Ping talks about weird-schedule racing fatigue, getting flats in motocross, and steel vs. aluminum frames.

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Short and sweet question here. The top three in points outdoors right now all missed some or all sx races. Is that coincidence? Or has this long, drawn out, up/down, “what if” season taken its toll on all other would be top contenders? Is everyone burned out even though there were technically less races?

39x Bench racing Runner up



Funny enough, GL and I were just talking about this on the Whiskey Throttle Show. Riders who haven’t been injured this season have been full-throttle for one year straight! Think about it: The pre-season starts sometime between the middle and end of September as riders begin prepping for the Monster Cup or other international supercross races. They grind through the winter and spring for supercross, typically, but this year was different. When Covid hit, riders had no idea what the future held. They couldn’t stop riding and training because the rumors kept swirling that we were going to finish the series in Phoenix. Then it switched to the end of the summer, so many riders began riding outdoors and getting their motocross settings dialed in. Then they switched back to supercross once the Salt Lake City schedule was announced. That took riders out of their element for six weeks and stuck them in hotel rooms, at elevation, for the duration. Most riders admitted that between the uncertainty, the odd race schedule, and the elevation, it was a taxing six weeks. Afterwards they all got to work prepping for the motocross series, which was still in limbo, but was optimistically planning on going racing. Riders are now working through double-headers, Tennessee mud and everything else that the nationals throw at you, including often scorching heat and humidity in Florida coming up next. These guys won’t get a break until the middle of October, a time when they are usually already back into supercross. So, to answer your question, yes, I think fatigue is playing a major role in which riders are running up front and which ones aren’t. 

The real question is what happens going forward? I chatted with Mitch Payton yesterday and he seemed to think supercross would start off as usual, but with a reduced capacity for fans. Multiple events at each venue was also mentioned. All of that means that riders won’t get a break at all going into the 2021 season! That’s insane. Roczen and Webb both opted to sit out for different and valid reasons, but it wouldn’t shock me to see some other top riders who aren’t in title contention pull out early to have some down time before prep for 2021 begins. 


Hi Ping, 

They say that it could have taken one-and-a-half minutes to change Zacho's front wheel. Why don't they use a 10 second fix like this to finish the last few laps? 




That’s a great idea, potentially. If it happened later in the race, some fix-a-flat might get you through to the finish, though to be fair I’ve never tried it in a dirt bike tube. If it would hold, it would be a fast solution to gain some positions without losing too much time. A wheel change is slow and once you go that far back in the field it’s tough to even score points. My guess is that teams don’t consider it because motocross flats are usually a larger gash in the tube or a tear at the valve stem, which that goop wouldn’t be able to seal. Still, I’d be interested to see how it would work, because in certain situations it could be genius. I’ll see if I can get some factory feedback from teams and get back to you.


Hello, good sir!

That’s enough butt kissing. Steel vs aluminum frame, which is better for pros? And why would I want one over the other as a semi-fast, over 40, intermediate/expert with 37 years of riding/racing “experience?” Follow up is why do the new 19-21 KX450s  smoke on start up? Is this like “rich” mapping from unburned fuel? Or do I need to tell my buddy his less than 10-hour bike is on the verge of blowing up?




Calling me ‘good sir’ is butt-kissing? Man, I’m guessing you didn’t get enough hugs from mom when you were young. My opinion is that the steel frame has a better character for racing, and I think a good number of pros would agree with that. However, steel has its drawbacks. For starters, they stretch like Usain Bolt after a gold medal-winning run. Steel frames would bend so badly that the entire frame geometry would be off and handling characteristics would be completely different from a new bike to one that had a year’s worth of riding on it, particularly pro riders in supercross. Most teams replaced steel frames every five or six races back in the steel frame days. I’d have to check with the KTM group to see if they still have those issues, but my guess is that it still happens. They also get chipped and scratched easily, making the bike look like 5 lbs of shit in a 2 lb bag. Aluminum frames don’t stretch, even after a season of racing. Aluminum can be polished right back to new with some elbow grease, but they are stiffer than a Viagra salesman sampling his own merchandise at a Vegas strip club. Manufacturers have improved the feel of them by continuing to reduce lateral rigidity, but you just can’t get the same flex characteristics of steel. So, what’s better? 

Honestly, for the average consumer it doesn’t really matter. I chuckle at most bike tests and reviews that nit-pick every little thing, as though the average consumer will be able to feel those characteristics. Depending on how and where you ride, what type of racing you’re doing, and what feel you prefer, you may like one over the other. But my opinion is that suspension and chassis setup is far more important that what material the frame is made from. 

Follow-up answer: I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’ve not heard anyone else complain about smoke during startup. I’d hate to see your buddy’s bike explode prematurely… nobody likes that. Advise him to see a good mechanic ASAP. Cheers, and good luck.


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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