A taste of irony at Arco di Trento for the Grand Prix of Trentino—a province in northern Italy hosting the fourth round of the FIM Motocross World Championship. The riders loathed and struggled with the short, compact, narrow layout and the bumpy and square-edge ruts and holes of the Italian terrain. It wasn’t enjoyable for the vast majority of the riders, but the public and TV viewers might disagree. When a seven-time world champion like Tony Cairoli can only finish fifth and crashes several times in one moto then you know the racing surface is not a breeze and anything can happen.

Rockstar Suzuki’s Clement Desalle made the fewest mistakes on the day to go 2-1 for his first win of 2014 and first since the British GP last year. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Gautier Paulin was left screaming in his helmet in pit lane during the MXGP second moto, as a convincing lead on the way to a second victory of the day and a clear overall went up in smoke, along with the engine of his works KX450F. A decent meeting for Suzuki was complete with Kevin Strijbos uncorking the podium champagne in third, while Yamaha’s Jeremy Van Horebeek is fast becoming the sleeper challenger for the 2014 title after his third trophy in a row with second overall. Belgium monopolised the podium in the premier class (and represented two thirds of the Nations winning team from last year), but Cairoli, Paulin, and Honda riders Evgeny Bobryshev and Max Nagl also played roles in the leading positions and stories of this race, where errors and accidents were costly. Paulin’s teammate and fastest qualifier Steven Frossard was taken to hospital after being smashed on the first lap of the first moto and knocked unconscious by Bobryshev. See the clip here. Thankfully he was okay. Bobryshev would later be used as an unwilling springboard by Van Horebeek in an equally dramatic incident that would leave tyre marks on his back and force a DNF and another hospital visit for the luckless Russian. Fortunately he too seemed to have escaped further repercussions.


Arco was bursting at the seams. Expanding TV coverage in Italy for MXGP has caught the public’s imagination and the continued success of Cairoli is turning him into a minor sports celebrity. Italian circuits are generally not famous for their appropriateness with regards to hosting large race events and with the first round of the European EMX125 (two-strokes) and second fixture for the women and WMX also descending on the tight venue, fitting everyone into the shadows of an epic mountain range was a tall order. The compact and squirrely track in particular felt the abuse of relentless sessions, heats and motos. The hard-pack rippled into a plethora of solid ruts and protruding edges and it was easy to tell that decent grip was a precious commodity.

It was sometimes rare to hear the full blast of 450cc engines as the riders had to exercise more throttle control and a degree of caution. Passing was also complicated. There were a fair few grumbles on Saturday and everybody was paying extra attention to their allotted start practice time as this would be an even bigger key to unlocking race success.

In the first moto, Cairoli was victim of a bars-tangle with Milko Potisek out of the gate that left his second-to-last around the first corner. Paulin was free and excellent while the champion was cheered all the way up to sixth. The second race saw four riders within three seconds of each other for most of the 30-plus 2. Cairoli pushed too hard, Paulin’s KX couldn’t last the distance, Van Horebeek stalled and was lucky not to be catapulted when he hit Bobryshev and Nagl suffered a few scares that forced him to back-off and run to fourth overall. Amongst it all Desalle was the steadiest and one of the bravest and after 7-2-2 overall finishes in Qatar, Thailand and Brazil, he’s trying to catch Cairoli in the points. The distance now stands at 17.


MX2 saw the return of world champion Jeffrey Herlings with reports that his fitness is around “70 percent” in recovering from a shoulder injury that kept him out of the Brazilian round two weeks ago. In an entertaining first moto where Swiss stars shone once more—2013 European Champion Valentin Guillod (who would see a personal best GP finish), Jeremy Seewer (highest ranking yet in just his fourth GP as a full-time member of the pack) and Brazilian victor Arnaud Tonus all inside the top six—Herlings was still able to make the difference. Honda’s Tim Gajser was another promising runner at the sharp-end. As Herlings racked up his fifth moto win of the year, it was Tonus who caught the eye after a mess with Petar Petrov into the first corner left him with practically the entire field to overtake. He came all the way back to second place. He later explained his precision was simply due to being one of the few that liked the course and found a good rhythm. Tonus also said the red plate brought its own pressure, but he did well enough grab second overall and actually extended his lead in the standings to six points over fellow podiumee Glenn Coldenhoff.

A bad start for Herlings in Moto2 allowed Coldenhoff to fight with the lively Guillod, and Romain Febvre also joined the leaders. By the chequered flag the Suzuki-mounted Coldenhoff, a Dutchman, had built a race-winning margin over Herlings and Tonus. These three athletes now appear to be the prime movers for the MX2 crown; even if Herlings still looks to have an edge in speed and confidence.

Thomas Covington, now the sole bearer of the Stars n’ Stripes in the Grand Prix paddock for the rest of 2014 and also next season, had to get to grips with his CLS Monster Energy Kawasaki KX250F in double quick time and had only a few outings this week in Holland to get dialled-in for Italy. The teenager—who explains all in his choice to tackle Grands Prix in an exclusive interview we’ll have here on Racer X in the coming days—didn’t have a good day and was off the pace as part of that hefty adaptation process. Covington was previously operating in MXGP with the loose expectations of a wild card. Now as part of the furniture, the rider from Alabama has to consider life on another continent, dealing with a team of multinationals and also getting his head around the diversity of terrain and circuit layouts that will come his way in quick succession.


The second fixture for the WMX saw Meghan Rutledge ruin her 100 percent record in the second moto with a crash that allowed defending number one Kiara Fontanesi to breathe again after a disappointing start to the year in Qatar. The Yamaha rider celebrated in front of her home fans but it is Ireland’s Natalie Kane who now leads the way in the six round contest. In the opening parry of the well-subscribed European EMX125 series, Dutchman and KTM supported Davy Pootjes was a clear winner.

Aside from the action, the first Grand Prix in Europe this year was full of hubbub and show. New liveries and 2015 prototype parts (that couldn’t make the crates bouncing around Asia and South America) were rife. Suzuki in particular was of note for using a 2015 engine with an easier starting mechanism and also a lighter chassis. There was even a carbon-fibre 450 in MXGP with Alessandro Albertoni riding a CRM with flexible material ten times more expensive than normal carbon and a chassis made of the same composite for enormous losses in weight; the brown shade of the motorcycle tying in quite nicely with Easter week and the chocolate theme.

Next week, the second of back-to-back Grands Prix will take place at Sevlievo in Bulgaria; a fast and hard-pack layout with demanding ascents and bumpy downhills. It’s a place where Tony Cairoli has not tasted victory in the premier class to-date (Desalle and Paulin have lifted the winner’s garland the last four years). So, what next?


MXGP Moto1

1. Gautier Paulin (FRA, Kawasaki), 35:15.959;
2. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), +0:02.310;
3. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:04.616;
4. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Honda), +0:08.139;
5. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:09.826;
6. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:13.420;
7. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, Honda), +0:26.871;
8. Joel Roelants (BEL, Honda), +0:51.761;
9. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), +0:53.405;
10. Xavier Boog (FRA, Honda), +0:56.941;

MXGP Moto2

1. Clement Desalle (BEL, Suzuki), 33:49.752;
2. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, Yamaha), +0:00.801;
3. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, Suzuki), +0:01.603;
4. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), +0:11.113;
5. Maximilian Nagl (GER, Honda), +0:34.395;
6. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), +0:48.437;
7. Todd Waters (AUS, Husqvarna), +0:49.173;
8. Alessandro Lupino (ITA, Kawasaki), +0:50.297;
9. Jake Nicholls (GBR, KTM), +0:53.200;
10. Xavier Boog (FRA, Honda), +0:59.055;

MXGP Overall

1. Clement Desalle (BEL, SUZ), 47 points;
2. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 42 p.;
3. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 36 p.;
4. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HON), 34 p.;
5. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 33 p.;
6. Gautier Paulin (FRA, KAW), 25 p.;
7. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 24 p.;
8. Xavier Boog (FRA, HON), 22 p.;
9. Davide Guarneri (ITA, TM), 22 p.;
10. Todd Waters (AUS, HUS), 21 p.;

MXGP World Championship standings after 4 of 18 rounds

1. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 175 points;
2. Clement Desalle (BEL, SUZ), 158 p.;
3. Jeremy Van Horebeek (BEL, YAM), 154 p.;
4. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HON), 144 p.;
5. Gautier Paulin (FRA, KAW), 137 p.;
6. Kevin Strijbos (BEL, SUZ), 109 p.;
7. Todd Waters (AUS, HUS), 89 p.;
8. Evgeny Bobryshev (RUS, HON), 81 p.;
9. Joel Roelants (BEL, HON), 76 p.;
10. Shaun Simpson (GBR, KTM), 72 p.;

MX2 Moto1

1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 33:54.254;
2. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Kawasaki), +0:02.818;
3. Tim Gajser (SLO, Honda), +0:11.277;
4. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), +0:13.188;
5. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:20.052;
6. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), +0:22.015;
7. Romain Febvre (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:24.788;
8. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Suzuki), +0:25.139;
9. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), +0:36.305;
10. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, Kawasaki), +0:40.523;

MX2 Moto2

1. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, Suzuki), 34:08.866;
2. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), +0:02.787;
3. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, Kawasaki), +0:04.355;
4. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), +0:19.297;
5. Romain Febvre (FRA, Husqvarna), +0:27.905;
6. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), +0:31.225;
7. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), +0:33.543;
8. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, Husqvarna), +0:43.821;
9. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, Suzuki), +0:44.897;
10. Petar Petrov (BUL, Yamaha), +0:51.304;

MX2 Overall

1. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 47 points;
2. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KAW), 42 p.;
3. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, SUZ), 38 p.;
4. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), 36 p.;
5. Romain Febvre (FRA, HUS), 30 p.;
6. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 30 p.;
7. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 30 p.;
8. Jeremy Seewer (SUI, SUZ), 28 p.;
9. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 26 p.;
10. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 20 p.;

MX2 World Championship standings after 4 of 18 rounds

1. Arnaud Tonus (SUI, KAW), 154 points;
2. Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, SUZ), 148 p.;
3. Jeffrey Herlings (NED, KTM), 144 p.;
4. Romain Febvre (FRA, HUS), 126 p.;
5. Dylan Ferrandis (FRA, KAW), 118 p.;
6. Jordi Tixier (FRA, KTM), 107 p.;
7. Aleksandr Tonkov (RUS, HUS), 107 p.;
8. Jose Butron (ESP, KTM), 100 p.;
9. Valentin Guillod (SUI, KTM), 95 p.;
10. Tim Gajser (SLO, HON), 93 p.;

For more information about bikes, atvs, parts, accessories, or maintenance tips please see our sponsor at:

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6 Step Motorcycle Spring Tune-Up


As the weather begins to warm, ever so slightly, motorcyclists everywhere are itching to get out there and ride.

In light of the ensuing season, I wanted to bring you some tune-up tips that can get you started and your motorcycle ready for riding, before you ride.

Spring Tune-up - of course, I always recommend you refer to your owner’s manual for specifications, tips and regular maintenance schedules, but this should get you started. If you did a year end wrap on your bike before you stored it, some of these things can be skipped, but always note, if you do not test it before you leave the driveway, inevitably something fails, especially on the first ride.


1) Tires and Wheels: Check the air pressure of your tires. Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how much air loss can happen while parked. Inflate to the pressure specified in your owner’s manual. Look for wear-and-tear on the treads; cracks, bulges or embedded objects indicate stress on the tire and may need to have the tire replaced/repaired. Look at your wheels (rims) for roundness, cracks and dents. Look for bent, broken or missing spokes. Replace if necessary.

2) Controls:Review the levers to make sure they are still lubricated, adjusted and fitted properly. They should not be broken, bent, or cracked.
Inspect cables to make sure they are not frayed, kinked, or folded into sharp angles. Also, test to make sure your bike’s cables, at no time, interfere with your ability to steer.
Check hoses for cuts, cracks, leaks, bulges, chafing or deterioration. Like cables, hoses should not interfere with your steering or suspension, and should not be folded into sharp angles. Test that the throttle moves freely, does not stick and snaps closed when released.

3) Lights:If you removed your battery over the winter, install it—your owner’s manual should tell you how. Check the battery to make sure the terminals are clean and tight. Make sure it’s properly charged and secured. Check the vent tube to confirm it is not kinked or plugged, and is routed properly.
Look over the lenses on the bike to make sure they are not cracked or broken, are securely mounted and do not have excessive condensation trapped within. Condensation is the sign of a broken seal which may need replacing. Water and electricity just don’t mix and condensation makes for lousy reflections.
Check to ensure the reflectors are not cracked, broken and are securely mounted.
Review the bike’s headlamp for cracks. Confirm it points at the right height and direction. Test the operation of the high beam and low beam options.
Test the tail lamp and brake lights to make sure they work when they should, and they are not cracked. Test both of the turn signals – left and right!

4) Oil and other fluids: Check the levels and quality of the engine oil, hypoid gear oil, shaft drive, hydraulic fluid, coolant and fuel. Replace or top-up fluids that need it. Check for leaks of these same fluids.

5) Chassis: Review the condition of the frame, looking for lifting paint, cracks, or dents. Make sure the front forks and rear shocks are properly adjusted. Check the tension of the belt or chain. Lubricate the chain if needed, while inspecting the teeth of the sprockets confirming they are not hooked and are properly mounted. Replace broken or missing fasteners and tighten if loosened.

6) Stands: For both centre stands and side stands, make sure they are not cracked or bent and that it springs into place. Also it has the required tension to hold the bike in position. Your backrest, if you have one, should be properly secured and ready for your passenger.

The other parts of this tune-up are for the rider. Ensure that you have your ownership and insurance in your wallet. Now that it’s riding season, you may as well just keep it there. Ensure you sticker is up-to-date and renew it if your birthday has come and gone. Get out the rain suit… yeah, yeah, your no wimp but if you have it with you, you can at least put it on and still ride. Besides, wet leather against the skin, leaves much to be desired.  :P

We really should not have to talk about riding gear, as safety is the key here, but we feel it necessary anyway: Helmut, leather gloves, leather jacket/pants or jeans, riding boots and protective eyewear are things you should never ride without. If your carrying a passenger, please, please ensure they too are dressed properly.



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West Michigan’s Freedom Cruise!





West Michigan car and bike aficionados are in for a historic moment as the 2014 Freedom Cruise Car & Bike Expo kicks into gear Friday June 27th and Saturday June 28th. Located at the DeltaPlex Arena – Grand Rapids, MI this event is sure to leave a memorable mark on classic car and motorcycle fans of all ages. Be sure to get your tickets for the Special Event and Concert on Saturday!



Hey bikers and car enthusiasts! To kick off the 2014 West Michigan Freedom Cruise how about a summer outdoor custom car & bike show! Come on out for some food, beer, entertainment and oh yea…cars and bikes! To go along with it we’ve got an Honor Ride scheduled along with WLAV’s Blues on the MallAJ’s Funpark Kids Race and an awesome softball game between VetSports and GR area fire and police. It’s gonna be a great day…all in one place!





Join a diverse group of riders from across the nation who desire to share one thing in common besides motorcycles. All riders have an unwavering respect for those who risked their lives for American’s freedom and security including Fallen Military Heroes, First Responders, and Honorably Discharged Veterans. It doesn’t matter what you ride or if you are a part of the military, come join us and show your support!


The American Fallen Soldiers Project was formed to help provide comfort and healing to the grieving families of our fallen military. Their 501c3 non-profit organization makes available at no cost to the family an original portrait of their fallen loved one that fully captures their appearance and personality.

Learn more about The American Fallen Soldiers Project by viewing “Brush of Honor” or continue reading.


Their mission is to honor, respect and forever memorialize the American military servicemen who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation, comfort their mourning families, and inspire all Americans to know and recognize the price paid for their freedom.


With the desire to make a profound and lasting impact through their service to the families, they work diligently to restore a sense of life and presence of their fallen hero on canvas in hopes to provide a place where they can spend time with their loved one when they need them most. The American Fallen Soldier Project’s goal and the heart is to serve, comfort and encourage the Gold Star families unconditionally and impartially to the best of our ability. It is this commitment to excellence that defines their portraits, staff and organization.



Danny “The Count” Koker and his band Counts 77 will be rockin’ the Delta Plex Saturday evening immediately following a very special presentation of The American Fallen Soldier Project. Come join us for this very special evening of entertainment, special guests, celebrities and good old fashioned Rock and Roll. Check back for complete entertainment and ticket information.

Click for Full Schedule Here!

Where to stay in Town when visiting!



For more information about the event, be sure to check out the official title sponsor or the official event page at .

For more information about bikes, atvs, parts, accessories, or maintenance tips please see our sponsor at:

#partspitstop #motocross #motorcycles #oemparts #aftermarketparts #oemaccessories #aftermarketaccessories

Learn Motocross Basics (or Refresh!)

Hey guys Professor Bailey here. Man what a crazy winter! When is it going to be over? It seems like just when the weather looks like it is going to be a nice warm day, you still can’t ride because it’s too wet. Unless, of course you just like the mud or you decide even mud is better than this cold, rainy, icy stuff. In fact it’s snowing here again today even though just two days ago it was sunny and 70 degrees. For those of you that are in the north, I am sure that you’re ready to ride.

If you’re one of the lucky ones to be down in the southern states or out west you have probably been riding most of the winter. Well, fortunately I was one of the lucky ones that got to spend most of the winter months out in California but then when the West Coast Supercross races took a break, I needed to head back east to Virginia to help some of my east coast guys. Now you would think that the first part of March would be a good time to do that? But this year that’s not the case. One day it’s 60° the next day it’s 32 and snow.

Well, on the good days we’ve had I have been pretty busy with a few of my regular riders and a few new ones. When I first watch them ride this time of year, I give them a bit of a free pass on form because I figure they are a little rusty after a long winter or maybe they are so happy to finally get to ride that they are just enjoying the moment and not thinking too much about form. But, after a little time on the track, the free pass is over and it’s time to get to work.

It all comes down to this; practice. What is it? Practice is not a race. It’s also not time to go out and just bust out laps. It’s time to figure out where your problems are and what you need to do to fix them. Then you must have the discipline to go work on that problem until you have it better. Like all other sports, practice is not going out and playing the game, rather, in practice, whether it be baseball, soccer, basketball or any other sport, practice is when you work on drills to improve your skills. In motocross too this is what practice should be. Unfortunately, for most though, they practice motocross by just riding laps and this not what you should be doing and will not improve your motocross skills. Rather, you will just repeat the same bad form and bad habits lap after lap.

Let’s start with my little guys first. I think sometimes the number one problem with them is focus or lack thereof. Many of the things that we have worked on in the past are not happening. Some of that is because they’re young and some is because they’ve had a few months off of the bike and they forget faster than when it has just been a few days. Well, either way it’s time to fix things.

As for the older riders, it’s more a matter that they are just out there trying to go fast and not trying to figure out how to carry better momentum around the racetrack. That’s right I said carry better momentum. It’s easy to say go faster because that is what we all want to do. But carrying better momentum is what we want to think about when we hit the racetrack. So let’s look at some things that you can do to help get prepared for your season quicker.

How about the start? By far, the most neglected part of practice; yet, the most important part of the race. When working on starts, be sure you have the right gear so the bike is not bogging. Keep the RPMs as high as possible and use the clutch to determine how much traction you will get. Don’t be afraid of the throttle power. Be more aware of how fast you let the clutch out. If you want your starts to get better think traction, traction, traction. You need to control the wheelie and be sure you were going in a straight-line. If you get a good reaction and you’re not hooked up you’re not going to be first off of the turn.

The start is about reaction and traction. The more you go in a straight line and control the traction and the wheelie the more chance you are going to be up front on the start.
After looking at this photo you may want to go back and look at the start again so you can see what these three looked like out of the gate.

Okay, here we go
Put the bike in gear, sit forward, get your head over the bars, hold the front brake on, bring your RPMs up, let the clutch out to the point that the bike almost wants to go forward, taking all slack out of the chain. Do not spin the rear wheel, put your feet in front of the pegs and locked in tight against the pegs and the frame. Watch the gate and work for traction coming over the gate so the front wheel does not touch the gate. Now, try to carry that front wheel as long as you can in some kind of a wheelie. Once you have a wheelie, you need to learn to control it and use your lower body and your hips to control the bike. I like to think of it as riding a bicycle with no hands and how you’re going to control and steer that bicycle.

Now, the first turn
Come in hard but don’t over brake. Use both the front and rear break so that you can run in deeper. Look for a hole or an opening if you’re not in first place, and take it. The more you can stay to the inside, generally the better. If you go wide it’s a longer distance, it also allows the other riders to get a chance to come back on the inside or take you out.

When it comes to the first turn, it’s a matter of who wants it the most and who can make it happen.

In most turns do not pull the clutch in going into the corner. The compression of the motor is one of your stopping devices along with the front and the rear brake. So use that to your advantage. Be sure your finger is on the clutch when entering the corner so you’re ready for what ever happens. If all goes well in the center the corner squeeze the clutch a little bit then give it a nice controlled feed on the exit. That feed would be very similar to what you would do on the start. Then once again as you exit the corner do the same as you would on the start and be looking for traction. Everyone is going to be trying to go fast. The one that’s hooked up the most is probably going to get there first.

No matter where you are on the track (other than a power slide) you want to get hooked up as soon as you can. Just like coming off the start.
At almost the same place on the track this photo tells me when both riders are wide open who is likely to get there first.

I like to think of corners a little bit like NASCAR and what it takes to go fast. Or I should say carry better momentum around the racetrack. Lines are very important. Try to go outside in, instead of the typical motocross inside out. Open up your arc and keep a good arc. You may not follow NASCAR so think about when you drive a go kart. You never run down the very inside and then slam on the brakes in a go kart. Rather, you come in from the very outside, keep a nice arc around the corner and try to hold the inside as much as possible on the exit while still carrying good momentum.

For some reason in motocross we don’t think too much about a little swap in the center or exiting the corner. But every little swap is loss of traction and a loss of forward momentum. If you watch NASCAR it’s really easy to understand. At 200 miles per hour if a car gets slightly loose you can easily go from first to 15th in a split second. On a motocross track you lose the same amount of time the only difference is you don’t have a bunch of riders side-by-side so it’s not obvious when it happens when you’re all alone.

Coming in from the outside when ever possible then back to the inside will let you carry more momentum into and through the corner. This is a lot like NASCAR, road racing or go karting.

Next, race every inch of the racetrack. From the landing of a jump to the next turn, from turn to turn, from a turn to the face of the next jump, from a jump to the whoops, and from the whoops to the next turn. Ask yourself on every piece of the racetrack, “If this were the start and at the end of this section was the finish, would I win that race?”

Stay forward as much as possible. The more forward you are the more aggressive you can be. The more aggressive you are the more you need to be forward. The control of the front end of the bike is done from the front, head forward, arms out as much is possible. The control of the back end of the bike is done with your hips and your legs. If you can’t get the front end to do what you want it to do you won’t need to worry about what the back is doing.

Keeping your body in a very neutral body position will give you more control over the front and rear end of the bike.
Stay forward, be light on the bike and spot your landing.
With this forward body position not only will you have more control over the bike but you can be more aggressive on your landing.

When working on jumping make sure that you have a completely neutral body position as much as possible. Again the more you stay neutral with your head forward the more control you will have over what the bike is doing. The more neutral your position the more you will be able to control the attitude of the bike; front end high or front end low. Rather than just going out and hitting every jump fast, work more on getting the bike to do what you want it to do, experimenting with it over each jump. Everywhere on the racetrack be a little creative. Try new and different things. Remember whatever track your practicing on is probably not the racetrack you going to race on, at least not every week.

When doing whoops that are no more than a bike and a half apart you need to try to keep the bike as flat as possible so the bike will not rock back and forth. You don’t want the to miss the top with the front wheel and you don’t want the rear to slam into the faces.
When the whoops or rollers are more than two bike lengths apart you will then need to wheelie and set your front wheel on the top of each one. Keeping the front wheel out of the bottoms will let you carry better momentum through the rollers.

When it comes to whoops and rollers, don’t be intimidated and don’t try to just hit them wide open. Again, stay neutral and use the front end of the bike to be sure that it doesn’t go down into the bottoms. Don’t try at first to do them faster. Try to do them better and the speed will follow. I don’t care what level rider you are just try to let your front wheel barely touch the tops of each whoop. Be on the balls of your feet, keep your head forward as much as possible and squeeze the bike with your legs. Remember if your front wheel touches the top of each one the rebounding forks will almost get it to the next one by itself. But, you must keep the power on and keep it steady as much as possible. As you get more comfortable and as you start going faster try to keep the bike is level as possible. Keeping the bike level will keep the back end out of the holes allowing you to carry better momentum across the top of the whoops. All of these techniques will change slightly according to whether there are whoops or rollers and how far apart they are spaced.

Only perfect practice makes perfect
So, I thought I was done with this article, then I started thinking. What are the real problems? There are those who know what to do and there are those who don’t. I believe there are a lot of riders who know what to do but for some reason choose not to.

Let me give you some examples. I can take my 50 and 65 riders plus some 85 riders and ask them a question like. “Can you tell me what Ryan Dungey, Ryan Villopoto and James Stewart do in this particular situation?” And they have no clue. But crazy, they can tell me what helmet, what goggles, the brand of riding gear and what boots they wear.

Now, as for the older riders on bigger bikes the answer is a little bit different. After watching them make a few runs through a section, I ask. “Do you have any idea what Ryan Villopoto would do through this section?” The answer usually goes something like this. “Well yeah” and they proceed to explain to me how Villopoto would do it and what he would look like. So, then as I hold the motorcycle, I say, “Show me how he would look.” And, most of the time they change their position on the bike and move to that look. Now, comes the next question. “So do you look anything like that when you go through here?” The answer is almost always, “No.” Then the question becomes, “If you look nothing like the top five riders or even the top 10 riders is it even possible that you can do what they do?”

Let me start this by saying, if you’re not a Ryan Villopoto fan, I am just using that name because he’s pretty damn good and he’s also got the number one plate. So, whoever your favorite rider is, just insert his name.

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The Yamaha XS650 is a remarkably versatile motorcycle, we’ve seen them customised into cafe racers, flat trackers, choppers, bobbers, scramblers and just about anything else you can possibly imagine. That said, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve never seen one that looked quite like this.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Yamaha XS650 is a rare motorcycle in Indonesia. The relatively small but highly populated island chain is overflowing with buzzing little motorcycles in the 50cc to 125cc range with anything over 250cc being considered “big” –  the caused some significant difficulty for the team at Thrive Motorcycles when they were approached by a new client who wanted a Yamaha XS650 custom and adamantly refused to be talked out of it.

The search for a useable XS650 began and took almost 2 years, finally a worse for wear example was discovered, purchased and transported in the back of a van to the Thrive Motorcycles HQ in Jakarta. The timeline for the build was just 6 weeks due to the fact that the client wanted to launch the finished bike with the launch of Esre Denim at Kustomfest 2013.

With the compressed timeline added to the difficulty of working for the first time with the 650cc Yamaha the team at Thrive sat down with then client and asked them “What is on your mind right here, right now? It could be anything, just tell us”. He thought for a moment and then looked at them and said “wood burning stove”.


I’m willing to be good money that this is the first time that a stove has been chosen as the inspiration for a custom motorcycle, the guys at Thrive think so too and as a result of the unusual request they spent a week online researching wood burning stoves – something that many of them had never seen in person due to Indonesia’s tropical climate.

They finally settled on the Mendip Loxton stove from England and the build began. The first task was a full engine teardown and rebuild followed by a restoration of the gearbox. The frame was then detabbed and cleaned before having its rear end cropped, a black satin coat of paint was then applied and the newly refurbished engine was bolted into place.

The unusual fuel tank had to be fabricated by hand before being painted matte black and paired with a handmade leather saddle. A pair of clip-on handlebars were added with leather wrapped grips, a square headlight replaced the original circular unit and a new set of low-profile blinkers were added front and back.

One of the more unusual elements has to be that rear fender, it’s been cleverly designed to house the stop light and was angled to catch spray at speeds of under 40mph – about as fast as you’d ever want to go in the rain on the busy streets of Jakarta.

Somewhat impressively, they managed to hit the 6 week deadline with time to spare with the photographs you see here having been snapped just before the bike left for the showroom floor. Thrive have a fascinating back catalogue of motorcycles that are all well worth a look, you can click here to Like them on Facebook or click here to Follow them on Instagram.

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The Yamaha XS750 was produced from 1977 to 1979 before being replaced by the larger XS850, the model never saw the same production numbers as the wildly popular parallel-twin Yamaha XS650 but we’ve been seeing more and more custom XS750s coming to light in recent months – like the one you see here.

It isn’t often that we come across a custom bike builder based in Montana, I imagine it’s because the residents of Big Sky Country have better things to do (like running away from bears) – so when New Zealander Colin Cornberg moved to Missoula 2 years ago he set about finding himself a motorcycle and getting to work on it.

He found a 1977 Yamaha XS750 being sold nearby in Bitterroot Valley and went to have a look, the bike was in terrible condition and had clearly suffered a great deal in the last few years of its life. The original engine’s  electronic timing unit had been barbecued in an engine fire and had one bent valve and one that had broken off completely – fortunately the sale included a spare engine that was in far better condition and so Colin’s first major task was to rebuild this spare engine, remove the original unit and bolt the newly refurbished powerplant into place.

Once this was done, Colin set to work stripped the bike back to the frame and rebuilding it as his own interpretation of a minimalist, survivalist motorcycle – the sort of thing MadMax would ride if he happened to live in Montana when the world ended.

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It’s time for the big one, ladies and gentlemen. Round eight of the 2014 Monster Energy Supercross Championships lands in Atlanta, Georgia, for the biggest race of the year in American supercross. Whether it’s the huge racing demographic in the South, or the fact that this is one of only two races in the region, the Georgia Dome consistently hosts between 60-70,000 rabid fans. With Anaheim 1 being the lone exception, no other race carries as much juice for opening ceremonies and throughout the night of competition. Consider the creative track design and the championship picture beginning to focus in the 450 class, (halfway through the main is the halfway mark of the season) and we have a feeling we are in for one of those nights.

If we go back a year ago to this event, we saw Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart capture his first and only supercross victory of the season. I was there to witness it, and after also watching Stewart win last weekend in Arlington, I believe we are seeing a faster, smoother #7. After two consecutive wins, which saw him lead the majority of the laps, he is the guy right now, but still trails Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto by 14 points.

The red flag here is that Villopoto has 14 more points at this mark in the season than he did last year. Villopoto is still in command. That said, Ryan has yet to have a “mulligan” thus far in the series, and we all remember what happened to James at the opener.

At the Monster Energy Cup these two seriously went to town, and I believe the stage has been set at the ultimate time. No more dry-slick dirt. We will see berm fanning abandon this Saturday night and these two giants are masters of the art.


We have completed seven rounds in the series and Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen is still very much in the thick of things. There have been a few events this year where things could have gone the other way and the German could only be six points out (or fewer) instead of 12. Muscle Milk Honda’s Justin Barcia was the culprit on a couple occasions and we have a bona fide rivalry on our hands. That said, I believe Roczen being a rookie played just as much of a role in coming out on the losing end of both situations. If you leave the door open, or hit a jump side-by-side with “Bam Bam” you will suffer the consequences. There have been racers like Barcia throughout motocross history, and rough, dangerous or whatever you want to call it—racing is part of the game.

As we draw close to Atlanta, Roczen is still learning and Barcia is beginning to come on strong. It’s a funny thing about racing and rivalries; more often than not you will find yourself next to that person on the track. Hopefully these guys start at the front and we get to see a good, clean show.

One of the burning questions coming into the event in my opinion is: “When is Ryan Dungey going to win?” The Red Bull KTM veteran has led laps, been in contention and he pulled the holeshot to finished second his last time out. In some quick history, Dungey won this event on a Suzuki in 2010, then on a KTM in 2012 over Villopoto and Stewart. As far as predictions go, I think we will see the big #5 make one of his strongest impressions of the year this weekend. Also, do not count out JGR Toyota Yamaha’s Justin Brayton, who continues to lurk in the top five.

Discount Tire/TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed is now out with injury, and we’ll see Dean Wilson in his spot soon, but not this weekend—Indy is more likely.

The 250 East is underway and the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit team produced a strapping sweep of the podium to open up the series. The team collectively has won three straight 250cc main events dating back to Anaheim 3, and while the West title may be lost, things sure seem peachy in this side of the division. Adam Cianciarulo is bigger, faster and stronger than he was last summer and impressed me from the opening practice session all the way to his interview in victory lane.

A side story I wanted to share was that in 2003 I saw his Mom at a laundromat outside of Mosier Valley, Texas, where I raced the Vet class at the GNC Finals. We were just washing red-stained riding gear and had a small conversation. Eleven years later, I saw her at the team hauler after Adam’s win last Saturday night and congratulated her. I was very surprised she remembered our encounter so many years, and amateur championships, ago. It was another one of the cool rewarding things I love about staying around this sport for as long as I have been able to.

Behind the PC trio of AC, Blake Baggett and Martin Davalos, there is a lot of open space. Virtually everyone else seemed to struggle at the opener and the biggest surprises to me were Gavin Faith and Anthony Rodriquez. It will be exciting to see if they can keep it on two wheels and race in the top five again. I think we’ll see Justin Bogle and Blake Wharton race much stronger on the softer dirt, while the third member of their team, Matt Bisceglia will look to rebound from his 19th in his SX debut. Jeremy Martin has some making up to do for his Yamaha Star Racing team after missing the main last weekend. As the old saying in racing goes, “Winning cures all.”


The city of Atlanta has hosted some of the greatest races of all-time. From the 1989 and ‘90 barnburners at Fulton County Stadium to the infamous “pick-up pass” between Reed and Stewart in 2011 inside the Georgia Dome, the “ATL” is where the action is. The vibe at the event is special and you can see the look of excitement on the thousands of faces that pack the indoor pit area. They all arrive with their shoulders back for the battle of Atlanta, and maybe it’s time for another classic?

I’ll tell you what else it is time for—traction! Not since Oakland have we seen some ruts that the racers can plant themselves into and let it really rip. I believe this is the best track design we have seen all year and the stage is set for this race to be a banger! Huge crowds have been the theme in 2014, but this time the cacophony of almost 70,000 die-hard fans will rock when they hit the lights for rider intros. It gives me chicken skin just typing it.

Can Stewart begin a streak, or will Villopoto remind folks why he is the points leader? Will Dungey become the fifth different winner of the series, and what noise may be made of Roczen vs. Bam Bam? The racers are as pumped up as the fans for this one, and you can feel the anticipation building throughout the industry. Time for the Atlanta Supercross.

Thanks for reading, see you at the races.

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January edition of SnoWest magazine, the tough editors compared the three extreme or “all-mountain” sleds and came to an interesting conclusion, saying they had found “…Perhaps the best all-mountain backcountry snowmobile ever made.  The 2014 Ski-Doo Freeride 800.”

Here’s what else they said about the spring-only extreme mountain sled:

“We dont know if there will ever be perfection in any snowmobile class, but we do know that years from now, we’ll be talking about how close one sled got close to it in 2014.”

“What makes the Ski-Doo Freeride stand out in its class is that Ski-Doo abandoned the super-wide front end that made it a better racer than carver. With the 2014 Freeride 800, you essentially have a slightly wider Summit with all the right reinforcements and an outstanding shock package. And it’s offered in not one, but three track length configurations. Ski-Doo recognized the market potential for such a sled and ran away with it. And trust us, they’re running away with it.”

“On a rough hard-pack terrain, the Freeride hammers through moguls with straight tracking and maintains a flat pitch…The REV-XM RS chassis is very rigid and allows for a compliant suspension setting.

“Where other sleds in this class almost need to be pushed harder to make their setups shine, the Freeride is a blast to ride at any speed, any terrain and in any condition. It’s wider than the Summit, but still narrow by mountain sled standards. But it doesn’t feel like it’s too narrow when bashing mogul runs or negotiating sketchy drops.”


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Mountain snowmobiling is exhilarating, with the beautiful views and riding experiences you can’t get anyway else.  But often that riding takes place in avalanche areas.  If you are riding in these areas you need to be prepared to stay safe.  Snowmobile avalanche fatalities are dropping because riders are being both properly trained and equipped.

It is important to have the right gear.  It might not only save your own life, but your riding buddy’s.  Choose carefully.  Here is my list of essential gear items and some tips on how to choose the best stuff.

Avalanche beacon

This is the only way you can efficiently find someone who is completely buried.  Choose one that is digital 3 antenna, 457khz frequency, a proven design and that is easy to use. Carry spare batteries.  Most importantly, practice with it often.  Have a friend hide another beacon in your yard.  Then try to find it with your beacon.  Too many riders just wear a beacon – that’s not enough!  Have the skills to perform an effective rescue.


Choose one with a large metal blade, an extendable handle, and a solid design.

See in Ski-Doo store

Avalanche probe

This is the only way to find someone without a beacon (in case a beacon fails) or to locate the snowmobile. Choose one that’s eight feet, six inches (260cm) or longer with large diameter aluminum tubing or carbon fiber.

See in Ski-Doo store

Awareness and Knowledge

The right gear is great.  But the most important thing to have when riding in avalanche country is awareness and knowledge, especially:

  • Contributing factors to avalanches
  • Signs of instability
  • Recognizing avalanche terrain and terrain traps
  • Identifying trigger points
  • Escape routes / group dynamics
  • How to rescue effectively
  • Stability analysis
  • Knowledge of the area:  slide history, avalanche report, recent snowfall, wind loading, weak layers

I recommend that mountain riders attend an avalanche awareness seminar (like the ones BRP offers at Ski-Doo Parts dealers) and then more comprehensive training courses available from organizations like the Canadian Avalanche Centre.

In addition to purchasing good products, practice often and make sure your riding buddies know how to use their equipment. The life they save might be yours.

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World’s Biggest Snowmobile Race!


Welcome to a race that was conceived by the viewing of a 1968 Camaro in an auto dealer’s window. The idea came in the late winter of 1968 when several local businessmen were sitting in a local restaurant having coffee. Across the street in a Chevrolet dealer’s window was a new Camaro, that emblazoned a painted job which noted that this model would be the pace car for the 1968 Indianapolis 500. Discussion about the car soon turned to one member who was an early snowmobile fanatic and the question was asked can your snowmobile run 500 miles.

Now consider this was Sault Ste. Marie in the dead of winter. There was lots of snow and cold weather but very few tourists, a business that the community thrived on. Motels and restaurants were in their hibernation state and down state visitors could be counted on one hand. Out of the discussion about 500 miles and a snowmobile, there came an idea from the auto dealer, why not have a race patterned after the Indy 500 but just for snowmobiles.


Fast forward a half a year. By this time, the I-500 Committee had been created, land owned by City of Sault Ste. Marie was acquired for at track and plans were drawn up by an engineer from the US Corp of Engineers. The site chosen had one been the ammunition dump for Fort Brady and later Camp Lucas, both US Army reservations. It was flat, had a good amount of room, but it had three problems—three solid concrete ammunition bunkers. Enter the National Guard and soon two of the bunkers were nothing but broken concrete. Work progressed well into the fall. Contacts were made and lights suddenly appeared, as did fencing and even a couple of former motel cabins for race control. Work crews seemingly appeared from everywhere, even several work crews from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario found their way to the potential race track.

By late fall, the word was out—the track would soon be finished and it featured a one-mile enclosed oval with super elevated high bank turns. Entries for time trials that year were done in advance and each machine and driver had only two attempts to make it around the track four times. A total anticipated purse of $3,200 was announced. The Indy 500 had been contacted for copies of their rules as there were none at that time for snowmobiles. The backers were flying by instinct and hope they had a winner.


January 25, 1969 was the announced start of time trials. The official timer lay in the back of his pickup truck with a series of stop watches and a propane heater. For the next week, machine after machine attempted to run the four laps and eventually 47 did qualify, the top qualifier with a speed of 57.1. Several days were taken off to again groom the track, as they raced mostly on snow.

Race day was February 8, 1969. A most famous day for all the UP as this was the first day the Mackinaw Bridge fare went from $3.50 to $1.50. One Detroit sports writer raved about all the local activities and in his Saturday morning article wondered if any machine would make 200, let alone 500 miles. The race began at 10 a.m. and some 13 hours and 42 minutes later, a very tired Ski Doo with Dan Planck of Davidson at the helm finally crossed the finish line. By thetime he finished, only 26 machines were running and they had gone a total of 13,891 miles. Everyone was tired, the race officials who found the remaining bunker was the only place to get warm in the 16 degree weather, the lap counters who spent well over half a day on two school buses and in a flat bed truck, and over 10,000 spectators. A new race was born.

By 1970, the word was out and professional drivers started to make their appearance. An overwhelming crowd showed up as there were reports of motels being filled as far south as Gaylord. As they say, the rest is history.


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