Ping gets on about how to be a better tester, the secrets of Roger DeCoster, and why retired pros aren't still riding as much as possible.


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You seem to be one of the better test riders in the sport at the moment. You raced at a very high level on factory teams for years, you’ve been testing bikes in the media for over 15 years, and your breakdown is very articulate and easy to understand for the weekend warrior, like myself. All that to say, what tips would you give an average rider about testing? From suspension clickers to gearing to maps, I have a hard time feeling the difference or knowing which direction to go. My current bike, a 2019 Husky 450, handles like a dump truck and I don’t even know where to begin making it better. Please help me.

Charlie D.



Testing is a learned skill that takes time to get right. Maybe if Elon Musk gets that Neurolink all sorted out we could download a testing app into our brains and instantly become pro test riders… but I wouldn’t hold your breath on that. The most important thing is to have a good baseline. We will be dropping videos here on Vital MX called Race Spec, where we share with you good starting points for all of the bikes in stock trim. We will also share tricks to cure issues that each bike may have, individually, and the best options for aftermarket improvements. Once you have a good starting point, you can begin to fine tune the bike for your riding ability/weight/style. It would take me several pages to cover every aspect of testing, depending on what you’re trying to improve. Feel free to email me at: ping@vitalmx.com if you have specific questions about something, and I’ll try to get into more detail with you. 

Here’s some good pointers:

-When you make a change, only ride two laps. If you can’t feel the difference and form an opinion on it in that amount of time, you’ll just begin to fabricate things in your head. 

-If you can’t tell the difference with a change, admit it. There is nothing wrong with saying you don’t feel a difference. 

-Make one change at a time. Making a change to the fork and shock at the same time makes it impossible to tell which change did what.

-Ride at race pace when testing. If you’re riding at 90% when you test, you’re setting the bike up to work at that speed. 

Your current bike is an awesome machine, but there are some handling tweaks we can make to really help it shine. Shoot me an email and I’ll help you get it sorted. 




Thank you for your work on the Whiskey Throttle Show… what you and GL are doing is truly a service to the sport. After watching Guy Cooper’s episode, I feel like I know him personally. 

My question is about Roger DeCoster: I read that he just signed a two-year extension with KTM, and I am curious what exactly he does over there at KTM? I’m not doubting his value, I watched his WTS episode and I’ve never had more respect for him, I just don’t know what role he is playing over there and was curious if you know.

Thanks, and keep up the great work.




Thanks for supporting the show; We’ve been having a blast and hopefully creating a digital catalog of the life stories of our motocross heroes in the process. More good stuff to come, including a two-part show with Chad Reed very soon.

DeCoster’s most significant contribution in the sport these days is his influence. Because he has credibility, and a crazy work ethic, he’s been able to bring every team he’s worked for an incredible amount of success. Factory Honda in the 1980’s, Suzuki in the later 1990’s and now with KTM, Roger has taken each team to their highest peaks. While he isn’t running the day-to-day any longer, he still has a significant amount of influence with KTM Austria. If the race team comes across something they need, he can make it happen with a phone call. And, given his history, they’d be fools not to listen. Roger also loves to tinker in the shop and build parts. I’m guessing he’s still developing small parts to make their race bikes even better. Oh, did I mention our very first show was with RD himself? It was fascinating. It isn’t in Roger’s DNA to retire, so I expect we’ll see him around for years to come in one capacity or another. 



I’ve always wondered why some former pro racers stop riding completely when they quit racing. You have obviously kept at it, and you seem to enjoy it still, but why do some former racers not ride at all anymore? What’s a perfect day of riding look like for you now?




I think there are a couple reasons we don’t see some former pros out riding. Some of them have admitted that they aren’t able to accept the fact that they can’t go as fast as they used to. At a Honda 250 test, the last time I saw him ride, Johnny O’Mara told me that he gets frustrated because his body can no longer keep up with his mind; he wants to pin it like he used to, but he’s not 20 anymore. 

For other guys, I think they rode so much that they lost their love for it. Ryan Dungey, for example, went so hard for so many years that he’s probably enjoying the fact that he doesn’t HAVE to hammer motos every day. James Stewart said in one of his recent videos that even the smell of the dirt at his private track makes him cringe. Can you imagine that! He obviously has some negative feelings and emotions centered around riding. 

And for the older guys like RJ, Wardy, Glover, etc, I think they have injuries that keep them from really enjoying it or they don’t want to get injured anymore. Some of them have gotten into bicycles heavily, others have started trail/adventure riding to scratch the itch. 

The prefect day for me? Riding out in the hills with some buddies after a heavy rain. There are some incredible secret spots in CA still if you know where to find them, but they are only ridable after a good downpour. They are all up in Hesperia… yeah, Hesperia, I tell you. 


Do you have burning questions that need answering? 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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