– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

To the Highest Bidder

It is always interesting when the contract of a top racer expires. Speculation starts to fly about which team will hire him next. We have a very interesting situation in motocross/supercross this year here in the U.S.

Ricky Carmichael, James “Bubba” Stewart and Chad Reed are all in the last year of their factory contracts. That’s right, the top outdoor rider in world, the top supercross rider in the world, and the top 125cc class rider in the world (perhaps, in history) are all free agents next year.

In addition, the current 125 outdoor champion, Grant Langston, is in the last year of his contract, and (correct me if I am wrong, anyone) I believe that Kevin Windham has been signing single-year contracts since returning to the sport at the beginning of last year.

Where do all these riders end up, next year? You would have to think that, because of his youth and talent, James Stewart would be perceived as the biggest prize by a factory team. Stewart has been with Kawasaki a long time, but the same could be said about Carmichael before he went to Team Honda a few years ago. Stewart is viewed as the future of this sport by many industry honchos; as the “Tiger Woods” of supercross/motocross.

If Chad Reed wins the 250cc supercross title this year, he will certainly be high on everyone’s list, as well. Reed has been somewhat one-dimensional, however, as he has been unable to run up front with Carmichael and Windham outdoors. This will not significantly affect Reed’s value, because supercross is the number one fan draw, and the best place for manufacturers to showcase their product. Being a great supercross rider was enough to create a lucrative career for Jeremy McGrath, for instance, even after he quit racing outdoors (several years before he quit racing, altogether).

Carmichael is arguably the greatest rider in the history of the sport, but there are a couple of question marks surrounding him, right now. First, he is coming off of knee surgery. This should not be a problem. In fact, Carmichael was riding injured most of last year, and should be stronger as a result of the surgery. The second question concerns Carmichael’s ability to adapt to the CRF450R four-stroke — a bike he will switch to beginning in May (the beginning of the outdoor season). If Carmichael does not look comfortable on the four-stroke (and does not win the Outdoor title this year), he might be third on the list (behind Stewart and Reed) when teams set their priorities for hiring next year.

If I am correct that Windham has a one-year contract, his solid performance, both outdoors and in supercross, will make him a top pick, as well. It would seem he would want to stay on a competitive four-stroke, however, and probably a Honda CRF450R. This is the bike he has been winning on, and he has made it clear that he does not want to go back to racing a two-stroke. Langston probably is not in the same league as these other riders — in terms of his desirability. His inconsistency at supercross (where he crashes spectacularly, and often) means he is as one-dimensional as Chad Reed (although Reed does much better outdoors than Langston does at supercross). Langston also has not proven that he can win outdoors in the 250 class, having stayed in the 125 class outdoors since his arrival in the United States several years ago.

All-in-all, it will be very interesting to see where the top riders end up in 2005.

wordscape cheatgun mayhem 2 unblocked games