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Racer X Online

Check out Racer X Online for the latest Off Road Racing News.

Motocross Goes Electric!

The Zero MX takes our revolutionary electric motorcycle technology to the track! Check out this link for details! Electric MX

All Wheel Drive Dirt Bikes?

CHRISTINI AWD has announced the 2013 line of All Wheel Drive motorcycles and the design updates they will feature. The lineup includes the 2-stroke CHRISTINI AWD 250 and AWD 300, as well as the AWD 450, 450 Dual Sport, 450 Supermoto, and the newest addition: the CHRISTINI AWD 450 Enduro. Check out this link for details! CHRISTINI AWD



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Links to Health Tips
Rowing for Motocross Conditioning
The Truth About Trans Fats


Rowing for Motocross Conditioning

Steven Bubel MS, CSCS March 26, 2009

Full Article can be found at www.mxconditioning.com

The current trend in motocross conditioning, made popular by Ricky Carmichael, Chad Reed, and now James Stewart is long-distance road cycling. Given the apparent similarities between the two sports as well as the backgrounds of their trainers, it’s easy to see why these athletes would incorporate some form of cycling to improve their conditioning.


Indeed, research has shown that cycling can significantly increase cardiac output and glycolytic and oxidative enzyme activity in the working muscles. In addition, peak leg blood flow can increase by as much as 20%. Yet, despite these positive adaptations, cycling is, and always will be, incomplete as a training method for motocross since it exclusively challenges the lower body.

With motocross’ significant and simultaneous demand on the muscles of both the upper and lower body, a truly comprehensive training program must include some form of upper body exercise. The only question is: what form should this exercise take? To answer this, we must look beyond traditional training means.

Research on rowers has demonstrated an almost 50% higher upper-body work capacity than untrained individuals. This performance advantage has been attributed to an almost 60% increase in oxygen uptake, a 180% increase in lactate clearance, and a 40% higher arm blood flow! (Arm pump, anyone?) Whole-body maximal aerobic capacities (VO2max) of competitive rowers are also among the highest ever recorded with anaerobic thresholds reaching 85-95% of VO2max. Astounding numbers to be sure.

Furthermore, with an equivalent contribution from the lower body, rowing recruits approximately 75% of the overall muscle mass. Interestingly, the bilateral leg strength of rowers is equal to the sum of each leg independently (1+1=2). This is not the case, however, in cycling where two-legged strength corresponds to approximately 80% of the sum of the strength of the right and left legs determined separately (1+1=1.6). This has important implications for motocross as you might imagine.

Heath Voss warming up on his Concept2 rowing machine.

We have been using the Model D with the PM4 performance monitor from Concept2 for quite some time with outstanding results. In addition to the aforementioned endurance benefits, it’s simply a unique and fun way to cross train. If you are serious about your training you owe it to yourself to incorporate rowing into your overall program. Even if you don’t, your competition will.

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The Truth About Trans Fats

Do you spend hours tuning your Motocross bike? Do you use race gas, tinker with jetting, adjust the timing, and clean the air filter and\or change the oil regularly? If you are this devoted to making your machine perform at its best why wouldn’t you do that for yourself? Your body is also a very fine tuned machine that needs it own maintenance to keep running at top performance. One of the best things you can do to achieve this, is to eliminate as much Trans fats from your diet as possible. This is no easy undertaking though as it is almost in every delicious packaged food. However if we don’t make this lifestyle change now, the end result may be an end to more than just our racing. The following article better describes this silent killer and will hopefully help you make better choices. It was taken from the University of Maryland Medical Center website. You can find the full article here at www.UMM.edu

Trans Fats 101

Trans fats can be natural or artificial. Small amounts of trans fat occur naturally in beef and dairy foods. Artificial trans fats are made when hydrogen gas reacts with oil. They can be found in cookies, crackers, icing, potato chips, stick margarine and microwave popcorn. About 80 percent of trans fat in American’s diet comes from factory-produce partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Trans fats are artificial fats made when hydrogen gas reacts with oil. They can be found in cookies, crackers, icing, potato chips, margarine and microwave popcorn. Many manufacturers started including trans fats in their processed foods about 20 years ago to prolong their products' shelf life, but public health experts warn that these kinds of fats clog arteries and cause obesity. "Numerous studies have found that trans fats raise our risk of heart disease," said Mary Beth Sodus, a registered dietitian at the University of Maryland Medical Center. "They can also contribute to an increase in total cholesterol levels and a drop in the healthy HDL cholesterol. These man-made fats are much worse for you than any other natural fat, even the saturated fats found in butter and beef." Below are Sodus's answers to some frequently asked questions about trans fatty acids:

What are Trans Fatty Acids?

They are man-made or processed fats, which are made from a liquid oil. When you add hydrogen to liquid vegetable oil and then add pressure, the result is a stiffer fat, like the fat found in a can of Crisco. Trans fats are also called hydrogenated fats.

Why are They Bad for You?

Trans fats pose a higher risk of heart disease than saturated fats, which were once believed to be the worst kind of fats. While it is true that saturated fats -- found in butter, cheese and beef, for example -- raise total cholesterol levels, trans fats go a step further. Trans fats not only raise total cholesterol levels, they also deplete good cholesterol (HDL), which helps protect against heart disease.

What Harm do They do to the Body?

The stiffer and harder fats are, the more they clog up your arteries. Artificial trans fats do the same thing in our bodies that bacon grease does to kitchen sinks. Over time, they can "clog the pipes" that feed the heart and brain, which can lead to heart attack or stroke risk. According to the comprehensive Nurses' Health Study -- the largest investigation of women and chronic disease -- trans fats double the risk of heart disease in women.

Why Have Trans Fatty Acids been Put in So Many Food Products?

No human body has any need for these man-made fats. Food manufacturers started putting them in products because they allow for a longer shelf life. Crackers, for example, can stay on the shelf and stay crispy for years in part because of the hydrogenated fats in them.

There you have it. Your body was never designed with Trans fats in mind. It is true that your body is far more tolerable and resilient than you realize and can manage Trans fats to some small extent. But if you find the notion of continually eating Trans fats is acceptable then you should be equally tolerable to adding some dirt in the gas tank of your finely tuned motocross bike.

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Links to Mechanical Tips
Applying Graphics To Your Motocross Bike


Applying Graphics To Your Motocross Bike

Applying graphics to plastic can be troublesome if you don’t have a few tricks to help along the way. How many times have you had your graphics not line up correctly on the plastic, have air bubbles stuck under the graphics, have graphics that never seem to fit around the curves of your number plates, or watched as your graphics peel back on the edges after the first washing? Hopefully these tips can help avoid or resolve some of these issues.

Start with clean smooth plastic

We can’t stress the importance of this enough. If you are removing old graphics, make sure you remove all adhesive residue remaining from the old graphics. We have found that contact cleaner is a big help here because it not only dissolves the adhesives well but it also does not leave any oily residue on the plastic. Gasoline can work too, if that is what is available but that may leave residue and definitely a unwanted smell. After the old adhesive residue is removed wash the plastic with a good soapy solution, to remove any dirt and oils from the plastic. Don’t skimp on this! The plastic needs to be as clean as possible before new graphics are applied. After washing, let the plastic dry completely. If there are any raised nicks in the plastic from on-track collisions, use a light file to smooth that area down. Now we are ready for the next task; preparing for application.

Prepping for application

The first thing we need is a small clean mist spray bottle like a hairspray bottle or first aid spray bottle. The key here is that the bottle should only produce a mist, not full spray. Next, mix a solution of half rubbing alcohol and half water and fill the bottle. The next item we need is a handheld hair dryer. We want a hair dryer that has a setting where it gets pretty hot without too much forced air. The last thing we need is a small sewing needle. Once we have these items we are ready for the application.

Applying the graphics

Before we start, it is best to have the plastic no cooler than room temperature. Cold plastic transfers the cooler temperature to the graphics and that will not promote the best adhesion. Also make sure your hands are clean. If you are applying clear graphics the last thing you want is a greasy thumb print forever stuck behind your graphic. Next pick a graphic that is easy to work with like the front number plate. Peel off the entire backing of the graphic being careful to hold it with the least amount of finger contact as possible. I know that some people say to only peel the starting edge and peel the paper as you go, but that is not our method. We found that doing the peel as you go method does not always guarantee the best graphic alignment and it is difficult to recover from the mistake. So for now, go ahead and peel off the entire backing. As you are holding the graphic with the tips of your fingers, take the spray bottle and lightly mist the adhesive with the water and alcohol solution. This mist will allow you to gently place the graphic on the plastic for alignment. If it does not line up the water and alcohol will give you the freedom to quickly pull it off and re-center it. Because it is a mist, it will evaporate quickly, so try to get it right the first time. If not, give the dry area another quick mist and try again. The next step is is to figure the best spot to make your initial firm press. On some plastic pieces it is best to start in the center and work your way out like front number plates. With pieces like fork guards we would start at the bottom and work our way up, and side number plates and shrouds we would pick an edge that gives you the most guidance for positioning. Once you pressed the center of the number plate, get the hair dryer and put it on the hot low setting. Hold the dryer about 6 inches from the center point until the graphic becomes softer and smooth out the section of graphic with your fingers. Work your way out from that center point in small sections at a time. Heat and smooth, heat and smooth. If the edges of the graphic are beginning to stick in undesirable positions, lift the edge and correct it. Now as you are working toward the edges, you may come across sections where the graphic looks like it may bunch up. If done correctly this should not be a problem. Just make sure that section is nice and warm and gently smooth out the ripple. In cases where you have to deal with large curves like the rear number plate that curves around your exhaust, make sure you line up the top of the graphic and use the hair dryer to give you the added soft flexibility to the graphic to work around the curve. Also, make sure you heat and press the edges of every graphic well. The hair dryer not only gives flexibility to the graphic, but it also heats the adhesives so it will adhere better.

Dealing with the aftermath

Ok, so it was not perfect and you have air bubbles. Not a problem. Take that hair dryer out again and start to heat the area well with the air bubble. Use your finger to push the air bubble to its smallest size. With the hair dryer still focused on the bubble, take that sewing needle and gently poke the center of the bubble. If done right, you should see the bubble disappear in front of your eyes. If not, give it a little rub to flatten it out.

There you have it. It is as simple as using the water and alcohol to help with alignment and the hair dryer to help you with flexibility and adhesion. The rest is all technique that comes from practice. If you have something to add or have found a better technique we would love to post that as well. Send in your new information on this tip to content@dirt-talk.com or submit it through our on line form.


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Links to Riding Tips
Suspension Setup

Race Tech Suspension 101

Suspension setup can be confusing, but is is necessary to understand as much as you can if you want to be successful. That's why I decided to ask the folks at Race Tech who are clearly industry leaders in designing and tuning suspension components for almost every bike and every type of riding you can think of. Below is a list of FAQ's posted on their website that they allowed me to publish here. If you want more information on how Race Tech can improve your riding click on their logo below to go directly to their site.

How can I tell if I need suspension work?

Well that's a tough one. Here's the problem, "The best you've ridden is the best you know." Until you've ridden something better, the best you've ridden is the best you can compare it to. In fact, it's not the best you've ridden, it's the best you remember. Most people know they could probably use some work when the bike bottoms severely or it spits them off but it's hard to tell when your suspension is limiting the amount of available traction. To expand on this concept think about the sensation of harshness. What you think is OK, I think is harsh, simply because you are use to getting beat up on the bumps. Our goal at Race Tech is to spoil you. Once you've ridden a well set up bike you won't want to go back to whatever you've been riding. Here's something to keep in mind, our guarantee. We guarantee you'll love it and we guarantee it will be better than anything else, period.

How do I know if my spring is off or my damping is off?

If you have a problem with bottoming, for example, it could be caused by either too soft of a spring or too little compression damping. The easiest way to get your spring rate in the ballpark is to do a "Valving Search" on our website. This will give you our recommendation for spring rate. Once you have the proper rate the rest is damping. That is what the Gold Valve® kits are all about, personal setup for you. If your front end is diving, first of all, it should. If it dives too much or too little or if it bottoms you will need to do something about it. How much it dives can be affected by either spring rate or damping. When you hit the front brake, the front end dives. If you keep the brake on a constant amount the front end will dive and then oscillate around a certain height. Let's call this height the Dynamic Ride Height. This Dynamic Ride Height is totally determined by spring forces. How much it oscillates and how much it initially overshoots this height is affected by damping forces as well.

What is "Race Sag" (Static Sag)?

Static Sag or Race Sag is the amount the bike compresses from fully extended, with the rider on board.Here's how to measure it.

First extend the forks or shock completely and measure from the wiper to the bottom of the triple clamp on forks or from the axle to a vertical reference point on the chassis. This is L1.

Take the bike off the stand, put the rider on board in riding position. Get an assistant to balance the bike or have the rider hold onto something, comress the suspension about 25 mm (1") and let it extend very slowly (slowly is the critical term). Where it stops, measure the distance between the wiper and the bottom of the triple clamp or the axle and the reference point on the chassis again. Do not bounce. This is L2. (If there were no friction in the seals the bike would come up a little further.)

Next lift up on the suspension and let it drop very slowly. Where it stops measure again. Do not bounce. This is L3. The reason L2 and L3 are different is due to stiction or drag in the seals and bushings. (If there were no friction in the seals or the linkage the bike would drop a little further.)

Half way between L1 and L2 is where it would come to rest with no friction. Therefore L2 and L3 must be averaged and subtracted from L1 to calculate true Static Sag. Static Sag = L1 - (L3 L2)/2

To adjust Static Sag make longer or shorter preload spacers or use the preload adjusters, if available.

It is important to note that there are no magic Sag numbers. However here are some guidelines to use as starting points.

Bike Type

Front %

Front mm

Rear %

Rear mm

Rear Free Sag mm

Off-Road Bikes






Off-Road 80cc Mini's






I am on a limited budget. How can I get the biggest bang for the buck?

The answer to this question differs with each bike. This probably is best answered by the Technical Sales Staff at Race Tech 951.279.6655. In general springs are where I would start. If there are any products available for your model designed to reduce friction like Ultra Slick Fork Bushings or Ultra Slick Suspension Fluid®, this is generally a fairly low cost way to improve performance as well. Gold Valves® and Emulators® are designed to change the damping curves and are essential if you want an outstanding ride. They allow custom setup of the damping for the individual. In some cases checking the anodizing on the outer fork tubes for wear can be a big deal for friction too.

I have heard of progressive springs and this concept makes sense to me. Why does Race Tech recommend Straight Rate Springs for forks?

When setting up the spring forces in a bike you want a setup that is progressive enough yet not too progressive. A setup that is not progressive enough will have a tendency to feel too harsh yet when a big hit is encountered bottoming occurs. A setup that is too progressive will either drop through the travel feeling mushy and then feel as though it hits a wall or can feel good until it hits that wall. On front forks there are two forces we consider to be "spring" forces. First is the coil (mechanical) spring and second is the force due to air pressure and oil level. Even if you run zero air pressure the oil level causes the pressure to increase as the forks are compressed. By its very nature this increase in pressure is very progressive. We have found that in combination with a straight wound spring we have a good level of progressiveness. If we want more progressiveness we simply raise the oil level. Another subtle benefit of straight wound springs is that they are easy to understand. In order to make sense of progressively wound springs you really have to map out the force as you compress the spring. For example a spring marked 20/40 lb/in (excuse me for the Imperial units but this will work with metric units as well) may start out at 20 lbs/in in the first inch but where does the 40 refer to? It might be referring to the rate in the 4th inch or it could be referring to the rate in the 6th inch. This would cause a huge difference in ride.

What is the difference between raising the oil level and changing the viscosity?

Raising the oil level increases the compression ratio in the front fork and therefore changes the progressiveness of the spring forces. This has nothing to do with the damping (key point). Changing the oil viscosity changes the damping. Both the compression and the rebound. The spring forces are sensitive to position in other words where it is in the travel while damping forces only care how fast the damper is moving.

I am going to go race my sport bike. What do I need to do to get the suspension ready to race?

Send it to Race Tech. (ha ha) But seriously folks most people think they need to make their bike stiffer and slower so they crank in the adjusters and perhaps put in thicker oil. In many cases nothing could be further to the truth. In general we use stiffer springs both front and rear for racing than for street use. Compression damping is higher than street use as well but rebound is nearly identical. Remember the faster you go the quicker the wheel needs to rebound in order to stay in contact with the ground. Check out the "Valving Search" for your Personal Valving Setup.

I have a KTM with the PDS system. I have seen a lot of aftermarket suspension companies put on straight rate springs and the magazines seem to like them. Why does Race Tech want me to use progressively wound springs?

One of the problems with the PDS (no linkage) system is that it doesn't have much rise in rate in other words it is not progressive enough. To give you some numbers for comparison the 2002 RM 125 has a 24% rise in rate and the YZ 125 has a 30% rise in rate while the KTM has about a 10% rise. This means it will tend to be both too harsh on the small bumps as well as too soft on the big bumps. Every setup is a major compromise, if it is stiff enough it's too harsh, if it's plush enough it's too soft. Using a progressively wound spring makes the rear wheel spring forces much more progressive, more in line with the Japanese stuff. Unfortunately the number of progressively wound springs that have been available have been rare so most aftermarket performance shops have used straight wound springs instead (maybe some of them actually think it works better that way but our tests refute this).

I don't race (or "I'm only a novice."). Why do I need Race Tech suspension?

Just BECAUSE! (just kidding) Even if you don't race or if you are a novice you can greatly benefit from well tuned suspension. Most beginner riders can feel a major change in ride when we setup their bikes. Even if you think you are too slow to know the difference wouldn't you want your suspension to keep you on the rubber side as much as possible? Comfort and safety are additional benefits on top of control and speed.

What is a Gold Valve?

A Gold Valve® is Race Tech's valving kit. It is designed to break through the limitations of the stock piston design. Research has shown that when the piston ports are as large as possible the harshness is dramatically reduced. This allows a valving stack to be personally tailored to the individual rider. It allows bottoming resistance to actually be increased as the harshness is decreased. The Gold Valve®itself is only the first step. The key to a successful custom setup is the Digital Valving System or DVS available on our website. In development for over 8 years, this computerized valving system calculates the proper setup for the individual rider and application from over 300,000 possible valving combinations.

The Gold Valve has such huge ports, won't it just blow through the travel?

See "What is a Gold Valve®?" The truth is that the velocity of the damper is controlled by the input (the size and shape of the bump as well as the speed at which it is hit) as well as the damping setup. The real secret is in the valving. The huge ports of the Gold Valve® allow incredible valving flexibility. If we wanted to, the valving could actually be setup so stiff with a Gold Valve®that it is as bad as stock. Of course we don't want that. What it allows though, is the ability to make a damping setup both firm and plush at the same time.

Gold Valves have been out for a number of years. Why are Gold Valves still needed on current models?

The factories have a pretty big challenge when setting up their suspension. They have to set it up for some mythical "average" rider. They also realize that it makes more sense for them to error on the stiff side rather than on the soft side if they are going to release it to the general public with all shapes and sizes and types of riding and skill levels. They also have budget considerations and time limitations to release new models. The truth is the stock pistons have been very similar since 1987. I believe they realize their stock settings must be a compromize and they leave the custom setup to the aftermarket. The Gold Valve® has been out for a number of years and the theory behind them still stands up. The real key is is the Valving that goes on the Gold Valve®. Race Tech's development goes on year round. This process has produced more refined DVS settings with every successive year.

What is so great about Race Tech Springs? Why do you call them "High Performance"?

To understand what is so great about Race Tech High Performance Springs the first thing to know is the industry standard for spring rates. Everything that is made has production tolerances. With springs the industry standard is /- 5%. This means a spring marked 5.0 kg/mm could actually be a 4.75 to a 5.25. This means the rates overlap radically, a spring marked 5.0 and one marked 5.5 could actually be the exact same rate. To handle this situation we 100% test our springs. This is a very time consuming process but eliminates this problem. The term "High Performance" is thrown around fairly lightly these days by many people. In the process of design the spring manufacturers have a number of options in making a spring. They can use a lot of coils of thick wire or less number of coils of a thinner wire and end up with the exact same rate. The thinner wire and less coils combination makes for a spring that weighs less than the other combination. Of course a higher quality material and process is required to yeild a reliable spring. Race Tech springs use the finest materials, they are heat treated, shot peened and preset (eliminates sacking). This is what makes Race Tech High Performance Springs light weight yet tough with very accurate rates.

My forks pump up with air. Why, and what do I do?

The job of the fork seal is two fold. First it must hold the oil in and second it must keep the air out. As the seal wears or as the fork tube gets pitted it can lose the ability to keep the air out. The solution is to rebuild the forks and replace the seals. When we do a rebuild we will typically polish the tubes as well. Unfortunately at some point the tubes will be pitted too much and will need to be replaced. The other reason forks "pump up" is do to temperature, altitude and barometric pressure changes. If the temperature increases or you go up in altitude or the barometric pressure decreases the forks will have a higher pressure in them. This is normal and this pressure buildup should be bled off when you get to your riding location and perhaps after your forks are brought up to temperature

I have a bike with damping rod type forks. I have heard that Gold Valve Cartridge Emulators® are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Why?

Old fashioned damping rods while inexpensive to manufacture have major limitations. To create compression damping, oil is shoved through a hole or holes. Shoving oil through holes creates very little resistance to flow at low vertical wheel velocities as when hitting a dip or gully or applying the front brakes. This allows the forks to shoot through the travel fairly easily, diving or bottomming in these situations. On the other hand when the wheel hits something square edge, especially at speed, it needs a lot of oil to pass through the damping holes very quickly. Unfortunately the nature of shoving oil through holes is that as the wheel velocity increases the damping force increases with the square of the velocity. In other words if you double the velocity you get four times the force. This means the hole basically "hydraulic locks" resulting in a harsh spike. Damping rods give the worst of both worlds, they are both too mushy and too harsh at the same time. An Emulator® is a valve that sits on top of the damping rod and is held in place with the main spring. To install them we simply remove the damping rods and drill out the existing compression damping holes so they are so large they do not create any appreciable damping. Then during reassembly we simply drop the Emulator® on top of the damping rod. The Emulator® creates the compression damping of a state-of-the-art cartridge fork. The ride is both firmer and plusher than the damping rod and is completely tuneable. Sliced bread is good, Emulators® are better.

I have external adjusters. Why do I need a Gold Valve?

The range of adjustment for external adjusters is very limited. In some cases their affect is less than 3%. They are good for fine tuning, however, many damping changes need to be in excess of 200%.

Other companies do suspension revalving why do I need the added expense of Gold Valves?

Standard revalving can certainly improve the ride quality but at some point the limit of the stock piston shows up and it can't be made any plusher while still retaining bottoming resistance. If you would like us to do standard revalving we would be glad to.


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