By John Basher
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Go ahead and pick a rut, any rut, World Vet style.
JAMES GETS HIS DAY IN COURT AND PLEADS DOWN TO A MISDEAMEANOR
MXA MINI-VIEW: COY GIBBS
Coy Gibbs is the team owner of the Joe Gibbs Racing team. Stationed in NASCAR country, the Yamaha-backed JGR squadron has gained momentum since their upstart several years ago. For 2012 the big news is that JGR has signed a multiyear deal with James Stewart. I phoned Coy to learn more about how the two parties came to terms on a contract.
MXA: What’s new?
Coy: [Laughter] A lot! We’ve been working hard here the last three months in trying to get our riders signed up and getting ready to go for 2012. Obviously we’re excited about having James [Stewart] on board, and it looks like Davi [Millsaps] will be here, too. We have a pretty good team going into next year.
How did the James Stewart deal come together?
I’m not going to lie to you. We goofed around with the idea of getting James, but then we went really hard after Ryan Dungey. After that fell through I got a text from James that said that he was still available. I replied to him by saying What do you mean? I didn’t even understand! From there we started talking, and I saw the opportunity, so we went after it as hard as we could.
Why didn’t a deal work out with Dungey?
I think the biggest thing involved his close relationship with Roger DeCoster. Ryan made the decision that he thought was best for him. I can’t fault him for it, because it makes sense.
No longer with the L&M/San Manuel team, James Stewart signed a deal with Joe Gibbs Racing for 2012 and beyond.
Did you think that you were going to land James?
It was taking so long and we worked so hard that I just wanted it to be over. I wanted him to just say yes or no! He was killing me! I thought we had a pretty good shot initially, but it took him a long time before he rode the bike. Once he did I felt that we had a great shot at getting him on the team.
Is there any truth to the rumor that you had contemplated switching manufacturers?
We had an offer on the table, but for us it was better in the long term to stay with Yamaha. We wanted to stay loyal to them, and things worked out great.
Will James be racing NASCAR before long?
We actually went testing the other day, and he did pretty darn good [laughter]. He definitely has the skills to race. He made about five big saves and ran within a 1/10 of a second of the race pace. Up until James got in a car his friends were telling me that he would be great as a race car driver, but I kind of rolled my eyes. However, he did surprisingly well.
Expect to see Davi Millsaps paired with James Stewart on JGR.
You mentioned that you would be signing Davi Millsaps again. Will he be coming back to the team?
Yes. He’s out here riding right now, and he has told me that he’s staying with the team. We just need to work the contract out.
JGR has quite a killer team for next year.
Yeah, we’re excited about it. It will be nice to go racing and have some great opportunities to win.
How has it been to work with James so far?
He really knows what he wants, and that makes it a lot easier. He gives us direction. There are a couple of things that we need to work on, and we’re in the middle of testing. I think that with having both James and Davi around they will learn from each other. That should help both of them out.
You’ve joked for years about building an indoor Supercross test track there in North Carolina. Now that you’ve landed the big fish, will you move forward with those plans?
[Laughter] I have to put that on hold now! The budget has taken a bit of a hit. I need to get some sponsors, first of all, since I don’t have a primary sponsor anymore. That definitely hurt the indoor track idea.
What does your dad, Joe, say about signing Stewart?
He’s excited about it. He’s a great help. My dad knows that you have to keep the sponsors happy, and by signing James I think we’ve done that.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: MTA WORLD VET CHAMPIONSHIP 30 PRO VIDEO
MINI-VIEW: BONES BACON ON SHOWA’S NEW ‘AIR FORK’ DESIGN
Pro Circuit/Kawasaki suspension guru Bones Bacon had exciting news to share with us in regards to a brand new fork design from Showa. Called the ‘Air Fork,’ this system doesn’t use a single spring. Can you believe that?! Are you confused? Bones answered all of my pressing questions, and it turns out Showa’s Air Fork seems downright sweet.
Behold the new Showa 'Air Fork' design.
MXA: What’s the big deal with Showa’s new Air Fork design?
Bones: First of all, it saves two pounds in the front end. That’s huge! This new design will make it much easier to work on the forks and should greatly improve performance. There are two air chambers in the one fork that act as the spring, while the other fork leg contains the damping. Simply add air to the fork to make it stiffer.
Will this system hold up better to the rigors of Supercross and motocross compared to a traditional fork?
Yes. Imagine a car tire with an inner tube inside the tire. Now imagine that you run over a sharp object that punctures the tire. Despite the hole, there’s still enough air in the tire to keep going. That’s similar to how the Air Fork is designed. I told the Showa guys that there was no way that we could move to a new concept at the risk of failing to finish a race. Showa is headed in the right direction with the Air Fork.
What are the other advantages of the Air Fork?
We can get away from seal stiction while also being able to keep air in the forks. I’m pretty excited about all of it. A simple goal would be to have these forks equal in performance to what we have now, and the benefit would be that we saved two pounds. That’s enormous. We spend thousands of dollars on parts for the bike that saves grams. By saving two pounds on the bike would be incredible.
Will the Air Fork work well for all types of skill levels?
I think so. Imagine having a rider like Bubba Stewart, who rides really far over the front of the bike and needs a fork that’s super stiff. Then all of a sudden you put a rider on the bike that rides in the middle of the bike. You wouldn’t have to have nearly as stiff of a fork setting. With the Air Fork you’re effectively doing that because you’re taking two pounds of weight off the front of the bike. You won’t need as much damping or spring rate/air pressure to hold the front of the bike up anymore.
One of the forks contains the air chambers, while the other fork houses the valving.
When will you start testing with the Air Fork?
In a few more weeks we’re going to start testing with the Air Fork to see how far we can take it and develop it. That’s going to be the future of everything. Time will tell. It has to meet our durability and performance requirements before we feel comfortable putting it on a race bike.
Why is it easier to work on the SFF design, and more specifically, the Air Fork design?
You can get so much further testing with the SFF system, because there are so many possibilities with it. If you’re going to change the valving then you’re working on one fork. If you’re going to change the spring rate then you’re only working on one fork. Even with the system we have now we saved weight. Friction is down 25 percent. Turning balance is better because we offset the weight of the heavy disc and caliper that’s always on the left side of the bike by putting the spring on the right side. Now with the new Air Fork we will put the air fork on the left and the damping side on the right, so turning balance will be even better than the SFF design.
Do you foresee the team using the Air Fork in Supercross?
Not this year, no.
What about Broc Tickle racing with it in the 450 class?
There is a possibility of that, but it will have to meet our expectations. We’ll have to put it through a lot of testing first. The goal would be to eventually race with it. We’re going to have an exclusive on the system, so it would be to our advantage to get it dialed in for racing.
When will the fork be for sale to the public?
I don’t know that. It depends on our development and how testing is coming along.
So the Air Fork is truly in the infancy stages.
Yes. The first time it was ever on a motorcycle where anyone rode it was at the Showa Ride Day a week and a half ago. Showa had it on a bike a few times doing preliminary things. Since then they’ve had all new parts coming from Japan for it. They’ve had the Air Fork on a dyno in Japan and everything came out positive before it came over to the U.S.
What did Darryn Durham think about the Air Fork, since he was the first rider to try the system out?
He was really excited about it. On the day he rode with it the track was pretty sloppy. After he came in the first time he asked to ride with the Air Fork again once the track got better. Later on in the day he went out for 40 minutes on the suspension. He came back impressed with it. He said that it had a different feel, and it took him some time getting used to the light feeling in the front end.
Can you adjust ride height with the fork like you can with the SFF system?
Yes, that’s done with one of the two pressure chambers. It’s done the same way that you would do for preload. I haven’t messed with the fork at all yet. I saw the fork a couple of months ago, and then only last week.
Remove the fork caps to reveal the air valves, which are used to adjust the nitrogen pressure.
What are the two screws on top of the one fork leg?
Those are caps that you take off. There are air valves underneath the caps to adjust the air pressure in the two chambers.
How do you adjust the air pressure in those chambers?
Showa has a big gauge that they screw onto the valves to make those adjustments. It’s interesting to note that the fork actually contains nitrogen and not air. I suggested to Showa that they change the name of the fork to Nitrogen Fork. To me ‘Air’ sounds old. I’m not sure if they’re going to stick with that name or not.
How instrumental were you in this design?
I had very little input in this design. Granted, we keep the line of communication open. I had been urging Showa to step it up for several years. It’s important not to get stagnant, because Kayaba is gassing it. Showa took a big risk with the SFF design, and it has worked out awesome. Now they’re doing the same with the Air Fork.
R.I.P. JIM McNEIL
Freestyle motocross lost one of its greats this past weekend with the passing of Jim McNeil.
Jim McNeil, 32 years young, passed away on Sunday while doing a freestyle exhibition in Texas. I didn’t personally know the freestyle rider while he spent his time here on earth. I might have spoken with him a handful of times, but it wasn’t like we chatted about anything more than course layout or trick selection. And, for that, I am bummed. Jim seemed like a really nice guy, and while I didn’t have a close connection with him, I spent several years tacking numbers to his freestyle runs as a judge. I always respected his abilities on a motorcycle, his daring approach at bettering himself in the world of freestyle. I’ll miss McNeil for all of those reasons, and then some.
Shortly after the news of McNeil’s passing spread around media outlets, the question was raised as to whether freestyle motocross had become too dangerous. This question obviously gained traction after the death of McNeil, as well as Jeremy Lusk a few years ago. My answer to that question is simple. Freestyle motocross, just like any other sport or activity, is as dangerous as you make it. If freestyle motocross is too dangerous, then also point a finger at MotoGP, NASCAR, and motocross. The fact of the matter is that all sports have a certain level of danger. That, in part, is the embodiment of sport.
I can vouch for all of the freestyle event organizers and course designers that I know in saying that they look out for the best interest of their athletes. They do not push, prod or pressure riders into riding in adverse conditions, on botched ramps, or across courses wrought with peril. Ultimately though it’s the rider’s decision as to what they feel comfortable doing. Mistakes happen, and on the rare occasion they are detrimental to the worst possible degree. Jim, just like Jeremy Lusk, died doing what he loved. To all the nay sayers out there, live life to its fullest. That’s what McNeil did.
TECHNICAL TOUCH USA IS ACCEPTING RIDER SUPPORT APPLICATIONS
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MATRIX CONCEPTS A-TEAM KIT
KTM OFFICIALLY UNVEILS THE FREERIDE E & FREERIDE 350 IN MILAN
KTM FREERIDE E: THE EVOLUTION OF REVOLUTION
" KTM has taken on the challenge of developing an electrically driven offroad sports motorcycle for mass production and has become the first of the major motorcycle companies to do so. This exciting, sports-oriented, environmentally friendly bike is the culmination of three intense years of hard work and a commitment to innovation. The Freeride E embodies all the collective KTM experience garnered during years of development of conventional combustion-driven models and has resulted in a motorcycle that is not only pure KTM but also globally unique. The electric motor, developed in-house, is the throbbing heart of this dynamic machine that is not only emission free but is also almost silent. The Freeride E is proof of KTM’s drive and determination to take on a highly complex project and successfully transform it into a bike that offers intense riding pleasure in the spirit of pure offroad sports. 2012 is only the beginning of what represents a challenging, but electrifyingly exciting new segment in tune with the demands of today’s society."
KTM FREERIDE 350 FOUR-STROKE
"The sport of motorcycling is at the very apex of the KTM philosophy. That is why for 2012 the company has also produced a second Freeride model with a conventional drive. Building on the extremely well balanced engine characteristics of the 350cc engine that has served KTM’s Motocross and Enduro competition bikes so well in the past two years, the Freeride 350 is a lightweight bike capable of translating the thrill of the classic Enduro experience into one that requires the least amount of physical exertion. The Freeride 350 is the perfect introduction to the thrill and exhilaration of Enduro sport. Indeed with this bike, Enduro has never been easier."
ALL-NEW 2013 OSSA ENDURO 250i/300i
Although Ossa motorcycles haven’t been imported to the USA in decades, the firm is still alive in kicking in Europe. Two years ago they introduced the reverse-cylinder, fuel-injected, 280cc, two-stroke TR280i trials bike and as of late, have been reintroducing trail and enduro models.
The latest is the two-stroke, fuel-injected, 250cc or 300cc Enduro bike—based on the TR280 engine platform. Two-stroke single cylinder engine uses a one-piece crankcase and removable cassette. The fuel injection gest dual-fuel injection technology (similar to the KX250F), developed in collaboration with Kokusan. One injector is located in the crankcase and the other in the cylinder. This new system allows a long series of combinations in the set-up and management in the power characteristics of the Ossa Enduro 250i/300i. The Enduro250i/300 has an innovative electric starter, snake pipe and cowled radiator. It comes with a chromoly frame, Ohlins suspension, Bermbo brakes and a 213-pound claimed weight.
Ossa wants to return its brand to prominence with the TR280i trials bike, trail-based Explorer and now the Enduro 250i/300i. The goal is to have 20 units for importers in early 2013. The first production, which will take place at the Ossa factory in Girona will be about 2000 units to be sold by Summer of 2013.
HUSQVARNA MOAB 650 CONCEPT
Borrowing its color scheme from the great Husky dirt bikes of the 1970s, the Husqvarna Moab is a 650cc concept dirt bike that is designed for fast fire roads. The Husqvarna Moab can trace its origins to Husky models from the Steve McQueen/Malcolm Smith era with the red tank and aluminum knee patches. The Moab name comes from the evocative desert riding area in Utah, which every year draws huge numbers of offroad bikers and provides the eerie background for the sets of many cult movies.
The Husqvarna Concept MOAB has a 650cc engine placed in a perimeter frame and progressive rising rate linkage on the swingarm. The wheels are 17-inches and the tires are semi-knobbly, and therefore suitable for offroad use or city riding.
The overall design effect divides the bike into distinct sections: the tank, seat, the side panel number holders and the exhaust. According to Husky, the lines are fluid, but combined into a decisive form. The shape of the tank blends with the seat and rear section, creating a fluidity and immediately distinctive style. This design feature follows the lead of the latest generation of Husqvarna models, such as the concave shape of the front and rear mudguards, and the front number plate.