Ping digs into why our sport is so secretive about money and parts, gearing choices, and if we could see a YZ250F in the 450 class.


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Hey Ping,

My two-part question is: Why is the sport so secretive and sensitive about certain topics such as rider pay, bike set up, future opportunities etc.? I know some of it has to do with sponsors but we see major sports touch on contract pay, equipment and possible future ride opportunities. Why is the industry sensitive regarding this? Another thing I’m curious about is are these factory riders telling the truth when they say they use “stock” parts? I’ve heard the only thing stock about those bikes are the frames. I’ve seen your videos reviewing factory rides but was curious if you could share some insight? 




Stick and ball sports have salary caps that they must adhere to, so athlete compensation is public knowledge; it has to be for transparency reasons. Motocross obviously doesn’t have that same dynamic. We are also so much smaller in size and scope that things are taken more personally than they would be in a $2.8 billion dollar franchise like the NFL. Motocross is a small, dysfunctional family, but family nonetheless. When there are only five or six factory teams in the 450 class, you have to be very careful that you don’t offend any of them by publicly talking to other teams while you’re under contract. Again, there are so many teams in mainstream sports that it’s much easier to be transparent about those things. 

Regarding stock parts, I would say that there really isn’t a reason to lie about what they are using. I know Factory Connection/Honda (RIP) used stock triple clamps at one point to add more flex to their chassis. Frames, subframes and airboxes have to be stock, and many of the external parts you can look at and see whether they are OEM or not. Bikes have gotten to be so good these days that mapping and handling are much more important than exotic engine parts that make more power. Honestly though… why does it matter? Stock, handmade… who cares? I remember when factory Honda made their bikes look very basic and even used stock silencers because they wanted people to think they were mostly stock. Yamaha had the same philosophy for a while. It doesn’t change a thing, to be honest… the best rider still wins!


Hey Ping!

Every ounce for weight savings on a factory bike counts, right? So, can you explain in detail to me why on my 250sxf and pro bikes the front sprockets are now 14 teeth instead of 13 like they were back in the early 2000s on all stock bikes? You could save a decent amount of mass by going down teeth front and rear with less chain links to get the same ratio but I keep reading having a 14-tooth countershaft provides a better “chain line.” 




The difference in weight between a 13 and 14 tooth countershaft sprocket is about the same as cutting your fingernails before you head to the scale. My eyes roll like a Vegas slot machine after a handle pull when people tell me about the money they’ve spent to shave a few ounces. Just walk over to the port-o-crapper and squeeze out a few extra nuggets… you’ll save just as much weight and tons of cash. 

The performance difference on the sprockets, however, can be significant. There are a few basic engineering concepts at play with it. Going up a tooth on the counter is like going down 1.5 teeth in the rear (There’s a formula for it, but I’m spitballing). This mellows out the hit of the bike initially but theoretically gives you a longer torque curve. The other significant thing it does is calm the chassis and handling. By creating less of a bend around the countershaft sprocket and keeping a straighter chain line, the chassis has less tension on it and it will have more of a free feeling. Not for nothing, but a good bowel movement also improves these same things. Primary takeaway: Eat more fiber.



Life is short and so am I. Yamaha’s YZ250F has been crushing it for years now and the 450 not so much. Why not have DF14 race the premiere class on the tiddler that he just won two titles on? 

Thanks for your unfiltered wisdom, 



As good as the Yamaha YZ250F is, you’d never be able to get a start on it against factory 450’s. Even the factory KTM guys that tried the 350 struggled with the missing torque numbers when it came to starts and getting over certain jumps. And the 450 Yamaha has a bad rap, but it might have been the race team folks dictating the direction of that development, not the bike itself. The Yamaha has been leading shootouts for the past three years, so you can’t say it isn’t good. Let’s give the Star Yamaha guys a year to see what they can do. They’ve turned their 250 into an unfair advantage, maybe they can work some of that magic on the bigger bike with Dylan and Aaron.


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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