So I wanna rattle something past you. I am a racer myself and have always been a racing enthusiast. I have been following professional SX/MX and woods racing since 1984 (since I was eight years old). Needless to say, I've witnessed the sport grow and change, as have the bikes. From a racer’s perspective and someone that started on 125 two-strokes and moved to 250 two-strokes, I have watched professionals do the same. I have watched supercross on television since 1990 I think. My question to you is this: why do so many riders have a tougher time today bumping up from a 250 to a 450 compared to the days of guys moving from a 125 to a 250 smoker? I hear friends say that the talent pool is so deep these days that it makes it harder to rise to the top. I'm not buying that crap. I lived the 80's and 90's. There were a lot of insanely fast guys on the national circuit. I have witnessed all of the riders at my local event, Southwick. So what's the deal?
Every year we hear the “Deep field” crap and we pump up the new season like it’s going to be the best series ever. Sometimes there is great racing and other times, not so much. But, as you mentioned, there have been many seasons with more potential winners than we’ve had recently, so that isn’t a factor in the issue you ask about. The biggest difference is that 450’s are way too much bike to ride for most racers. You can ride a 125/250/250f aggressively and even over-ride the bike without getting into too much trouble. But if you try to ride a 450 that way you’ll end up ass over tea kettle in a hurry. Why don’t more kids make a successful transition? Because it’s gotten much more difficult to do so. Good luck to all the brave souls doing their best to hang on to 450 race bikes, especially in supercross… You’ll need it.
As per usual in this column, I'd like to jam some personal information down your earholes before getting to the question. Long time reader of "Ask Ping" and many other articles over the years (one of my favorites being the Chinese Tornado at the Glen). Your ability to answer professionally, humorously, and navigating everywhere in between is phenomenal!
De rigueur accomplished, my question is in regards to helmet safety and education of the consumer. I have raced downhill mountain bikes professionally for 10+ years, and our helmet safety is atrocious. The quantity of riders wearing substandard lids citing weight being a concern, to aerodynamics, ability to remove the chin bar for pedaling (throwing up in mouth slightly), and the most common being price. Sadly, I've come to find that my very, very little world isn't the only sport affected by this issue. Is it that foreign an idea to research the safety standards available and provide the best safety you can get for your head? Are there that many consumers that believe they have a $10 head, and only get a $10 dollar helmet as a result? We have access to all forms of wonderful protective gear, from quality boots, to knee pads/braces, chest protectors, and core savers, even the dubious conversation of neck braces, yet people still pinch the penny when it comes to helmets. With the availability of all the studies and research on helmet safety and brain health, I'd think wearing the right head gear would be a no-brainer.
Thanks for your time, and thanks for your service!
Thanks for reading all these years, it’s much appreciated. I know the price of helmets has really forced folks into a corner at times. However, there aren’t many pieces of safety equipment more important than a helmet. A buddy of mine, Robert “Fig” Naughton pointed out the absurdity of today’s top riders not wearing any protection from their knees to their head, and he’s absolutely right. Your head and torso are the two areas that will get you killed if you hit them hard enough and we don’t place much emphasis there in our sport. On a positive note, there are advancements being made in helmet technology and companies are trying to make things better. Troy Lee Designs hands out fines to their riders if they catch them riding without a chest protector, another great move that the rest of the sport needs to take a que from. Do some research and buy the helmet that makes the most sense to you. Yes, it may cost more up front but you’ll be glad you spent the money the first time you need it. If you get cheap when helmet shopping you’ll just spend the money later in the emergency room. And it could cost you your life.
Fire Marshall Ping,
I travel for work quite frequently and am in and out of airports across the West. I usually have layovers when I'm travelling, so I peruse the airport gift shops and book outlets for magazines to get a free peek at. Lately, I've noticed that there are very few, or no motorcycle magazines in the airports book stores. I find this disturbing. Back in the day, you could find any number of moto rags on the shelves. I hope this is not a sign of a dying sport, but I am not so sure. It looks like people are a lot more interested in gossip and 50,000 ways to diet and then gain weight. Since you work for the baddest mag in the land and are more up to speed with distribution and target audiences, I thought I would get your take on this seemly disturbing phenomenon.
Cory from Reno
This is a trend that all of us in the publication industry are quite familiar with. Coincidentally, two days after you sent this to me the crew at Transworld Motocross announced that they were being sold and the motocross portion of the business was potentially being shut down. Even those who made it through the recession can’t stop the digital culture, which has grown exponentially in the past decade. Reading print magazines is becoming an antiquated notion for some, though there are those who still like to hold a book in their hands to read it and actually turn pages. We are committed to producing an outstanding magazine here at Racer X Illustrated and if you don’t already have a subscription, you should get one. For $20 you get a year subscription of the printed magazine and a Scosche portable charger. Come on… that’s a no-brainer. And we have a digital edition if you like to read on your tablet or phone. The only way you’ll see more moto mags in stores is if folks begin buying them again. Do your part.
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