We’re in the middle of the 2018 450 MX shootout. Here’s how it goes down each year. First we test the bikes individually, at which time they are weighed on the accurate but visually unimpressive Dirt Bike balance-beam scale. We weigh each bike without fuel, which can be challenging on fuel-injected bikes. We simply remove the tank and turn it upside-down–messy, but it means the weight figures we publish can be compared with each other. The bikes are photographed in the studio and then a video is produced on each one by Dirt Bike’s famous videographer Travis Fant. Then the bikes are often reprepped by the manufacturer.

The first time that all six bikes are together on the same day will be for another video. They are also together when they make a trip to the dyno, which is happening as this is written. The real comparison doesn’t happen on a single day or on a single track. That’s simply impractical with so many bikes. They go out in twos and threes. Remember, all the bikes are familiar to us because we’ve already tested them. Admittedly, our perception of them does change when they are compared with others. There’s also what we call a manufacturer day, when representatives from all six manufacturers are invited out for a single day of testing. At other publications, this one day is usually the whole shootout. Who decides who wins? I do. But only after I interview every rider involved. The test will appear in the December print issue of Dirt Bike.


Kailub RUSSELL – photo by Jake Miller.

This ISDE will finish up tomorrow, but we already know who won’t win the Trophy Team competition. We were out before it really started. Thad Duvall fell and hurt his wrist right out of the gate, and according to the new rules, there are no throw-aways. The missing Thad Duvall will cost the U.S. team a big penalty each day. What’s worse is that Thad is leading the U.S. National Enduro series and is a close second in the GNCC series. There are three rounds left in the Enduro series, which picks up on September 17. The GNCC has four rounds including one next week. It is the worst possible timing for Thad, who was looking to have his best year ever. Right now, the remaining bright spot at the ISDE is Taylor Robert, who is only a few seconds away from having the outright best individual score.

Taylor Robert – photo by Jake Miller

Yesterday, Christophe Nambotin fell in a transfer section and hurt himself–not enough to quit, but it definitely slowed him down. That basically gave a shot at the lead to Taylor. Then Taylor fell in a test, and that gave the lead to Spanish rider Josep Garcia. Garcia, if you remember, was Taylor’s biggest threat for the overall last year. It will all come down to the final moto tomorrow, and that might well play towards Taylor’s strong points.

Geoff Ballard Photos by Nuno Laranjeira

Yesterday was also the first day that the vintage bikes mixed in with the regulars. I was particularly interested in how Geoff Ballard would do. He’s been riding his Maico back home in Australia for some time. He and I talked earlier in the year about going to France for the ISDE, and I was happy to see he put it together. His Maico qualifies for the pre-1982 class, but he still set the second-fastest time of all the vintage classes, including the bikes from 1987.

Christophe NAMBOTIN – Photo by Jake Miller.



Cooper Webb will ride the new 2018 YZ450F this weekend at Jacksonville.

We will get a rematch this weekend between Jeffrey Herlings and Eli Tomac when the 17th round of the MXGP world championship comes to WW MX Park in Jacksonville, Florida. The main star of the weekend will be Antonio Cairoli, who will probably wrap up his ninth world championship. It’s wild, but Cairoli seems to be having one of his best seasons ever. Who knows how many he would have won if not for injury? Eli won the last MXGP, one year ago at Glen Helen, but Herlings clearly thinks highly of himself. The other Americas  to watch will be Cooper Webb and Justin Barcia. Webb will be on the 2018 YZ450F. Italian rider Michele Cervellin will debut the 2018 Honda CRF250R on American soil. Americans in the 250 class will include Adam Cianciarulo and Tomas Covington.



You might not know who this is, but Brad Lackey will never forget him. Bror Haglund was Lackey’s main connection to the Husqvarna factory in the ’70s, and he also worked for riders like Bengt Aberg and Arne Kring. Bjor, or “Julle,” started off as a rider himself, winning several medals in the ISDT. His whole story can be found on Husqvarna’s Good Old Times blog, just click the photo above.



See you next week

–Ron Lawson


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