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Chris Cooksey
As the series hits the East Coast swing Ryan Dungey normally hits his stride by clicking off wins and asserting his dominance.  This year is proving different.  Musquin and Tomac are stronger and can sense a vulnerability in Dungey we have not seen before.  Are we witnessing Father Time catch up with Dungey?  Is he injured?  Did the Roczen injury mess with his head?  These are all factors I hear fans discussing.  I have a friend who is close to the riders at the Bakery who told me Dungey is suffering from an Epstein Barr/Mononucleosis type of illness.  While I am not 100% sure about what's going on with Dungey, clearly something is off.  Riders who are overworked and under fed (Aldon’s program) is news we have heard before, most recently Ken Roczen was extremely critical of the program.
Assuming this is Dungey’s issue, Musquin has to know what is going on.  Training alongside your competition with an “iron sharpens iron” philosophy is how the riders in the Bakery train.  This can be a huge benefit to the riders, until they are attempting to hide a weakness from their main competitor.  While Musquin was riding high with confidence after his win in Dallas, maybe he had inside knowledge about Dungey struggling late in the races and that is why he charged hard late in the race.  I can't ever remember watching Dungey get repeatedly caught and passed at the end of races.  With 9 races, and two riders within 24 points of Dungey, the championship is wide open.  While 3rd place isn't a bad finish, Tomac gained 5 points and Musquin gained 2, it’s getting interesting.
Loved seeing the 250 East guys.  Every rider wanted to come out swinging and establish themselves as “the guy.”  Confidence is important in Supercross, probably the most important thing a rider can have as the first race establishes the pecking order.  Joey Savatgy did what most experts predicted.  While his performance didn't overwhelm the competition, a win is still a win.  Jordan Smith may have found what had been missing the last few years.  In the past we’ve seen flashes of speed followed by spectacular crashes.  He rode solid in the Main event providing him the confidence needed to make him a consistent podium guy and maybe get his first career win this year.  Zach Osborne is desperately trying to get his first win and it shows, he is not content with a podium finish.  He will win or crash trying.  Round Two in Atlanta will be make or break for both Alex Martin and Christian Craig.  Martin’s night ended in the first turn with a vicious crash, hopefully he will be alright for Atlanta.  Craig had a bad start and got caught up in first round mayhem earning him a 12th place finish.  He will need a podium in Atlanta to get back in this championship.
We are seeing the attrition of Supercross taking a toll on the field.  Last night we lost both Cooper Webb and Justin Bogle, not sure how bad their injuries are but both walked off and Bogle said via Instagram that he will be racing in Atlanta.  Webb’s injury looked severe, when somebody grabs their arm and immediately walks away from the track, not even removing their goggles, I get worried.  These guys are gladiators and being dramatic about injuries is not something they do, this isn't Soccer or Basketball.  Hopefully his injury isn't serious, we’ll find out in Atlanta.

David Plain
2005 Honda CRF100F BBR kit and jetting/setup
120 BBR KIT installed with BBR cam and arms. Used oem valves and springs.
Installed FMF Power Core 4 pipe.(contains forest approved spark arrester)
stock carburetor
110 Main jet
42 Pilot jet
stock needle and clip position
fuel screw- 1.5 turns out
air box-stock with 3 UNI air vents on outer cover plate.
air filter-Maxima Pro-Filter-in place of oem filter.
front sprocket-13
cam chain tensioner spring-shortened 
adjusted cam chain, drive chain, and clutch in three places( at lever, right case and lower adjustment)
Chris Cooksey
The sport of motorcycling is fun and rewarding for the entire family, but done incorrectly can lead to significant and life altering consequences.  When I first heard about the formation of the USMCA I felt a sense of relief that others shared my views on education, including appropriate training.  As it stands now new riders must rely on friends and family to teach them the ropes of basic riding.  Unfortunately due to the growth of our sport if you want to ride but do not know other riders,  your education is trial by fire. The USMCA has a plan to transform the educational/safety piece of riding and help reshape the long term health of our two wheeled passion.  I took a few minutes to speak with one of the founding members, multi time Supercross and Motocross National champion Jeff Emig, to answer a few questions.
Regarding the upcoming Summit on February 9th and 10th in Arlington, TX, can you elaborate on what an individual who is attending can expect? 
This being the first annual coaching summit, and the fact that we have not reached the point where we are certifying coaches with everything up and running, this  first summit is going to be about the introduction.  It will be about what the USMCA is what the goals are and how we are going to get there.  The initial summit is about the journey that got us to this point where we need to make a change in the industry and why coaching is necessary, then laying out  the plan for the next few months and year.
Is there a base education needed for anyone to attend?  
No.  Anyone can attend.
How will an established coach benefit from the USMCA?
Some of the biggest names in the industry will be there and every current coach we have spoken to has been extremely positive.  When it comes to their business the USMCA should provide a tremendous value to them and be a tool for them to run a better more successful business than what they already do.  Not to mention they can look at it from a totally different perspective of the responsibility and opportunity to give back to the sport that we have all been involved with.  We feel like we are on to something really good, we have had great feedback up to this point.  The summit is a big event, there is a lot riding on it for everyone that's been involved.  I feel confident that we have some really smart passionate people that have helped build the USMCA  to this point.  Beyond the summit is when we start to get all of the coaches in the industry involved and building standards and practices for their coaching association, there's more work to be done.  This is one more step toward making it to the mountain top and reaching our goal.
What is the primary focus of USMCA?  (At this point Jeff referred me to the USMCA Mission Statement).
The USMCA Mission Statement:
The USMCA is a nonprofit corporation founded to oversee and foster the creation of a robust, nationwide network of motorcycle-riding coaches in the sport’s major disciplines, including on-road and off-road riding.  Structured, systematic program curricula will ensure that the training if these coaches is as effective and safe as possible, and will enable them to subsequently share their own knowledge and skills with both new and exisiting motorcyclists through a highly consistent and repeatable process.  As a result, parents and individuals seeking coaching will be confident that they can choose from a wide selection of well-trained, certified coaches.
What are the long term goals of USMCA and how do you think these goals will shape the future of the industry?
To break down the barriers to entry helping beginner and novice level riders advance their skills so they can be lifelong enthusiasts.
Thanks Jeff for taking the time to explain USMCA.  I look forward to helping grow the Motorsports community as we are in need of a structured curriculum to educate riders on techniques that not only make them faster but keep them safe.  Is there anything else you want to add?
At this point we are getting close to maximum capacity and the support from the industry as a whole that we have received has been a bit overwhelming.  The USMCA is not about the founding members, advisory board, or team.  It is about the industry and it's about the coaches, and more importantly our customers in the sport of motorcycling.  It's not the only answer to producing a great future for our industry but we certainly feel that with all of the data and information that we have collected and the hundreds of hours of meetings and time that  we have all put together, establishing the USMCA is one of the things that will build a better future for the sport as a whole.

Chris Cooksey
Clearly there is no crowned champion after Saturday night!  Eli is looking like the rider we saw winning outdoor nationals a couple years ago.  But, before we get ahead of ourselves let's not forget this is a 17 race series (Dungey, SX reporters, podcasts, and fans reminded me of this last week).  As dominant as Eli has shown the past two weeks, year after year Dungey seems to find the speed when it matters most.  Other than 2016, Dungey is typically a slow starter and finds his groove as the series heads east.  However, Eli rode amazing in Oakland while Dungey struggled with the treacherous conditions.  Had this been the last round of the series with the title hanging in the balance, I bet we would have seen a more aggressive Dungey.  Eli looks flat out amazing on certain days, unfortunately watching him charge through the pack or win by massive margins doesn't matter when it comes to point standings.  Eli only gained 3 points in Oakland.  Anyone beating a guy who finishes 2nd or 3rd on his bad days in a series is impressive.  Eli still has a tough road ahead but so did Carmichael in 2001 when he dethroned McGrath.  Time will tell, remember no crown here, no crown!
Cooper Webb is becoming more comfortable each week.  Whatever Yamaha did to their bikes at A2 has proved to show a big difference for both Webb and Reed, even though Webb denied making the same changes as Chad in the postrace press conference.  I was not surprised by Reed’s performance as he struggles on tracks with inconsistent dirt.  Look for him to be out front in the domed stadiums where the dirt is more predictable.  
In the 250 class Justin Hill is destined to take the title.  He is riding smooth and a misplaced 2x4 under his rear wheel and an illness didn’t stop him in Oakland.  Plus Hill is refreshing as he lets his personality shine on the podium unlike second place finisher in Oakland, Martin Davalos.  While everyone is talking about Martin’s social media skills (or lack of), I take more of an issue with his podium interviews.  If you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all!  No emotion simply a flat cliché followed by a shameless sponsor plug delivered in his monotone voice.  I commend him for having the talent to win 24 heat races, but damn!  How about he answers the questions asked with genuine personality.  I know some people close to him that say he is an intelligent and funny guy, but based on his interviews I don't see it.  In an era of social media we know more about our heroes than ever before and can accept their mistakes if they are honest. His talent on a dirt bike is undeniable, I will keep enjoying his riding while fast forwarding his interviews.  
Shane Mcelrath faced some serious adversity, after tangling with Jimmy Decotis in the heat race in what I call a “racing incident.”  Mcelrath landed on the footpeg of Decotis and those are razor sharp!  Looked like the peg came close to slicing his armpit which could have been horrible, with a main artery in the armpit things could have gone bad.  Mcelrath recovered for the second week in a row by winning the LCQ and fighting hard for a gritty third place finish.  This result keeps him in championship contention.  Dallas will be crucial for Mcelrath, heading into the break he desperately needs to stop the momentum Hill has established.
Don't forget Dallas is another early race so make sure the DVR is set if you are out riding.  The series is developing some interesting plots.  Can Eli maintain his domination?  Will Dungey find his flow?  Who will be the next first time winner?  Will the Rocky Mountain team ever get Forrest Butler a podium?  Can Hill make it 4 in a row before the break?  Stay tuned….  

Chris Cooksey
My day in Glendale:
I arrived around 9:45am with plenty of time to pick up my credentials and head through the pits looking for anyone willing to chat. At Jimmy Albertsons's truck I stopped to see if he was alright after his crash last week. While Jimmy wasn't there his wife Georgia Lindsay Albertsonwas willing to give me the scoop on his health. Jimmy was sore but ready to put it in the Main for her, it was her birthday. On my way to the track walk I glimpsed the BMX dirt jumping practice, it's crazy how big those guys can go on bicycles! From there I headed towards the tunnel and happen to catch @Vince Friese’s mechanic hanging out by the MotoConcepts truck. I took the opportunity to ask him about all the drama surrounding Jason Anderson last week. He couldn't believe how much negative attention the stiff arm got him. Somebody once told me he was a bouncer for a Death Metal band, so I asked. He laughed and said he toured with a “rock band,” not Death Metal. We both had a good laugh that nobody mentioned the aggressive move by Malcom Stewart in the corner before the “incident.”
At the track walk I noticed a tall guy with a Rocky Mountain team shirt and realized it was Benny Bloss. I am 6’4 so when someone is taller than me I usually notice, Benny is a nice kid. He has raised his handlebars and is using a slightly taller seat this year, let’s see how this helps him in the East Coast 250 Class. He agreed and nodded when I told him us tall guys have to stick together, then I snapped a photo of him towering over Cooper Webb (you can find the picture in the gallery I posted). On the track walk I watched as Marvin Musquin eyed up the whoops, clearly concerned with the size. I had a quick chat with Tony Alessi about his appearance on the PulpMX show and I assured him he came off likable and we laughed at his “50% less crazy comment.” At the tunnel I ran into Big James Stewart. I told him it was good to see him back at the races. As I left the stadium I ran into another old friend, Roger Larsen with Seven. Roger is the guy putting together everything for Malcom. We talked about the untrue rumors, mainly www.weedfinder. com reported as their title sponsor and yes I asked him about James. Roger didn’t know what James was planning, or at least he didn't share the plan.
From the press box I watched the night’s action and had the opportunity to mingle with Jason Thomasand his VIP’s. The press box was definitely buzzing after Eli demolished the field! Next, things took an unexpected and unscripted turn. After the race concluded and fans headed for their exits, I followed SX regular reporters Jason Weigandt and Jimmy Holley to the press room (truth be told I was nervous as I am new to media coverage). Walking into the press room felt like being at a night club and going from the VIP room to the Platinum room with upgraded benefits. The riders made sure to display their respective energy drinks and appropriately adjusted their hats to represent their sponsors. I chose a seat front and center and that is when the fireworks went off!
My first question was to Austin Forkner. I thought it was not fair that he had such high expectations placed on him as a rookie. I asked him if it was a relief to get his first podium. He answered very eloquently and my confidence grew, now the 450 guys were up. I didn’t want to ask a cookie cutter questions which would elicit a cliché answer. I wanted to ask a tough but fair question. Literally, everybody had said the series was over after last Saturday with Ken Roczen horrific crash. With Eli Tomac previous arm pump struggles most people assumed Dungey would run away with the title. I genuinely wanted to know if Chad and Eli felt disrespected by the fact that fans had “unofficially” crowned Dungey and if that idea provided any extra motivation. My question was simple; “Chad and Eli, did it fire you guys up last week after the [Ken] Roczen injury that pretty much everybody kind of crowned Dungey at that point? How did that make you feel?”
Chad answered as if I asked him if he was happy Ken got hurt, which is not at all where I was going. When I tried re-directing him to the question; “I wasn't asking about Ken, were you mad that everyone crowned Dungey?” (It's hard to hear this follow up because after you ask your question you pass the mic). At this point Dungey jumped in still responding to Reed’s perception of the question, but to everyone’s surprise answered with emotion he is not known for. I always knew there was more to Dungey than the “ahh shucks” interviews he typically gives. He looked me in the eyes as he gave his response about how terrible Roczen’s injury was and how it could happen to any one of them at which point his wife, sitting behind me, clapped and whispered an unflattering comment.. Even Weigandt, sitting next to me, thought the question was fair and was perplexed by the answers given.
I had several take-aways that night. First, when the press conference concluded I might as well have had the plague the way the riders looked at me! The second take-away, I don’t mind. I don’t script my questions, I ask what I want to know and what the fans want to know. I also have great respect for the industry, but I’m not worried about being bros with the riders. If the riders take the question out of context, so be it. The Supercross podcasts and message boards are having fun with the press conference. They saw a glimpse of the person Dungey really is and not what he wants you to think. If you don't want tough questions asked then don't have a press conference. You can check out my question at
Since the press conference most people liked the question and enjoyed a real answer. Others have questioned my credentials and to them I say:
• -Worked in the industry for over 20 years
• -Raced AMA Supermoto in 2003 and 2004 with a couple top 10 finishes
• -Made Arenacross main events in 1997
• -Held an AMA Pro Liscense in 2007
• -Obtained a Bachelors degree in Communications from ASU (home of the Walter Cronkite
• School of Journalism).
While I can’t attend the entire SX series live, I’ll see everyone again in Seattle. Maybe by then we can unofficially crown Dungey champion!
Thanks, Chris Cooksey
Chris Cooksey
Every year there are moments we look back on and point to as the moments that led us to the end results. A2 was full of these moments, I am going to play fortune teller and point out a few defining moments of this year, most of which happened last night.
Ken Roczen and the horrific crash! Nobody wants to see that, whether you cheer for or against a guy, nobody wants to see that. During the broadcast you could feel the mood change from excitement to shock. I can't imagine how Ralph and Jeff feel having to talk about guys battling for 7th and 8th while Roczen lay on the track with his left arm at a 45 degree angle. That was his obvious injury, but a hit like that will clearly have a laundry list of less obvious injuries(concussion, shoulder dislocation, etc…).. This is the moment we will look back at as when the 2017 Championship became Ryan Dungey’s.
Jason Anderson also had a moment that will define his future. Anderson is extremely talented and has shown raw speed and talent, but unfortunately immaturity. Being disqualified and forced to watch the Main event on a night when he could have put himself in title contention is a dose of reality he needs. When a guy is constantly having issues with other riders, sooner or later they need to look in the mirror(this goes for Friese too). Anderson will come back and win some races this year, but giving 25 points to Dungey is a death sentence when it comes to Championship talk. On the bright side some pressure is relieved when points are not a focus and winning races becomes the only goal. Don't be surprised if he wins next week in Arizona. As far as the actual incident with Friese, I have seen way worse and the reaction was not equal to the incident. If you choose to ride that way, don't lose your mind when you get a taste of you own medicine. Give the same respect you want to get back, and always assume Friese is looking to clean you out.
The worst infraction I saw was the way race official John Gallagher did or didn't inform him of the DQ. An official should not be doing an interview before informing a rider and his team of the punishment. This is embarrassing for the sport and shows Gallagher’s self righteous agenda. It's time to remove him from a position of power, his track record is not good. An official or referee is not part of the show and should not be doing interviews, honestly fans shouldn't even know his/her name. If he was doing a good job we wouldn't. The only time anyone notices you is when you screw up, and Mr. Gallagher screwed up big! Time for a change in power.
Eli Tomac, his defining moment came at A1 when he got arm pump. Supercross is a sport that takes a tremendous self belief, if you have any doubts about your bike, training or the competition they will surely surface on track. Had he not gotten arm pump at A1 and kept pressure on Roczen we would be talking about him and Dungey now battling for title. Instead we are waiting for Daytona and the outdoors and wondering if this is his last year on the Kawasaki.
In the 250 class Justin Hill served notice that his confidence and conditioning are where they need to be. Mcelrath is a feel good story and will be there if Hill has any issues, but this Championship is Hill’s to lose. Hill came into the series not very far removed from an injury and has raced his way into shape. The only downside for Hill is by winning the championship he will be forced into the 450 class, but that is a debate for another time.
What do you think will be remembered as defining moments thus far and how do you feel about John Gallagher?
Chris Cooksey
(Connor recently won the gold medal in Rio in the 2016 Summer Olympics in BMX racing and is widely considered “the fastest man on the planet” in the BMX world).
Connor: I want to preface this by saying I have never ridden a motorcycle bigger than an 85cc. I have no idea what it is like going through whoops, and I barely even know how to shift out of first gear. What I do know is high level competition. I know what it feels like to be under the bright lights. I know what it feels like to have expectations, pressure, and a group of people relying on you to perform. I know what it feels like to succeed at the highest level of sport and I know what it feels like to completely fall apart at the highest level of sport. BMX racing is not motocross, and while there are many differences there are also many similarities. I believe this gives me a unique perspective and insight into what these riders go through.
Me: How does Eli bounce back from a tough fade to 5th? Eli is a guy who is known for having outstanding fitness, was this nerves or is his fitness in question?
Connor: Looking at Eli and him getting arm pump, I have to believe the symptom resulted from his mental state and not due to being unfit or unprepared. I have a hard time believing he showed up to A1 not in fantastic shape. He didn’t do too many offseason races and has been healthy all year. He was ready, prepared, and fit. After winning his heat race and knowing he had the speed to win, if he put it all out on the table, he may have got a bit anxious. It has been a long time since he lined up in a Supercross gate (minus Daytona) and realistically knew he had a very good chance to win. That is a tough position to be in for any athlete. Combined with being the main rider for the main series title sponsor in a contract year with anything short of a championship, a failure and….yikes. I can feel that pressure from here. What happens then when you are nervous and anxious? Your heart rate goes up and your muscles get tense. Eli did not show up unprepared. I think that first round nerves and anxiety are the only logical explanation for what we saw out of ET3 on the weekend. The other person who suffered from arm pump this weekend? Cooper Webb, who also had very good reason to be anxious.
With that said, Eli did a fantastic job of not losing too many points at A1. With 16 rounds left and only 9 points down, he is very much alive in this title chase. I believe Eli to be one of the fittest guys out there, and now he knows he has the speed and he has definitely improved his start. He will be more relaxed next week and I don’t think we will see this mistake happen again. I look for him to bounce back and land on the podium in San Diego. Don’t forget, Eli had the second fastest lap of the day.
Me: If you were Dungey, how would you respond to the brash attitude of Ken Roczen? Do you think Ken is going over the top or is he just confident?
Connor: In regards to Dungey I was actually very impressed with him and think the rest of the field should be on notice that the champ is not just going to give the title away. Ryan was fantastic in Anaheim and other than Roczen, was clearly the class of the field. If he is this good in round 1, you know the champ is only going to continue to get better. It is extremely likely that RD1 will land on 17 podiums this year, meaning if you want to take his title you will need to win… A LOT.
I don’t know if Ryan really cares about Ken’s brashness to be honest. I think Ryan has the incredible quality of being able to block everything out and just focus on himself. Ken can be “the McGregor” of SX/MX and it’s not going to change Ryan as a person or in his approach to racing. I don’t think anyone is capable of getting a rise out of Ryan. Ryan will continue to work hard, mind his own business, and do his thing. Ryan never gets too overexcited in victory or too down on himself in defeat. He remains in the same emotional range and that is what has allowed him to be so consistent. Being so even-keeled, mentally stable, and controlling his emotions so well off the track has led to him being one of the most consistent riders in the history of the sport on the track.
Is Ken being brash? Yes. Does everyone like it? No. Some people do, some don’t. What needs to be remembered is that sport is entertainment and Kenny is doing just that, he is entertaining. Look at the most successful MMA fighters, boxers, and football players. Guys like Tyson, McGregor, Mayweather, Ali, Deon Sanders…these guys entertained. You either wanted to see them win or you wanted to see them get smashed, either way you tuned in to watch. Ken is adding a spark to a group of politically correct riders who won’t say their true feelings publicly. As a rider, I wouldn’t do this because as soon as you’re not winning it can backfire, and I prefer to let my riding do the talking, but as a fan I absolutely love it.
Ken needs to make sure he doesn’t try to “make a statement” every weekend. Overriding leads to mistakes and if 95% of your best is enough to win, that’s all that needs to be on display.
Me: Was Mcelrath on your radar coming into A1? With this being his first win, will he be a title contender, and what would you tell him?
Connor: To be honest I did not have Shane McElrath on my radar to contend for the win in Anaheim. After practice when Jeremy Martin won by a full second I had penciled him in for the win. This is a great early season reminder that practice and racing are two completely different animals. McElrath rode flawlessly, and deserved the win. The question now is, where does he go from here? Does he show up at the test track Monday with the same intensity and hunger he had before winning? Or does he think he’s “made it” and is already a title contender. If he and the people around him handle his victory properly, enjoy it for a day then move on to business as usual, he will be in contention for the title, especially with Forkner dropping so many points in Anaheim.
Me: How do you feel about James Stewart announcing he will race this season? Would you advise him to retire? Does anyone have the right to tell a pro athlete when to quit?
Connor: James Stewart is not retiring and that is great news for any fan. Whether you like him or not there is no disputing his talent and it will be nice to see him line up in the gate. I don’t think anyone truly knows when it is time for an athlete to retire other than themselves. When an athlete can look in the mirror and honestly say, “I have given this sport everything I want to give it, and there is nothing left in the tank.” Then it is time for them to retire. Not everyone gets that fairy tale ending and often athletes are forced to retire due to losing contracts or from injury. For JS7 to be able to say “I’m not done yet” is a great thing for him personally. I hope he is able to put the finishing touches on his career and not feel like he left anything in the tank. Without factory equipment though, I don’t know if he will be much of a contender for anything other than longest autograph line and most haters.
This is my thoughts on the weekend. It has been fun for me to analyze the athlete’s unique personalities and circumstances rather than just looking at the statistics and the riding. Let me know your thoughts or any questions in the comments and you can follow me on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook @ConnorFields11
In today’s challenging economic climate and this election year, the off-road motorcycle industry is moving slowly. Racing programs are being cut or even eliminated, and new bike sales are only up slightly. 2015 sales numbers have just been tabulated by the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and at 730,000 units the total of motorcycle and ATV sales combined was only up 2.2% over 2014.
Many riders are feeling the pinch and to that end we’re keeping our bikes longer and spending more money on maintenance and upgrade items than saving up for a new ride. Putting miles on off-road machines is hard on your equipment and your motorcycle requires at least the basic maintenance to get you through the day without mechanical or safety-related failures.
With that in mind, we’ve put together 7 great inexpensive, cheap or even free ways to keep your older ride ready to hit the track or trail…
Experienced riders and racers know that a dirty, spooge-filled exhaust can limit an engine from reaching its full potential because you can just hear the difference once you spend enough time around these machines…but we never realized how much until we talked to the good folks at FMF Racing about how this maintenance items can impact riders and racers.
Research by FMF has shown up to a 2 horsepower loss from blown muffler packing and that regular replacement can help restore top end power, improve throttle response and extend muffler life. Maybe the best reason is to reduce sound levels and help keep our riding areas open!


To inspect your exhaust for packing issues, it’s best to remove the rivets and replace, depending on how many hours the machine is operating. Signs of needing replacement include excessive noise and pieces of baffle material leaving (being blown out) the canister. We’ve done this procedure many times and it’s rare that we see a muffler unit that isn’t past due for it to be done so if you stay on top of it you may always have an extra horsepower or two more than the rider next to you and that’s always a plus.
FMF also has a good video explaining this process and you can see it here: REPACKING VIDEO


Photo: Footpegs have changed dramatically over the years


If you’ve ever wondered why larger footpegs on off-road machines are so popular, you need to look back in the evolution of our machines…in the 60’s and 70’s even though motocross was becoming popular in the USA, the machines ridden had footpegs that were narrow, easily packed with dirt and mud, slippery when wet and weak.
Controlling your motorcycle has a lot to do with being able to react quickly to obstacles when presented in real-time and being able to distribute your weight with the maximum amount of control and balance…and if you’ve ever had these issues due to inadequate pegs when riding you know they can make a fun day short or a short race really long when they aren’t right.
To address this problem, aftermarket companies began to produce lighter, wider and stronger designs which incorporated open sections that were tapered in order to facilitate shedding debris faster, keeping the teeth clear for better boot to tooth contact.
Fast forward to the present day and footpegs have achieved the status that they deserve and not only have the factory production pegs improved greatly, but some aftermarket examples like the Fastway Evolution III from Pro Moto Billet offer even more features like a reversible collar system that gives the capability to raise or lower the footpegs roughly 8-10mm, giving taller riders extra leg room, replaceable traction cleats for easy maintenance and adjustable camber for added comfort and control.

Bearings…they keep our machines rolling and operating smoothly but who wants to go through their ride looking for bearing issues? It’s certainly not as cool as installing a new pipe or engine upgrade…but it’s even more important! Bearings are the foundations upon which our machines run and roll and without them working correctly - disasters await.
Bearing failures are always serious and can cost you many weeks of missed riding due to engine/mechanical issues, not to mention chance of serious injury to your person, so let’s see what we can do to avoid that drama entirely. Front to back some of the bearing sets you need to pay attention to include: front wheel bearings, steering stem, swingarm, shock linkages and rear wheel bearings as all of these take tremendous abuse in off-road motorcycles.

Photo: Swingarm bearings live in a brutal environment


We talked with the folks at Motion Pro (who make some of the best tools to make replacing these items easier) about what kinds of bearings need the most attention.
“Kind of an open question, it really does depend on what part of the country, the type of riding, weather and maintenance…also how much power washing is done. Swingarm (and associated linkages) and PDS bearing seem to get the most abuse…….they are moving parts that are exposed to the elements. Steering stem bearings (and) races are probably the most neglected. Wheel bearing get hammered a ton and most home mechanics should be able to replace them on their own….’’
Motion Pro makes some of our favorite tools for these jobs like the Steering Head Bearing Race Driver and Deluxe Suspension Bearing Service Tool which are the right tools for the job and can make these procedures much easier and precise.

Sometimes the simplest of maintenance items are the ones we overlook and one of those is certainly tire pressure, but it's vitally important and should not be overlooked. This small patch of rubber is your interface to the trail and holds the key to great handling in it's bag of tricks.
We asked some questions of our friends at Michelin North America about off-road motorcycle tire pressures and some reasons why it should checked every time you go riding.
How should riders properly check their tire pressures, should the tire be hot/cold?
Pressure should always be checked before riding, especially if the motorcycle has sat, because air pressure decreases over time, typically at a rate of 1psi per month. It should be checked and adjusted when the tire is cold, meaning the tire’s temperature is equivalent to ambient temperature and riders should check pressure using an accurate, trusted pressure gauge.
What type of installation and inspection should be done on both the tire valve and rim lock?
When installing a tube, the valve should be positioned perpendicular to the rim (pointing directly towards the center of the wheel) and should be monitored regularly during the life of the tire to ensure that the valve stem is not beginning to lean. If the valve begins to lean, this indicates that the tire is slipping on the rim, and if not addressed, will result in a flat tire once the tube tears at the base of the valve.
One common mistake riders make is tightening the external valve nut down against the rim which mechanically holds the valve stem in place, preventing the rider from seeing the warning signs of a leaning valve stem. Michelin recommends using the external valve nut as a locking nut against the valve cap to allow the rider to see any signs of the tire slipping on the rim and to ensure that the valve cap doesn’t come off, exposing the valve core to potential damage from debris.

Photo: Pay close attention the the valve stem position


What tire pressures are good for what? For example, should riders use less pressure for more traction?
For motocross and off-road tire applications, tire pressure is a very subjective setting and often times riders’ base pressure settings vary depending upon their combined rider / motorcycle weight and the conditions in which they ride.
For the new Michelin Starcross 5 tires, we recommend a base setting of 12.5 psi to 13.5 psi for optimum performance in a variety of terrain. Consumers can use a slightly lower pressure for muddy conditions as this will allow more casing flex of the tire, which can help facilitate mud evacuation from the contact patch. Lower pressure will increase size of the contact patch and can improve traction in certain conditions. For extremely rocky or challenging conditions that increase the chance of a puncture or pinch flat, consumers should use a slightly higher pressure to provide a more robust tire / tube combination.
Are there any tools that are recommended like a low pressure gauge?
Michelin recommends making air pressure adjustments for off-road tire applications in 0.5 psi increments to evaluate the change in tire performance and impact on suspension settings and it’s best to use a quality low pressure gauge to ensure these subtle changes are accurately measured.

Photo: Use the correct equipment when checking tire pressures


Suspension is key to your motorcycle’s handling and safety and it’s made up of several parts that work in unison, including your front forks and rear shock. Many machines come setup for 160 pound riders and many riders never even change these settings, much to their detriment. Today’s multi-adjustable suspensions provide amazing compliance when tuned and serviced correctly, and provide correspondingly bad performance when overlooked.
One area that we know escapes the inspection by many bike owners is the fork oil. Fork oil provides the ability for your forks to change characteristics rapidly as the terrain demands, through different valving and spring combinations that use fork oil for compression and damping features.
We spoke to our friends at Race Tech for some advice on how to insure your fork oil stays fresh and up to the task.
Race Tech recommends rebuilding your suspension with fresh fluids every 20-30 hours because an over-used fork fluid will begin to break down changing your damping characteristics and potentially allow expensive damage inside your suspension.
All suspension fluids are not created equally; do your research. We prefer Race Tech Ultra Slick Suspension Fluids because they are slippery, temperature stable, long wearing and non-foaming suspension fluid. As far as, weight/oil level, it can be found easily on the Valving Search per model.

Photo: Forks are precision instruments and should be serviced regularly for best performance


If thinking about upgrading or working on your suspension, check out the to the Tech Support button at RaceTech as there is some good information there.

Another often overlooked player in the off-road motorcycle equation is the braking system(s). Many riders don’t address the brakes until braking performance suffers to the point of being dangerous. Conditions that can adversely affect braking performance can include master cylinder reservoir fluid level dropping rapidly, brake noise modulating and brake lever and/or pedal travel increasing when applying the brakes.
There are different aspects of your brakes you need to keep on top of and the first are the actual brake pads and rotors, because they see the most wear and have a such an important role in slowing and stopping your machine.

Photo: Many different components must be inspected to insure braking performance


As your brake pads wear, the metal backing will eventually surface and start to actually contact the rotor, causing damage and many times requiring a replacement so you can’t allow this to happen. Rule of thumb is to change your brake pads at the first sign it’s required and you can check your owner's manual for specs on at what point brake pads should be changed. It’s easy to see approximately how much material is left on the pads and it’s a usually simple procedure to drop the pads out of the calipers and check the thickness when you think you’re getting close to the wear limit.
Brake rotors can be visually inspected for signs of stress cracking and warping before riding and these conditions can sometimes be felt while applying the brakes. Run your fingernail across both sides of the disc…are there any deep grooves or excessive scoring on the surface? Are there any visible cracks? If you see any of these conditions, you’ll want to find out why they’re happening and correct the situation immediately.
Next up is to visually inspect your brake lines and all associated fittings for any signs of seepage or leaking of brake fluid. The fluid must be absolutely clean and free of any type of contaminants and if not, must be replaced immediately. Brake fluid is also corrosive to painted surfaces and can react with other types of chemicals in a negative manner so caution must be used during the handling and storage.
Check the top(s) of the brake reservoirs…are they clean and dry and hardware tight? Is the fluid at the appropriate level as specified in your owner’s manual? Does it look clean and clear? If not, time to delve deeper into the problem and fix it before riding again.
Brake fluid comes in different types and it’s important you use the correct type and volume as specified in your owner’s manual…failure to do so can result in damage to both expensive components as well as your body after not being able to stop!

One of those mystical procedures in our sport is this thing called “setting your sag” and I never see riders doing it! I’ve done it many times but still don’t know if I’ve got it down perfect and it’s not something I look forward to doing, but when I do get it done, I can feel the results. The rear of the bike is especially compliant with my light weight and the rebound fells like its hugging the ground on the smaller stutter bumps… as well as being easier to set up into fast sweepers and switchbacks where the bike loads and unloads the suspension fairly rapidly.
So it’s worth doing and doing it right…we asked the experts at MoTool about setting sag properly, why you should do it and a bit about their new digital Slacker scale which can make this task a lot simpler, faster and with more accuracy.
Riders should be concerned with setting their sag because every bike is designed to sit in a certain posture regardless of the rider’s weight and this determines how the bike handles. The suspension should compress or “sag” the same amount for every rider. The key is to preload the springs more or less depending on the rider. Sometimes you may even require softer or stiffer springs depending on your weight and the particular bike.
Sag can also be adjusted for varying conditions. For fast conditions, run a little more sag in the rear so the bike is stable at speed or, for tighter conditions, you can run less sag which produces a steeper fork rake and thus the bike turns better. This is the most misunderstood and overlooked settings when it comes to suspension setup. If the bike is not setup properly it will become unpredictable and unsafe. This setting is definitely as important for casual play riders as it is for seasoned pros as it assures it will perform as the manufacturer intended.
How is it done conventionally?
Conventionally it took at least two people to take the measurement. One, taking the measurements and two, the rider that has to be on the bike. A measurement was taken with the suspension unloaded then another was taken with the rider. The second measurement was subtracted from the first to get the actual sag measurement. It always required at least another person and there was a lot of room for error in how/where it was measured and in making sure the math was right.

Photo: The MoTool Digital Slacker sag tool


How is it done using the Motool Slacker digital sag scale?
With Slacker, you simply put the tool on the bike with the suspension unloaded and turn it on or you can use the new Auto Zero feature if the suspension is not unloaded when Slacker is mounted. Then just mount the bike and it will show you the measurement in real-time on the remote display as well as the main unit which is attached to the axle. This allows a single person to quickly and easily take a precise measurement by simply leaning against a wall or vehicle with an elbow to balance and looking at the remote LCD display.
Even if you have a helper, Slacker is much faster and more accurate than a tape measure or sag stick. No matter how you do it, you should be checking your sag regularly and adjusting for different conditions pretty much every ride.
Note: Setting your sag can sometimes be a long and complicated procedure, so our friends at Race Tech have devoted a page to show you how to do it.

In conclusion, maintaining your off-road motorcycle is vitally important to staying safe and being fast while piloting your iron steed. By properly keeping maintenance items as described above at the top of your riding checklist, you not only insure you maintain the highest performance your bike is capable of, but also increases the safety, handling and control of your machine…it just can’t be overlooked as your life can depend on it.
Of course, this list isn't meant to be exhaustive; we know there are more ways to improve the feel of your bike. That's where we'd like to hear from you! Hit us up in the comment section below and share your methods for bringing back the like-new performance and feel of your not so new ride.

Chris Cooksey
The Anaheim you didn't see on TV
Final Coverage of Anaheim 1; I'm going to focus on giving you the inside scoop on some information you watched but didn't get the full story (like when I asked Millsaps if he was sick, and everyone ran with). Starting with the 450 main where it ended before it began for Trey Canard. Sounds like he did some serious damage to his shoulder in a practice crash that caught up to him right before the main, where he left the starting line up 30 seconds before the gate dropped and after completing the hot lap. With that said seems weird that he was able to snatch the last spot in the LCQs about 30 minutes prior, sending Pourcel home. Not sure where his season goes from here, but it doesn't look good.
Chad Reed pulled out early in the Main after smashing his water pump on Westin Peick. If we know anything about Westin we know to go around him not through him! Mike Alessi suffered a horrific looking crash over the triple, he came up short and hit as hard as I have seen anyone hit… ever. After coming up short he appeared to lose consciousness while rolling into the next corner. Very scary, but I checked with the team after and they said Mike would be alright. They were also troubleshooting what failed on his bike ultimately causing the crash. Finally, Roczen put the entire field on notice while Dungey lagged behind by 13 seconds but only lost 3 points.
In the 250 class Mcelrath was a surprise winner, not too many people picked him to win. Meanwhile back in the pack Bradly Taft crashed early and came back to fight hard for 13th, look for good things from this kid. Justin Hill faded real quick after taking out his rookie teammate Forkner in the whoops. After the race was over Forkner lingered in the rider spectator area with his body language showing his anger. My guess is the PC rig just got really uncomfortable.
A few more random notes; looks like Vince Friese has a new enemy in Nick Schmidt as they did their best Bradshaw vs Matiasevich imitation for 17th and 18th. Tyler Enticknap had a spectacular crash in the LCQ that looked like he dove in a pond (puddle from the rain). Josh Hansen quit with a lap to go in the 250 LCQ while in 8th place, not sure why but it looked like he didn't want to be there. Can't wait to see what round 2 brings!
Chris Cooksey
A1 1St practice/qualifying report:
Due to the rain, free practice was cancelled which forced the riders into an urgent situation; use this session to learn the track. If something happens during the session, they quickly became a spectator. The track was covered during the rain which caused lime on jump faces making it a dusty session. Ken Roczen was so good, and definitely the fastest with ease. Trey took a serious crash in the rhythm section, but is alright. Dean Wilson looked good and hit a triple triple that I didn't see anyone else hit, although lap time didn't show him any love.
For me the real action was in the 450 B practice where Jimmy Albertson, Nick Schmidt and Adam Enticknap all looked fast. My co-worker at WPS Kyle Gills had a huge crash, but re-mounted and turned in some good lap times. This track is tricky, it looked like perfect grip but had hidden slick spots where water either leaked onto or wasn't covered the last couple days. When the night moisture rolls in, watch for guys to lose their front wheels quite a bit.
In the 250 class Plessinger had the fastest time, but Justin Hill looked more consistent. If I had to bet right now he would be my favorite. In the 250 B session Fly Racing Rookie Bradley Taft looked smooth and fast. His time would have put him right around the 10th spot in the A session and he seems to have more in the tank. Get him on your Fantasy teams.
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