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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

2005 Yamaha Race Teams Introduction: This is Work?

Associate Editor Alex Edge at the Yamaha Race Teams Intro. Just kidding, that’s David Vuillemin aboard a new YZ450F

When I heard about Yamaha’s 2005 Race Teams Introduction last Wednesday at I-5MX in Gorman, California, I immediately knew it would be an event to remember. Yamaha was inviting the motorcycle press to bring their families out and spend the day riding 2005 Yamaha dirt bikes and quads, in the company of Yamaha’s 2005 Race Teams as well as the company’s own employees.

A morning presentation introduced all the racers who will ride factory Yamahas in 2005. Of course, riders like Chad Reed, Tim Ferry, David Vuillemin, Aaron Gobert, Jason DiSalvo, Damon Buckmaster and Jamie Hacking need no introduction, unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock for the last few race seasons. After the presentation, breakfast was served while the racers signed autographs for journalists and their families.

I spent the morning caught in traffic in Los Angeles, and I arrived just in time to grab the last piece of bacon at the breakfast buffet before heading out on the MX track on a 2005 YZ250F. I figured the 250 four-stroke would be the perfect bike to learn an unfamiliar track, and I was right. Just as I was starting to get a rhythm going, Tim Ferry reminded me how slow I am by passing me on the inside of a flat corner, and he was quickly followed by Chad Reed and David Vuillemin.

I played on the motocross track for a while longer, enjoying the long uphills and downhills and even figuring out how to jump most of the track’s tabletops and small doubles. After warming up on the motocross bikes, however, I felt I was ready for some serious racing, so I headed straight for the TTR-125s!

Over on the “junior” track was where I found most of my journalist colleagues, as it seemed the TTR-125s were by far the most popular attraction of the day. Riding small bikes like the TTR-125 on a track requires you to remember your physics lessons and conserve your momentum, as a bike designed for children doesn’t accelerate us full-size adults so well. I thought I was going pretty fast, but it wasn’t fast enough for Yamaha Media Relations Manager Brad Bannister. Brad had threatened to “roost all over me” in my e-mailed invitation, and although his TTR-125 didn’t throw much roost, he hustled it around the little track just a tiny bit quicker than me. I’d better start training for next year.

After lunch, I had the opportunity to take to the trails on a 2005 WR450F. You see, the I-5 MX facility is basically a motocross track built on a California State OHRV area, so you can leave the pits and head into the surrounding hills to enjoy miles of trails.

Having never ridden a WR450F before, I found it to be an excellent companion on trails varying from fast, sandy and whooped out, to tight, hardpacked and whooped out. Yes, every trail in California is whooped out. Most of the trails I’ve ridden are, anyway.

I was immediately comfortable with the handling of the WR – it didn’t feel much different than its motocross siblings, just a tad bit heavier and a little bit plusher in the suspension department. At first, the motor felt a little odd, revving slowly and seeming to have an excessive flywheel effect. After I got used to it, though, I found that the smooth power delivery and seemingly heavy flywheel helped the bike maintain traction in the slippery stuff, as well as making it much easier to go up slow, steep climbs. Most of my trail riding is done on MX bikes, and the WR was definately better suited to Gorman’s trails than a motocross model would have been.

Leaving the track in the afternoon for the long drive back to the MD offices in Temecula, I was tired, sore and smiling. Just the way you should feel after a day of riding an awesome track and beautiful trails. Then it hit me: this is work?

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