Ping weighs in on factory racers riding each other's bikes, saving money on a yellow bike, and the cost of riding MX.


I just read Jodi's simplified (read every person's understanding who isn't a lawyer) on Contract breakdowns. I was especially Interested in the section where the contracted rider will be fined up to 25k (I believe it was Honda) for that rider to allow another rider (non team member) to ride that riders race bike. I have a friend who had moved to SoCal many years ago and he was able to climb on a Factory Honda rider’s 450… Nothing but godliness was relayed to me when he compared it to his CRF450. 

I can't obviously mention who was with him when this happened, but that's a hell of a price to get popped should that rider have gotten caught.  We read snippets of top guys testing another brand in secret so that must carry grounds for termination. 


East Coast Mike

"Hey, can I ride your bike?" "No way, I can't afford that fine!"


I never had those terms built into any of my contracts, but I can see where that would happen. These teams spend an incredible amount of time and money building these race bikes and they like to keep their performance and trickery proprietary. The Japanese brands, in particular, are very secretive about their parts, so it doesn’t surprise me that this clause was built in. Do riders try each other’s bikes? Absolutely. I had friends that rode for other teams and we would go ride their track one day, and my team’s track the next day. And, yes, we rode each other’s bikes. This same thing still goes on today, despite contract clauses. And if a rider who is winning races took his bike out to Glen Helen on a Thursday and let his buddy ride it, he isn’t going to be fired. If he’s having a bad season? Well, he might want to update his resume. 



I picked up a brand new 2019 RM-Z450 a few months ago and got a killer deal. Yes, I have to kickstart it, but holy crap all I catch is shit! For a weekend warrior, I can’t justify spending $3500 more, depending on what color I choose, because for people like me that’s all we’re doing… picking a color. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say dirt bikes cost too much, I could probably buy a white dirt bike. I can promise you that I, and anyone else like me, (aka the ones buying dirt bikes) won’t be any faster on a bike that costs 3-4K more. 



Don’t listen to the kooks that give you a hard time. Look, I’ve said this time and time again, the Suzuki is an awesome bike with just a couple simple changes. And for a “weekend warrior,” you’re right, your lap times aren’t going to change a single second going from one brand to another. If I were you, I’d laugh at them for spending thousands more than they needed to in order to be just as slow. Of course, the very best burn would be to pass them on the track on your “inferior” machine, but if you’re going to run out of talent in the process and crash your brains out, probably better to come up with some witty quips for the pits. Enjoy your new bike and tell the haters to go pound sand.



Hello, I am 39 and have been riding for 30 years, and have a 13 year-old son who has been riding now for four years. We are one of the few families that made the change from riding trails and off-road to MX rather than the other way around. Cheers!!  Long time column reader, first time writer.  

I have an issue, or rather, a wanting to call B.S. to the general population citing the high cost of modern day four-stroke bikes as a significant factor, or even the main reason people are not riding dirt bikes as much. I also know you are of this camp, and will probably have strong feelings on the matter, so please keep an open mind. I feel like many people are following the "herd" mentality by reading, listening, and talking to others and making this a larger point than what it really is. I really believe that the main reason younger people aren't riding as much as 20 years ago is the excessive amount of technology at our fingertips today with cell phones, social media, and extremely high-tech video gaming. And, in a lesser amount but still a contributing factor, having fewer places to ride. But people riding dirt bikes less, and MX specifically, in my opinion is much less a factor of high bike prices than those other factors I mentioned. 

I have read so many times over the last few years, on Instagram posts, various articles on MX sites, your column, etc., people talking about how much the new bikes cost and citing that as a reason people aren't riding. As an example, I have seen many posts referring to "if I want a new 450 it's gonna set me back over $10k out the door..."  This just isn't true, or doesn't have to be rather. Sure, if you want the very latest bike, as soon as that model year comes out, and it's a KTM, that might be the case. Most of the other brands are under 10k out the door as soon as the next model year rolls out in summer of the year prior. HOWEVER, if you are willing to get the current model year as it's going out the door (example getting a 2019 NOW) people should be able to see these bikes are significantly cheaper-- like $8k out the door for a 450. In many cases even less if you search for deals as I do.  

Right as this moment, a large dealer in our area (Westfield Powersports in Westfield, IN, website is westfieldyamaha.com) has 2020 KX250Fs listed brand new for $6,300 for example. My point is, purchasing a new bike can be done for much less than $10k, especially if someone waits for current year bikes to be going out the door, and if someone is willing to search for deals and drive a couple or few hours if need be. Yes, $6,500 to $,8500 is still a lot of money, but still much less than $10k. I believe people aren't doing enough homework, or making excuses most likely. Dirt biking has NEVER been inexpensive, but I believe citing the cost of new bikes as the main reason for declining participation is not accurate.   

Thanks for listening


P.S.  Attached is a picture of us from one of our local races this past summer at High Fly 2.0 MX park, in Scottsburg, IN. Next year in 2020 we are planning to do the whole "Kentuckiana Championship Series," a local series between southern Indiana and Northern Kentucky consisting of 10-12 races between different amateur tracks. We are super pumped! I just got my suspension back from Factory Connection 3 weeks ago but haven't gotten a chance to ride on the track yet. This time of year, the weather is very sketchy and most tracks don't have open practice due to frequent rain and cold temps. We got a new camper and generator and everything. We are ALL IN for the grass roots moto action!


First of all, I love hearing that you and your son are out doing what you love and spending quality time together; there’s nothing better. I’ll agree that cost isn’t the only thing stunting the growth of our sport, but it certainly is a factor. And some of that cost issue is based on maintenance, not just initial cost. In the pre-four-stroke era, kids could work odd jobs and save enough to buy a decent used 125. If that happened to blow up, they could buy a top-end kit for a couple hundred bucks and be back at the track. However, a well-used 250 typically does more damage when it goes “boom,” and that can cost as much as the bike itself. Dealership service departments were full of blown up bikes that were abandoned because the cost was too great to repair them. Again, that’s just a piece of the puzzle. Gas is more expensive, tracks are fewer and farther between, open riding areas have disappeared, noise complaints are way up (causing more closures) and kids have a phone stuck to their face for ten hours a day. It’s a sad cornucopia of issues that have resulted in a shrunken motocross market. Here’s the proof: Motocross has always been a blue-collar sport. That isn’t a dig, it’s just a fact. Rich kids were playing lacrosse and going to college, not racing dirt bikes. The pits these days look like a diesel pusher showroom, and riders have trainers, mechanics and coaches before they’re out of middle school. The sport has changed, and those changes have cut out a large part of our demographic. 

Best of luck this year… once the snow melts. 


Do you have a burning question you need answers for? E-mail Ping at ping@vitalmx.com. Want more? Click the @PING tag below to quickly find all the previous columns.


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