During the 2016 Paris-Lille SX a few weeks ago in France, we spent a few moments discussing bike setup with mechanic Derik Dwyer. As mechanic to Christian Craig at GEICO Honda, the MMI graduate spends most of his time tuning a state of the art CRF250R that features specially made factory components, but at Lille he wrenched on a CRF450R machine that was outfitted with a small assortment of parts that were carried along in suit cases. A veteran of the overseas Supercross scene, Dwyer knows what are the necessities when at a track that is far from home.
What parts did you take along for the race in Lille?
This year we decided to keep everything simple. We brought triple clamps, radiator braces, suspension, exhaust, a seat, and gearing. We didn't bring a motor, so all of that is stock. It really was just the essentials so that he was comfortable.
Racing the 450 had to be a huge help, because last year GEICO Honda sent Malcolm a full race-ready 250, and with this bike you only needed a few bolt on parts.
To come in, do one round, and leave is much easier with a 450. Out of the box it has great power and Christian's riding style on the 450 is really fluid. It's not like he needs anything crazy to get the job done.
How was it on parts? I saw you check the clutch over the weekend.
He went down once and bent a few things, but Malcolm's mechanic had the spares that I didn't have. We bounced stuff back and forth to get them out there. I brought two clutches, but Christian is good about using the clutch and on a 250 we can get fifteen hours out of one. We practiced the week before going on a 450 and there were no issues. I changed the clutch out on Sunday, just to give him more grab because we are underpowered compared to guys like Marvin or Jordi Tixier.
Was there anything that you had to bring, something that is the key to making him comfortable on a bike?
Some guys bring engine stuff so they have the same level of power, but he carries so much momentum that it wasn't a big deal. To get the hit we needed, we used the gearing that we took instead of internal motor parts like cams. We didn't have all of the resources that we usually do in the United States, so we kept it simple.
Were there issues because he spends so much time on a 250 race bike and then got on a 450? There is a big difference in power between the two sizes…
At home he rides the 250 every day, so when he was on the 450 before he came here for a few days and then had two nights of racing. We utilized the race and had it help our 250 program. The 450 obviously had more power and torque, so it helped his corner speed.
Supercross suspension is a necessity when racing overseas, but we've heard horror stories about parts getting held in customs. Was it an issue for you?
We stressed a little bit about it because we flew out of LAX and they are pretty tough with luggage. We collapsed the air fork as much as we could, bubble wrapped it and put it in an Ogio gear bag. I think the usual gun case is what sets security off because they wonder what's inside. Then we have to explain to them that it's a functional piece of a motorcycle, but they don't want to hear it. That's why we used the gear bag.
Another important element of racing overseas is the quality of the fuel. What did you use?
We ran a really good pump fuel. We couldn't ship the Renegade blend the team always uses because customs only allows one gallon to be shipped at a time and that ends up being very expensive. So instead we set our mapping up for the pump fuel we had here, which David Vuillemin helped organize. We can't get the fuel that we used in Europe in the United States, so we were unable to run it on the dyno or do any mapping changes. So that we had an idea, we went to a Shell station in the United States and came up with a few settings for the weekend.
Malcolm was given a higher grade of fuel than what was expected and it wouldn't work with his ignition. We analyzed it and then fixed it quickly, so there were some adjustments that were made over the weekend.