Mailbag!
By:
Steve

You guys wanted answers, well I gave them to you. 3000+ words of them actually! Thanks for the questions, sorry If your email never got picked. Lifes tough sometimes. Let's try to do this weekly, steve [at] directmotocross [dot] com if you want answers.

Hi,
Since you're a neighbor to the north, maybe you can relate:  I grew up playing hockey, and now every time I hear a racer say they have to put their head down and focus, I get this almost irresistible urge to go rip someone's head off as if they had the puck and it was time to tee off! Is it just me or is that one of the silliest statements they can make? Keep up the good work, your stuff is entertaining.
Sincerely,
Rick K

Dear Rick, thanks for writing in and I have to agree with you on this one, putting ones head down would make riding very difficult indeed. I’m no Gary Bailey but it seems to me that lifting your head up and looking at the race track would be better. As far as the actual saying, we live in a world of clichés and there is rarely a time that you get ANYTHING of substance out of a post race/game comment. How many times have we heard the “It is what it is” saying come out of the mouth of an athlete? It’s ridiculous and I never think I will get anything out of these guys that will make me understand the game/race more. When you actually get a guy that says something and is entertaining (like Sean Avery or Chad Reed) they are attacked by fans and media and soon they learn to just pipe down and not offer anything. I think that the post race interview’s time has come, along with the sideline reporters in any sport. There’s nothing there that helps the viewer. I think I wrote about this earlier on this site.

Steve,

How come we are not hearing much on the GYT-R cylinder heads used on the Factory Yamaha's?  It would appear to me that they could garner some A+ sales if they made folks aware these heads are for sale to the average joe?  Make sense to you?
BTW, Any tips/tricks you can share with me for suspension valving on supercross vs motocross bikes?  I'm interested in setting my ride up for more supercross riding.  Keep up the good work.. I appreciate the info you provide on your site.

Thanks   Chris W

Chris, I noticed those stickers earlier this year as well. Let me just tell you that in my time at Yamaha, the GYTR department-while they had some nice guys-was so jacked up as a department and understaffed that it would be the equivalent of a monkey trying to f**k a football. They probably don’t even put the two together and understand the potential but then again, does anyone who buys a head from GYTR really think they are getting the same as Stewie’s? If so, I have some frozen water to sell them.
As far as your suspension question, why in the hell are you riding supercross more than motocross anyways? Here’s some tips-stiffen your compression (preferably with actual Home Depot washers), slow the shock rebound to the point of almost packing and then find some springs off of a locomotive. You should be set.

 Hi Steve,
About today's post on
pulpmx.com, what's going on with Ferry's deputy as your favorite rider (Nick Wey)? NOBODY is writing anything about Wey and I think you know the reason for his non-performance but just can't write about it for whatever reason you may have (e.g. not getting him fired).
I am not posting this comment directly on your site because I don't want to throw the idea out there and perhaps put you in the situation of having to ignore also other people's comments/ questions about # 27.
Ciao
Gio


Gio, I have nothing to be scared of and am posting your letter here for all to see. The simple fact is I have NO F-ING IDEA what is wrong with Wey. You are correct, he probably runs second to Ferry in my favorite riders (maybe a tie with JT) and I really thought it was the bike last year that he couldn’t get along with. I know he didn’t like his motor on his bike this year and went out and bought some motor stuff from a company that rhymes with Smo Smurcuit. Then went out and got an eighth the next race. But then he went back into the tank.
I don’t know if he’s hurt or what but it wasn’t that long ago that Wey was a podium contender every race. He doesn’t always answer my texts and calls because when he’s not doing good, he’s very hard on himself and just tries harder and harder until he’s a little ball of depression. Nick is a great guy and I’ll always be his friend but he can do much, much better. Watch him one time at a race, he looks like he’s going fast but then you look at his time and he’s a ways back.

 Hi Steve,

Long time reader, first time emailer.You touched on this a little bit in your Silence is Golden blog..... I have always wanted to know how much better is the stuff the pro's ride than what any joe blow can get??? Not motor stuff, more in the suspension and tires. When I see them flat land a huge triple and not miss a beat all I think about is how injured I would be. Also do guys practice on anything close to stock bikes?And how many seconds a lap would they lose if they had OEM suspension (or would they ride it)?I am not a guy that thinks with their bike I could be a pro or anything close to it..... But it would be nice to huck huge jumps knowing if you miss it's not soo bad.
Thanks
Eric

The suspension components are quite a bit different than what you have on your bike. There is usually an extra mid-speed valve in the forks that gives the tuners another thing to play with. The size of the shock shaft is bigger, the forks are bigger. I think that the guys can do the same with OEM suspension but might pay a bit more of a price in the wrists and ankles when they make a mistake. The valving and spring rate is the difference, not so much the actual components Eric.

The guys practice on full-on works bikes during the week that are exactly the same as their race bikes although they didn’t used to back in the day. Y’know I just thought about the fact that when Langston won his outdoor title, he used stock suspension (just revalved and resprung) front and rear and I know the factory teams are getting away from bigger shock shafts on the works stuff. I think suspension reaches a point where it’s not offering enough flex and maybe we’re right there now.

Hi Steve,
I am a big fan and look forward to both your podcasts as well as your weekly "Observations" columns.  I won't bore you with details of how long I've been a fan, rider, etc.. but suffice it to say I could hold my own  in a bench racing session with you and/or Weege.   I was fortunate enough to meet you last year at the Vegas awards banquet, however I wouldn't expect you to remember.   Anyway, my question is this...  Do the guys cut down their bar widths for SX? Or even MX for that matter?   They look narrower than stock, but could just be TV/photos.  Also, do they run custom bends (I think Short does...) or are they off the shelf bends?   Lastly, looks like Reed is running a RC bend, yet he has his "own" bend, "Henry-Reed"??  Thanks for your time, and I'll introduce myself again the next time I see you....

Pat

Pat, pretty much every rider has a “magic” bar width that they like to run for whatever reason. When I was at Yamaha, Ferry insisted on having his bars cut to 804mm while a stock Pro Taper was 811mm so every pair I had to shave down. Reed was a few mm’s more or less or whatever. Like it’s going to make a difference but when I believe that racing mx is so mental that if Red would’ve told me to wear a tu-tu in the mechanics area and that it would help him win, well pass that tu-tu please! And I would say that the bars are generally made narrower as well although it was interesting to hear Alessi tell me in our podcast that he runs wider bars in motocross. Not sure why but again, if it makes you go faster…
Most riders nowadays do run the “RC” bend which is almost like a straight bar, I remember it was so goofy back in the day that we made fun of it. Now everyone’s using it, hey if it worked for RC right? Short has a custom Renthal bend that they do not sell so good eye on that one Pat! As far as the Reed/Henry Pro Taper bar, yeah he doesn’t run it anymore but he used to when I was at Yami with him. Ferry also ran that same bend and when CR and Ferry were battling, I used to scratch off the “REED” part on the bar with a wheel. Then someone noticed it and I got in trouble for not being a “team” guy. Good times.

 How come when the Canadians come down here to race local races they seem to cherry pick the C class? I’m not bagging on the Canadians I’m just sayin…Got any good Fargo arena-cross stories? Remember when Donnie Schmit and some other guy put on a goon riding session, classic. How about a Kim Houde interview?
Thanks, Steve

 Well Steve, I’m not sure what you’re talking about, you’re going to have to give me some examples but I believe you. Generally speaking, Canadians are slower than Americans and if you’re Canadian and want a trophy, well you know what you gotta do.. There I said it.
I have a million and a half Fargo AX stories and don’t even know where to start, did you used to race those? If you did, you know about the fights, the smoke that didn’t leave your lungs for weeks, the quad crashing through the wall, Lawrence Hamm and Bill Stork battling to the death and of course, that time Schmit showed up and smoked everyone. What about when I was leading the A expert main and seat bounced a double out of the first turn and cracked my pelvis? That was a fun filled weekend to be sure. Man, now that I’m typing this stuff, I think I should do a story on those.
A Kim Houde feature story would be great for a Racer X Canada to….never mind. I’m sure MXP will be all over it.

Matthes,

 I've recently started listening to your podcast and I'm really enjoying them. I travel for work quite a bit and for the last few weeks all I've done is listen to old podcasts while I drive.
Enough brown nosing. I have a question that I'm sure you know the answer to, but if you don't it might be a good one to ask on the podcast. A lot of the top riders ride and train at places other than the team track (i.e. Reed or Stewart at their own tracks or Tedesco at RC's). Who works on their bikes when they do this? Does their mechanic come and live at their house? Do they hire another mechanic to do only that? I can't imagine some of these guys putting on the Mechanix gloves and going to town on their bottom end.
Thanks and keep up the good work!
Eric
Phoenix, AZ

 Eric, the guys hire a practice bike mechanic for when they’re not in California. It’s usually a buddy of theirs or someone that comes recommended. As a matter of fact, there’s this whole bunch of mechanics that get picked up by different riders at different times. Sometimes it’s a mechanic that used to be on the circuit but now doesn’t want to travel. Sometimes it’s a kid that wants to learn, for example Shawn Irwin, Ferry’s old guy is now at PC working for Weimer and might even win a championship his second year out. Mark, Ferry’s guy now just emailed me and wants to get back into the racing scene. He used to work at Star Racing. Generally, the motors and suspension just get shipped back to California for servicing or if there’s a problem. The practice guys don’t have to split them or anything like that.

 Hi,
How do the riders get so fast without having very athletic bodies? Is it the good suspension or good technique or maybe something else? I wonder because, the fast guys here are built like concrete blocks. Very strong, athletic and good conditioning but are not half as fast as guys over sea.
Best Wishes,
Tomek

 Dear Tomek, I’m not sure what country you’re from so I can’t comment on the state of their bodies but generally speaking, the riders over here are pretty skinny and not very scary at all. There is so many bicycle trainers in our industry that I sometimes wonder if the guys are training for mx or for the Tour de France. Look at guys like Emig or MC—they were never chiseled warriors but went quasar fast on a motorcycle. I don’t think you have to have an amazing physique to win in our sport but you can’t look like me either. A nice in between is good. Thanks for the letter.

 How do they get the soft flowing caramel inside the Caramilk bar?
Who would win in a fight? Fonzie or Vinnie Barbarino?

Brett

 Brett, I don’t know about the first question but would guess its tiny little elves with tiny squirt guns filled with caramel and they stick their guns in a tiny hole and squeeze the delicious filling in. The second question is obvious as Fonzi was a bad dude who could jump 57 garbage cans. Plus he was an adult and Vinnie was still in high school. Now, if it was a gang brawl I like the Sweathogs for sure as Ralph, Potsie and Richie couldn’t beat up Joanie.

 

 Why does Tim Horton’s serve their coffee so hot that you can’t even hold the cup?
Your friend, Dan (Dave)

 Dave, I have no idea. I touched on this in my Observations column. No joke, I don’t get it. I really don’t. I purchased two Hortons coffees this past weekend and couldn’t even hold the cup. I almost dropped it walking back to the dome. Please, someone tell me why Canadians are so nutso about Timmys.

 I've been noticing on the Yamaha commercials during the supercross races that "Yamaha" is now in red. Also on this week’s Monday Wake Up call at Racer X the word Yamaha is in red. What gives? Are they going old school and changing everything to Doug Henry red and white? Any insider info would be
appreciated.

Chad

 

Thanks Chad, actually the color blue is an American only thing. The international color of Yamaha is red and was always been red everywhere but in the USA where they like to be different. Take the slow grasp of the metric system for an example.  When I was at Yamaha, we would get letterheads and different memos from Japan and it would be in red. Funny story, do you remember when Doug Henry made his debut on the YZ400 at Gainesville?  Well the bike was blue right? Do you remember when he won Las Vegas supercross later on? That bike was white/red. Seeing as how that bike was a full on works bike from Japan, the Japanese dudes saw it being covered in blue plastic at the first national and shot off a letter to Yamaha USA saying in effect that it was their bike (because it was works) and therefore should be white and red. Then some plastic showed up that was white and red and mysteriously fit right on Henry’s bike. The moral here is, you do not mess with the Japanese.

 Back in the day DeCoster used to give a lot of credit for having started out winning a Belgian Observed Trials championship before focusing on MX. Some of the other Euros have similar tales.  Jeff Ward started on trials bikes and was a mini threat at that time. Dirt Bike, MXA and others in the mid 70’s pumped the value of cross-training on trials bikes do develop skills (balance, traction feel, throttle control, peg-weighting, etc). This died down after the mini Trials boom of the same period. Came up again for a bit in the late 80s when it became known JMB rode trials for years before going MX.

In the last few years, it turns out that Coppins, Townley, David Knight, Juha Salimen, Taddy Blazusiak, and others came from a pretty heavy Trials background and/or cross train with them now. I know RC has (or had) a Sherco.  No idea if he rode it. My question is (I guess you can cipher by now) is how common is this Trials connection in the modern day? Is this a Super Secret Training Secret? Does Red15 have a green-painted Montesa in the back with Kawasaki stickers on it? Can you talk or is it an omerta thing?

How about the French riders of the last decade? Or Windham (he has a few bits that are very trials-ish)? Their speed has always seemed more skill-based rather than conditioning or aggression and they seem more likely to imitate Bayle.

Thanks.
Johann K.

 Johann, I don’t know what all the guys use for training but I know Ferry doesn’t have a trials bike and no rider that I know of does. You have a point about it helping for sure. I remember in 1996 I was staying at Brian Swink’s house in Michigan and he had a Honda trials bike and was bad ass on it. It was cool. I’ve ridden one here and there and when you do, you realize that those dudes you see on TV are seriously talented and must have massive grapefruits for balls.

 You’re a funny guy. You’re a Canadian. So why are most Canadians funny? Michael J. Fox, Jim Carrey, Midnight Madness, Strange Brew and SCTV for example are really funny. Isn’t Mike Meyers Canadian too? Alls I know is that every time I hear where a funny person is from its Canada. Why is this? I remember ROLLERBALL crashing really bad over a triple at San Diego 1990. I felt really bad because the day before he was at Palm Ave and I swear he looked about 57 years old. He was really fast though.  James D

 James, you were practicing in the presence of the Rollerball? Wow, you should consider yourself a lucky man and I’ve been to Palm Avenue a few times back in my KTM days. I still remember the Dirt Bike magazine story with RJ jumping out of it. It was simply amazing to see back then as you never saw the dudes off the track. That triple crash of Ross’s was ugly for sure, good to see him grab onto Bayle and take him down with him though. That’s the spirit Roller! As far as him looking 57 years old, well it’s not the years, it’s the mileage and Rollerball had some mileage on him for sure.

 Two questions…
Why can’t Jennifer Aniston keep a man?
I know you discussed Toronto in your “Rollerball” podcast.  Did he ever make it out there?
Thanks
Jamin

 Jamin, I don’t know for sure about Aniston but she seems to be the clingy type. The type of chick that won’t leave you alone and won’t let you and your buddies watch Monday Night Football. I dunno man, I would stay with her just for the enormous amounts of cash she must have but then again, the guys she dates are usually celebrities of some sort. Maybe that’s her problem, maybe she should go for guys named Jamin? Unfortunately Roller never made it out to Toronto, I wasn’t going to front the cash for him and no one else seemed to want to either and I can’t blame anyone. It just didn’t work out. I did get the guys from Feld say they would interview him during the night show though. Maybe next year.