Catching Up With…Chad Reed

Many (maybe most) scoffed at Chad Reed’s decision to race only Supercross. To motocross fans, the Outdoor Nationals are the heart of racing; the raw, unpretentious battleground of dirt bikes.
Be that as it may, Chad decided to focus on Supercross and take the summer off to rest and do some of things he had never experienced. He took a step back from Motocross in order to take a step forward in Supercross.
Chad’s Supercross-only contract may not be favorable with some fans, but it may just be what he needed to take back a championship.

With a year now past with your Supercross-only contract, are you happy with your decision? Any second thoughts?

I’m 100% stoked with my decision. It was great timing for me. I needed to step away. I am 25, which is not old, but I have been riding motorcycles since I was 3. I lived a pretty sheltered life. Everything I did had to do with motorcycles. So this year was amazing for me. I got to step away from the bike. People loved it; people hated it, and more people hated it, unfortunately.
The main reasons for choosing not to compete in Outdoors were number one: the team did not want to go and number two: it’s really hard to put so much effort into something that I benefit little from. I was tired and a bit over it. I got to regroup and do a lot of fun things that I have never been able to do in the past, and now I am back and have a great outlook. We have a brand-new ’08 bike that is leaps and bounds better than what we’ve had over the last three years or so. I have new motivation and a new bike, so I think it will be a fun season.

You mentioned a new bike that is far better than years past. Does that make testing easier or harder? Do you have to start over, or can you still build off what you learned with last year’s bike?

We pretty much started our racing program over again. Anyone who tells you that you can’t win a race on a stock bike is full of it. Grant Langston and I ran completely stock bikes (at Bercy) other than race tires. This bike does what it is supposed to do. From there, between Yamaha and L&M Yamaha, we made some great choices. I am happy on the bike and that’s what is most important. It is so important to feel a part of the bike, and that is something we haven’t quite accomplished until now.

Any other changes to your program this season other than the bike?

We are in our second year with L&M Yamaha and the only real difference this year is that we have one year of experience under our belt. Out of 18 races last season, we had 17 podium appearances. We took that into the U.S. Open this season where we did well, and then on to Bercy where we were clearly better than the rest of the field. Things are looking great, so we are just continuing down the same road. Your two-year deal with L&M Yamaha is up after the 2008 season. What does the future hold? Will you try to continue on with L&M?

Things are going great. I would love to continue with L&M. But in ’08 everything is up for me. I could walk away and not have any ties at all. So I have a lot of decisions to make after the season about what Chad Reed is going to look like beyond 2008.

Will anything short of a SX title affect your decisions?

I think my decisions will be pretty much made before the season would be concluding, and well before the title has been awarded. But at this point I am happy. It’s been a frustrating couple of years. We have been off of the pace. Some of it has been me, some of it the bike. I have always been there at the top, 2nd or 3rd, and have been there to capitalize when someone else makes a mistake. But constantly being 2nd and 3rd is kind of crappy way of life. It hasn’t been a whole lot of fun. But with the much-needed time I had off and the introduction of the ’08 Yamaha bike, things are starting to happen the way they used to. The smile comes more naturally.

Supercross and Motocross continue to grow in popularity among thhe masses, and the stars of the sport have grown toward celebrity status. Along with that status comes both love and hate from the fan base. Has this affected you and, if so, how do you deal with it?

In Southern California people notice you for sure. In Tampa, no one knows me. When I am in my hometown in Australia, everybody knows me. All of that is fun. It would be hard for someone to say they didn’t like that. Everybody loves to be recognized and told ‘great job.’ But those ‘great job’ comments have come less and less. I want to put Chad Reed back on the map. Casey Stoner has been killing it in MotoGP and he is from my hometown, so I have been getting brushed. (Laughs) I have to redeem and get my name back on top.
But seriously, I enjoy it and I want the real Chad Reed to shine. I think some people may have the wrong impression of me. I deal with the same things that everyone deals with, but unfortunately I deal with things in front of the media eye. People take the impressions they get seriously, but I am only human.

It sounds like you have a solid outlook right now. If Anaheim 1 was tomorrow, would you be ready?

Bring it! Sure, we are in November and not exactly where we would like to be come January, but if we had to race, I think we are more prepared than in years past. I would say bring it on, but we do have a lot of work to do yet. I am happy with the way the last two races have gone, but those races didn’t have the Supercross Champion (James Stewart) in them. I know that James is at home working his butt off. He is consistently fast and strong, and that combination makes him a tough guy to beat. But I want to go to work. I want to come out swinging and give it everything we have. If it takes hitting the ground a few times, I am ready.

Other than Stewart, who do you foresee battling at the front for podium spots?

In my honest opinion, I think James and myself are a ways ahead. No disrespect to anyone out there, but taking the past into consideration, we are on top. Grant Langston is definitely stepping it up. He is comfortable on the bike and that means a lot. Look at Timmy Ferry. He has gone from factory to privateer back to factory and he works so hard. He got a good bike that he is comfortable with and he came out swinging in ’07. I think Grant and I will definitely be mixing it up upfront. I want to take a big step forward and I know he does too. Ivan Tedesco has moved to Honda, so we will soon find out if that will be the fix to his career. Ivan came out strong in ’06 and he has the potential to bring that guy back. I really hope everyone can step it up this season. There is no better feeling than going out there and battling. At Bercy, I had some great battles with Shorty and G.L. and it was awesome.

What’s the best part of racing?

Riding a 450 on a Supercross track as fast as you can, scrubbing jumps, blitzing whoops, and railing turns; it’s the best feeling ever. I got to experience a lot of different things this off-season and none of them compare to riding a 450 in SX.