Main Image: Fran Kuhn
Welcome to Racerhead during what’s been a somber week here at Racer X magazine. On Tuesday night we lost a close friend and a very good rider in Davey Yezek of nearby Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania. Yezek had developed a blood disorder that began damaging his organs as doctors were trying to get a handle on it all. His organs began shutting down, things got worse, and he slipped into a coma, then passed away on Tuesday night. He was 44 years old.
Davey Yezek began showing his vast potential at an early age. At the very first Loretta Lynn’s AMA Amateur National Championship, way back in 1982, Yezek finished second in the 51cc class behind Idaho’s Butch Smith and in front of Michigan’s Jeff Curry. He never actually won a class at Loretta Lynn’s, but by 1993 he was one of the top prospects in the country, battling New York’s Scott Sheak all week long in their 125 A and 250/Open A showdowns. He was also a steady top-five in the 125 East Region of AMA Supercross that year, his best finish also being a second to Team Honda’s Doug Henry at Indianapolis aboard a mostly stock Kawasaki KX125 that his dad, Dave Sr., wrenched on.
Around that time, the Yezeks built a little track in their backyard, just along Route 119, not far from Steel City Raceway. The place had a little supercross track, as well as some slag heaps from old coal mines in the area. Yezek’s became a local hotspot for a lot of us—they were one of those families who opened their arms to everyone. Dave Sr. would help anyone with their bikes, and Mary was one of those moms who helped out at sign-up and scoring every weekend. As a matter of fact, Mary still does—I just saw her late this summer.
It seemed like Yezek got the break of a lifetime before the 1994 season when he was signed by Phil Alderton to race for Honda of Troy. But the very first time he lined up for them, at the preseason Tokyo Supercross, he snapped his wrist. The injury hampered his results for the rest of the year, and he parted ways with the program after one year. He was picked up by F&S Suzuki, an Ohio satellite team, and he once again moved up into the top five of 125 supercross, with a best finish of second at Charlotte behind Mike Brown and ahead of Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Mickael Pichon, the eventual champion.
Yezek finished that ’95 125 East Region ranked third behind Brown and Pichon and ahead of Team Suzuki’s Tim Ferry and Team Yamaha’s Kevin Windham. Each of those other four guys got factory rides for 1996; Yezek somehow did not.
And that’s where his window to make it as a professional began to shut. He struggled to keep that Suzuki up with the satellite factory teams, then suffered a broken back with a huge crash while training in California. That caused him to miss the entire 1997 season and all of SX in ’98. When he finally came back, it was on a privateer 250, and he never made the top ten again.
Yezek never stopped racing completely, but he did join the workforce, started a family, and got on with life. He even came back to Loretta Lynn’s a couple times as a vet rider, battling with the likes of Kevin Walker and Keith Johnson. But he still never quite landed that AMA amateur national title.
I do think I may have part of one of the cooler days of Davey Yezek’s young racing life. Fox Racing’s Todd Hicks signed him to a deal when he was with Kawasaki Team Green, right about the time Pete Fox was developing his “Dream On” ad campaign. It featured riders like Donny Schmit, Jeff Matiasevich, Robbie Reynard, and young Ricky Carmichael riding these beautiful locations all alone, be it Acapulco Beach in Mexico, a snow-covered supercross in Minnesota, or the old Grand Prix track at Hollister. In the summer of ’93, I was shooting a lot of photos, and I knew Loretta Lynn’s was coming up and the track hadn’t been touched since the previous August, so it was covered in grass. It was also off-limits to everyone, but I talked my dad into letting me get one rider out there on the track for a poach of the grass-covered infield tabletop. He approved of it, but only if we did it right now, a full week before the race, before anyone else showed up. So I called Yezek and asked him if he was up for it. He said sure, hopped in his van, and drove from Pennsylvania to Tennessee. The next day, we did the shoot—one of the very, very rare times someone got to ride on that track like that, even if it was just over the tabletop a dozen times. I can still see the smile on his face as he whipped his KX125 time and again in the middle of that grassy moto paradise.
When we were finished, my dad came over on a tractor and asked if we got the shot. We said we thought we did (and we did—it ran in the next year’s Dream On calendar), but these were the film days, so one could never be sure until it got developed. But Dad didn’t wait. He drove the tractor out on the track, dropped the disk blades, and started carving up that beautiful green grass so he could get the watering started. He also told Davey and me to go get a load of wooden stakes and pennants and start marking the track, because the price we paid for that epic poach was working on the track the following week. Then Yezek went out and almost won. Again.
Godspeed, Davey Yezek. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.
MINI Os on RACERTV (DC)
The 48th running of the Mini Os kicks off this weekend at the iconic Gatorback Cycle Park in Gainesville, Florida. The Mini Os are one of the oldest and most prestigious amateur motocross races in America, as well as a longtime Thanksgiving tradition for motocross riders and their families.
All of this year’s racing will be streaming LIVE as Dunlop presents the RacerTV Broadcast of the Mini Os for a nominal fee of $3.99 per day or $9.99 for the entire week, with access to playback of all 50+ hours of the exclusive racing action from Mini Os, any time, on www.RacerTV.com.
“We are very excited to be hosting the RacerTV crew at Gatorback this week and be able to provide such high quality, extensive racing coverage of the elite riders and racing at the 2019 Mini Os, an American Motocross Championship,” said Wyn Kern of Unlimited Sports MX.
Supercross practice starts on Sunday, November 24, followed by live streaming racing coverage starting Monday at 8 a.m. Eastern on RacerTV.com. Monday and Tuesday will feature supercross heats and main events, with motocross racing to follow on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The new practice schedule will allow for an extended allotment of time for supercross mains and motocross motos, creating the opportunity for the 250 and 450 A, Pro Sport, and B classes to race longer motos.
“We at RacerTV are excited to partner with Unlimited Sports MX in the television production of the 48th Annual Mini Os,” said Tim Cotter of Racer TV Productions. “The RacerTV team is eager to bring unprecedented coverage to moto fans around the world.
Be sure to tune in for all of the racing action when the 1,200+ individual riders arriving from all over the world hit the SX track on Monday, followed by the nightly Dunlop Mini Os After Show with Rodney Tomblin and Wes Kain, where they will recap each day’s racing, interview riders and industry guests, and also feature Beckett Ferry’s “15 Cents” (Beckett is the son of the 1997 AMA 125cc Supercross East Coast Champion Tim) for FREE on Racer TV and Racer X Facebook Page.
Monday: 8 am – 5 pm Mini Os Supercross Racing | 6 pm Dunlop Mini Os After Show
Tuesday: 8 am – 5 pm Mini Os Supercross Racing | 6 pm Dunlop Mini Os After Show
Wednesday MX Practice (off air)
Thursday: 8 am – 5 pm Mini Os Supercross Racing | 6 pm Dunlop Mini Os After Show
Friday: 8 am – 5 pm Mini Os Supercross Racing | 6 pm Dunlop Mini Os After Show
Saturday: 8 am – 5 pm Mini Os Supercross Racing | 6 pm Dunlop Mini Os After Show
* Schedule is tentative and may change due to unforeseen circumstances or weather conditions; check @unlimitedsportsmx for the latest updates.
SHOP VISIT (Matthes)
Slow week for me as far as making calls and sending out texts. Last Sunday I went for a mountain-bike ride, and then about an hour or two after that, I felt those dreaded chills and soreness sinking in. Yup, I was sick. Chills, sweats, joints hurt, sore throat—all of that hit me hard for the first three days of the week. I was basically out of commission sleeping and wishing I could make it all go away. Getting sick is no fun, as all of us know. So that was it for me and just now today I finally feel 100 percent.
I was able to eventually get out of bed and head down to SoCal yesterday to make good on my bet with Mitch Payton that we made during supercross. I bet that Alex Martin would break out in SX and beat Martin Davalos in the points. The stakes were if Martin won, Mitch had to drive up to Vegas and do the PulpMX Show. If Marty won, I had to go clean the race shop. “We” looked good early on, but unfortunately, Davalos beat “us” and so I had to fulfill my end of the deal.
Thanks to Racer X for needing to get this all on film so you'll all get to see the “fun” times I had down there in the horsepower factory of Corona. Stay tuned. But I just want to say that cleaning the "mud pit" really, really sucked. As did Payton mocking me and knocking stuff onto the floor.
I did run into Ryan Villopoto there, and we chatted for a bit about what he's been up to. He was grabbing YZ60 parts from what I could tell while wearing a "SlayCo" hoodie and slippers. Life's good for RV, the self-proclaimed "Greatest Retired Racer Ever."
Also ran into Doc Wobbles there, aka Rob Walters, who was a mechanic for a long time in Europe and over here for Robbie Reynard, among others. He's back in England and is the bloke who builds the way-cool bikes for the guys at the Vets MXDN. He's over here for a bit to gather parts and maybe buy some bikes, as well as recruit teams for his Titanium bolt business. Good dude, hadn't seen him in a while. You never know who you're going to run into at PC! Go check out Wobbles’ site here.
Okay, because it rained down here in SoCal, that means it's prime riding time, so I gotta go and see how well I really feel by ripping some laps up here in the High Dez with Kris Keefer. See ya!
Still Down Under (Jason Weigandt)
I’m still in New Zealand as I await next weekend’s Monster Energy AUS-X Open in Melbourne, Australia. With a weekend off between races down here, I continued the family trip through NZed, and we’ll head to Australia on Monday. American riders like Joey Savatgy and Jason Anderson have headed back to the U.S. for riding, training, testing, and photo shoots, and they will hop on another long flight to race in Australia next week. Chad Reed is staying here the whole time—hey, Australia sorta, kinda is home for him—and of course Australian series regulars like Justin Brayton stay in Australia, too. Brayton is crazy. He’ll spend about two total months in Australia racing for the supercross title down under, then he’s on a plane back to California next Sunday. He’ll spend two days there doing Honda photo shoots and media days, and then on Wednesday he’s off to Geneva, Switzerland, to race supercross there. Many riders are envious of the schedule (and paydays) Brayton has put together for himself in the latter stage of his career. However, all the travel definitely has to feel rough at times.
Last weekend’s race, the S-X Open in Auckland, New Zealand, was great. I was on hand for TV commentary (they love my accent here) and I was genuinely worried because the event was so jam-packed with stuff. Both classes used a three-race format, plus they held a superpole lap time competition in the SX1 (450) class, a freestyle best whip and best trick contest, a celebrity race on TT-R125s, and the ANZAC versus Team USA team race. That's a lot! When you go to a Monster Energy AMA Supercross round in the U.S., you take some very basic things for granted, like the event running on time. If you operate 17 races in 18 weekends, it’s easy to nail the routine. Some of these off-season races don’t go as smoothly, and I was worried something would come off the rails and I’d be filling dead on air on TV. Nope! I have to give credit to the AME folks who run the Auckland S-X Open and AUS-X Open in Melbourne—the schedule was packed, but they nailed it. Plus, it led to a great show with non-stop action. Also, and you can be very, very, jealous, we didn’t take nearly as many commercial breaks on Sky Sports 5 down here as you would see on any American TV broadcast. Sorry, mates!
Jason Anderson was the big favorite for this race, but he had to work for it due to terrible starts in the short races. He said his bike is setup for metal grate starts, but they had dirt starts down here. The racing was so, so good, as Brayton, Luke Clout, Dan Reardon, Brett Metcalfe, and Josh Hill are all evenly matched, so they would bang bars while Anderson tried to get through them en route to the front. Joey Savatgy was here, but he struggled. The surface here was really slick and it led to mistakes, and I saw Joey make quite a few. We’ll see if he is better next weekend in Australia.
The real hope is races like this help pump up the locals on supercross. It’s been awhile now since the last generation of New Zealand super talents, namely Josh Coppins and Ben Townely, found success on the biggest stages in Europe and America. Townely has built a supercross track at his house to try to help riders get laps and prep for bigger things. I believe we’ll see similar hopes in Australia next weekend—they want races like AUS-X Open to inspire someone to be the next Reed, Metcalfe, and Byrne. Perhaps Jett Lawrence, who was announced yesterday as an entrant, can carry that torch. Jett, though, is lucky to have been a quick study so far in supercross, because he had virtually no supercross experience at all until he hit the test track in September.
By the way, these two races in New Zealand and Australia comprise the FIM Oceana Supercross Championship. Chad Reed is the defending champion from last year, Anderson is now the points leader this year. It's not looking good for Reedy to defend this title, because he came to Auckland sporting injured ribs from his crash in Paris, then fell on the first lap of the first main and called it a night. Chad's hurting but you can pretty much guarantee he will gear up and head to the gate in Melbourne next weekend. He's as tough as they come, plus, these off-season races are big business for guys like Reed, so they will do everything in their power to come through for the promoter.
As for Anderson, he looks super, super, fast down here, and no one at his level is having more fun as a racer than him. Will that spill over to Anaheim? This will be very interesting.
Loretta Lynn’s 2020 Schedule (DC)
The 39th Annual AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships presented by Lucas Oil will take place on August 3-8 at Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. The big race has been held there since 1982, as everyone knows, but not everyone gets to go race—all riders in all classes have to qualify at one of the 51 Area Qualifiers around the country, and then make the cut again at one of the 13 Regionals that follow. Today the AMA announced the Area and Regional schedule, but here’s a quick glimpse of the Regional dates and locations:
Northeast Regional Championship
May 30-31: Seward, Pa.: Pleasure Valley (Amateur)
June 27-28: Hedgesville, W. Va.: Tomahawk (Youth)
Mid-East Regional Championship
May 30-31: Nashport, Ohio: Briarcliff (Youth)
June 6-7: Crawfordsville, Ind.: Ironman Raceway (Amateur)
Southeast Regional Championship
May 23-24: Blountville, Tenn.: Muddy Creek (Amateur)
June 13-14: Jacksonville, Fla.: WW Ranch (Youth)
North Central Regional Championship
June 13-14: Maize, Kan.: Bar 2 Bar MX Park (Amateur)
June 20-21: Millville, Minn,: Spring Creek MX (Youth)
South Central Regional Championship
May 30-31: Conroe, Texas: 3 Palms (Youth)
June 20-21: Ponca City, Okla.: Ponca City (Amateur)
Northwest Regional Championship
June 13-14: Washougal, Wash.: Washougal MX Park (Youth/Amateur)
Mid-West Regional Championship
June 6-7: Rancho Cordova, Calif.: Prairie City OHV (Youth/Amateur)
Southwest Regional Championship
May 30-31: Pala, Calif.: Fox Raceway (Youth/Amateur)
E-Bike Update (DC)
If you’re looking for a mile marker on where we are with electric motorcycles, one popped up this week, and it was a positive one—for fans of electric bikes, anyway. Our sister company MX Sports (which manages the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships at Loretta Lynn’s) and the AMA got together to introduce a new class in the Supplemental Rules for the 2020 race that is specifically for electric minicycles. That means the KTM SX-E 5 that was just released is eligible for the brand new Mini-E (4-6) Jr. class, which is a standalone class for the new models. Restrictions for the new Mini-E (4-6) Jr. class include battery energy limited to 1kWh; maximum (adjusted length) wheelbase of 41”; maximum wheel size of 12”; and maximum seat height of 25” on the adjustable bike.
In a press release from KTM, Nathan Ramsey, the Orange Brigade team manager, said, “I am very excited to be able to see our SX-E 5 race at Loretta’s in 2020. I believe it is a necessary step for our industry to look into the potential future of our sport. I am very happy to be a part of a company like KTM, who is always striving forward and always READY TO RACE. I can’t wait to watch those little riders have an electric battle!”
So what’s different from this bike by KTM for the ones that Alta offered that were not allowed last year? These bikes are slotted for a standalone class against one another, whereas Alta wanted to race in the 250cc-equivelant classes, not the 450cc classes. That caused a hold to be put on finding a place for the Altas, as the AMA tried to get more information and data on the electric bikes, but then Alta went out of business and the point was moot. In this case, KTM was fine with this new Mini-E (4-6) Jr. class, as is Cobra, which plans to have its own new electric offering on the assembly line in the next year.
ISDE Motocross racer (Andras Hegyi)
Ryan Sipes has made the history again in the most important enduro race of all, the International Six Days Enduro (ISDE), which has been in existence since 1913—one year before the start of the First World War. In 2015, Kentucky’s Sipes became the first American rider ever to win the individual overall. Four years later, at last week's 2019 ISDE in Portugal, the 35-year-old Sipes made history again as he became the first American motocross racer to win the World Trophy at the ISDE. The World Trophy is equivalent to the enduro team world championship title. Team USA's first and only World Trophy win came in 2016, but Sipes was injured right before the race and did not compete.
Lots of motocross stars have raced and even won the World Trophy at the ISDE. The Dutch star Gerrit Wolsink, two-time runner-up in the 500cc World Motocross Championship and five-time winner of the old 500cc USGP at Carlsbad, raced for Team Netherlands, and he won the World Trophy in 1984 when it was held in Assen, Holland. The two-time MX3 runner-up Alex Salvini from Italy won the ISDE in 2007 as a member of Team Italy. Another Italian world championship motocross racer, Alessandro Zanni, won the ISDE in 2005. There were also a large number of French motocross stars to manage to win the World Trophy with Team France. Rodrig Thain, Pierre-Alexandre Renet, Johnny Aubert and Antoine Meo all became multiple winners of the World Trophy racing for Team France at the ISDE. In addition, there were some other French motocross aces, like the 2017 Motocross des Nations winner Christophe Charlier, Jeremy Tarroux and Anthony Boissiere also captured the World Trophy as members of Team France.
In contrast to the French, no professional American motocross racer has ever won the World Trophy as a member of Team USA until Sipes. Ty Davis, a 125 West Region SX Champion, the four-time AMA Pro Motocross Champion Mike Kiedrowski, the 2001 125 AMA Pro Motocross Champion Mike Brown, three-time AMA champion Zach Osborne, two-time 125 SX Champion Damon Huffman, the 1990 125 AMA motocross champion Guy Cooper, and Rodney Smith, third overall in the 1988 FIM 250cc World Motocross Championship, were all members of Team USA, but none of them could clinch the World Trophy.
This year was the fourth ISDE for Sipes, who also raced in 2015, '17, and '18. In Portugal, Sipes finished second in the E1 category and sixth in the individual overall. His teammates were Taylor Robert, Kailub Russell, and Steward Baylor.
And though he did not win the World Trophy, we can't forget what Stefan Everts did in 2003. After dominating the FIM World Championships on his Yamaha, nearly winning two titles as he raced both MX1 and MX2 in that one-moto format year, and then leading Team Belgium to the win at the 2003 FIM Motocross des Nations, Stefan Everts decided to go to Brazil and compete in the ISDE. Europe's "King of Motocross" set the fastest accumulated time for the week in the 400cc four-stroke class and ended up winning the individual overall. Everts, then 30 years old, had never entered a competitive enduro prior to the ISDE in Brazil. He edged out a couple of enduro legends in taking the win, topping Australia's Stefan Merriman and Finland's Juha Salminen.
Another Belgian hero, the five-time world champion Joel Smets, also participated in the ISDE, three times in all. As a matter of fact, in 1998 in Australia, Smets won also the 350/400cc class. But, like Everts, Smets was not on a Belgian team that managed to win the ISDE World Trophy like Ryan Sipes did last week.
American ISDE records
Besides Great Britain, Australia, Finland, Sweden, Italy, France, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, and Germany (including Nazi Germany, as well as East and West Germany), the United States of America is the 10th country to get at least two victories at the ISDE. The most successful countries are Great Britain and Germany, with 16 wins apiece.
This year was the most successful ISDE ever for the American riders. For the first time in the history of the ISDE, the Americans were able to win in two different categories in the same year. Team USA won both the World Trophy and the Women’s Trophy. Team USA has won the World Trophy, the Women’s Trophy and the Junior Trophy too, but never two of them in the same year. The first Team USA debuted at the ISDE in 1964.
Taylor Robert may now be the most successful American rider in the history of the ISDE. Together with Kailub Russell, who was also with him was a member of the winning Team USA both in 2016 and 2019, they are the only two to be on two winning World Trophy teams. The Arizona native also set up two other records: In the current category system, in existence since 2004, Taylor Robert became the most successful rider in the E2 class as he got his third win in the E2, having also scored wins in ‘16 and ‘18. And while in the current category system Robert also became the first rider to win in four different years. Robert won both the E2 and the individual overall in 2016, then he won the E3 category in 2017, he won the E2 in ‘18, then again in E2 this year.
The january 2020 ISSUE OF RACER X MAGAZINE IS NOW AVAILABLE
The January 2020 issue of Racer X magazine is coming to newsstands and mailboxes soon. Sign up now for the print and/or award-winning digital edition. And if you're already a digital subscriber head to digital.racerxonline.com to login and read now.
Inside the JANUARY issue of Racer X magazine
- Red Bull Straight Rhythm looked like all fun and games, but the players were in it to win.
- Privateer Marshal Weltin tries to make some cash in the East Coast off-season motocross races including the Racer X Maine Event.
- Our newest staffer got on his first-ever solo flight—straight to Vegas for an old-school weekend of racing and parties.
- Our minicycle buyer’s guide helps you pick exactly the right first bike for your youngster.
All these features and much more inside the January issue.
Poster Info (Print Edition Only)
Hey, Watch It!
Nicknames were once a tremendous statement in racing.
Pick up your own Moto Icons shirts at wewentfast.com/shop. Every order comes with an icons sticker sheet.
Here's a preview of Jett Lawrence as the GEICO Honda rider gets ready to make his supercross debut as a professional at the upcoming AUS-X Open.
LISTEN TO THIS
The Fly Racing Racer X Podcast comes in with Brian Myerscough talking about his rise from SoCal 80cc superstar to winning the Saddleback National only a few years later. Brian talks about giving the sport up for a bit in his prime, the heartbreaking ’83 USGP in Unadilla, factory Honda bikes, and much more.
Jason Weigandt sat down with new JGR/Yoshimura Suzuki rider Joey Savatgy in the pits at the Monster Energy S-X Open in Auckland, New Zealand, to discuss his long journey toward getting a ride for 2020. After a solid rookie season with Monster Energy Kawasaki, Savatgy was left looking for work once Kawasaki promoted Adam Cianciarulo to Savatgy's old spot as a 450 factory rider. Savatgy would appear to have an easy home with JGR and Suzuki, but as that team sputtered finding funding, Joey was left to wait, wait, and wait some more. What was that process like? Did he ever consider the privateer route—or quitting altogether? Is he bitter about being in this situation in the first place? Savatgy gets honest in this edition of the Racer X Exhaust Podcast.
This week on Episode #141 of the Main Event Moto Podcast, Daniel Blair and Producer Joe take your listener questions. Michael Antonovich also joins the show to talk about the Paris Supercross, the biggest off-season international supercross event. Hang out with them as Daniel focuses on the headlines in the sport. Oh yeah, sometimes it goes off the rails.
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
“A mutinous cat was put in 'solitary confinement' for freeing other cats from a shelter. Now he's a star”—CNN
“Sondland: Rapper A$AP Rocky was initially the "primary focus" of the July 26 call with Trump”—CNN
“Doctor Saves Man's Life By Sucking Urine From His Bladder for 37 Minutes in Mid-Flight Emergency”—TMZ
“POST MALONE: I WON $50K PLAYING BEER PONG!!!”—TMZ
“Dog in Florida caught on camera behind the wheel of owner's car, doing donuts”—WESH 2 News
Another one on this dog:
“A Florida dog put a car into reverse and drove it in circles for nearly an hour”—CNN
“Tesla Cybertruck pickup revealed with bulletproof body and $39,900 starting price”—Fox News
“Tesla claimed its pickup truck was ‘bulletproof’ — then smashed its windows with a metal ball”–CNBC
“Christopher Walken says enough with the damn cowbell already”—New York Post
Kurt Caselli Ride Day, which will take place one week after Caselli is inducted posthumously into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Ohio.
Taylor Robert's effort at the ISDE for Team USA landed him on the cover of this week's Cycle News
MIPS Details Motorcycle Industry Expansion with Safety Symposium in Southern California
STOCKHOLM (November 21, 2019)—MIPS AB, the Swedish-based innovator of multi-directional helmet protection technology, welcomed several of its partner brands and key members of the two-wheeled media to its first motorcycle safety symposium in Southern California. The gathering served as an ideal opportunity to bring together a collection of some of the most important figures in the industry, where MIPS executives educated the group on the science behind the Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) and provided an avenue for attendees to spread critical awareness throughout the industry and its consumers.
Chief Executive Officer, Max Strandwitz, and Co-Founder/Chief Science Officer, Peter Halldin, shared insight into what exactly MIPS is, the history of the brand, the technology itself, and its expansive presence across an array of sporting disciplines. More than 24 years of research with the Stockholm Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and over 27,000 individual tests have helped develop MIPS’ technology, allowing it to become the leading protective ingredient in helmets for the equestrian, cycling, mountain bike and snow sports marketplaces. MIPS is also seeing an increased presence in the sport of hockey, and helmets utilized by construction workers.
MIPS’ endeavor into the motorcycle marketplace is still relatively new, and research regarding protecting riders from traumatic brain injury continues to evolve in an effort to make improvements to the current technology. However, in just a few short years, more than 20 different brands have adopted MIPS as the technology of choice for rotational protection, including world-renowned companies like Alpinestars, Bell, Thor, and Troy Lee Designs, each of which were on hand to showcase their newest helmets utilizing MIPS.
“MIPS has become synonymous across a variety of enthusiast-driven helmet sports and our expansion into motorcycling was a natural progression for the technology,” stated Strandwitz. “While we’ve had the privilege of partnering with many of the motorcycle industry’s most recognized and well respected brands, we are still working on bringing awareness to not just MIPS, but rotational protection as a whole. This symposium is a great opportunity to do exactly that.”
The subject of rotational impact protection has become a focal point in the two-wheeled space, particularly in regards to motorcycle racing. That is evident in the new helmet safety standards recently introduced by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM). These new standards, which currently focus on road racing and will soon expand to include off-road racing, present a groundbreaking period that will push the evolution of helmet safety to not only recognize, but also emphasize rotational protection.
“While many people are now becoming more aware of rotational protection, this is a subject we’ve continually researched and developed for quite a long time at MIPS,” explained Halldin. “As we move forward with our efforts in the motorcycle space, all of the knowledge we’ve gained over the past 24 years has presented us with an opportunity to share that data with significant and influential organizations like the FIM. Our ultimate goal is to ensure consumers around the world are equipping themselves with the most effective helmet protection possible, and new safety standards like the ones now implemented for the world’s premier road racing series are hopefully the first step in that process.”
Each of the attending brands took a turn to speak to the audience, bringing special attention to the newest and most innovative MIPS-equipped helmets available in the marketplace. Notably, Alpinestars featured its Supertech M10 motocross helmet, which was formally brought to market in 2018, and invited motocross champion Aaron Plessinger to introduce his custom-painted design for the upcoming season. In addition to Alpinestars, longtime helmet manufacturer Bell showcased its diverse range of MIPS-equipped helmets, including the Star and Qualifier models for the street, the Moto-9 for motocross, and the MX-9 for adventure riding. Southern California based legacy brands Troy Lee Designs and Thor highlighted their respective models as well, with Troy Lee’s SE4 and Thor’s entry level Sector.
For the latest from Canada, check out DMX Frid’EH Update #47.
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!