Over the years there has been an on-going trend of riders not wearing chest protectors and even chest protectors with back plates. I remember back in the early 2000's a lot of pros and almost all the amateurs where wearing chest protectors. Then, something happened. Pros stopped wearing them, then the fastest amateurs and now even young kids who need protection the most have stopped wearing full blown chest protectors. I saw Justin Barcia's most recent crash and the injury update of two bruised lungs, doesn't it seem more logical to wear one to help prevent these type of internal injuries? I know they say the rider is more free to move around on the bike without one, but isn't it more important to be able to crash and get back up and sacrifice some movement then crash and get a serious injury because of the lack of protective equipment?
Also, could you shed some more light on why people are avoiding chest protectors nowadays besides "more freedom"?
There have always been riders who didn't like the restrictive feeling of a chest protector. Bradshaw, Bailey, Barnett, and others rarely donned a plastic front/back protector. Like any other trend or fad, whatever seems cool or is made cool by the top riders in the sport is what begins to trend all the way down to grass-roots amateur racing. While guys like Kevin Windham and Trey Canard wear chest protectors regularly, they are definitely the exception and not the rule. Riders just want to feel more mobile on the bike, and they'll tell you they can move better and feel more relaxed without one. I doubt they feel more relaxed, however, when they are sitting in the back of the Asterisk Mobile Medical Center broken into pieces because all they had to buffer the impact between them and the ground was a thin cotton/polyester-blend jersey that was made in China—not that the country of manufacture has anything to do with it; that is just more of a commentary on the dismal state of commerce here in the States. I look at it like this: If you ask a 5-year-old what he wants for breakfast, he probably isn't going to make good decisions. Maybe he picks Cap’n Crunch or a Pop-Tart, or maybe he just really pushes the limits and orders up some chocolate cake. It has eggs and milk in it, right? But you would be a horrible parent if you fed your child chocolate cake for breakfast, and CPS would be beating on your door like a short-changed Chinese food delivery guy. So you feed them eggs and some fruit and maybe an English muffin if you haven't been sucked into the gluten-free phenomenon. Likewise, if team managers tell their riders they can wear whatever protective gear they want (or don't want to), they are likely to make bad decisions. Let's face it; these are very young, minimally educated riders who are jacked up on testosterone and brimming with confidence to the point they feel like they are invincible. A good team manager would be protecting his investment and helping to find protective gear that works for them. There are many more options now then there were a decade or two ago, and some of the stuff is so comfortable that you can barely tell you’re wearing it. My advice to you, Dave, is to wear the protection and live to ride another day.
Que Pasa Amigo? - Hope all is well my man - Quick question for you off the MX/SX grid here.....
You were around when SuperMoto had its brief time in the Sun and cats like The Boz Bros, Mickey D, Wardy and many others made a run at it and really seemed to enjoy it - I even remember seeing Stewie suit up and run it. Was it just too much for the big names to dedicate time and energy? Was the exposure too small for Sponsors to see a positive ROI? Not a fit 'tween the tiny off season of MX and SX?
When as a weekend warrior, I traded my knobbies for slicks and hit the kart tracks, I had a friggin BLAST and my MX Background made the transition to SM very easy and when I watch the Euros Run, the crowds there rival Moto GP (at some circuits of course) and WSBK venues. From your perspective, why did us Yanks kill a great thing here in the good old US and A?
Signed, Old & Broken Down
Supermoto had everything it needed to grow and become a successful discipline in the United States. Red Bull was backing it all the way, elite riders from every type of motorcycle racing were trying their hand and loving it, and promoters were stepping up and taking risks to help the sport grow. Three things killed it in my opinion: First, mismanagement of sponsorship funds. Money that Red Bull was paying in to the event organizers was not being properly distributed. I don't know all the details, but there was shady business going on and it soured Red Bull to the point that they pulled they support. That was bad. Second, riders who specialized in the sport continued to excel, and it chased away the big names. Early on everyone from Jeremy McGrath to Reed, Pastrana, Hayden, Bostrom, Metzger… You name it, they were begging to get into the X Games event. And they were competitive. Once riders like Mark Burkhart, Chris Filmore, Jurgen Kunzel and Cassidy Anderson started focusing on Supermoto, they were too fast for those riders to compete with. Ward and Henry became the only real superstars that motocross fans recognized. The economy tanked, and that put the sport on life support. It was an expensive project to convert a bike to Supermoto form and when the bubble burst that was it. The coup de grace was ESPN pulling Supermoto X from the X Games. That was the sport's Superbowl, and without it the sport slipped into obscurity once again. Hopefully it will return down the road someday. On the right track it was amazing to watch and even more fun to do.
I am planning a trip down to Southern California and I know that is where many of the pro riders do their training for supercross. My question is, where should I go to have the best chances to see my favorite riders up close?
You've got two options here, Mike: You can swing out to Milestone and see who shows up that day; between the track that is open to all pros and the private tracks in the back, you could get a pretty good list of autographs. Or you could go full-on stalker status and head out to the supercross test tracks in Corona. They are all within a five-mile radius of one another off I-15. I won't give you the exact address, but you can see the Kawasaki guys right from the freeway. With a little ambition and the nerve to walk in like you own the place, you could work your way right up to (or inside) the fence of every single test track and likely get an autograph or two. Or you could have Roger DeCoster scream at you in a heavy Belgian accent and throw rocks at you until you leave. Personally, I think that would be awesome and way better than an autograph anyway. Go get 'em.
Have a question for Ping? Send it to Ping@racerxonline.com.