@PING

Photo

Mr. Ping, 

I love all your stuff you put out whether it’s bike builds, tests, or the Whiskey Throttle show. I am a State Trooper over on the east coast and have been at it for 9 years now. After an almost 10-year hiatus from moto I have got back into it this year. I bought myself and my 6-year-old daughter a bike and we have been riding as much as we can on my days off (you know how shift work can be!) When I quit riding before I was a pretty good B rider and now that I’m back at it and 31 years old I can go as fast as ever for 3-5 laps and then have to roll around for a bit. My question, I have enough hours on my bike now I need to start replacing parts. I have no real intentions of racing the vet classes or anything, so the grown up in me Is looking at products for their longevity and performance not just performance. Things like tires, chain and sprockets, etc. I also like to budget the best I can too, mama is on board but I can’t be spending whatever on dirt bikes. For the everyday weekend warrior vet guy who still likes to go fast what is your thoughts on budget parts?

 Thanks for the time!!!!!

Justin

Photo

Justin,

Thank you for supporting the various things I’m involved with…much appreciated. A guy in your situation is definitely looking for something a little more conservative and reliable than flashy. You’ll like the most recent Vital MX Race Spec project we did with a KX450; it’s right up your alley. Here’s what I’ll say as a blanket statement: As far as the engine goes, stock is best. An exhaust system is a good idea for increased performance, [slip-on mufflers are a good choice for saving money] but leave the parts in the engine stock. The manufacturers spend a lot of time endurance testing their bikes and making sure all the parts are durable. It’s a liability thing for them, but it translates into long-lasting parts for you. Mitch Payton used to have me test for Kawasaki in the mid-nineties; we’d rotate between several riders doing 40-minute motos at a time at Glen Helen and Carlsbad. They had to put a certain number of hours on the bikes and record what parts wore out and what broke. It wasn’t the most fun but you got the seat time in. There are several different sprocket companies that offer “off-road” sprockets with an aluminum center and a steel outer ring. These last much longer and only add a small amount of weight, so they would be a good choice for you. An O-Ring chain will also last longer. The Dunlop MX33 rear and MX53 front is the best all-around tire combo you can find, and they last just as long as anything else. Keep clean filters in it and maintain regular service intervals. If you take good care of modern bikes, they’ll last a long time. 

Best of luck!

- PING

Howdy Ping,

What are the key considerations for moving from a 250 to a 450?  I’m almost 46 years old and have recently come back to motocross after a 25-year hiatus. Last year, I won the 250 C and Senior C classes in my local MX club. I am thinking about bumping up to the intermediate class next year and don’t feel like I would be all that competitive in my age class, as pretty much everybody rides a 450. I’ve ridden a few of the modern 450s and feel like I am definitely faster in the straight-aways but slower in the corners (and the 450 takes a hell of a lot more energy to ride).   One last bit of personal information, I’m 6’ tall and weigh 215 pounds.

Thanks so much for your insight,

Scott

Photo

Scott,

It sounds like a KTM or Husqvarna 350 would be a good option for you. You’re certainly a little big for the 250, and a 450 is too much bike for, like, everybody, so let’s split the difference. It’s a little bit of a Goldilocks and the Three Bears situation, just without the breaking and entering or porridge or rickety beds. The 350 wants to be ridden a little bit like a 250, so you’ll adapt quickly, but your disadvantage on the starts will be diminished. There are some amazing tricks on the 350 to boost torque and horsepower numbers, making it competitive with a 450 but easier to ride; I have one of these being built right now. 

Option B is to forget motocross, buy some high-tops and get on a basketball court. At your height you could be a solid forward and be knocking out triple-doubles instead of actual triples and doubles. Who knows, you could find yourself playing semi-pro after a while for a team in, say, Latvia, or something? If you go this route, please hit up Benny Bloss and see if he’s at least a little bit interested in a pick-up game or something. I feel like his folks really made a judgement error when introducing him to youth sports. 

Cheers and best of luck in whichever route you go.

- PING

Mr. Pingree,

Would you please elaborate on your experience test riding the Mountain Moto FX5?  You are quoted on their website as simply stating that it was "awesome." I'd love to hear not only more of your impressions of that particular bike, but also your thoughts on that entire (potential) market segment.

I have a wife with whom I'd love to go riding.  She's 5'9" with long legs and arms, and can sit on a full-size bike (like my YZ250) very comfortably, however she doesn't need all the power that a bike like that provides.  She has spent a little time learning basic skills on a much more docile air-cooled trail bike (XR250), but the weight is prohibitively excessive. Years ago, when I first caught wind of the FX being developed, I thought it would be the perfect bike: just enough power (~10 hp) to explore easy trails at a leisurely pace, and very low weight (~135 lbs).  I still think that, but it seems that bike is stuck in development purgatory. There are, of course, a few somewhat similar options out there like the Sur-Ron light bee and the Cleveland FXX, but I'm not interested in going electric - battery energy density is atrocious - and the latter seems to be pretty low on the quality spectrum. The KLX140G is the closest big brand offering that is readily available, but it is still very over-designed and, thus, far heavier than it needs to be.  Nothing out there can scratch the itch quite like the FX5 would.

Do you think the type of bike that I'm pining for will (a) ever be produced, and (b) if so, will there be a market to sustain it?  My interpretation of the glowing reviews given by test riders like yourself is, 'If they build it, we will come.'

Thank you for your time. Sincerely,

Jason from Arizona

Jason, 

Damn, Jason, you’re really digging around in the past. I went to New Zealand and rode that bike in 2005; It was a fun bike, and more of a trail ripper than a motocross bike, so something like that would suit your better half well. Those might be unavailable, but there is a company making cool electric bikes here in SoCal called Kuberg. My buddy Kalani Robb spends more time on these things now than he does his surfboard, or his boogie board. The great thing about them for new rider is the simplicity of the controls. You don’t have to worry about the clutch or shifting… you just twist the throttle and go. 

You say you don’t want to go electric, but an electric bike like this checks all the boxes for you. Any bike with a combustion engine is going to be heavy, and it sounds like that’s an issue for you wife. The TTR-250 is good, but if that is too heavy, you’ll need to take a closer look at these electric offerings. I’d like to go all Leonardo DiCaprio and tell you that you’d be helping the environment, but my guess is you’d be charging the battery by running a gas generator at the track or plugging in at home where the vast majority of your power still comes from fossil fuel or nuclear-powered plants. The truth is the electric bikes have a different personality and they are a lot of fun, so check them out. 

- PING

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.

Create New Tag
2 comments
Show More Comment(s) / Leave a Comment