Fredrik Noren has found himself in a fill-in role several times in the past, and when JGRMX/Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Joey Savatgy broke his heel before the season, Noren again got the call to fly the factory flag, this time for Suzuki. Unfortunately he broke his tibia in St. Louis and his supercross season ended nearly before it even started. He’s on the other side of that injury now, and, as you’re about to read, couldn’t be more excited about being back on the bike and training for the upcoming season of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship.
Racer X: Freddie, what’s up, how are you?
Fredrik Noren: I’m doing good! I’m on my way home from the track, so I’m not complaining.
It probably feels especially good for you, seeing as you’ve been off the bike for so long.
I’m so pumped. It’s so exciting. I’m literally like a kid in a candy store. Every day when I’m about to go riding now, I get so happy. Just looking at the bike I’m excited.
It’s probably a nice break from the boredom of quarantine too.
I’ve actually been really busy. I’ve been helping out at a local repair shop spinning wrenches. We also bought a house in September last year in Charlotte and we’ve been doing stuff to that. It’s actually been really, go, go, go, which is good. I’ve enjoyed it, but nothing beats riding. That’s for sure.
What made you take a job at a repair shop?
You know, to stay busy. I like to wrench and stuff too.
What kind of shop is it? What have you been working on?
Mostly utility quads, street motorcycles, and side-by-sides. It’s a legitimate repair shop, not a race shop. We do dirt bikes as well, but it’s a lot of farm quads and that kind of thing.
Oh, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I worked in shops for ten years before I worked for Racer X.
That’s cool. It’s actually been pretty fun. I consider myself a good mechanic, but all I’ve really wrenched on my whole life are dirt bikes. Except when I was 15 and had a scooter, I wrenched on that sucker all the time. It’s been fun to learn how to wrench on a street motorcycle, like a 1200cc cruiser.
Some of those quads are gnarly though, huh? They come in all covered in mud with spiders crawling all over them.
Oh, that’s for sure. You’re not ever sure what’s going to come out when you take off the seat or open up the air boot. It’s wild.
When you came to America to race professional motocross, did you see yourself digging rats’ nests out of air boxes?
[Laughs] No! I didn’t really know what to think. All I cared about was riding my dirt bike, so as long as I could do that I was happy. It wasn’t until about 2013 or so, or when I got that first fill-in ride, it was like, “Wow, this could be a job, or this is a job.” That’s when I started thinking about wanting to make it full-time. I had an idea before that, but it didn’t hit until I had a real taste of it.
Well let’s rewind a little bit and talk about the injury. What exactly happened? You didn’t even crash.
It was funky and I’m still baffled by it. We were in St. Louis, second race of the year, and I was starting to figure out the bike a little bit and feel more comfortable. I was ready to start picking it up a lot more. I was in the heat race, sitting ninth behind Jimmy [Decotis] and there was like a minute-and-a-half left. I think [Justin] Bogle was behind me in tenth, but he was like ten seconds back. All I really needed to do was cruise it in and head straight to the main. I came out of a corner, tripled on, off, then just blipped it a little too much to triple after that. I overshot the triple, the rhythm section triple. It wasn’t that far. I overshot it for sure, but I didn’t expect to break my ankle. As soon as I landed I felt like a little snap feeling. I thought it was a boot strap coming undone, like some pressure released a little bit. But I did that tiny double after, and as soon as I landed I was like, “Oh boy, okay, that was my ankle.” I was really just mad. It didn’t really hurt, maybe because of adrenaline. I was mad because I have this awesome ride with this great team and I was really ready to start hammering down and putting in some good results. Then that happened.
I don’t know how it broke. It didn’t twist or anything like that, and I don’t remember standing in a weird way. It was just kind of a freak thing. It was a pylon fracture on the tibia. It was only the tibia, so I guess that’s good, but it’s like the worst break you can have. The tibia broke in three pieces, and one piece actually went up. You know how the bones are hollow? Well one piece actually went up in there and the doctor had to actually pull it back out and put two plates and twelve screws. From there it’s been rehab. Six or eight weeks of non-load bearing so I was on a knee scooter everywhere. It wasn’t fun at all [Laughs]. After that I could walk with a boot, and I ended up taking it off sooner than I should have. But I was feeling really good and I was being careful, and at ten-and-a-half weeks I went in early for my twelve-week follow up. I told him I was walking around without the boot and feeling good, and he told me he was going to let me start riding! I was surprised, but it was like, “Okay, cool!” So I started doing corner tracks and starts. I wasn’t supposed to be able to start riding until May, so I’m ahead of schedule. It’s wild, I’m super pumped.
Did you find yourself babying it and trying extra hard not to dab?
I’ve ridden like eight times. The first four I just rode a bone stock bike on a corner track, then a private track. No jumping, feet on the pegs. I didn’t use my foot at all. Then I rode some at South of the Border and it was the same thing, feet on the pegs. After that I started using my leg a little bit. It felt good and I started jumping small doubles and tabletops, and at that point I felt I needed to upgrade. These last two days I’ve been on the factory bike and it’s been awesome. I can really push it a lot harder now. I actually have no pain at all in my ankle and I’ve been jumping some pretty big jumps [Laughs]. I’m blown away and it’s a huge blessing it’s healed as well as it has this early. I’m pretty pumped on that.
So what are the plans now then? Prepping for the nationals?
Yeah, that’s the plan. I’ll continue the whole year, I signed a full-year deal. Definitely outdoors, and we’ll see what happens with this whole supercross thing. I’m going to put my head down and try to go fast.
What are the guys at the repair shop going to do without you?
I don’t know, they’ll just keep on going like they normally do [Laughs]. Spin those wrenches! I was a C rider over there. I thought I was a good mechanic but they’ve been doing it for years! I’m just so pumped to be back riding. The love for the sport never goes away, especially when you’re out for a little bit.
That’s for sure. That does it for the questions I had for you. Did I miss anything?
I think you touched on pretty much everything. Did I mention I’m pumped?
Once or twice.
Man, when I went to the shop the other day to pick up the factory bike, wow. That was insane. It was like the first time I’d ever seen a factory bike or something. It was a good time.
Would you say you were pumped?
I’m still pretty pumped, just talking about it. When I’m leaving the track dead tired I’m ready to turn around and go spin more laps. One thing though, even though I’ve been exercising and feeling good physically, nothing compares to dirt bike cardio. The first day, oh boy! Now it’s getting a lot better, but that first day was wild. Dirt bikes are actually pretty hard! [Laughs]