jumping whoops. I just despise it. Even when you have to do it I try to make a way that you can make it work. Obviously the last couple weeks I’ve crashed trying to make something work. But that’s really about it. Obstacles are so hard. The one obstacle that I think can make a big difference is berms. We need berms. There’s a two-sided story of it. They don’t want us launching into the stands. But I feel like they need to trust the rider judgement a little better in the fact that I believe that nine times out of 10 there’s no chance that we could ever get to the stands, and yet they take the berm away. Like this weekend, it went off of a gator back onto a tabletop into an off-camber. There’s no chance. You could try to jump into the stands and you could never, ever get there. I wish that they would bring us in on a Friday afternoon or pre-event and have an obstacle that. You don’t land from a triple and then launch.

One guy went into the stands in 30 years of supercross, and they freak out. Like you said, do you know how fast you have to be going to jump into the stands? They have the first five, seven, 10 rows blocked off. It’s a joke. I’ve been writing in my columns and stuff and I’ve been talking to the guys and this weekend Dungey and Marv and Tomac are three of the nicest dudes ever, non-controversial guys that are just happy to be there in a way, in front of the media. For the most part they were really going after the track designs and the dirt and how it’s down to the concrete, as much as those guys could be. It’s something I’ve been writing about for a while. Seely went off on it last weekend to me. I don’t know whether it’s lack of maintenance, whether it’s lack of dirt, a combination of both, but these tracks are not holding up to these timed main events. I’m okay with timed mains but these tracks are not holding up. It becomes more of an “I’m just trying to stay upright,” instead of racing.
Yeah. I agree to disagree. I will agree with them and leave it … I’m typically the controversial guy, but I’m going to try to take the opposite route. So I agree with them and they said it, not me. But for me, my opinion and solution to making it better, and for what I see when I ride, like this past weekend we were down to the concrete in the first turn in the first practice. There’s maybe one foot of elevation of dirt built up—I wouldn’t call it a berm, but the outside of the first turn was built up like an extra foot or more than what the inside turn was. No way were we ever going to go to the berm. So when we’re getting down to the concrete in the first practice, why not “we’ve got a real problem?” Because every time you put it on there it’s just dry dirt. It’s going to come right back out. They do it with the dozer so it doesn’t pack it down anyway. In my opinion, my thing is why don’t you take that dirt, steal that dirt from the outside, make the inside deeper, and that solution is fixed 100 percent. That’s kind of stupid-proof. But my opinion on the tracks, I actually agree—I like that they’re not working the track. I like that the tracks are coming apart because my opinion is the track designs are really bad, so then the only thing that you have to work with is the tracks come apart and people make mistakes, so you’re kind of relying on that. But I would really like to see them make the berms hard-pack, or pack them in, because it’s the design. I’m assuming you guys saw the race on TV. So when Marvin gets into [Justin] Bogle, it’s kind of a shitty current error of racing.

They don’t pack the berms because they want to make them fluffy and nice and rutty or whatever it is that they’re trying to achieve out of it, but the problem is the current generation of four-strokes, KTM and Huskys in particular, the way they turn and how they turn, once upon a time you used to land in the middle of the track or if it’s a right-hand turn you used to land in the middle or to the right, and then you used to use middle to exit of the turn always. Then you were protecting the line. So then when you wanted to set somebody up you could kind of jump a little bit to the left, square up the turn. But now every turn you basically have a head-on with somebody. I believe that that’s why there’s no racing. For me, when I make a pass or you’re coming up on somebody, how many times through the race that I could count that you almost have a head on? Because that’s where the rut goes. So you have to follow the racetrack. You can’t go against the grain. So you’re kind of doing that, and then what Marvin did is Marvin just jumped in there frustrated and had to make a pass, and Bogle’s stuck in a rut. So when you hit him, it’s like he’s up against this curb and then the contact is magnifying and it’s huge. It looks dirty and it looks nasty, but it’s just what you have to do. It sucks. We have to ride like complete douche bags. You have to make contact to make passes these days and it kind of sucks. You used to be able to be creative and that creativity always paid off, but now it’s not like that anymore.

Your season as a whole—you’ve got that great ride in Glendale, a second place. This weekend you rode pretty well. But there’s no secret it hasn’t been going as well as you would have hoped. How frustrating has it been?
It’s just been a disaster, to be honest. I feel like I’m past the frustrating [part]. It’s like the season’s over for me. It’s been an absolute disaster. I came in with a full head of steam and felt like I was close, and I still stand by that. I was in really good shape. We weren’t that far off. We’ve struggled here and there but no more or less than other seasons. But my starts have just been pathetic. Just haven’t been able to nail my starts. Trying every solution imaginable. Now I’m to a point where I feel like I have it in place and I know that the feeling is consistently the same. Now it’s just a matter of building confidence. I’ve quit doing starts during the week because you work so hard on it that then you start going down. Everybody wants to tell you you’re doing this wrong, you’re doing that wrong, it’s this, it’s that … I’ve been a pro for 18 years. I know what the problem is. It is what it is. You have to find something that at least gives you a feeling that’s consistent, and then build confidence from there. In all honesty, the last two weekends we haven’t changed anything. Two weeks ago I went to a cable pull and it was too far. A lot of the reasons why I went to the hydraulic was very clear to me in Dallas, but I had to kind of go back to baseline, obviously without telling everybody what we’ve done. Obviously we’re trying different parts and whatnot. I feel like we found a solution with the clutch. Then we had to back up a little bit, go back to the hydraulic this weekend. It was good. In the main event I felt something that was a little bit on my mind from the week, from Tuesday’s riding. So we’ll implement that into this weekend and I think I’ll be fine. I think I can grow from here. I think when I’m in good position I can be a podium guy. That’s what’s been frustrating this year. I don’t think the bike’s been left field or anything like that—it’s just been position. You see Marvin … I watched Phoenix and here I am out front riding well and you’ve got Marvin threatening for race wins the two previous weeks and was a ninth place guy at best and looked terrible in the back. That’s what the fields are and that’s how the tracks are. It’s difficult to come through.

We all love the sport and we follow it and even fans of Chad Reed or fans of Ryan Dungey, fans of Marvin. Whoever shows up on a Saturday night, literally their hero 10 feet out of the gate, there’s your race.
I would agree with that, this year for sure. That’s been my weakness all year is just not being able to get out front. Phoenix, and then we went to Oakland and Oakland was rutty. Oakland was a great test in the fact that I struggled in ruts last year with the bike, and I felt like we made great progress in that area and had nothing to show for it. I felt comfortable riding but just couldn’t go, couldn’t ride. I had to be patient and pick guys off one by one. It was difficult. I think we’re better than what the result shows, but that’s racing. You don’t get to hang your hat on that you’re good Tuesday and Thursday. You’ve got to be good on Saturdays. That’s what I need to be better at. I think in general the weekend went really good and it was a positive weekend. Everybody I think believed that I was a podium guy this weekend if I didn’t throw it down, or had a shot at it. So I think we were all feeling good about how the weekend went. That’s all we can. Like I said, I feel like I’m past the point of being frustrating because it’s over. I’m not going to be a champion this year. Right now all it is is about just staying focused, get consistently better at my starts and have a shot at winning and try to be the oldest supercross winner.

We got GET ECU on the show a couple weeks ago and Dan Truman was on. It’s something that you use regularly, along with a lot of guys like Cooper and the JGR guys and everything. It’s a neat product that really does seem to help.
It really does. Going back to my TwoTwo days, when you’re trying to build a motorcycle to compete against the factory guys you got to have something. I’d been a factory guy so I knew what was available. The next best thing closest to the unattainable factory stuff is GET. Mitch [Payton] started importing it or doing something, being a dealer or whatever it was back then. I knew nothing about it, but we worked closely with the Italian guys those first years on Honda. It was great. They’ve come a long way since then. Here I am on a factory team using it. We’ve got launch control now and all kinds of plug and plays and all the cool things. Even for us, we time out engines and it’s just like simple things. They have an app where if you want to check the TPS and make sure the TPS is all set correctly and all that. My practice bike [mechanic]—he’s not an engineer or a data guy, but he can easily just start the bike and go off of the app and set TPS and all that kind of stuff. It’s getting more user-friendly and obviously at Factory Yamaha we rely on it and trust it.

Starts are an area where Reed has struggled to get a consistent feel.
Starts are an area where Reed has struggled to get a consistent feel. Jeff Kardas

I had to double-check Instagram because there was a Stewart riding at your house. It was Malcolm.
I quit social media so I don’t know. It’s been almost a month now. I haven’t been on social media. I quit.

You just don’t even go on at all?
No, I deleted the apps off my phone. Obviously I didn’t delete my accounts. I’ll get back on there eventually. I got three kids and a wife and during the day I have a lot of time to myself and I just found myself sitting on my damn phone and looking at it. Some things I cared about, some things I didn’t. I’m just like, this sucks. I don’t want to be this guy. I just feel like it’s kind of made a turn. I don’t endorse the way it’s going right now. It’s kind of a weird direction. So I deleted it off my phone. I have social media clauses in my contract—I would assume. I haven’t looked. This past weekend we had new Fox gear. I would assume that WMG posted on my social networks. But it wasn’t me. That’s somebody else has my account log-ins. But I will get back on. I actually really like it and I think it has a place, but for me I wanted my life back a little bit. I wanted to be a better dad and just be more engaged in conversation. Now I feel like I have a conversation during the day when I’m at the race shop and during the practice. Me and Chiz [Kyle Chisholm], we sit there and talk. We’re not just looking at the top of each other’s heads on phones and whatever. But yeah, Mookie rode last Tuesday. It was funny. It was awesome, actually. I’ve always got on great with Mookie. It seems like every year in Vegas we run into each other and I’m sneaking him in the back door before he was 21 or something like that and trying to get him into parties and whatever it was. We’ve always kind of had a mutual respect. What James and I had going on didn’t seem to affect what we thought of each other. You can only judge somebody for how they treat you, and he’s always been super cool to me. I got a random text. It was like, “Hey, it’s Mookie. I wanted to see if I could come ride.” I was kind of like … you know you do the double-take. It was a lot of fun. At no point was it awkward or weird. He was totally cool. We talked shop and racing and riding, tracks, you name it we talked about it. We fixed our industry’s problems all in one day! [Laughs] It was funny. I think out of the whole thing the funny thing was at the end of it he’s like, “Thanks for letting me ride. It was cool. If you ever want to come ride, no problem.” Now, that would be weird. I feel like him coming to my place is totally fine and whatever, but I’m not going to lie—it would be awkward for me to go show up over there. I think that would be a little weird. But never say never.

What if James came with Mookie?
I would ride with James. Right now if James wanted to come ride with Mookie over here I would totally let him ride. I think it would actually be fun. It is what it is. I’m disappointed, I’m bummed that he’s not out there racing. It is what it is. It’s racing. I was disappointing in the FIM on my black flag. It wasn’t like I hated Trey [Canard] or anything. It was a heat of the moment thing. Did I do the right thing? Probably not. I was heated. I gave him an elbow and whatever. The next weekend we were both on the podium, we talked, there was no issue. He rides at my place. I go ride at Timmy’s [Ferry] with him. Life goes on.

I was just up in Washington doing a story on RV that’s coming out in Racer X and one of the things he told me was it sucks you can’t be friends with these guys. The skate guys and the BMX guys and all these other guys all cheer for each other and they’re all buddies, and in our sport you can’t go and be friends with anybody. He was talking about him and Dungey’s relationship. He had lunch with him this year with Aldon and he’s like, he’s a cool guy but it sucks that we could never be friends.
That was like RV and I. We landed in Australia and I was teammates with the guy. Of course I talked to him. It’s typical Ryan. He was always talking shit and whatever. It was fun, but you never really are friends with them. It’s kind of like you go through the motions at the test track or whatever. But in Australia we landed, we went to dinner, we went to lunch. We hung out for like the whole day and the night and then we did media together. It was just normal. It was fun. A couple beers around lunch, whatever it was. It was easy. It’s like that. One of my best friends in Byrner [Michael Byrne] and Byrner goes and works for somebody else and it’s kind of like he’s your friend but he’s out of the circle now. I don’t call him and tell him everything and discuss my issues or anything like that. It’s kind of weird because then you have to build these new boundaries that once a guy was your best friend and he was in the inner circle and he knew everything, and then suddenly you put your walls up and you’ve got to re-figure those out. It really sucks.

Not having the year you want, and your fans are out there going, is this Chad’s last year? But we’ve heard Chad’s going to be around for another couple years. It’s still that way? Do you still feel like you want to be around for another year or two?
Yeah, I really do. We’ve got nine races to go. Like I said, it’s been a disaster this year but I’ve kind of gotten over the whole hump. I would say, if I’m honest, the biggest thing that I fight at this point in my career is I honestly believe that none of my poor results, it’s not age-related. I can’t say that enough. But that’s what I fight. I fight it within myself a little bit. I feel like in some ways I’m not proud of the season that I’ve had. I’m way better than that. But when all is said and done and behind closed doors, none of those results are because of my age. It’s not like I’m less committed or I’m not taking risks. I’m throwing myself on the ground three weeks in a row now. I think it’s clear that I take risks. I’m not holding back, it just hasn’t gone to plan. If you compare myself with a Roczen and it’s like here’s Ken Roczen who is the guy in our sport who should be winning all the races and the championship. He’s the multi-million-dollar guy right now, and yet he’s at home on a couch. So when you put it into perspective it hasn’t gone to plan, but I’m out there every weekend. And I’m not talking shit on Kenny—Kenny’s one of my friends. But when you put it into perspective, I have to let go of the age thing a little bit myself, to be honest. I hope that this doesn’t come back on me, but I kind of look at people out there and it’s like who can replace me right now? I feel like when I show up and I ride how I know I can ride—Phoenix being one of them, this past weekend being one of them—who can replace me? On an ROI [return on investment], nobody in the industry. But we don’t always go off of that. Teams and manufacturers make weird decisions. So for me I want to be okay and think that I’m good where I’m at, but you never know.

I’ve been left high and dry a few times. So I’ve got nine races to go. I plan on winning races, to be honest, and more than one. I haven’t pulled back from training or anything. I’m as committed as I was at Anaheim 1. I feel like a have better bike and more tools to work with today than I did at Anaheim 1. It’s about putting it together on the weekend. I think that once I do that it’ll all fall into place. I want to get a W. I’m not a big records guy but this next win, it’s a big win for me. It really is. The number 45 doesn’t mean anything to me, but I think being the oldest guy to win, I think 12 seasons of winning or 13 seasons of being able to win. I already have the record, but it would be a bigger record. So I just think that there are things when all’s said and done, I’d be proud of that. No discredit or disrespect to [Mike] LaRocco but I feel like I’m better than LaRocco ever was. I think that he currently has the record and I would like that record. You’ve got to earn it, but I feel like I’m that guy that can make it happen.