Defending AMA 250 Supercross champion Chad Reed faces a big challenge in 2005. He not only must face the challenge of two riders missing from the 2004 series, Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart, he will defend his supercross crown aboard a new machine, the aluminum-framed Yamaha YZ250.
Last year, Reed appeared to be completely in tune with his steel-framed YZ — a chassis largely unchanged for several years. The switch to an aluminum frame presented tremendous challenges to Honda in 1997, when the now familiar CR motocross machines adopted aluminum for the first time. The flex characteristics of aluminum are so different from those of steel that Honda struggled with bike set-up for quite some time.
Yamaha claims it has been testing aluminum frames long enough that it will not suffer the primary problem with Honda’s initial efforts, i.e., an overly stiff, unforgiving chassis that required dramatically different, and more precise, suspension settings.
We should know fairly quickly how Reed is getting along with his new chassis. He will race it at the U.S. Open supercross event in Las Vegas next month.