Still a month or so to go until we have real racing to talk about and most everything is settled in the sport right now. Boot camps are underway and the riders and teams are hunkered down getting ready for another unique Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship. That does not mean there aren’t questions out there from you to me about…stuff. Let’s get to that, yeah?
As always, I have not read Griff’s answers…
(Note: Some questions have been lightly edited for clarity.)
rabrian18: Are the Japanese factory bikes coming in at the AMA weight limit (220 lbs.), and if so how/where are they losing the bulk? KTM stock is only ~5 lbs. over vs nearly 30 for most of the Japanese brands. Just curious.
Steve Matthes: I believe the KTM/Husky/GasGas bikes are on the AMA weight limit and that’s about it, maybe the Honda guys also because they’ve always been really good with that stuff. Getting the weights are a tough thing to do, the teams protect that info like it was national security. Adding factory suspension, clamps, mousse inserts and the various guards on the bike add weight to them but Titanium bolts, special factory transmissions, aluminum where there used to be steel, magnesium in some spots all add up to shaving quite a bit of weight off. When I was at Yamaha our 250 two-strokes would have to have a lead pivot to MAKE the weight limit (after 2005 when the aluminum frames came in). It would be very rare to have a 450 factory bike on the limit these days.
T.J. Altekruse: Steve....no question to be asked. Just wanted to state that Mookie is going to win 2 races in ‘21. It’s already stamped so figured I would state it. You’re welcome!
Thanks, TJ! I am a Mookie Fever believer, in fact I believe I INVENTED the phrase “Mookie Fever” so take that to the bank. I think after a career year at MCR on the Honda, he landed in the best spot on the Yamaha factory Star effort and can back up what he did in 2020. He will be very good, but to win two, races? Yeah, I’m not there yet. Sorry, bro.
MX485: Do you think Ryan Dungey would have had the same career on yellow bikes had things stayed solid at Suzuki...as in Roger De Coster and Ian Harrison remaining there and KTM never entering the picture?
I do. Remember, RCH won a championship with Kenny Roczen on basically that same bike several years after Ryan left for KTM. So the bike was still capable of winning at the highest level, Roger and Ian would still be there to make sure the funds from Japan were being used the right way and I guess the only drawback for Ryan was that he would have had to kickstart his bike. I do remember a couple of times where he stalled the KTM in a rhythm section and just fired it back up and took off. If he was still on the Suzuki, he would’ve been in trouble and maybe that would have cost him a couple of wins. We’re talking a small difference here. Dunge would have Dunged.
Clint B 333: Who in your opinion was/is the most talented rider ever to ride a dirt bike if they never went down the party route and did it the Dungey way.
Have to be J-Law, right? For all the stuff he did and for all the candles he burnt on both ends, Jason was very talented and he had a cool style to watch. Don’t know if a 450 career would’ve been as good seeing as how he was a small guy that really only liked on the bike training. But one thing I’ve learned in my travels is that there were a lot of guys in the ‘80s and ‘90s that sort of pissed away their talent with not taking it seriously because there wasn’t much help for anyone outside of, like, eight guys who had factory rides. So there were privateers back in the day who maybe had huge talent but we never saw it. I will NOT entertain any talk of Ron Lechien not being successful because, yes, the Dogger liked to have a good time off the track but the dude had an amazing career with a national title and wins against everyone.
Thomas Scott: Will the 2021 Supercross champion be the best rider or the rider that is able to stay COVID-19 free?
(Gently answering this)…I mean whether it’s the NFL or the NBA, we’ve seen high-level athletes miss games because of contacting COVID, so this is a real question we’re going to have to ask. With the SX series enacting the rapid tests before the races, you have to think someone gets it, right? It seems to be getting worse before it gets better so I do think that, although maybe it’s not the championship, you have to think a high profile rider misses a race or two because of a positive test. It’s sort of common sense, right?
The Onion: Steve, As an e-bike guru, when motocross finally is all electric, should the bikes come with a "clutch" lever so that the rider can disengage power to the rear wheel when they are hanging off the back and can't roll off the throttle? Seems like a good idea to a middle-aged old fart like me.
When I rode the Alta, there were a lot of super weird moments out on the track but maybe none of them more weird than not having to clutch it in a corner. That was strange for sure so I see where you’re coming from with this question. I’m not sure of the logistics of this from a mechanical point of view but it was so weird to not have it, so if someone can figure out a way to incorporate this, I can see it working. It’s a good way to gently or quickly reduce power, but I wouldn’t want the e-bike to have more hit when you snapped the clutch out like regular dirt bike, those things already hit hard enough!
Captain758: Steve, what do we need to do to convince SX to use Daytona as one of the East/West rounds? It seems a shame to lose the opportunity to see a good 250 race on that track each year - the racing isn't great in that class at that track. What are some of your favorite moments/benefits from being (probably) the top media source? I know that a lot of racers and other media outlets will reference your comments at times. Please share - thank you!
Uhhh Captain, I don’t know what Daytona you’ve been watching but, although 2020 was better, the track at Daytona has really sucked the last few years. There’s less space to work with. You’ve got sprinkler heads, lawyers getting involved to make sure a bike doesn’t fly into people watching from the oval, all of that means the old speedway doesn’t seem the same anymore. So no, I wouldn’t want to “waste” an epic East/West showdown on that track.
As far as the media moments, it’s more stuff hanging out with the top racers in the world away from the races. Going to a test session on a Wednesday and watching them do their things, having a ton of laughs and remembering that I used to do that every week when I was a mechanic. Or going mountain biking with Roczen and Brayton in SLC where we barely talked about racing for the few hours, things like that are pretty cool. Everyone is so serious at the races!
Alfred: Back in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s off-road bikes used to come with two rim-locks on the back wheel. Nowadays bikes come with only one. When running a modern bike through the gears on a bike-stand (after washing) the back wheel is so out of balance it shakes quite violently. Surely this affects the handling, especially in the air? I always install a second rim-lock. Do the factories and serious racers install a second rim-lock?
I did NOT think I was going to get a second rim-lock question in here, that’s for sure! So congrats for that and yeah, I don’t know. I used to take my second rim lock out when they were stock on 500s, I never used two rim locks with any rider in my time as a mechanic, and I’ve never seen a wheel so out of balance that it shakes quite violently like yours. Sounds like you may have an issue there, Alfred! From what I know, the off-road dudes like to use two rim locks because of the speeds and length of time they ride but in moto, nah, not needed.
Dr. Strange Love: Steve .... Do you dip your French fries in ketchup, mayo, or mustard? Do you like your rare roast beef sandwich heated on toasted rye bread with munster cheese .... topped with sauerkraut and horseradish? What do you think of people who still eat the BK Whopper since it is now a soybean burger, and no longer a meat burger?
I like ketchup for my fries. When I’m in Europe I do what they do and sometimes use mayo…never mustard. That’s gross BUT I’m a very finicky ketchup guy and fries are about all I use ketchup for. None on Kraft dinner, none on burgers or hot dogs.
I do not eat roast beef sandwiches. Once in a while I’ll dive into a Philly cheesesteak or who doesn’t like a French Dip but all what you described above does not sound good at all.
Wait? What? I never heard this about the Whooper and although I rarely eat Whoopers I happened to have one about 30 minutes before I sat down to type this mailbag out. Yes, I’m serious! BTW my wife is a vegetarian and she loves the Impossible Whopper (hence why I ate it before this column) and I’ve had a few also, they’re very good.
Loam Sweet Loam: The YZ250F clearly has a game-changing power advantage. Is this primarily due to the reverse cylinder design? If so, why haven't other manufacturers followed suit? It sure seems like the other brands are battling for second (not to mention losing riders who want to be on the Yamarocket) until they make this fundamental change.
The advantage Yamaha has isn’t with the reverse engine design per se, it’s the fact that the reverse engine design allowed them to move the airbox up high and to the front of the bike. The Yamaha’s push so much air and at high speeds, it’s ridiculous. That’s the key to the Yamaha advantage right there. Secondary the angle of the intake makes the fuel dump into the cylinder at a high angle and at high speed. The other OEM’s have been tilting their intakes steeper and steeper seemingly every year and it’s working to increase HP but they’re still not there when it comes to the Yamaha. But for all the increases the motor change adds for the 250, the 450 guys still have an issue with the chassis when they add HP to the bike, in my opinion. I rode Ryan Villopoto’s factory Yamaha the other month and it was perfect in the fact it pulled more than stock but not violently. When I rode Ferry and Reed’s bikes back in the day, they were violent. I think the chassis “binds” up on the Yamaha 450 when you add that much power. So with moving the motor backwards, you get some great things (250) and some not (450). I do think the other OEM’s, especially the Japanese, are too prideful to just copy the Yamaha design. It would be admitting that the tuning fork guys are smarter.
Kip Lockhaven: Dear Stephen, how many championships do you believe James Stewart would have won if he had a coach like NYK [Nick Wey] or O-Show [Johnny O’Mara] to help him slow down and be more consistent? Or would that have even been possible?
I think the same amount. Whoever worked with James always has said that in the end, he did it the way he (and/or his dad) wanted to. He did work with Aldon Baker for a while but he didn’t want to be beholden to anyone for a long period of time. So knowing that, none of the coaches you mentioned would’ve helped James, in my opinion. James Stewart was gonna do what James Stewart wanted to do and that was be very, very special a lot of the times and crash a bunch at other times.
Stewie is the second-winningest rider ever in AMA history. Yeah, actual championships he’s not that high on the list but to suggest he needed much improvement is silly to me.
Jacket on the Parade Lap @jthughes21: Do you think @JasonWeigandt is upset over spending twice the amount of money on cabinet pulls as he had to?
No, he would never have bought another set of handles to go with the cabinet that he horribly misjudged and drilled incorrectly. The cabinet set came with one set of handles, he would’ve put those on the bottom and up top, he probably put tape on the holes or paper. He said on the PulpMX Show that he will now buy ANOTHER set of cabinets and drill those right and move the effed up ones to the garage but I don’t believe he would actually do that because that costs money.
TherealT-Homo @whosthomo: What’s Phil [Nicoletti] doing?
Hey, THomo. Well, my sources say that Phil is currently in talks with the Monster Energy Kawasaki guys up in Canada to go there but with Rockstar Energy pulling out, the entire series is up in the air right now and until the, you know, actual schedule comes out I’m not sure Phil will be able to go there. Also my sources tell me (my source is NOT Phil, he won’t tell me anything) that he may have an opportunity for an American MX ride (apparently the folks down here DO NOT remember my guy winning the Canadian SX title?). Whatever happens, we need Phil racing a dirt bike somewhere because we’re not done with Phil stories just yet. Before JGR folded there was talk of Phil bringing a sponsor and going BACK to JGR for 2021. That would’ve been glorious.
Keel McStovepipe @frigyeahbuddy: What race are you most excited to talk about on the new Re-Raceables Podcast?
A whole bunch really. Weege picked a couple and I picked a couple right off the bat to do and I think you guys will enjoy the new show we’re doing. We’re 100 percent going to do High Point 2000 where I took Kelly Smith to KTM’s first ever win in AMA competition and got interviewed by DC on ESPN but had the wrong name under me. I would love to do Budds Creek 2003 where Ferry wins the first moto and basically, any race where I’m interviewed in the mechanics area will make the cut. Also, Glen Helen 1999 is on the list because that’s peak Seb.
We have four or five done now, talked to [Justin] Brayton, [Jim] Holley, and a couple of other guys for these shows so go please subscribe and listen on wherever you get your podcasts.