@PING

@PING is brought to you by Troy Lee Designs, Eks Brand, and VP Racing Fuels.

Master Ping,

It has been a while before I found you here on VitalMX.com, glad to see you are still answering the questions of us laymen. Here it goes: Watching big sponsors like Geico leave and teams like JGR not being able to find any new ones for over two years, mixed with the fact that young folks these days prefer Apple and Droid over Honda and KTM, makes me wonder where our industry is headed as a whole? I recently bought a KTM for the first time and ever since found myself intrigued by their unique technical design approach to a dirt bike. Operating and maintaining it feels almost like learning a new language when you grew up with Japanese motorcycles and how they are designed and built. 

I find myself so thoroughly impressed with fit, finish and performance of my new Austrian machine that I can’t help but ponder why the Japanese allow a small company like KTM to run circles around them. It’s like David vs. Goliath. Each one of the Japanese manufacturers must have better resources than KTM, each one of them is part of a much bigger corporation where not just motorcycles are part of the equation but electronics, cars and even heavy industry etc. Today while bench-racing in my friend’s driveway it hit me, maybe the Japanese don’t WANT to invest and size up to KTM as they see the writing on the wall!? My buddy states that he believes that the demise of Geico and JGR is the beginning of a slow bleeding out for our sport as a whole. He commenced to say that young folks just don’t get into MX enough and the bikes have gotten too sophisticated and expensive to justify a beginner to just buy one and try. Two factors he says that could culminate to become the kiss of death for our beloved sport. It appears that it’s mainly old guys in their late thirties and up into the 50s who show up at the dealers and tracks in reasonable numbers, once those absolutely cannot hold on the handlebars any longer, who is going to carry the flag?

Thoughts?
Sincerely, Oliver Braun

Photo

Oliver,

Your buddy is embracing a very pessimistic outlook on the sport, but I can’t say whether he is wrong or not. Honda makes money selling cars. Kawasaki makes ships and submarines and heavy equipment. Yamaha makes musical instruments, and Suzuki makes marine engines and cars. Obviously, they all have widely expanded lines of motorized vehicles and equipment as well. The motorcycle side of their businesses, particularly dirt bikes, is so infinitely small to them that it doesn’t likely move their bottom-line needle too much. Racing is as much about technological R&D and image marketing as anything else, and at the point it becomes too much of a financial drain or the sport shrinks to a certain point, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they pull out of it completely. Personally, I don’t think that will happen as long as the economy is doing well and fans are filling up stadiums every weekend; it’s still a great marketing tool. The other caveat is the energy drink market. Imagine if something were to happen and Monster, Rockstar and Red Bull decided to take their money elsewhere. This scenario scares me more than anything because it would cripple professional racing. Yamaha and KTM still sell 125’s. If we want to see more racing from a bike and class that lends itself to new riders, we need to support these bikes. Local tracks need to offer classes and folks need to buy them. Otherwise, they’ll assume we just want more $10,000 dirt bikes, and that doesn’t get new people riding. Stacyc is an incredible product that could be the keystone to introducing kids to riding instead of playing video games. And dealerships have sold more bikes in the past ten months than they have in a long time, so there are some good things happening, despite the oddity that is 2020. As boomers get older and trade in their bikes for fishing poles and beach cruisers, we need to encourage the next generation to join in. Our sport could depend on it. 

- PING


Ping,

What do you think about some sort of way to be able to legally gamble on Supercross/motocross to give us some exposure? Kinda like horse racing where you place bets at the track or venue and I think it would get outside people showing up just to gamble.  My son is 25 and All his friends gamble on anything they can. It might work to jumpstart our sport again.

Steve Rosen

Steve,

I’m not much of a gambler, but I was a big Kenny Rogers fan. Look, I’m all for anything that grows our sport and brings more eyeballs to it. There are many gambling sites for fantasy football, fighting, etc., and they might even be inclined to sponsor teams or events to advertise. So, not only do we get fans showing up to bet and watch, we get those companies spending money to market their sites. Win/win, if you ask me. People are going to bet on sports, why not get in on the action? What government representative do we need to pay off to make this happen? It’s obvious that’s the way things get done in politics, so let’s start a PAC to bribe our elected officials to make gambling legal nationwide in our sport. Betting is actually legal now in a few states, and motocross has been added to some of those places. New York, Nevada, New Mexico, and Rhode Island are among states that have legalized it. Also, any casino on native American land may also have betting. Hopefully this will open up and become another revenue stream for race teams, and another way to get fans interested in the sport. 

- PING


Ping,

I saw a video of Dylan Ferrandis crashing hard at the Lake Elsinore supercross track this week. Turns out he broke his hand in the accident, a minor outcome for such a huge wreck. How do you think this will affect his confidence and prep for the 2021 season? I was really looking forward to seeing his 450-class debut. 

Thanks!
Halper

Halper,

I saw the same clip and, “merde!”, that could have been so much worse. He obviously knocked the wind out of himself and injured his hand, but I think that was best case scenario for him. I don’t know the exact details regarding the hand injury, but my guess is he will be back on the bike by the first week of January. That’s not ideal, but he will still be lining up at Houston, which is great. With a hand injury he can still run and ride a spin bike, so his cardio can be maintained. He can still stretch and do some strength training with his legs as well. He isn’t going to forget how to ride in three weeks, so it’s really a matter of how quickly and completely the hand heals and then whether or not he is spooked by what happened. Guys who move up to the 450 class typically have a few big crashes their rookie year as they learn where the limits are on the bigger bike. You can push a 250F much harder and get away with mistakes that you can’t on the 450. Will this crash diminish his confidence? Time will tell. I was expecting him to jump right in and be competitive, so this certainly could slow his entrance into the premier class. 

- PING

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.

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