We asked you to ask anything of our esteemed editor-at-large Jason Thomas. We had so many good questions, we decided to break this up into two parts. Part II is below, and you can find part I here.
Some questions have been lightly edited for clarity.
Hey JT, how do you think Marvin Musquin will do in 2018 supercross and motocross after winning 4 overalls and 2 main events last year and winning the Monster Energy Cup? Do you think he has what it takes to consistently be able to battle and be aggressive with the likes of Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen? And do you think he can go all the way to win a championship, and where do you think he is headed?
Marvin will be in the mix to win this 2018 title. He has taken big steps forward lately and seems to have figured out the details it takes to win. His starts put him in great situations and he is more confident than ever before. The one question mark I have for Marv is the whoops. He still suffers in difficult whoops, and it could cost him at several races if the tracks dictate. He will win races, but if the track has a brutally tough whoop section where jumping isn’t an option, he may lose big points, just as he has in previous years. That’s his only weakness right now, so keep an eye on that in 2018.
Who’s the realMrMx?
I am not sure! Internet forums and social media have created a whole subculture for anonymous posting.
Why buy a TM, Mr. Expert?
Outside of Atlanta in 2004, a local guy tried to sell TM as their U.S. distributor, but it was too expensive. They cannot compete in the U.S. at major races due to the production rule.
I don’t have a good answer for you. The U.S. is the market that global brands all want, so I don’t blame anyone for making a run at it. The problem is that it is crazy competitive already and the current offerings are all impressive. Launching TM in the U.S. would be tough sledding unless there was huge money behind it.
In 20 years, will we all mainly be riding and racing electric bikes? Will electric bikes do to 4-strokes what 4-strokes did to 2-strokes?
I think there will be a market for both. The most intriguing part of E bikes for me is the silent riding possibilities they present. Being able to ride in your backyard without neighbors complaining is a huge opportunity. I don’t see them completely eradicating current combustion engine bikes, but I would be shocked if the OEMs weren’t building research teams behind the scenes. As technology continues to improve, I think these E bikes will become more financially viable and their performance will evolve. This concept isn’t going away.
JT, do you have any more inside info on Ken's current condition and ability to ride at race pace for the amount of time needed?
Also, what do you think about Barcia going what I call the easy route: mistake or brilliance, and why? Truly about the money from the bigger team, or…?
I would suspect Kenny is hard at work getting his level up to where he knows it needs to be. Once you have been to a certain level, you know what it feels like. My biggest question with him is if he can handle the intensity of race conditions and what happens if he suffers a crash during the off-season. He can ride, and probably ride well, but there is a big difference between that and winning races, which we all know is what he expects of himself.
For Barcia, this is the smart move. Some of his contracts stipulate being on a factory team for his salary, so this alleviates that worry. He also doesn’t have to try to manage a privateer effort. Who knows how he will fare on the 2018 Yamaha, but I think this was his best move overall.
All the time, we hear how this bike or that bike is the cause of a rider not winning. Do you feel that any of the current factory bikes could be the reason a rider is not winning?
All of the factory bikes are capable of winning. We saw all of them at the front during some point of the season, right? I don’t think a Yamaha won, but Reed and Webb both put it on the podium and it got a huge overhaul for 2018, anyway. I will say that some bikes suit riders better than others, though. A rider could switch bikes and start doing better right away, for instance. Most will look at that and say the new bike is simply much better, but in reality, it may just be better for that rider and his style, size, etc. Every bike has strengths and weaknesses in comparison to each other, so finding the bike that suits your needs is a huge key. That’s why Reed has been riding all of the bikes this off-season in hopes of having his best chance at success.
We all know that this sport is one of the most demanding, so my question has to do with the age of the competitors. Why is it so difficult for people past the age of 30 to keep this up at a high level? I think a lot of this has to do with the mentality that you're over the hill at 30. I look at Chad Reed and say he's doing it; why not more? Now, there are a lot of outlying factors, injury, desire a team etc… I think there are a ton of guys that may not have a ton of wear and tear on their bodies that can still compete at a high level and not make it such an anomaly. What are your thoughts?
The biggest challenge for me was the mental aspect. As I got into my thirties, I had a mortgage and car payments and generally just a lot of responsibility that I didn’t have 10 years prior. That worry creeps into your mind, and instead of “just sending it” like the kids all do, there’s a huge motivation to take the safe route. Racing at the highest level involves a lot of risk, and that’s hard to swallow as you get older. The physical side is manageable with all of the things we now know about fitness and recovery, but the mental aspect is a big hurdle when racing kids with zero worries. In Chad’s case, he is no different. He is too stubborn to stop racing as of yet, but he isn’t the same rider he was 10 years ago, either. He is wiser and therefore less prone to taking huge chances. Those chances pay huge dividends at times, though. Risk and reward is pro moto in a nutshell.
So when is JT expected to answer the questions?
Now is a good time.
Can anything be done to make motocross more affordable for low to median income earners? Back in the good old days(late 1990s), it seemed moto was financially within reach of more people, and thus local racing had large turnouts and bikes and gear moved off showroom floors. Now, it seems one has to make at least $50K (gross, not net) to afford a payment on a new 450 and do ten events a year. And dare I say those who make $40K or less have been given the "bum's rush" out of the sport. Can we be demographically healthy and sustainable if the cost of participation has grossly outpaced wage growth in the moto community?
This is a great question and one that I don’t have the answer to. The cost of riding motorcycles has jumped tremendously in the last 20 years. Had this been the situation when I was a kid, I wouldn’t have been racing and would have a very different life, most likely.
Who do you think walks away from AUS-X with more confidence/momentum, Jason Anderson or Dean Wilson?
I don’t think it much matters, to be honest. These off-season races don’t usually reflect the next year’s results. They are great for making some money and seeing the world, but when Anaheim arrives, nothing about Sydney will be relevant.
A few questions for JT:
Part 1: You seem to have been one the first to say that Stew was done. So far, that has been correct. The question is whether or not Stew and/or his brother will return and when. Part 2: How do things look for Ken Roczen's comeback? Part 3: Any news on Chad Reed?
Yeah, you’re right about that on James Stewart. Matthes refuses to give me credit for my hot take in our SX Preview videos (which we are about to film again), but we know, right? I think Mookie races somehow, some way in 2018, but I think James is done. He deserves to do whatever he wants, too. He changed the game when he arrived.
Kenny looks good and I am cheering for him. He has a tough road ahead still to win, I think, but he is going to make it interesting.
I think Chad is just healing and probably bored of sitting in a chair for most of the day. Injuries are no fun, especially when your competition is out preparing for the season.
Truly enjoy your insight, content and contributions to the sport. I’ve been riding dirt bikes since 1978 as a hobby and mostly MX. On a very good day, I’m a mid-pack 40+ B/C level rider. The goal has always been to have fun, and that’s always achieved. My exposure to structured MX skill training was when my son was racing. We attended several schools and have been out to JWTF a few times. By the way, Jammer is incredible. I type this to simply establish some background/perspective. My question(s): How rare is it to get the foot of your boot caught in the front part of the swing arm, wedged between it and the spokes? And what on earth am I doing to cause this?
Since 1978, this has only occurred twice for me. Both times were this past season and while cornering. I purchased new boots this spring and hope that’s not a factor. While it’s most likely poor skill execution and coincidence, I’m a bit spooked by the whole thing. Your insight will be greatly appreciated.
P.S. I wear FLY gear. So at least I was looking good while lying under the bike with my foot wedged.
Thanks for the kind words. So, reading this, I interpreted it as your leg is falling back into the swingarm and getting stuck between it and the rear wheel. I haven’t had this happen to me, but one way to prevent it would be to work on your cornering technique. Your leg should always be out in front of you. Keep it up and out of the way, or do like Everts and just corner on the footpegs. That’s a dangerous situation, so I would do everything I could to make sure my technique didn’t allow this.
JT, if you could go back in time and change anything about your training, what would you do more or less of?
Many of the things I would change are things I didn’t learn until I was older and past my prime. I would have worked on my technique and changed how my bike was set up. I really didn’t know what I needed with my bike, and I didn’t really didn’t know what I was doing wrong with my riding, either. If I could take those lessons back to when I was, say, 19 or 20, I could have been much better. I wouldn’t have won or anything but those tenth-place finishes would have been more like sixth or seventh.
Given the huge decline in motorcycle sales over the last 10 years, we can all look back at the economy and put a lot of blame on that. Do you feel this was the main reason, and if not, what are some other theories? Seems to me that nobody has any disposable income today, and that’s affecting many industries. Snowmobiling is in the same boat as motorcycle sales, which are at record lows too. Thank you!
I don’t disagree with this, but I would also blame the increase in cost of motorcycles also. The economy has rebounded pretty well since 2008, but if a family could barely afford to go racing 15 years ago, they certainly can’t now.
I am a little disappointed with the changes that were made to the supercross points for 2018. Why not make changes that could actually have a big effect on the championship? For instance, why not award points for fastest qualifier, heat race wins, most laps lead, holeshot, etc. It seems like it would be a pretty easy thing to do since all of this stuff is already tracked. I understand they didn’t want to make too big a change, but it doesn’t seem like this new structure is going to make any difference.
I think you are seeing baby steps toward sweeping changes. There are a lot of influences from a lot of different angles, so Feld has to slowly work towards their goals. They wanted to make these changes a year ago but faced too much pushback. This is step one of many, I think.
Happy Thanksgiving, first and foremost. When you raced, you were notoriously “smuggy” in the pits with fans, hang-arounds, and the media, as well as with the poor guy just simply driving by in a golf cart (track employee) while you were doing an interview. When you first began racing as a pro, who smugged you up?
I don’t know the exact definition of “smugging” someone up, but I think I get your point. I was often very irritable, nervous, and stressed out at the races. I put so much pressure on myself to do well that it ruined any fun that might have been had. Racing wasn’t all that enjoyable for me in most cases. I was there to do a job and didn’t get the bigger picture until way later. I wasn’t the most pleasant to be around on race day, that’s for sure. If you were ever around Jeff Stanton or Damon Bradshaw or Mike LaRocco in their heyday, it was similar. They were on a different level than I was, but I think our outlook was the same. I regret it now, but that’s who I was and how it was.
Hey JT. Now that we have seen two off-season races with cool things like the two-night format and the Superpole, do you think this could ever be implemented in an actual SX race? For example, maybe after all the qualifying races right before the main, there could be a Superpole for the top 10 in points and the winner gets an additional 5 points. I think this could be very interesting and adds another factor to the season, and maybe more people would watch during the breaks. What are your thoughts? Thanks.
It’s certainly possible and I am sure it’s been talked about in Feld meetings. Anything that adds excitement is on the table, I bet. The teams don’t love change in most cases, so it will always be a negotiation to make big alterations to the racing format.
JT–Every year we see 2 or 3 guys separate from the field in each series. Take Zach-O–he was just a solid rider for so many years, then BAM, he is the Terminator. Take Tomac last year–first couple rounds he is Mr. Mediocrity, then he suddenly rips off win after win like sunny days in summer. What happens inside a rider to turn them from a top-10 guy into a nearly unstoppable force of nature?
For Zach, I think the change of scenery and move to Aldon Baker’s Florida program was the difference. He found his potential with Aldon’s help and his future looks brighter than ever.
For Eli, he was dealing with big arm pump issues for some reason. He was a shell of himself at those early rounds and I don’t know if he could even tell you why. Could be the wet tracks and his setup didn’t work, could be pressure of an expected title, could be a personal issue that we never heard. about. He was certainly not the same rider, though.
What do you think of modern SX tracks? Just watching vids in the late nineties, for example… it looks completely different to me.
They were much busier back then and the jumps were much sharper. I don’t know that it was a good thing, as that doesn’t leave any margin for error and injuries would probably ramp up even more. The dirt was often rock-hard and offered little to zero traction. If it rained on race day, it was going to be muddy. I know that we all look back on those tracks with nostalgia, but I think today’s tracks better than we give them credit for.