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    Chris Cooksey
    With my first season as a Monster Energy Supercross media member winding down, I decided to provide a media member perspective of my day in Salt Lake City.  By now everyone has seen or heard about Eli Tomac’s amazing ride, so I won't beat a dead horse.  This is all about my day in SLC, a behind the scenes look at my Supercross experience.

    In Salt Lake City the vibes were different than other Monster Energy Supercross events.  In Utah the crowd attending appeared family based as Utah doesn't have the “So-Cal Bro” feel of Anaheim and Las Vegas.  If you wanted to bring children to a clean race, this was the event.  My day started with a stroll through the pits where I took pictures and made the rounds catching up with industry friends and coworkers.  I spoke with Charles Castloo from 100% about their impressive growth.   I chatted tire preferences with my WPS co-worker and working man hero, Kyle Gills.  He prefers to run the Michelin Starcross 5. Kyle is about as privateer as a rider can be.  While he has some friends as mechanics, he does most of the work himself.  Kyle only competes in select events as he has a 9-5 job and traveling across the country every week isn't feasible. 

    From there I headed to the track walk, specifically to get a closer look.  As I tried to enter the track I was stopped by an official and told, “Sorry, working media only.”  While I could have easily become upset or explained my way onto the track I didn’t have too.  Standing to the side and towering over most, wearing a cowboy hat and boots, Teddy Parks and his grizzly voice directed me to a VIP view from the grandstands, after posing for several photos of course.  I would proceed to see him multiple times throughout the night, even holding the flag during the National Anthem!  After track walk and rider’s meeting a chapel service was conducted on the track.  The pastor was puzzling to say the least.  Typically, most members of the media head to the press box to watch practice, but I like to watch from different places around the stadium.  This gives me a better idea of what the riders are doing and how they are feeling.  I enjoy watching the B and C practices as this give the best indication as to how difficult certain sections of the track are, sometimes the A riders make it look too easy. 

    After practice and timed qualifying I headed to the press box.  The press box is strange, there are a few seats reserved for “working media” mixed in with JT$’s VIPs taking in the experience.  JT$ walks the VIPs through the track during track walk explaining the sections, level of difficulty, and possibly what the riders are thinking.  I usually don't sit in the “working media section” because I can't watch the race without showing emotion.  In the end none of us were able to watch Tomac and Dungey's epic battle without screaming emotion.  By the main event the normal stress and tense mood of the room melted into an outcry of emotion for Tomac.  For a brief moment every media member put their deadlines to the side and became a fan in the crowd.

    After the race, leaving the press box becomes a race itself.  With elevators jammed packed and the press conference held in secrecy, no media person desires to walk into the press conference room late, or get locked out unintentionally.   The press conferences have been a source of great controversy, as it is a new system and there is little or no guidance outside of asking any question to the podium finishers.  Some of the old guards of Supercross media despise the new format, they feel it removes their inside advantage.  For newbies like myself it provides access to the top stars.  In previous years you had to be a rider’s friend or grind through the system for years to get an interview or quote.  The new format allows media access to riders who might otherwise avoid them. 

    I was extremely nervous, as this was my first press conference since the infamous, “there was no crown” incident in Glendale.  I heard a rumor the 250 class changed their eligibility rules allowing champions to defend their title.  I wanted to know if Justin Hill would defend or look for a 450 ride.  I asked my question and without hesitation he confirmed he was racing 450 in 2018.  

    Ryan and his wife Lindsay sat directly behind me during the press conference and I did a little eavesdropping.  I cannot be 100% sure of everything said, but I caught a few things.  Ryan described Eli’s performance to Lindsay as Eli riding full of confidence after signing a multimillion dollar contract and Eli’s willingness to hang it all out.  Since I didn't hear the entire conversation or the exact context consider this “fake news” but interesting nonetheless.   As the 450 riders were called to the podium Daniel Blair announced Jason Anderson would not be in attendance as he was battling altitude sickness.  Dungey took his seat in the 2nd place spot. Tomac avoided sitting in the middle, in the first place seat, and chose to sit furthest away from Dungey.  Tomac appeared professional showcasing his Monster Energy drink, but avoided direct eye contact with Dungey.  While they both respected the press conference process there was definitely tension between the two, even if it was one sided from Tomac.  

    After a few reporter questions had been asked, the mic was passed to me.  With hands sweating and my heart racing I tried to hide my nerves and make sure I asked my question correctly.  This time I held the mic tight until I was sure Dungey understood exactly what I was asking.  I didn’t want to ask the cookie cutter questions others were asking, but also I didn’t want to be disrespectful as these guys just put their hearts and lives on the line for 28 laps.  I asked Dungey if the implementation of the chase format would have any impact on his retirement decision.  To my surprise Dungey appeared relieved to share his thoughts on the future format.  He expressed his opinion that he didn’t want things to change or turn into a “circus,” but did not break any information regarding his retirement.

    As they dismissed the 450 riders from the podium, the top 10 riders from both 250 and 450 classes were obliged to hang around for 20 minutes for individual interviews.  Dungey didn't want to hang around and headed straight for the door, I thanked him for not yelling at me this time and he gave me a funny look, I’m positive he did not remember me from before.  At the end of my 14 hour day, I was mostly relieved to complete my first press conference since Glendale, and look forward to Vegas!

    Chris Cooksey
    With controversy surrounding Supercross this season associated with inconsistent penalties, I decided rather than criticize FIM Race Director John Gallagher I would sit down with him to understand what his job fully entailed.  After talking with John, I left with the impression that he is both knowledgeable about Supercross and truly cares about his position, the riders, and the crowd.  I also left with more questions about the overall rule structure of Supercross, specifically how loose the rule book is, ultimately allowing for human interpretation.  This is part 1 of my look behind the curtains of Supercross and who makes the important decisions.  This is all about John Gallagher, his responsibilities, decisions and his thought process.

    Who is John Gallagher and how did he get started in Supercross?  His involvement in Supercross began in 1976 as a flagger, from there he continued officiating and racing locally until he graduated from Riverside City College with Associates of Science in Motorcycle Technology.  Throughout his journey, John has been an official in Supercross, MTEG Ultracross, 4-Stroke Nationals, Thunder Bikes, Arenacross, Dirt Track, X-Games, and Endurocross from 1976 until present day.   When preparing for a race, John will fly into the race city the Thursday before racing weekend and spend his Friday and Saturday at the track.   His job consists of three different facets.  

    First is safety, John relies on his years of experience to determine the safety standards.  He does this by making sure there are no immediate dangers to the racers, officials, and crowd.  As it pertains to the crowd; making sure rocks, dirt chunks or motorcycles cannot make contact or do harm to any race fan.  A particular area of concern is behind the starting gate, ensuring bikes cannot toss roost into the stands.  The second facet is enforcing the rule book and confirming tech inspection is completed correctly.  The third facet is ensuring the program runs with-in the time allotted.  This includes allowing time for teams to complete bike changes or repairs while staying within the three hour television window.  John also is involved with the input to the promoter to determine the rider breaks and the length in time to give the riders in between heats.  He speaks with the teams and mechanics and considers their input when determining the schedule.  John also has twelve officials placed around the track to act as his eyes during the event.  John trusts each official’s interpretation as if he saw the incident himself.   While he trusts in what his officials’ witness, ultimately, it is John’s decision if a punishment is distributed.
    I asked John why he did an interview with Jenny Taft before informing Jason Anderson that he had been disqualified from Anaheim 2.  John stated he informed Jason's team manager and was adamant that the responsibility then fell to the team manager to deliver the news as he needed to get back to his duties.  John insisted if Anderson was not informed it was not his or any of the twelve officials’ responsibilities to seek Anderson out.  Once Anderson’s team manager was notified John got back to his nightly duties.  While Jenny Taft didn't have any issues finding Anderson, he was not in the mood to talk.  John told Jenny Taft immediately following the incident, “If it becomes physical on the track or off the track it results in an immediate disqualification.”  

    In comparison I asked John why Broc Tickle was not disqualified from Toronto after smacking Barcia in the back of the helmet, as that appeared to be “physical” off the track.  John replied, “Every guy knows there is the ability to make somebody swing on you, I could probably provoke you to be very angry with me.”  I also asked John why Tickle didn't receive the same punishment as Anderson at Anaheim 2.  John stated, “Mr. Friese was not doing anything to provoke any part of that [Anderson incident], not anywhere in it.”   In regards to his previous statement to Jenny Taft, I asked if Tickle had taken matters into his own hands by striking Barcia in the back of the helmet and if he should have been disqualified.  John responded, “And running into someone with their motorcycle is not considered the same thing?, which is what Justin did in reverse, those guys got close to each other and had a discussion but it was nothing like what Anderson did to Vince Friese, you cannot compare the two.  No possible way.”   
    John viewed the Anderson incident as one sided, while viewing the Tickle and Barcia incident as a couple of racers working out their issues. Therefore the latter punishment issued did not warrant severity.  I asked John, if Barcia ran his bike into Tickle after the race and Tickle smacked Barcia’s helmet, wouldn't he sit them both down for the night?  John said, “Not necessary to sit either guy down.  They had a disagreement, it got heated and I dealt with it.  Anderson’s incident was not this, it was all one sided. He was dealing with this issue because of what he thought happened on the track, and by the way, he [Anderson] was incorrect.  What happened on the track was not Friese’s fault.”  I asked John if Barcia was on probation and he confirmed, “No.  He was warned but not to that degree.”  He also stated when the Barcia and Tickle incident got out of hand he had to interject himself, but he preferred to let them work it out first.  Both teams got involved and asked for action, so he had no choice to intervene and punish both riders.  Tickle’s punishment included starting last in the Semi, receiving a written warning, and paying a fine.  Barcia received a written warning.  

    As far as the Chad Reed/Blue flag penalty, John informed me he contacted Reed on the Monday after the event informing him of his penalty.  At this time he tried every possible way to inform Reed of the appropriate way to appeal the penalty in a proper and timely fashion.  John attempted to inform Reed of the proper procedure, due to Reed’s past incident with the Black Flag and Trey Canard.  Once the black flag has been thrown, Reed had no way to appeal the penalty.  John confirmed this was not the reason he did not Black Flag Reed.  His concern was related to making sure Dungey didn't have another issue that might be slowing him down, such as a tire going down or a clutch slipping.  If Dungey was experiencing any issues, and Reed wasn't holding him up, then it would be unfair to Black Flag Reed.  Upon finding out Dungey had no issues, and to also have time to analyze all facets of the incident, is when John decided to penalize Reed.  

    As far as inconsistent punishments, John stated, “my job is to change behavior.  If a rider feels a certain behavior is acceptable and the rest of the paddock doesn't feel it is acceptable, I have to figure out how to take a group of people that are vastly different in ability, quality of team, and funding, to find a way to make this all work.”  In relation to different punishments for different riders John stated, “in regard to Jason Anderson, points are a big deal.  A fine not so much.  If you flip the situation and Friese threw the punches, a fine that would affect Anderson would bankrupt a Vince Friese and Vince doesn't have enough points for what Jason lost at that race now.  Vince would still owe me points.”   John determines decisions based on what is “equitable to each rider,” and the rule book allows this.

    Bottom line is punishments are his decision.  I asked if John considered punishing Barcia in St. Louis for his take out of Alex Ray (which he didn't see until watching the event on television Monday or Tuesday) and he said he told Barcia, “Justin learned that type of thing not only screwed the other guy but also took him out as well.”  He continued, “Is that the way you want to move forward because you are riding in the back right now?”  John admits there is no clear way to determine when an action requires punishment or it would be written in the rule book.  He determines punishments on a rider’s intent and whether or not riders can sort it out themselves.  His tasks do not physically allow him to interject himself in every issue.  In regard to punishments, John said, “Bottom line is it ends with me!"

    In Part 2 I will dive into the rule book and show how loopholes could be closed and ensure less human interjection.  This will draw clearer lines as to what is a penalty and what punishments should apply.

    Even though our sport isn’t that “old” compared to some others, it has its own share of beliefs, some rooted in truth and some not so much.
    In this feature we’ll be looking at different things riders and racers say about off-road motorcycling and try to determine whether they are true or false…or maybe somewhere in-between!
    We sat with a few of our staff and asked them to name a few of the pervasive and persistent beliefs that they felt were indicative of the theme stated above, so lets look at each of them and see what we find out.
    (Editor’s note: In researching this article, many that were interviewed gave very long technical explanations to our questions. We normally edit these answers for the sake of length and clarity, but in this case we let the responders give longer, technical answers. Part of this is due to reader demand so let us know if this “works” for you, the reader, thanks!)
    We’ve all seen different and sometime creative ways of transporting off road motorcycles but the ubiquitous tie-down strap arrangement has to be most common. This involves attaching tie-downs to the handlebars and cinching the forks down until they don’t move…there’s no science to how far to pull the forks down and everyone seems to do it a bit differently so right away you have differences in technique and implementation.
    But is this a good way to blow fork seals? Is this phenomenon fact or myth?
    Obviously anytime fork seals are under compression they are being stressed, let’s agree on that. But are they stressed enough to help blow the forks seals?
    We spoke with James Burry of Risk Racing who had this to say:
    “Your forks and fork seals are designed to take big hits, and therefore a lot of pressure when that happens.  Of course that is for short period of time, which they are good at.  The issue occurs over time, and is compounded when people over tighten their tie-downs.  A new fork seal is soft and will “stretch and flex” with the added pressure, as there are designed to do, but as they age they lose their flexibility and their ability to hold the pressure over long periods of time.  Eventually they will leak.  It is best to just leave them at rest or reduced pressure during transit if possible.”
    OK, so keeping them stressed all the time can be an issue…how about using a fork brace that sits between the front tire and underside of the fender?
    He continued: “The fork brace can help protect your fork seals because it prevents the fork from being over compressed and therefore limits the overall pressure.  When the fork brace is squeezed between the fork and the tire, the tire becomes the “flexible” member of the group rather than the suspension.  The real benefit to the brace is to prevent the bike from compressing during transit.  If you use tie-downs, and are nice to your suspension by not over compressing, then you stand the chance for your suspension to compress further during transit when the vehicle hits a “g-out” style bump.  This can compress the suspension more causing the tie-downs to lose tension and possible become disconnected from the bike or vehicle…end result is a bike flopping down the highway.  So, the fork brace is easier on fork seals because it allows the user to tightly secure their bike without over-compressing the front suspension, and also prevents the suspension from compressing any further during transit.
    OK so fork braces are a good accessory to use with tie-down(s) to prevent additional stress on the form seals, except when hitting a large bump which can loosen the whole arrangement. What about the newer stationary systems that attach to the floor of the carrying vehicle and to the footpegs or frame of the bike?
    Burry continued: “The Lock-N-Load system responds to all concerns when transporting a bike.  It reduces pressure on the fork seals, limits the travel of the bikes suspension (and) eliminates the potential for a tie down to break. Of course the trade off is the (expense compared to) a cheap pair of straps.”
    On this same subject, we had a look at two other factors that may play a role in raising or lowering pressure during transport and we came up with two items to explore:
    Atmospheric Pressure - In theory, air pressure in your fork tubes stays static if all environmental factors remain identical, but that doesn't happen in the real world. One factor would be the altitude at which you transport the vehicle, because as you increase your height geographically, atmospheric pressure decreases. For example, atmospheric pressure is approx. 14.7 PSI at sea level, but drops drops to about 10 PSI at 10,000 feet...
    So that means atmospheric pressure increases with decreasing height! So the pressure in your fork tube can rise or fall depending upon your location, but not dramatically at no more than a 5 PSI swing for 10,000 feet. So tie down solutions that exhibit static pressure in the fork tubes can have that value actually increase, causing even more stress on the seals.
    Air Temperature - It doesn't immediately come to mind when thinking about suspension components except at the pro level, air temperature can also contribute to stress on fork seals when under load as in transporting.
    Temperature affects air pressure by causing the air to either become more or less dense, which expands or lowers its pressure. Warm air is less dense than cold air, and as air becomes less dense, its pressure increases.
    Standard rule of thumb for evaluating pressure to air temperature ratio is tire pressure will increase by 1 PSI for every 10 degrees of ambient temperature increase, and this is true in reverse as well. So it's not a huge figure but between it is a contributor to elevated (unexpected) fork pressure.
    The pressure in your fork tubes can increase as the temperature rises, and this again can cause additional pressure in the fork tubes causing even more stress on the seals.
    Conclusion: Pressure on fork seals can be high and for long periods of time when transporting a motorcycle using the tie-down method, potentially leading to premature failure, and using a fork brace or stationary transport mechanism can diminish or eliminate this pressure extending the service life of your fork seals.
    Riders and racers we spoke to had strong opinions about this statement but lack of real world examples hampered their arguments.
    First of all let’s define what we mean by handguards…this would be a wrap around metal or plastic “bar” that stretches from the end of the handlebar around the rider’s hands and attaches to the front of the handlebars, creating a loop.
    This “loop” of metal is the culprit at hand so to speak, in theory and in practice it can create a situation in which your arm can go through the loop and then be at the mercy of anything else that happens. You may leverage your arm and snap it…maybe get your arm caught in there as the bike drags you into an injurious situation - the possibilities are endless when you think about it.
    But does it happen often? Is this phenomenon fact or myth?
    Since we didn’t actually know any riders who this has happened to, we searched the Internet for some clues. Many of the responses came from threads just like these:

    The theme of these threads seems to be “it can happen…but usually doesn’t” and most riders/racers have never seen these happen…and if they have, it may have been due to other factors such as mounting the guard too high or so loose it wrapped around and “bit” the rider.
    Conclusion: The myth of handguards being the culprit in broken arms and/or wrist injuries just doesn’t hold water. We’ve spoken to countless racers who’ve admitted they’ve never seen this happen. We aren’t saying it doesn’t ever happen but the notion that these components are so dangerous because of it just isn’t true, and most racers agree that the benefit of the guards far outweighs the risk of injury by not running them.
    We just received a big bore 2-stroke engine back from our builder and we asked him…”how do we break in this engine, and is there a certain way you like to do it?” and as with almost everyone we’ve spoken to, he has his own way to “break in” the engine. But with today’s tight tolerances, computer machining techniques and improved quality control is this really necessary? How different are the requirements for a 2-stroke vs. a 4-stroke?
    We figured asking some engine builders would be the best way to find out as they deal with this question all the time.
    One of the best responses we got was from Tom Zont of TZR Racing and his extensive insight and experience dictated that we publish his comment in entirety.
    Tom Zont: “The need to methodically heat cycle a new engine has changed over the years. With better materials being used, higher precision in the manufacturing of the parts themselves, and with most engines being liquid cooled, lengthy and methodical break in procedures are generally not as necessary on today's engines as they once were. This is particularly true with the newest 4 strokes.”
    “On any new motor, 2-stroke or 4, parts like pistons, rings, valves and cylinder walls will indeed ‘wear in’ as the engine is run. The piston rings (contact) against the cylinder wall is an area that has a measurable effect on overall output being as good as that engine can be. There are some differences between 2 and 4-strokes in what is critical during the initial ‘break-in’ however. “
    “On modern 4 strokes, there is no need to "seat the piston" thru methodical heat cycling. With electro-fusion/Nikasil cylinders, ultra precision cast and forged pistons, and the relatively uniform temperatures achieved with liquid cooling in a cylinder with no ports, damaging a 4 strokes piston is extremely hard to do as long as the engine has oil in it of course. With so much quality oil being splashed and pumped to lubricate the cylinder walls and piston skirt, there is really no need to ‘seat’ or ‘wear-in’ a 4-stroke piston when new. The rings themselves will indeed ‘wear in’ to the cylinder walls over time, creating a better ring seal at the 1 hour mark than when they were brand new. This will happen regardless of how many times you warm up the motor and let it cool (heat-cycle). We have and can put a brand new 4-stroke motor (bike) on a dyno, and as long as we simply warm it up to full operating temperature, we can run it wide open to measure its power output and not damage the piston or rings. The power will go up slightly but measurably, as the parts like the rings wear-in, and the engine becomes a more efficient air pump.“

    “On a modern 2 stroke however, there is some merit into ‘heat cycling’ a new piston. Because of the elaborate casting of the ports throughout a 2-stroke cylinder, the temperature of the cylinder itself is not as uniform as in a 4-stroke. Temperature variations mean that the cylinder will not expand as uniformly as the engine temperature changes. This can lead to parts of the cylinder that do not expand as much as others. (Aluminum expands dramatically as its heated) You also do not have as much oil available to cushion moving parts as in a 4-stroke. Three to four ounces of oil per gallon of gasoline is not much when you think about how long that one gallon will run your engine for. With less oil to stay between the moving parts, the chances of parts rubbing together without adequate lubrication to prevent seizure or heavy wear are increased.”
    “We want the piston to be very close fitting in the cylinder bore. That way it cannot tip or rock back and forth, so the rings will stay tangent to the cylinder walls and create a good seal. That new, exceptionally tight fitting piston is at risk for seizure against the cylinder walls if it expands too much or too quickly, in comparison with the cylinder that it is in. This is where the heat cycling can be a benefit. By methodically warming the piston up to incrementally hotter temperatures, we would gently, GRADUALLY scuff away material where the piston is running out of room to expand. The key here is the very gradual ‘scuffing’ away of material, ONLY in places where it has run out of clearance. Running a new 2-stroke engine for short periods, each time slightly longer, getting it slightly hotter than the last time, can indeed "seat the piston" gradually enough so as to prevent a full on seizure the first time the engine reaches maximum temperature under the most severe operating conditions.”
    “The term ‘seating in’ is more appropriate to the pistons rings themselves, and I prefer the term "wearing in" when referring to the piston. ‘Wearing in’ the piston essentially means that you will allow the new piston to very gradually rub away areas on its skirts that become too tight in the cylinder bore because of un-even expansion, both of the piston itself, or the walls of the cylinder. Heat cycling is a cautious way of letting this process happen in a manner that is gradual enough so as not to have what we call a piston seizure. By engine builder’s standards and terminology, a piston seizure is not always a piston that becomes completely stuck, melted or wedged in the cylinder. A heavily ‘scuffed’ piston skirt on an engine that never quit running can still be considered ‘seized’ by many, to varying degrees anyways.”
    “Many factors involved can influence how critical it is to ‘heat cycle’ a new 2 stroke engine to ‘wear in’ the new piston, and too many to list here. But as a general rule, it would never hurt anything by heat cycling a 2-stroke a few times before running it at full race pace. Don't confuse ‘heat cycling’ (to break in or wear in new parts) with a standard "warming up". Every modern 2 or 4-stroke should ALWAYS  be warmed up gradually, as close to full operating temperature as possible, before going wide open down a holeshot straightaway. Letting all internal moving parts expand to their normal operating size somewhat gradually, will reduce wear on parts that are expanding at different rates. Not just in new engines, but for their entire lifespan.”
    Conclusion: The belief that “heat cycling” your engine before full operation is important, even more so for a 2-stroke versus 4-stroke. It’s not detrimental to your new engine and can result in an engine that will run longer and realize its full performance potential.
    Most of us love our motorcycles and want to give them the best fuel available…but what does “best” really mean when it comes to off-road motorcycles. With bikes like Honda’s CRF250R coming stock with over 13:1 compression, this is becoming more important.
    Higher octane doesn't give your bike more power, it burns slower to avoid detonation in higher compression engines. Detonation is a very destructive force in an engine and should be avoided at all costs. You can find more in-depth reading on octane HERE.
    What does the manufacturer of your bike recommend? This is extremely important because all engines are different. You must base your decision on what grade gasoline to use by knowing the minimum grade recommended by the manufacturer. If they don’t recommend high octane gas for your bike, then you're just throwing away money by using it…there is no real benefit…except if you detect pinging or knocking when using lower octane gas, that would require you raise the octane rating to compensate.
    Conclusion:  The answer here is a lot more evident than some of the other items we’ve covered in this article. Always use the fuel with at least the octane rating specified in your owner’s manual. Using a higher grade is of little detriment in most cases except to your wallet…but using a lower grade that could encourage detonation can do a lot of damage and why risk that for the sake of a few pennies per gallon?
    If you’ve been to the local MX track in the last few years or watched Arenacross/Supercross on television, you’ll hear riders and racers revving their 4-stroke bikes right up to the limits…until the rev limiter kicks in and interrupts the ignition circuit, lowering the revs and then allowing the circuit to re-energize and do it all over again, causing that familiar 4-stroke “panic rev” sound that used to associated mostly with trying to lift the front of your bike before impending doom.
    Justin Barcia comes to mind…
    Now many riders just do it for a variety of reasons that we won’t get into here…what we want to know is whether it’s bad for the engine? It sure sounds like it would be…but we see racers run their bikes like this constantly during a racing event without seeming to cause damage…is it because of the rev limiter?
    We’d just assume that this is a bad way to run your engine, bouncing off the rev limiter when not needed, but many newer riders use this technique and report that it actually helps them concentrate and stay focused, almost blurring out their opponents and the outside world with this wall of noise.
    So we reached out to some a few professionals who have a better insight into the specifics of how and why this technique can affect your engine.
    First up was Brent Kirk from Fastheads, who crafts amazing motocross cylinder heads and valve train components for all motorcycle brands. They offer world class precision seat machining, modifications, porting repairs, and general head servicing, so we figured Brent would be one good guy to ask about this.
    Brent Kirk: “Rev limiters keep the RPM’s within the limits engineers have designed the engine to operate. On 4-strokes the valve train is the most crucial factor in setting limits for RPM (because) valve springs are limited to how high of RPM they can efficiently be operated. At a certain point they can't keep up with the speed of the valve and cam and this is due partly to harmonics. As a shock wave flows up and down the length of the spring and can actually deaden it ability extend and when the cam can not control the valve due to the spring, all kinds of devastating problems can occur. Valve float is when the valve is moving so fast that it slings itself of the end of the cam lobe and if it doesn't meet up with the back side of the cam before it closes, the valve will slam the seat and bounce. During this uncontrolled time valve shims can fall out, valves can break along with lifters, retainers, keepers and springs. The best engineered coil springs won't perform much over 14,000 RPM.”
    Kirk continued: “On a stock 4-stroke race motor engineers limit the RPM’s so the valve spring keeps the valve train under control and within its operating range…this done by retarding the timing when the crank reaches and per determined RPM. We normally only see engine failures when the valve train is tampered with or not maintained.”
    Next up we spoke with Derek Harris of Harris Performance Engineering, who specializes in building custom racing 2 and 4-stroke engines in his state of the art performance shop located in Marion, Texas.
    Harris: “With the involvement of the factory teams into amateur racing at an aggressive level, (Justin) Barcia was signed to a large salary with endless bikes, equipment with a full-time mechanic.  He would rotate practice motors once every 2 weeks or so, or more frequently if it broke. Matt Biscgelia was on the same program, and while Matt doesn't ride like Justin - it was at least once a month he would have pieces thrown out of his cases....Kids saw Barcia and the video coverage at the same time and the rest is history.”  
    “So a production motorcycle IS built to run on the limiter all day, however, not many people follow OEM service manual suggestions. Example; Honda suggests cranks every 15 hours with full engine inspection/tear down on their 250F. Parts are stressed proportionally to RPM.  The more RPM, the more stress. So if you spend time on the limiter - the bike will wear out more quickly. What's most sad is all the engines with exception of the new KTM 250F's do not make good power at the limiter.  It's faster to shift before then.”
    “In summary - the more you rev your bike consistently - the shorter it will live. “
    Conclusion: The belief that “hitting the rev limiter all the time can ruin your engine” has some basis in truth. Yes, rev limiters are set to kick in before potential damage to the engine occurs, but only in a perfect engine. Any weakness in engine components is magnified and there is a much higher potential for failure of these components at high RPM’s.
    What do you think of this article? Where did we hit? Miss? Have something to add or correct? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
    Chris Cooksey
    Oil for the common man:
    With all the talk about ratings and magical additives included in oil these days, I wanted to get with the guys at Bel-Ray (Andrew Hodges and Chris “Dang” McAvoy) to see how they could simplify things.  Changing oil is a necessary evil, and not a task I personally enjoy.  Working at Western Power Sports I sell many different brands of oil and have experienced the oil manufacturers tell me they have an unbeatable formula only to have an oil competitor explain the previous company was lying and they have the scientific data to prove otherwise.  Now, if you talk to motor builders they all have their favorite brand and a story as to why, maybe a bike that ran with no coolant or their impeccable reliability record.  What does all this mean?
     Do formulas matter if I change my oil regularly?
    -    Yes! Regardless of whether you are changing your oil after 100 miles or 10,000 miles, you still want to have a good quality oil in your bike. Changing it after relatively short intervals does give you the option of running mineral oils without fear of oil degradation being a problem, but even then, it is still advisable to use a high quality product. Friction is there from the first revolution to the last, so an oil that provides excellent wear protection is a good idea no matter how often it is changed.
    Why do I need motorcycle specific oil, car oil is cheaper and I change it every ride?  
    -    This is a common preference I see and I definitely get the thinking behind it, but there are some aspects that I don’t believe riders doing this are fully considering. 
    Let’s assume you manage to find a high quality automotive engine oil that does not contain friction modifiers (which are deal breakers for a wet clutch) but still provides good gear and clutch protection (assuming this is for a bike with a shared sump). 
    1.    I agree with your comment in your introduction that changing oil is a chore so having to change it every single time I ride sounds like a nightmare.
    2.    The cost of buying oil and a filter every single ride does not sound inexpensive no matter how cheap the oil is, so I doubt there is really much money being saved compared to a motorcycle specific product that can be changed much less frequently.
    3.    Inexpensive automotive oils typically meet the absolute minimum standards for automotive use, so even a “high performance” car oil’s additive package is likely a bit underwhelming compared to a fully formulated motorcycle oil.
    4.    Automobiles exert much less physical shearing on their oil compared to most motorcycles because their engines and transmissions are separate. Therefore, most automotive engine oils do not perform in shear resistance tests as well as motorcycle specific oils should. Viscosity loss due to shear can be a very bad thing for engine life so the product chosen should be verified for shear resistance in gearboxes.
    Does my motorcycle specific oil brand matter if I change it every ride?
    -    If the choice is between two brands that perform equally, then no the choice won’t matter. However, if one brand has better performance then the other, the choice should be clear. 
    Brand choice does matter, but there are many good brands to choose from. I have an obvious bias for Bel-Ray products, but my personal belief, because of the testing we do here, is that Bel-Ray products are the best in the market. Our approach to formulating and testing has provided us with decades of success and excellence. The methods we use to evaluate and develop our products have given us some of the best performing products we can find on the market today. So if you are trying to choose a brand, I am more than happy to shamelessly recommend Bel-Ray to you.
    What oil is best for bikes without separate gear oil?  Will a full synthetic make my clutch slip?
    -    The best oil to use in a bike with a shared sump for the engine and the transmission is a JASO rated engine oil. All JASO rated engine oils have to meet the minimum API standards for their respective performance levels so engine performance is guaranteed. However, the JASO regulations include additional performance requirements including clutch performance. There are four levels of performance in the JASO regulation, but only three of them are for combined sumps with a wet clutch: MA, MA1 and MA2. The only difference between MA, MA1, and MA2 is with regards to their results in a clutch friction test, but that difference is important. 
    o    MA1 has the lowest amount of friction
    o    MA has a medium amount of friction
    o    MA2 has the highest amount of friction
    MA1 and MA oils have a lower amount of friction between the clutch plates which results in more slipping between clutch plates. Slipping the clutch to some degree is important to control power delivery, but I would much rather prefer to rely on my own use of the clutch lever than the oil limit the power delivery. Therefore I prefer MA2 oils, which have the strongest clutch engagement properties. These oils give the least amount of slipping and strongest engagement. Without slipping, less wear and overheating occurs in the clutch so it will extend clutch life as well.
    Another aspect of an oil that needs to serve as both engine and transmission lubricant is the gear protection. Extreme pressure protection is important to protect gear surfaces from damage in high torque applications. So you should look for an engine oil that provides that protection.
    -    The concept that a full synthetic oil will make the clutch slip had some truth to it thirty years ago but not in today’s oils. The synthetic base oils and the additives we use today are all evaluated meticulously for their effects on performance and we only use components we know will work in the application we are formulating for.
    What oil is best for bikes with separate gear oil?
    -    In the engine, once the issue of the combined transmission is removed, there are a lot more options for the engine oil. In general a friction modified product with friction reducing additives is ideal for this type of situation. Similar to automotive oils, an oil designed just for the engine does not need to include extreme pressure additives so the focus of the formula can be on anti-wear and friction reduction. This type of product generally produces less heat, increases horsepower, and minimizes wear compared to a product designed for a shared sump.
    The best oil for the transmission is one that enhances the clutch’s performance and protects the transmission from damage. An oil that has good extreme pressure protection without the use of friction reducing additives and a robust additive package to inhibit degradation is the recipe for success for the transmission oil. JASO rated engine oils are typically suitable in this application, but they often have unnecessary components required for the engine that may limit some of the performance in the transmission.
    If I run full synthetic, can I wait longer before oil changes?
    -    In general yes. A full synthetic engine oil should provide a higher level of resistance to oxidation. Oxidation of the oil is the main factor in oil degradation so reducing the oxidation rate extends the life of the oil. If you have two identically formulated oils with the exception of one being a fully synthetic polyalphaolefin (PAO) and ester blend and the other being a conventional/mineral product, the synthetic product will often last more than double the time of the mineral before a change is needed.
    Do I really need a new oil filter every oil change?
    -    Is it absolutely necessary? Probably not, but I would still suggest it as a good practice.
     The filter is there to catch wear particles and contaminants in the oil during circulation. Those contaminants are usually things that promote oxidation and accelerate the overall degradation of the oil. So if you change the oil but leave the old filter in place, you are circulating your fresh oil through the crud that was already filtered out and exposing it to those contaminants right away. By doing this you are immediately accelerating the degradation of the oil before any new contaminants can even make their way into the bike. Alternatively, by changing the filter each time, you are removing those things and giving the bike a fresh start each time and maximizing oil life.
    I have had an oil brand with the exact same bottle and two different colors, any idea why this would happen?
    -    Formula changes are pretty common in our industry. We are somewhat less regulated than the automotive engine oil marketplace so we have a little more freedom to go outside the box and develop and change our formulas. 
    Certain additives are naturally colorful, so they may impart some color to the final formula. So formula changes are one possibility that could change the color.
    Another possibility is the base oil being used. Common base oil colors range from being as clear as water to as dark as molasses. There are others that have slight green, blue, or red tints them as well. The most commonly used base oils are either clear or some shade of amber, but occasionally those others may be used and they will influence the finished product’s appearance.
    If everyone is treating the oil with their own additives, does it matter what base oil they start with?
    -    Base oil selection is important no matter what additives are being used. I’ve always likened it to coffee beans (additives) and water (base oil). If you have some great coffee beans there is going to be a big difference between the coffee made with them using clean spring water or dirty sewer water.
    Starting with a subpar base oil immediately puts a product at a disadvantage. Likewise, starting with an excellent base oil immediately gives the product a head start. The base oil’s performance is the performance base line and the additives being blended in build on that baseline performance. 
    There are performance differences within the petroleum base fluid range and there are differences within the synthetic base fluid range. The distinction between base oils is not just between petroleum and synthetics either. There are wide ranges to choose from in both mineral and synthetic base oils with varying quality levels. A well formulated mineral oil will compare very favorably to a poorly formulated synthetic product, so the total formula is important. Focusing on a single component does not give you a full picture of the oil’s performance.
    Thanks for the info guys!

         The brief history of the Japanese Lubricating Oil Society (JALOS) with regards to 4-stroke requirements was described in JASO Explained: Part 1. A lot of the same reasons were given for the formation of the JASO M345 specification for 2-stroke oils as were given for the T903 specification for 4-strokes. At the time, there was a lack of control for performance levels of available lubricants and JALOS decided to form a specification that was designed specifically for motorcycle applications in the void left by other standards being discontinued. This gave the OEMs a standard to specify for use in their products that ensured their machines would not fail from inadequate lubrication.
         Prior to the JASO M345:2003 specification, the National Marine Manufacturers Association TC-W performance level was created in the 1960’s but focused on outboard and marine engine oils. The American Petroleum Institute (API) released specifications starting with API TA to API TC throughout the years, but in 1994 JALOS superseded the API specifications with the JASO FA, FB and FC specification levels. This release of new specifications was partly in response to the API discontinuing any progression to the API 2-stroke specifications ending with API TC in 1993. Another set of specifications developed by the International Standards Organization (ISO) are similar to the JASO specifications for 2T engine oils with some minor differences, and I’ll elaborate on those differences later in this article.
         After the FA, FB, and FC specifications, JALOS introduced the JASO FD specification to advance lubricant technology to an even higher standard and at the same time made the FA specification obsolete. So the three levels of performance currently maintained are FB, FC, and FD according to the JASO M345:2003 specification.
    Specification Details:     
        The JASO two-stroke specifications are important because they create a benchmark for minimum performance criteria for 2-stroke oils. This particular category of products may just have the largest variety of properties and formulations in the motorcycle market. Many lubricant companies have their own methods for formulating 2-stroke oils and in doing so have developed many unique solutions to the main concerns of 2-cycle lubrication. Regardless of how the performance is accomplished though, what they need to accomplish is set by JASO in no uncertain terms.

    Figure 1: JASO M345:2003 specification for 2-stroke engine oil performance
         The numbers for Lubricity, Initial Torque, Part Detergency, Exhaust Smoke and Exhaust Smoke Blocking are all index numbers associated with scores associated with performance in each category. For each one, the higher the number is, the better the performance in that category.
    The general rules for the different performance levels are these:
    FB corresponds to high lubricity performance but without any low-smoke technology. FC meets the FB lubricity standards but also is a low-smoke lubricant. FD corresponds to higher detergency properties than the other two grades, meets the lubricity requirements and has low smoke requirements.      Most of the performance testing is performed using standard test engines and measured by part raters following the JPI-5S-34-91 rating manual. Part rating is a very exact method of evaluating engine parts after use to determine their condition and raters are highly trained to perform this duty. Each of the methods uses specific engines for evaluation.

    Figure 2: JASO M345:2003 test methods and test engines
    The M340 test measures the lubricity and friction characteristics of the lubricant. Less friction means less heat generated from friction and may increase component life greatly by doing so. It may also contribute to lower wear, although this is not always the case as friction and wear are different and are often addressed by different parts of the formula. The M341 test measures the detergency of the oil which corresponds to its ability to remove existing deposits and prevent new deposits from forming on internal engine parts. The M342 test evaluates how much smoke is produced by an engine using the test oil. This test is partly for environmental reasons but also affects performance. Smoke does not often exit the exhaust cleanly and will leave soot in the exhaust system changing the geometry and surface characteristics. The M343 standard tells us what the exhaust smoke’s effect on engine performance is. With the exhaust system playing a big part in engine output in 2-cycle engines, soot and carbon buildup can affect that performance negatively if not controlled. The sulfated ash measurement assesses the oil’s contribution to ash formation caused by metallic additives that cannot fully burn. Many 2T oils utilize “ash-less” additive systems to eliminate this issue, but they are not required so this measurement is important. Flash point measures the temperature at which the volatile vapors given off by a lubricant are produced at a high enough concentration to ignite with a flame source. This may indicate how well an oil will burn or remain unburned in a combustion chamber. Many oils utilize solvents in their formulas which may give a low result not indicative of the actual lubricating oil so be aware that the reported flash point may not tell the whole story. I would recommend finding the flash point of a 2-stroke oil without its solvent component to get its true contribution to combustion. Kinematic Viscosity at 100°C is a measurement of the thickness or fluidity of the oil and contributes to oil film strength.  
         The reason JASO M345 is in need of an upgrade is because of the two test engines used in Figure 2. The engines used for the tests are being discontinued and spare parts are becoming difficult to source in order to keep those motors running at the necessary performance level. Without standardized parts from the manufacturers, the engines cannot be kept running in adequate condition for the tightly controlled JASO testing.
         New engines are being tested and evaluated for standardization, and the next update is scheduled to go into effect in April of 2018. The original plan was to update the specification with new test engines in April of 2016, but JALOS announced that they were pushing back the launch date to 2018 due to repeatability problems. The Yamaha ET-1 engine is currently the leading candidate for inclusion, but testing is still underway to ensure compliance with the strict standards for the indexing of various properties measured by the JASO M345 specification.

    Figure 3: Yamaha ET-1 engine. Photo source: http://global.yamaha-motor.com/business/pp/generator/220v-50hz/0-1/et-1/
         Because of the uncertainty in this engine’s ability to provide repeatable and reproducible results, the specification is being pushed back until its results can either be verified or a different test engine can be identified, so don’t expect anything new until 2018. It was unclear what kind of performance advancements the new specification would have incorporated before this delay, but it appears there is a plan to separate smaller displacement engines such as brush cutters, chainsaws and other handheld equipment from vehicles with separate criteria. For the time being though, engines and parts are still available for the current test engines so new lubricants can still be evaluated accordingly to the high standards that are already in place.
         Before I finish this article, I do want to briefly mention the differences between the JASO and the ISO specifications for 2T engine oils because it is a distinction worth mentioning.

    Figure 4: ISO 13738 specification for 2-stroke engine oil performance
         The ISO L-EGD and JASO FD are the exact same performance specification. The differences between ISO and JASO are in the B and C specifications. The ISO L-EGB and L-EGC specifications each have an additional detergency requirement. This means the ISO L-EGB and L-EGC specifications require higher performance levels than the JASO equivalents, but most oils that meet JASO requirements will also meet the ISO requirements, so there is rarely a difference between an oil claiming ISO or JASO performance levels.
    Review -
        So after all that your head is probably spinning trying to figure out what all of that means. So to boil it all down I'll try to sum it all up here:
    The JASO specifications indicate increasing performance levels with FB, FC, and FD specifications. The requirements include lubricating ability, cleanliness, smoke potential, and a few physical properties. ISO and JASO are essentially the same with a few minor differences. The performance specifications give machine manufacturers real and tangible minimum requirements to maintain their equipment and ensure high performance. With these specifications, we can look at specific performance differences between products to determine which is the best for our machines without having to rely on uncertain performance claims by lubricant companies or machine manufacturers. Useful Links -
    JALOS M345:2003 Specification manual
    JASO M345 Registered Lubricant List
    Chris Cooksey
    Three rounds left in Dungey's Supercross career: Tomac vs. Dungey 
    All the recent talk in Monster Energy AMA Supercross has been centered on Dungey and his mental state, but what about Eli?  Doesn’t anyone remember Eli floundering in 2013 in Salt Lake City?  How about Las Vegas in 2011?  This season, other than the first few rounds, Eli has been pressure free with his only task to go out and win.  Now with the points tied (Tomac owns the tie breaker) the pressure falls directly on his shoulders.  With two weeks before SLC, how is he dealing with the pressure?  Has he matured from his 2013 and 2011 chokes or is he doomed to repeat the same mistakes he is prone too, (Colorado 2015 huge crash, Dallas 2017 smashed front brake and Seattle 2017 endo in Main)?  Eli is in for a stressful month and Dungey is the underdog that can ride with nothing to lose.  Let's not forget Eli struggled with arm pump early in the season and two things that contribute to arm pump are stress and high altitude, SLC will have both. Dungey also has quite a bit of helpers available if needed.  Baggett, Millsaps and Musquin are racing Dungey as if he signs their paychecks.  I am not saying team orders have been given, but who really wants to be the guy who costs KTM a Championship without having a contract for next season?  Millsaps didn't fight Dungey very hard for 4th place in Seattle, in fact it looked like he moved out of the way. With three races left in Dungey's career (assuming he is retiring this year) I look for him to pressure Eli into a mistake taking his 4th SX title and riding off into the sunset as the champion.
    In the 250 class Arron Plessinger looked like a world beater!  He was the only rider, other than Tomac in the 450 class, to go 3/3/3 in the rhythm section.  Plessinger is a bit of an enigma, sometimes he looks like the fastest rider on earth but only in bursts.  If he could harness his speed he could be a superstar, maybe a move to the 450 class is what he needs.  We all know he is good on deteriorating tracks, if he could translate this speed to a regular track he could be a contender on a 450.  If I were him I would be talking to RCH, Kawasaki and KTM about a 450 ride in 2018.  Justin Hill did exactly what a guy with a 21 point lead and three rounds left should do, ride to a safe 2nd place.  Hill is another guy that should be shopping for a 450 ride but not because it suits him better but once he wins he has earned enough points out of the 250 class.  If I were Kawasaki I would politely tell Josh Grant his services won't be needed in 2018 and put Hill there.  
    With three rounds left in the 2017 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series it is shaping up to be one for the ages.  If this is Dungey’s swan song, win or lose, what a way to go out.  With a week off before SLC some guys will be testing outdoors but don't look for Eli or Dungey to be riding anything but Supercross during their Easter break.  I will be in SLC for the race and yes the post-race press conference.  This is my first press conference since the infamous Glendale “no crown incident.”  Let me know the questions you want asked.
    Chris Cooksey
    “Say it ain't so, Chad”
    As the Monster Energy Supercross series winds down the battle for the Championship Title heats up between Dungey and Tomac.  Unfortunately, Chad Reed cost the fans a chance to witness the two best Monster Energy  Supercross riders go at it on a track that was challenging and  designed for good racing.  Chad was apparently upset at Dungey for coming over on him during the start in Detroit, along with his comments after the heat race.  I have watched Detroit several times and don't see anything other than guys funneling into a tight first turn, I call Detroit a racing incident.  Reed started his assault on Dungey during the heat race by crossing the whoops in front of Dungey on the first lap.  I am of the opinion that whoops are like big jumps, riders are committed and this is not a section to get aggressive.  The riders are in 3rd or 4th gear wide open and changing directions can cause them to drop a wheel which ultimately could be catastrophic.  Now if a 250 rider made that move I might chalk it up to inexperience, but as a seasoned veteran Reed knew better.  The move before the finish line was aggressive, maybe a little too rough for a heat race but I didn’t have an issue with the move.   
    If this were a car race Reed would have been black flagged in the Main.  I know I have been very critical of John Gallagher, but as the FIM Competition Director this behavior falls under his jurisdiction.  I would like to know where he is viewing the race from along with how many other officials have eyes on the track.  If he is trying to do the job by himself, he is doomed to fail as it is impossible for one person to see everything.  Mr. Gallagher should have been on high alert after the heat race incident between Reed and Dungey, while not many people anticipated Reed blocking Dungey, Mr. Gallagher or someone in his crew should have noticed this and black flagged Reed.  Due to the inconsistency of punishments handed out lately I understand the hesitation, but something should have been done.  I would sit Reed out for Seattle, a similar punishment to Kyle Chisholm when he blocked Reed in 2009.  With millions of dollars and the prestige of a Supercross Championship on the line, it’s perplexing Reed chose this move.  If the Championship is decided by under 6 points many will look back on this moment in infamy. 
    With four rounds left the intensity is as high as any series I can remember with so many questions to be answered in both classes.  Who will be champion?  Will mud be a factor?  Will somebody other than Reed play spoiler?  Will we see team tactics?  Is this Dungey's last season?  Will Joey Savatgy ever smile?  Can Mcelrath make up the points lost to Hill in Dallas?  Will Forkner get a win?  Will the mixed East/West shout out decide both 250 titles?  Whoever says Supercross isn't exciting clearly isn't paying attention.  We have drama both on and off the track, stay tuned!
    Chris Cooksey
    Monster Energy Supercross: Detroit, is it time for change in Supercross?
    The 12th round of Monster Energy AMA Supercross concluded in Detroit leaving behind some hard to ignore layout deficiencies on the Ford Field.  While the series progresses to St. Louis I find myself asking more questions about the overall structure of the series (as it continues to grow and become more mainstream) and less questions about who will or will not be crowned the champion.  At the pinnacle of Supercross why was there not enough dirt to cover the stadium floor and how did the stadium floor start peeking through after only 2 laps in the first 250 heat?  Is it time to look at different track building techniques?  Here are some different ideas :
    Another series challenge is the need of updated timed qualifiers.  I would like to see the top 20 timed qualifiers split in the heats.  Rewarding the top half of the field, top 10 in each heat get a 2 second advantage over the other half of the gate, prevents slower guys from becoming moving road blocks.   The rest of qualifying should follow suit, if you don't qualify out of the heat or win your semi, during the Main event you take off in the second wave.  Again, this will reward the top qualifiers.  This will also give us the elite matchups in the front of the field, Dungey vs Tomac and the moving roadblocks like Alessi and Friese won't be in the way.  Every other major form of racing rewards fast qualifying.  This will also make the first turn far safer, and while it's cool seeing 22 of the worlds fastest 450’s funnel into a couple lines, the bikes are too fast and have outgrown the current starting procedure.  This will help keep the stars healthy and on the track, but still maintain the  entertainment factor.
    The final issue in review is how quick the riders figure out the fast lines.  With dartfish and overlapping video these teams have taken out the guesswork of finding the fastest line.   If part of the track was not opened until the night program, riders may have more difficulty discovering the fasted line before the race has started.  Give the guys a hot lap and then turn them loose!  While this doesn’t seem to promote safety, it rewards riders who can learn new sections quickly, making the series more interesting as we will see different rider’s skills outside of dirt preference.  Also, the much debated “chase” format has been discussed and in this era of short attention spans, smart phones, and instant gratification we have lost the appreciation for a season long war.  If we want to attract a new generation of fans, we need to up the intensity and make sure the champion is not crowned halfway through the series (like Dungey in 2016), we can't count on Eli making it interesting every year.
    These are just a couple things I feel need to be addressed for the future of Supercross, what do you think?  Should we add a shark pit or have riders change a tire for starting position? Let me hear your ideas.

    JASO Explained PART 1:
    JASO 4-Stroke Engine Oil Specification
           The Japanese Lubricating Oil Society or JALOS is the organization that regulates the performance of various motorcycle specific engine oil types. JALOS is the organization that regulates and oversees the implementation of the JASO motorcycle engine oil specifications. For motorbike applications, there are two separate JASO categories for 4-stroke and 2-stroke applications with numerous subdivisions within each category. For this article I am going to focus on explaining the 4-stroke category.
           Let’s begin with a quick background of the 4-stroke JASO specification. In 1998, JALOS organized the first widely accepted standard for evaluating performance of motorcycle engine lubricants. This was necessary due to an increasing number of automotive oils meeting the energy conserving and resource conserving specifications through the additive technology of friction modifiers. Because these friction modifiers are not designed for compatibility of wet clutches, problems were occurring in motorcycles with combined engine and transmission oil sumps. The MA specification was launched in 1998 with the attempt to differentiate between products that were suitable for wet clutch applications and those that weren’t. This was done in collaboration with the major motorcycle manufacturers of Japan at the time, so it was a fairly industry-wide desire to identify the products that worked most effectively. The first two categories introduce by JALOS were the JASO MA and the JASO MB performance specifications. The MA category was originally meant for good clutch compatibility and MB was for products not compatible with wet clutches, or in other words; products that contain friction modifiers and cause clutch slipping.
           In 2006 the T903:1998 specification was replaced by the T903:2006 specification which underwent a big change to the clutch friction test results and their interpretation. The MA specification for JASO performance in wet clutch applications was further broken down into three oddly distinct yet overlapping categories. In 2011 the T903:2006 specification was then replaced by the T903:2011 specification in order to further refine those friction result ranges for each category. The charts below lay out the exact ranges for each category during each update and make it simple to see how they are currently broken down.

    Table 1: JASO T903:1998 Clutch Friction Specification

    Table 2: JASO T903:2006 Clutch Friction Specification

    Table 3: JASO T903:2011 Clutch Friction Specification

    Table 4: JASO T903:2016 Clutch Friction Specification
    MB – To be classified as MB, at least one of the three results needs to be within the MB ranges. It can be any one of the three, it could be two of three or it could be all three, but at long as at least one result is within the MB range, the entire oil performance is considered MB. MA1 – To be classified as an MA1 oil, all three of the results must be within the MA1 range. MA2 – To be classified as an MA2 oil, all three of the results must be within the MA2 range. MA –  To be considered MA, all three results must be within the MA range. Since the MA range encompasses both the MA1 and the MA2 specifications, it can become a little confusing. Technically, if a particular oil meets the MA1 specification, a lubricant marketer can call it an MA oil and the same applies to an oil that meets the MA2 specification. If an oil’s results are mixed and some of the results are within the MA1 range and some are within the MA2 range, then it can only be classified as MA.        So that is how the clutch compatibility is currently tested. The SAE #2 bench test is the most current testing protocol to determine performance at the time I am writing this article. To put it simply, MA covers the entire clutch compatible range, MA1 is the lower friction half of that specification and MA2 is the higher friction half of that specification. These friction test results are the only differences between the four JASO categories for 4-stroke motorcycle engine oil.
           The result names of DFI, SFI and STI are kind of nondescript and difficult to assign a practical property to. It took me quite a long time in the industry before I found a adequate enough description of each one to fully understand the results myself. Here is a basic description of what each one means:
    Dynamic Friction Index (DFI) – Is a measurement of how power is transferred while being operated under slipping conditions or in other words, how the clutch feels as it is engaged when already spinning.
    Static Friction Index (STI) – A measure of how much torque can be applied to an already fully engaged clutch before slipping occurs.
    Stop Time Index (STI) – A measurement of how much time it takes for the clutch to engage when the lever is released.
        There are other tests that are required for JASO compliance that relate to performance characteristics other than wet clutch compatibility tests. Here is the exact specification followed by a brief description of each item. (Warning: there are a lot of technical terms coming up that you might want definitions for, many of these terms and tests are already listed in the glossary page at Mototribology.com.)

                                  Table 5: JASO T903:2016 laboratory bench testing requirements. These specifications control the chemical and                                   physical properties of motorcycle specific oils.
    Density – A measurement of mass per given volume
    Flash Point – A way to measure the flammability characteristics of a fluid. It is measured by determining the temperature at which the oil vaporizes rapidly enough to make the volume of air directly above the liquid flammable.
    Kinematic Viscosity - A measurement indicating a fluids ability to flow. The more viscous oil is, the thicker it is. This is sometimes referred to as low shear viscosity. While the result at 40°C only needs to be reported, the result at 100°C must correlate to the designated SAE viscosity grade on file for the product.
    Viscosity Index - A number which is calculated using the kinematic viscosity of a fluid at varying temperatures. Simply put, it is a measure of how stable the viscosity is over a wide temperature range. The higher the viscosity index number is, the more stable a fluid is with regards to viscosity.
    Low-Temp Viscosity, CCS – The low temperature viscosity of an oil in high shear rate conditions.
    High Temp. High Shear Rate Viscosity at 150°C (HTHS) – The high temperature viscosity of an oil in high shear rate conditions.
    Sulfated Ash – The metallic ash content of an oil after it burns. This is a part of how to evaluate an oil’s cleanliness.
    Acid Number – The acidity of an oil. This is sometimes referred to as Total Acid Number.
    Base Number – The alkalinity of an oil. This is sometimes referred to as Total Base Number.
    Evaporative Loss – The mass of oil that will evaporate at a specified temperature. This relates to oil consumption rate and an oil’s viscosity stability.
    Foaming Tendency – The resistance an oil has to a head of foam both forming and persisting on its surface measured at three different temperature conditions.
    Shear Stability – The resistance for an oil’s molecules to be sheared or reduced. This property relates to viscosity stability.
    Color – I sincerely hope this needs no description
    Elemental Analysis – A quantitative measurement of the concentration of chemical elements in a material. Phosphorus is the only element that is controlled or limited by JASO.
    Infrared Absorption Spectrum Analysis (IR Scan) – A type of scan that identifies chemical bonds.

    Figure 1: Example of an IR scan
           This stuff can be confusing, I know. So if any of it is still unclear to you, feel free to PM any questions.
          You may have noticed that most of the tests on this list are only reported to JASO and don’t actually have any required values. This is because many of these tests are simply used as identifiers. JALOS periodically does “secret shopper” testing and pulls products off the shelves to make sure that the oil being sold matches the formula which was filed with JALOS. This has the dual purpose of ensuring that the originally filed results were accurately reported and that formula changes were not performed without re-qualifying the oil with JALOS. With so many different properties being reported, it would be easy to identify a simple manufacturing variance compared to an actual formula change, so it effectively keeps lubricant marketers from being dishonest when advertising a JASO registration.
        So that is the entire JASO 4-stroke engine oil specification minus the labeling requirements and then all it takes is a deposit of ¥40,000 (approximately $400 USD) to the JALOS bank account to be added to their list and to display a JASO box such as the one below on the back label of an oil.

    Figure 2: JASO registration box for rear labels of motorcycle engine oils.
    Only products that are officially registered with JASO and are included on the JASO filed engine oil list are permitted to display this box on their label. So if you see the box, you should be able to look it up on the list to confirm its registration. You can also find the company that owns each formula and if you read the oil code you can tell exactly what country that product is manufactured in. By looking at digits two, three and four of the oil code, which are specified by a corresponding country code in Appendix 3 (Page 19) of the JASO T903:2011 specification document, you can tell the exact country of origin for every product on the list.

    Figure 3: JASO oil code example.
    Why JASO is Important
    Now you may be asking yourself, is registration really that important? It is true that registration is not required to market a product for 4-stroke motorcycle use, but the fact that a product is registered does give assurance from an independent third party that a product does perform as claimed. There are many many brands and products out there that claim to “meet JASO MA requirements” or they may say “meets JASO performance specifications” or something else along that same line. If there is only a claim and no box, then you simply need to take that company’s word for it that they comply, and if there is no official registration, it is only that company’s promise that they are formulating honestly. The products that claim to meet JASO requirements more than likely do, but there is certainly a higher chance that a company that does not register may not be testing to ensure that performance.
    Registering with JASO does have a downside. It makes it difficult to improve formulas any more frequently than once every few years because of the cost involved for each reformulation, so it can make it difficult to adapt to quickly advancing technologies.
    The JASO specifications give a benchmark for motorcycle specific oils that highlights the performance needs that are different from standard automotive oils. By addressing those differences and working with both motorcycle manufacturers and lubricant manufacturers, JASO continues to update the specification every five years or so to remain in step with the most up-to-date technologies; by keeping up-to-date with the technology advancements always happening, it makes sure that oils are able to advance without risking the loss of their JASO registration simply for trying to improve or do things possibly outside the ordinary to create a uniquely performing product.
    What’s Next?
           The T903:2016 specification was released in April, 2016 and is now implemented. There was an attempt to bring in a new test to quantify gear protection, but there were problems validating the test procedure so it is not planned to go into effect until 2021 now.
           The clutch test was revised to give a more accurate differentiation between the categories. So the updated ranges and test pieces now offer a more precise and useful test.
           As mentioned above, gear pitting is an issue they want to address. It was not able to be implemented in the 2016 specification but it is still of interest for eventual inclusion into the specification.
           The FZG Gear Test was the original test considered to analyze gear pitting performance. Unfortunately the FZG test method proposed for measuring pitting protection has been deemed too unreliable to be standardized. There is a lack of repeatability between laboratories performing the test and the cost of each test was determined to be too costly in the end.
           An alternative test called the Thrust Needle Bearing Test has been suggested as an alternative to the FZG as an indicator of gear pitting protection. The test result has a close correlation to the FZG results and is very cheap to run relative to the FZG gear test. Unfortunately this test is also experiencing a lack of repeatability between laboratories at this time.
           Unfortunately before the specification can include a new test, the test must display a strong correlation between facilities and a highly repeatable test method. Different users and laboratories must be able to obtain results within a reasonable margin of error, but until that happens, this new test will not be part of the specification. By 2021, they may have a new procedure developed that can work for this purpose.
    Here are some links to the JALOS website for anyone who would like to review the official documents:
    JASO T903:2016 Specification
    JASO 4T List of Filed 4T Engine Oils
    Chris Cooksey
    This past weekend Fly Racing launched their 2017.5 Kinetic Mesh just in time for the summer.  Fly racing is based in Boise, ID, many former professional racers now work at Fly (Jason Thomas “JT$”, Cole Siebler, Kyle Gills, Jeff “NorCal” Northrop) and the designers take their input seriously when designing the gear.  Fly Racing gear is founded on quality and comfort, including high end features at a mid level price point.  
    After riding in 80-95 degree heat last Saturday at MesquiteMX I’m still blown away by how well the gear fits. The Kinetic Mesh gear isn't the “pajama style” vented gear from 3-5 years ago.   The older gear left me looking and feeling ridiculous with an untucked jersey and sagging pants.  With the new 2017.5 Kinetic Mesh, if it wasn't for air flowing through me I would have thought I was wearing regular gear. 
     The Kinetic Mesh Pants retail for $114.95 and $38.95 for the Jersey.  Go to www.flyracing.com for more information, all sizes and colors are available in the TT Store.   Check out Jeff “NorCal” Northrop as he explains further the features and benefits of Fly 2017.5 Kinetic Gear.

    Chris Cooksey
    Eli Tomac showed up and did exactly what was needed to close the point gap on Ryan Dungey.  Now Tomac must work hard to avoid giving any points back to Dungey.  Dungey’s horrible Main event began with Marvin Musquin smashing into the starting gate, causing both Jason Anderson and Dungey to flinch leaving them with horrible starts.  Dungey rode determined to a disappointing 4th place finish battling horrible vision, he had no tear offs after the 10 lap mark.  The track was one lined and typically this is where I would blast Ricky Carmichael for his poor design, but with all the restrictions placed on the use of space Carmichael did a great job, other than the sand section.  A couple of weeks ago I was very critical of the sand in Atlanta, saying sand was alright if it was in a turn.  I was wrong, sticky beach sand has no place in Supercross!  All it did was ruin Goggles and force single file racing.  Adam Cianciarulo used the Dunlop Sand tire last night both Reed and Dungey were out of tear offs about halfway through the main event.  I understand Daytona is a different beast when it comes to Supercross, but with a sandy base why add a stickier version in two turns?
    The biggest surprise last night was Jeremy Martin, at one point I thought he might win the Main event.  But should I have been surprised?  Martin is a two time outdoor National Champion who grew up riding in Millville, MN, which has similar dirt to Daytona.  Martin hired Ryan Villopoto as his riding coach last Monday.  I believe he is angling for the vacant spot at Honda left by Ken Roczen in 2018.  I don't think we will see Roczen until 2019, if ever.  Roczen still has some serious recovery time as he mentioned in his TV interview last night he needed cadaver cartilage replacement in his elbow and he was waiting on a donor.  I am somewhat familiar with this process, as I need knee replacement surgery myself.  This is a somewhat new procedure (here are couple links to explaining the process http://faoconline.com/home/videos/cartilage/cartilage-transplants-allograft-(from-cadaver http://www.sportsmd.com/knee-injuries/knee-cartilage-replacement/  ).  I also heard he has extensive nerve damage and after 10 plus surgeries this is to be expected.  Nerves are weird, nerve healing is not an exact science.  Different doctors will give you different theories but all seem somewhat unsure exactly how long, or if nerve damage will ever heal.  This led me to the sad but likely scenario that Roczen might be done.  On the bright side I hear his contract is guaranteed for 3 years.
    Adam Cianciarulo was the feel good story, after years of injuries and many people writing him off he got the win putting himself in title contention.  Adam chose to use a sand rear tire and it paid off!  Every time Joey Savatgy got close he was blasted with beach sand.  Hopefully this is a second beginning for the likable Ciancirulo, he has paid his dues over the last few years.  Points leader Zach Osborne had his worst night so far, he had a good start but multiple mistakes on the one lined track left him salvaging a 5th place finish.  Now heading into Indianapolis only 7 points separates Ciancirulo, Savatgy and Osborne.  There is destined to be a battle to Vegas, there was no Crown!