Wednesday, May 14

SoCal Testing is a Waste of Time

A friend of mine, who used to be a factory mechanic, who is from Canada, keeps telling me to write a blog about what a waste of time it is for teams to test in Southern California when exactly 1/12th of the nationals actually take place out there. This, of course, is obvious to him since he was a factory parts changer and actually knew what parts would get changed once the team hit a race back east.

I, however, am a journalist, and we know in this sport that such a title doesn't mean much. I have no clue what the teams test and improve on, and no one will ever tell me for fear it will get printed and let their competition get an advantage. Yeah, because Cliff White over at Honda is reading Blogandt for the latest set ups.

The last time I remember reading a real story with actual bike setup info was back in 1999, when Cycle News had some story on John Dowd's YZ250. They pointed out two huge Jeremy McGrath set-up secrets.

A) McGrath was a fanatic about his clutch, and once Dowd started using McGrath's clutch prep secrets, he started getting better starts.

B) McGrath liked his bike jetted rich, so he could hammer the throttle between jumps and out of corners, and the bike would have a small bit of hesitation and then clean out instead of launching him off of the track or lighting up the rear tire.

After that, the trail went cold. Surely whoever authorized that test in Cycle News ended up testing speaker wires with his tongue in the back of Yamaha's audio department. And wouldn't you know it that just two years later, Ricky Carmichael beat McGrath for the SX title, probably with a quick-adjust clutch perch and fat jetting!

It's been nine years since I've heard any other info, but surely teams are out at Glen Helen right now trying all kinds of "stuff" and "things" all of which, according to my ex-mechanic friend, won't even work once the series leaves California (after two races).

In that case, it will make it hard for a rider to perform poorly at Glen Helen next weekend and say "well, it's just the first race and this is a long series." After all, that's the only track where his bike will actually work well!

This is all according to my ex mechanic friend. Now, I'm going to ask him to comment to this post with some actual examples of actual parts actually working in SoCal and not working at the rest of the tracks.

Go ahead, Mr. Vegas.


Ex-mechanic from Canada said...

Ok, I'm that ex-mechanic from Canada. I know who Steve Matthes is, but this is NOT him. For sure, without a doubt, NOT him.

The Glen Helen National is the ONLY track that has the hills and the bumps that develop there are unique to socal. All the teams go out there and other socal spots and pound sand in their asses day after day trying to improve the bikes performance. And yes, it does help you to get a baseline performance but so does just bolting on parts from last year and going to your local track by yourself.

Socal tracks are a mixture of sand and hard pack, the bumps have no give to them, the berms are loose and the ruts don't get very deep. The rear wheel of the bike breaks loose easily in socal and the rider has to be careful with throttle delivery
Take the exact opposite of all that and you have the east coast tracks! Suspension and power couldn't be more different. In the mud and gription (Thats my new word) of the east, you want max HP and stiffer suspension settings because the dirt tends to "grab" your bike.
If I had a dollar for everytime that we showed up at Mt Morris (which used to be the first east race) and ran around like a monkey f-ing a football changing stuff, I would have 1 bajillion dollars. The settings never work as's that simple.
What should the teams do? Well they should find some baseline settings and then go back east and set up "training camp" at a few tracks and go from there. Yes, it would suck for the team and riders to be away from families and home so long, but there's nothing else left to chance so why leave the most important thing to it?
I might even comment further after i post this and read it through. Again, this is NOT Matthes....just another friend of Weege from Canada....that used to be a mechanic.

Jason Weigandt said...

Wow very nice post, ex-mechanic friend. This is now officially the most real information shared with the motocross public during this decade. Matthes would be proud.

Daniel said...

So what you're saying is that the spinage (that's my word) out West is much different than the gription (that's your word) out East. That is such an obvious point it makes one wonder why more testing doesn't happen outside SoCal. So do none of the teams test in, say, Florida where so many riders live now? That too I guess is a lot of sand. But I'm sure they can stand a better chance of finding softer soil than SoCal. What does this mean for JGR? Will they have an advantage in setup because they base their operation in the East? This spinage and gription idea could be something the factories need to be paying attention to.

Matthes said...

Daniel, some teams do test in Florida. I know Honda has been there recently a bunch and been rained out a bunch as well. It's a growing trend to bring your semi there from the east sx's and go to FL. And I for one, am happy to see the progress taken.

Suzuki and Kawi test in FL also but thats just because the big guys (JS, RC, TF) demand that the teams come to them.

Not Matthes said...

That wasn't Matthes who just posted that....F--K! I blew it...

Anonymous said...

Is this individual an ex-mechanic, ex-friend or both?

Dad (known to ex-mechanic/friend as Kessler)

yamalink said...

I can only imagine how f'd up a privateer (true privateer, not Nathan Ramsey privateer) is when he leaves the comfy confines of SoCal for back east. His two sets of intermediate tires should work wonders in the mud and loam back east. Not (say in Borat's voice). Bike prep? Adjust the brake pedal for changes in rut depth.

Anonymous said...

Bajillionaire huh. I'm going to put that on my Twitter profile! -motodude

Anonymous said...

while on the subject of new words, the McGrath carb setting is called burble. As, "my bike burbled on the bottom end"

Jason Weigandt said...

Good to see Matthes weighed in on this. If we get in trouble he will indeed be my ex-friend and an ex-mechanic.

Saylor said...

Sounds like some guy named Hepler might agree with you that SoCal is a waste of time....while he is healing from a broken arm.

NJMX68 said...

ain't that the truth brotha