PHOTO OF THE WEEK
We were tickled pink to receive Honda's invitation to test out their 2014 CRF125FB at Gorman OHV park last week. Intended for beginners and trail riders, the 125FB (Big Wheel) is a sweet ride. It comes with a front disc brake, along with an electric starter and clutch-actuated four-speed transmission. Of course MXA, being MXA, we couldn't help ourselves when it came time to blowing up berms. That's Zach Bierbower pushing the CRF125FB to the limit.
FIRST THOUGHTS OF THE 2014 YAMAHA YZ250F
For some reason I had this vision that riding the all-new, redesigned-from-the-ground-up 2014 Yamaha YZ250F was going to be like hopping into the driver's seat of Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. I'd ride to some faraway land, blast around a track at breakneck speed and pass a unicorn-mounted Cooper Webb on his '13 YZinger. Then I would go into some song and dance about how life is all sunshine and rainbows, how arm pump didn't exist, and I could do backflips over mountain tops…and then I was snapped back to reality after I cased the living heck out of the first jump I hit at Glen Helen. Oops. Caractacus Potts I am not.
The 2014 YZ250F is the most anticipated bike of the new model year. You might be saying to yourself, "No, John, not true. The YZ450F is the most talked about bike for 2014." Wrong. I know Bubba lambasted the old YZ450F and there has been a nasty rumor going around about how not a single Pro racer should consider going warp speed on the mighty blue beast. I also know that Yamaha felt the pressure to improve their 450. That much is certain. Call me crazy, but the previous generation YZ450F wasn't all that bad. I recall several high-profile riders doing damage on the bike. Some, such as Josh Grant, still are. The YZ450F certainly wasn't an ugly duckling like, say, oh I don't know, the Cannondale monstrosity of years ago.
Back to the reason why the YZ250F is the most anticipated bike of the new year. For starters, the bike has seen only minor revisions in previous years. Add to the fact that, aside from an aluminum frame, small engine changes and upgraded suspension, the YZ250F was a dinosaur. It produced the least amount of horsepower in the 250 class. And much to the chagrin of the general public, the YZ250F had a carburetor. A carburetor! Remember one of those?
So when Yamaha unveiled the 2014 YZ250F, it was to much fanfare. Why? The bike has an all-new powerplant and electronic fuel injection, along with sweet styling, stellar Kayaba SSS (Speed Sensitive) suspension and a claim that it is the best YZ250F in the history of mankind. Naturally the motocross industry was elated, causing buzz from Milestone to Millville to Maggiora.
What's it like to ride the 2014 Yamaha YZ250F? Before I answer that question I feel compelled to make a few points. (1) MXA rode a pre-production bike. (2) We were only allowed to ride it for three hours. (3) We didn't have any other bikes to compare the Yamaha to. (4) The track was smooth and graded to perfection.
Here goes nothing.
Heavens to Murgatroyd, this powerplant is better! I grew to despise the old YZ250F engine. It wasn't bad by any means, but the competition was far and away better. The 2013 engine had great bottom-end power, but signs off quickly. That's not the case with the '14. It is considerably more broad across the power range. It won't rip your arms off, but the throttle is to be respected. I especially liked how the engine carried well through the midrange–which the old bike couldn't do–although it does tend to sign off a bit prematurely for my taste. I'll withhold any statements comparing the YZ250F to the '14 Kawasaki KX250F or KTM 250SXF, since it wouldn't be fair. For that you'll have to wait a few months, just like the MXA wrecking crew, since we won't throw a leg over the bike again until the beginning of November.
ELECTRONIC FUEL INJECTION
That's Daryl Ecklund staying low on the pre-production YZ250F. Sadly there is no scrub button on the bike.
It works! In all seriousness, the 10-hole, 44mm Keihin throttle body on the YZ250F has pushed the carburetor to the edge of extinction. I'm sad to see it go, but I understand why Yamaha finally jumped on the EFI bandwagon (although at this point it's more of the norm than merely jumping on the bandwagon). I had the opportunity to test a handful of different map settings (changed quickly with Yamaha's Power Tuner), and there was a definite difference once the timing and fuel ratio were tweaked. I can say that Yamaha has a really solid base map, although I think there's room for improvement. By the way, throttle response was crisp and the engine didn't skip a beat with an EFI system.
Daryl Ecklund's objective was to get low in this corner for John Basher's camera lens. He passed the test.
One of the greatest attributes of the old YZ250F was that it handled well. It couldn't cut a line inside a Suzuki RM-Z250 or Honda CRF250, but it was stable at speed and didn't do anything weird (two things the aforementioned bikes can't claim). The frame, comprised of aluminum crafted through various manufacturing processes, was like butter. As you know, Yamaha kicked the old frame to the curb and copied the design of the YZ450F chassis.
Does the 2014 YZ250F handle better than the previous model? No, at least not in my opinion. The front end has an undesirable wiggle at corner entrance. That opinion could change, given the fact that I didn't have enough time to mess with fork leg height, rider sag or suspension settings. For a full and comprehensive answer you'll have to wait until the full-blown test comes out, since we'll have much more time to make changes.
Again, this is an area that we'll revisit once we get more time on the bike. The YZ250F again comes with Kayaba SSS suspension, which I love. There's all this acronym talk about PSF (Pneumatic Spring Fork) and SFF (Separate Function Fork), but for my money I'd go with SSS. Sure, it's older technology. Then again, is your Apple iPhone 5 better than your iPhone 4, or does it just give you more headaches?
I'm excited. Titillated, actually. How could I not be? I was given the opportunity to ride a pre-production 2014 Yamaha YZ250F and took full advantage of it. I can tell that Yamaha has pulled out all the stops for this bike, because it's considerably different from any other base YZ250F that I have ever ridden before. For far too long I thought that Yamaha's R&D department was on cruise control. Finally they received a jolt of energy. We should be thankful.
As I already mentioned, stay tuned for the full test of the 2014 YZ250F. We'll get a bunch of orange-helmeted riders on the production bike in November and get to testing. Trust me when I say that I'm just as excited as you are to see what the all-new Yamaha YZ250F is really all about.
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RUBBIN’S RACING: MOTO-X AT X GAMES
By Daryl Ecklund
If you haven’t had the chance to watch the Moto-X race at the Los Angeles X Games I would take the time to do so. If you skipped the channel because you didn't see that all the big hitters, such as the Ryans (Villopoto and Dungy) or Bubba in the lineup, you're certainly not the only one. As I scanned over the entry list and checked out the simplistic Arenacross style track, I would have changed the channel myself if I wasn't live at the Staples Center to watch.
You can call me old school if you would like, but for me rubbin’s racing. If I’m the one racing or watching, there is nothing more exciting than some bar banging action! Through the heats at Moto-X people were standing in their seats cheering as the tight simple track leveled out the playing field, which made for some very aggressive passing. I even saw Jason Anderson punt Mike Brown off the track! It was a brave move on Anderson as no one would mess with Brown in his heyday (unless your name is Ryan Hughes).
As the main rolled around I was excited. Once the gate dropped it was nothing but rubbing, passing, and brake checking! Josh Hill got the holeshot and protected his line aggressively with Justin Brayton in tow, throwing in a wheel whenever possible. Hill was being overprotective of his lines and was unable to flow around the track, breaking momentum in the corners, which dropped their pace. This allowed Chris Blose to close the gap and come in hard on Brayton for second. Brayton then composed himself to get back around Blose. On the last lap Brayton cut way in on a corner, hitting Hill, and making him double the triple. It was perfect execution and an exciting way to end a race. Brayton won the gold, followed by Hill in second and Blose in third.
The only thing I disliked about the track was the first turn. I felt it was too tight and the riders on the inside gates just pushed the outside riders into the wall. There was carnage in just about every race. My bet was on Chad Reed for the main event win. He looked as If he was going to pull the holeshot, but got pinballed into the wall in the first corner, causing him to come through the pack and finish 4th.
Bottom line is that this was some of the best racing I have seem in a while. Simple tracks make for better racing. The privateer bikes just can't compete with the factory bikes on the more advanced tracks. This event leveled out the playing field, which allowed some of the underdogs to show what they were really made of.
MINI-VIEW: JOSH GRANT
Known for his aggressiveness and speaking his mind, Josh Grant burst out of the SoCal scene and made an immediate impression by leading much of his first moto as an AMA Pro at Hangtown 2004. With impressive speed to his credit, injuries have unfortunately kept him from winning championships. Now back with the JGR Toyota Yamaha team, who helped him to win the 2009 Anaheim 1 Supercross, Josh is working his way back to front-runner speed in the 2013 AMA National Championship.
By Jim Kimball
MXA: Josh, you’ve really picked up the pace since Hangtown.
Josh: Yeah, it’s one of the things that I have really been focusing on these past couple months–getting some solid results in. Approaching the outdoor season I was coming off my injury from Supercross, so I had a somewhat rough start to the Nationals. So I have just been working my butt off trying to pick up my speed and building a base. It's something to where I can build on.
Red Bud was a pivotal race with you getting on the box there.
A lot of the races have been pretty decent. Once I left Hangtown I knew where I stood and what I needed to do. So it was a good starting point. Then Red Bud was where I started to turn things around, and I started clicking it off. Every weekend I feel like I am getting better and better; unfortunately at Millville I had a crash in that second moto, and it took me out. Overall I feel good. I’ve been riding with Ryan (Villopoto) at his place pretty much since I moved to Florida right after Hangtown. So, I’ve been riding at his house, and Chad’s (Reed) too, so it’s been great to be able to ride with guys that are winning races, and have that winning mentality. I’ve been surrounded by good guys that have won and want to win, so it feels great to be able to do that. I know how I ride during the week, and I am just as fast as anyone out there, so I just need to keep that up, and bring it to the races.
Can you touch on moving to Florida? I think historically you have been someone that preferred California?
This may shock a lot of people, but the reason for the move had nothing to do with riding at all. It was more due to personal stuff that I had to deal with. But it has really ended up working out well. It’s been great to separate ourselves from that California lifestyle, and focus on what we need to do for this outdoor season. It’s been very helpful to train in the heat and the humidity, and with the way the weather changes so often we’ve been riding a lot of different types of tracks than we would in California. Overall, it’s been great, and it's helped, but I definitely didn’t move here due to racing.
Then would you elaborate on why you did move to Florida?
No, I’d rather not right now.
Back to racing, how do you want these last couple of races to go?
With these final three rounds coming up I am just focusing on putting in good results. I’ve had some good first motos, even with Millville where I took fourth in moto one. I just want to focus on getting good starts, and then putting myself into position to be up front. That is the main thing. I am really having a lot of fun right now, so I just need to put my head down and focus, get good starts, and do my best. The rest will come.
Are you signed for next year right now?
No, I am not. We are talking with a few people, and of course talking with JGR. We will see. I hope to have something done within the next few weeks.
The current YZF450 has gotten a bit of a bad rap, but based on your success with the current bike, and the all-new one coming out, it must be exciting times.
Yeah, I agree. Supposedly Yamaha has made a lot of changes to the 2014 model. We have not had a chance to ride it yet, but I know that very soon we will have a chance to ride them out in California. It’s unfortunate that Yamaha has recently had a bit of a bad rap for the 450, but in the end it's still a motorcycle and you can see riders having success with it. Look how well the bike did at the X Games. I feel like I am doing a good job on the current model, so with the changes for the 2014 it should work out even better.
PRODUCT OF THE WEEK
That's my adorable son wearing the Smooth Industries "My Playground" romper. It retails for $16.95. Brayden Basher isn't included, but if you order in the next few minutes I'll make sure that Mike Koger, over at Smooth Industries, throw in one of Brayden's dirty diapers for free if you'd like.
For more information, please visit www.smoothindustries.com.
MINI-VIEW: DARRYN DURHAM
Last year Darryn Durham started out his career with the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki team on a roll with at win at the St. Louis Supercross last season. Later a serious shoulder injury caused him to miss the entire 2012 outdoor season. Then just as he was overcoming his shoulder injury, an achilles injury took him out of the 2013 Supercross season. On the road to recovery, Darryn is making most of the outdoor motocross season as he gets back on track. We caught up with the 2008 AMA Horizon winner at Millville to learn more.
By Jim Kimball
MXA: Darryn, we know that you missed Supercross due to injury, but I notice you limping here. How are you doing now?
Darryn: Yeah, I’m probably at about 85% body wise. On the bike I feel pretty good, but I’ve had some tough injuries that I am trying to come back from–especially with my shoulder, and then the ankle injuries. Those are not that easy to come back from, so I’m just trying to build myself back up.
There was some talk that you would be even sitting out some of the Nationals, but you were at the gate for Hangtown.
Yeah, we were talking about that. I wasn’t that healthy, and I wasn’t that strong, and I’m still building myself back up. Mitch [Payton] and the team knew that I wasn’t really 100 percent, so they gave me the option to sit the series out and come back next year, or they said I could come back and race and start towards building up for next year. That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to get out and race. I’d been out for almost a year, so I was anxious to get racing even if I wasn’t really that ready.
I believe this is what the kids call "Leg swag."
It has to be difficult for someone like yourself, who is so competitive and used to racing every weekend, to sit out that long.
You are right, but as long as you can keep your spirits up, and be happy that you will be riding again, and that you won’t be sidelined forever, it helps. I try to focus on the positives, and not get too bummed out.
Budds Creek, where you finished third place in the second moto, was a great race for you.
Oh for sure it was. Even at Hangtown I rode top five for much of the first moto, so it was good to know that I still had it. Even at the first round I could not lift my one arm over my head. I now can ride the bike a lot, but I am still pretty limited as far as training. I still cannot run. I had a lot of damage in my shoulder that has still not come back 100 percent. So, I just need to be patient and keep working on making it stronger. But yeah, at Budds Creek I rode really good. It’s close to home for me, and I got to go back home to Pennsylvania for a week. I grew up in Pennsylvania, and whenever I am back there I just seem to ride better. I’m around my family, and when I come to the races I feel recharged. At times living in California by yourself kind of wears on you, so it really gets me recharged when I get back home. That is about the biggest negative. I really miss being at home in the summer. For Supercross I have to be in California, but by the outdoors I am kind of burnt out on the California scene. My family is what it's all about. They helped me get to where I am at today.
Do you hang out much with your teammates?
Well, we ride together a couple times a week, and we hang out at the track, but besides my riding and the little bit of training that I can do, I don’t really have any time to hang out. With my riding and the training that I can do I am usually just so beat and sore to do anything but go to bed. But hopefully after this season I can take a little break, recover, have some fun, and then get ready for Supercross.
What’s important to you in the remaining races?
I’m looking to put it in the top five, but I really want to get on the box. I did it once this year, and want to again. I just need to put the pieces together, get a good start, and ride hard the entire moto. I think that I can do it; that’s what I was made to do. I just want to have fun riding my dirt bike.
A PICTORIAL PERSPECTIVE OF LORETTA LYNN'S
Photos by Dennis Stapleton
Vendor row was busy all week long.
Check out that sweet Cobra!
No, these people aren't driving across a stream. A monsoon swamped Loretta Lynn's early in the week.
Ryan Surratt gets interviewed after winning both of his classes.
The dog days of summer.
First turn fun.
Guess who sponsored the event?
RACING AROUND THE WORLD: ADAC BW-CUP IN RUDERSBERG, GERMANY
Ahh, the sweet sound of two-strokes tearing up the German countryside
BISCEGLIA WINS BIG AT LORETTA'S
Matt Bisceglia wins AMA Motocross Horizon Award
Photo by David Smith
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The American Motorcyclist Association is pleased to recognize 36 new AMA national champions following a tremendous week of motocross racing at the Red Bull AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., July 28 through Aug. 4.
"The Red Bull AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship is the country's premier amateur motocross event, and the riders who raise AMA No. 1 plates over their heads here can count themselves among the best of the best," said AMA Motocross Manager Kip Bigelow. "We congratulate all the riders for excelling on the national stage, and we once again thank our promotional and organizational partner MX Sports for providing an exceptional experience for thousands of AMA members, from track prep to the awards ceremonies."
Among the most decorated racers over the week of competition was AMA Motocross Horizon Award winner and Amsoil/Factory Connection Honda rider Matt Bisceglia from Weatherford, Texas. Bisceglia swept all three motos in the Open Pro Sport class and scored two firsts and a second in the 250 A class for two national titles.
"The week was great," Bisceglia said. "I rode smart and put in six good motos. I just got good starts and did what I had to do. I won the AMA Horizon Award, and I was real happy with that. It's an honor to win that award. It has been a dream of mine since I was nice years old and watched Ryan Villopoto win it my first year at the nationals."
Bisceglia, whose father Don raced at the pro level, will start his pro career next weekend at the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championships on Aug. 10 at Unadilla in New Berlin, N.Y.
"I'm really excited for the pro nationals this weekend," he said. "It almost feels like it's not real. It's something I've been working on my whole life. It's always been in the back of my mind that it would go this far, but to see it becoming a reality is really exciting."
Bisceglia said the key to reaching the top of the amateur ranks is, not surprisingly, hard work and desire.
"Anybody can do it," Bisceglia said. "It's who wants it most. I got 16th my first year at the nationals. I didn't have a factory ride growing up on 60s and 85s. I had to work for everything I got. Nobody is going to just give you anything, but anyone can earn it. You just have to want it and work hard."
The AMA Youth Motocrosser of the Year was Cobra rider Jet Reynolds. Reynolds, from Bakersfield, Calif., dominated the 51cc (7-8) class and 65cc (7-9) class, winning all six motos. The last rider to win a 51cc and 65cc title at the amateur nationals was Davi Millsaps in 1997.
In the Vet ranks, Dade City, Fla.'s Timmy Ferry claimed the AMA's top Vet honors. Ferry, who finished second to the 2012 AMA Vet Motocrosser of the Year Robbie Reynard in the Vet (35+) class, swept all three motos in the Junior 25+ class to claim that AMA national championship.
A full list of the 2013 champions from the Red Bull AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship is below. For complete results from the week of racing, see www.mxsports.com.