Factory riders and "tweaking" their Bikes

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12/4/2018 4:21 PM

From Chad Reed interview on MXA:
"My Suzuki was a factory bike, and it was awesome. I had the ability to change, tweak, and make the bike feel any way I wanted it. I had not witnessed that during my time at Yamaha."

I've heard this a lot in the past couple years (admittedly, mostly from CR22).

What things are factory riders not allowed to change in their setup and more importantly, why not??

I always thought every team does EVERYTHING in their power to get their rider comfortable...

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Life's a garden, dig it.

1996 CR250R
2016 YZ450F
2001 Suzuki Bandit 600

12/4/2018 4:24 PM

Tenacious P wrote:

From Chad Reed interview on MXA:
"My Suzuki was a factory bike, and it was awesome. I had the ability to change, tweak, and make the bike feel any way I wanted it. I had not witnessed that during my time at Yamaha."

I've heard this a lot in the past couple years (admittedly, mostly from CR22).

What things are factory riders not allowed to change in their setup and more importantly, why not??

I always thought every team does EVERYTHING in their power to get their rider comfortable...

Sadly no.......I have even witnessed guys on the same team not getting exactly the same engine package. And when I mean the same I mean,not as fast.

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Did i do that?

12/4/2018 4:36 PM

Travis_Hudson wrote:

Sadly no.......I have even witnessed guys on the same team not getting exactly the same engine package. And when I mean the same I mean,not as fast.

What would be the reasoning behind this?

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12/4/2018 4:50 PM

Tenacious P wrote:

From Chad Reed interview on MXA:
"My Suzuki was a factory bike, and it was awesome. I had the ability to change, tweak, and make the bike feel any way I wanted it. I had not witnessed that during my time at Yamaha."

I've heard this a lot in the past couple years (admittedly, mostly from CR22).

What things are factory riders not allowed to change in their setup and more importantly, why not??

I always thought every team does EVERYTHING in their power to get their rider comfortable...

Maybe a rider wants to use a auto (rekluse style?) clutch, but the team is sponsored by a company that doesn’t offer one. Or maybe rider wants to use one brand of suspension, but the factory uses a different brand on their production bikes and therefore wants their race bikes to use the same brand?

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12/4/2018 5:16 PM

Tenacious P wrote:

From Chad Reed interview on MXA:
"My Suzuki was a factory bike, and it was awesome. I had the ability to change, tweak, and make the bike feel any way I wanted it. I had not witnessed that during my time at Yamaha."

I've heard this a lot in the past couple years (admittedly, mostly from CR22).

What things are factory riders not allowed to change in their setup and more importantly, why not??

I always thought every team does EVERYTHING in their power to get their rider comfortable...

Travis_Hudson wrote:

Sadly no.......I have even witnessed guys on the same team not getting exactly the same engine package. And when I mean the same I mean,not as fast.

casper wrote:

What would be the reasoning behind this?

Maybe they don't have enough of the "special" parts to service two bikes at that time, so the better guy gets the good stuff.

Maybe on the lower budget non factory teams, costs become a factor. You can afford one absolute rocketship and one fast mod bike. Somebody has to get the lower quality stuff

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12/4/2018 5:17 PM

Tweaking might be on the fine line between the "C" word or in a gray area when it comes to chassis and all sorts of stuff. Years ago I heard rumors that teams were thinking about making special frames with actual part numbers and in stock if the event they ever got called out. Meaning if they had a gray area frame or maybe non-standard frame and they got called out, that part could theoretically be ordered - but the public would never know the part number. Maybe stuff like JGR did with the Yamaha's back in the day with repositioning the engine in the frame, maybe the Factory Team did not do or offer that to Chad to test. You would be surprised how much goes into some of the Factory bikes with regard to setup. Back in 1992 Honda got protested because of Jean-Michel Bayle's Factory bike. They had welded all sorts of braces on the inside of the frame and swingarm to help decrease chassis flex, especially in the whoops. As it turned out the frame did have the legal dimensions and was an OEM frame, Honda just added material, which is still legal today. A few years ago Honda was running older year swingarms and Works Linkages, but the older swingarm was from a homologated model and was technically legal.
Some teams can be really creative if they need to be

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12/4/2018 5:24 PM

Or how about PC riders being told what valving they will run because it’s what works best on the Dyno?

True story....

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Washed up moto and enduro weekend warrior.

12/4/2018 5:32 PM

Probably the best known instance was when McGrath used '93(?) frames in later seasons.

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We are the sum of a 1,000 lives. What we know is almost nothing at all.

12/4/2018 5:41 PM

MxKing809 wrote:

Or how about PC riders being told what valving they will run because it’s what works best on the Dyno?

True story....

Suspension valving? I know PC has a shock dyno but I cant imagine its THAT useful. Feel is important.

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12/4/2018 6:11 PM

smrscott wrote:

Tweaking might be on the fine line between the "C" word or in a gray area when it comes to chassis and all sorts of stuff. Years ago I heard rumors that teams were thinking about making special frames with actual part numbers and in stock if the event they ever got called out. Meaning if they had a gray area frame or maybe non-standard frame and they got called out, that part could theoretically be ordered - but the public would never know the part number. Maybe stuff like JGR did with the Yamaha's back in the day with repositioning the engine in the frame, maybe the Factory Team did not do or offer that to Chad to test. You would be surprised how much goes into some of the Factory bikes with regard to setup. Back in 1992 Honda got protested because of Jean-Michel Bayle's Factory bike. They had welded all sorts of braces on the inside of the frame and swingarm to help decrease chassis flex, especially in the whoops. As it turned out the frame did have the legal dimensions and was an OEM frame, Honda just added material, which is still legal today. A few years ago Honda was running older year swingarms and Works Linkages, but the older swingarm was from a homologated model and was technically legal.
Some teams can be really creative if they need to be

Same way with the factory Kawi teams using the older KX500 swingarms for off road series and motocross. Or James Stewart KX125 running a 250 swingarm.


I know in late 2003, Reed was one of the first to start using different materials with engine mounts to have a different feel with the chassi. Pretty sure he mentions about his time at Europe coming in play with them having magnesium mounts. Then word got out and it is now one of the most common mods to a factory bike.


Honestly, if your choosing to use parts off older models, as long as it is with the same manufacture of the bike your riding, i don't see the issue.

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12/4/2018 6:27 PM

Wasn't the old FC 2-stroke bikes using a bunch of different engine parts from different years on the CR125s?

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12/4/2018 7:01 PM

LumpDog841 wrote:

Wasn't the old FC 2-stroke bikes using a bunch of different engine parts from different years on the CR125s?

I know in 99 they ran the 96 cylinder with the 99 250 air boot. Carb body was stock but taper bored.

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12/4/2018 7:46 PM
Edited Date/Time: 12/4/2018 7:47 PM

Preston was running modded cases with a cr250 reed cage and a spacer under the cylinder. Plano Honda ran the hop cylinders on their bikes. Plano were also running yz air boot.

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12/4/2018 8:46 PM

"What things are factory riders not allowed to change in their setup and more importantly, why not??

I always thought every team does EVERYTHING in their power to get their rider comfortable..."


AMA rulebook is the biggest hindrance for teams to do everything they'd like. Adding material is fine, as described by others, for reinforcement/frame flex/brake pedal mods/skidplate tabs/etc. but being below weight or breaking any other parameter is a no-no. Certain teams, historically, went above and beyond for their riders. For example, anywhere The Man went was cutting edge (even if it took a few years to get the RM's ironed out). There's footage of him early at KTM crafting parts by hand for the incoming RD5. DeCoster was also at Suzuki during Reed's description of his time there...

PC Kawi ran 2012 KX450F swingarms and airboxes on their 2012 250F's (different subframe, side panels, and everything - all visible to the public) for what one can assume was for increased performance. One of Baggett's showroom bikes at PC is still this 11/12' hybrid if you're ever there to check it out. 450F swingarms on 250F's goes all the way back to 250 2T and 125 days for certain teams.

Other teams are a bit more 'corporate' (think Blue). Certain gear color combos mandated, two or three setting options for engine characteristics/suspension (with little room for alterations)...basically less flexibility. CP377 and his short stint on the YZ450F could be an example of this.


smrscott is spot on with JMB: Good article reposted here from JMX82 about it.

https://www.vitalmx.com/forums/Tech-Help-Race-Shop,42/90s-CR250-Frame,1342948

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12/4/2018 9:14 PM

You also have to factor in the ego factor. Sometimes when a factory deems their part or spec to be the best, even if its not, they don't want to be challenged by a "lesser" person on the team. They don't want to be shown up by a mere mechanic who comes up with a better solution. When you read Reeds interview and his frustration with Factory Yamaha and their unwillingness to let the privateer team change things, you can see that is very much in play. A good team will take any and all "tweaks" into consideration to make their bikes better.

But sometimes the factory does know whats best. Look at the OEM Honda CRFs. US Honda had the "slower is better" mindset, running from 2009 until 2016. But in 2017, Honda Japan gave the reigns back to HRC and look what they have become.
They are once again a motor company. 19 CRF450 tops 60hp!!

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12/4/2018 9:19 PM

MxKing809 wrote:

Or how about PC riders being told what valving they will run because it’s what works best on the Dyno?

True story....

oh yeah. teams telling the riders to just run it, was pretty common. Stanton was pretty vocal about cheating his sag to get them to make his shock softer. Local michigan factory mechanic got fired supposedy for changing a guys shock setup.. Factory teams changing shocks during the night program of a supercross, when no rider would ever like that!

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12/4/2018 10:14 PM
Edited Date/Time: 12/4/2018 10:14 PM

I do know that some parts over the years on some factory bikes , weren't really what they said they were. Take for instance....." Showa sticker's on some KYB suspension "......OR.......Running a Bridgestone , with the word Dunlop painted on the side of it.

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12/5/2018 6:44 AM

Each team and rider are different. Some teams are less flexible that others about changing things but most will go out of their way to make the rider comfortable. Some riders are more picky about bike setup than others too. Also, some riders are much better at testing or noticing small changes than others. Anyone remember when Mike Alessi was with Suzuki? There were several articles and rumors about what a sh!t show that was. From the Alessi's complaining that Reed was getting better parts to Tony supposedly having someone disassemble a factory "works" shock. I also remember an article with Goose where he said he'd make a pretty major change to the bike and Mike wouldn't even notice it, but he'd want to do something like put two grip donuts on one side!

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12/5/2018 8:59 AM

It's my understanding - that yamaha feels the OEM bike is excellent - and sticks heavily within this range.

Go look over the current factory bike really close - you will generally spot stock linkage and swingarm - non ti fasteners in some locations and a host of other OEM parts.

I would also argue that the staff at yamaha is getting a little "older" and tired of listening to whiney pros (they all are) when they know the reality in the engineering. Often times the package they have now is better than the package the rider will lead them to - as MOST riders don't truly know how to test - any what direction they are going.

It can be debated to the end of times - but I personally liked RV's attitude (at least outward)
The bike can always be better - but so can the rider

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