Ivan Tedesco | Testing Testing 1,2,3
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Ivan Tedesco has been a fixture on the professional circuit for years. And after a long, successful career in racing where he won Supercross and National Championships, he has now transitioned full-time into a testing role with RCH/Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John's/Suzuki where he applies his extensive experience, setting up the bikes for team riders Ken Roczen and Broc Tickle. Tedesco's current role is obviously much different than what he used to experience as a racer, but it's one that allows him to stay on a dirt bike and in an industry that he loves. While he was out with the team testing staff, we caught up with him as the team wrenched on his bike, fine-tuning the next setting he was going to try.
Everyone knows that you work for the RCH/Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John's/Suzuki team, but what exactly is your role?
Since I retired, my role is as a test rider. After Budds Creek, we started Supercross testing in August. For two or three days a week since then, I've been trying everything to make the bike better. I feel like we've made some improvements across the board with the motor, suspension, and chassis. The guys [Ken Roczen and Broc Tickle] seem pretty happy. With testing, you're always trying to evolve and make things better. With me doing the testing, the guys [Roczen and Tickle] can concentrate on training. Once I find something good, they try it. It seems to be working well.
Does it help you to go to the races to hear their feedback on bike set up?
Yeah, it for sure does. I know what I want, but being able to hear their comments, and know what they're feeling, helps me to go put that in my brain and feel what they want. Also, being able to see everything first hand is different than just watching it on TV.
You've been a top-level racer for years and had to set up bikes and do testing for yourself. Is it hard to change it up and set a bike up for someone else?
You kind of have to switch your brain to what they would want. I just go off of what their comments are. I think Ken and I are pretty similar—Broc also; he seems to like everything I've come up with—so it was kind of an easy transition. It's good. It's different, because I'm so used to being a racer and doing it for myself, but it's cool to just be able to focus on testing and not have to worry about putting in laps or taking lap times. Having to do all of that kind of gets in the way when you are testing.
Have you ever reached a setting that Ken or Broc like, but you can't stand?
[Laughs] I haven't come across that. Like I said, Ken and I like similar things. Even when we both rode KTMs last year, we both liked similar setups. It actually works well. If I was working for a guy like [Davi] Millsaps that probably likes something completely different, I don't know if it would carry over. I'm sure you could do it, but I think the reason it works so well [for us] is that we like similar stuff.
You, Ken, and Broc are all similar in size. Does that help as well?
I think so. Ken is a little bit taller to me, but the way we leverage a bike is pretty similar. But if I were setting up a bike for a big guy like Davi or [Kyle] Partridge, I don't think it would really carry over.
You're obviously keeping up on your speed. Are there any plans for racing in the future?
[Laughs] No man. I'm done. I'm good for about two laps at a time and haven't really done much training since I retired. I'm just trying to focus on testing and have fun with it. But yeah, I'm outta shape.
We saw you out on the track doing a couple laps at a time and just doing sections. Is that what you usually do?
I'll just do laps, and if I feel something in a certain section, I'll redo it to make sure it wasn't me making a mistake and pinpoint what's happening. I think that's what's good about having a test rider. I can do that and not worry about having to do laps or take lap times. It's such a grind when you're racing. I'm able to test and then present settings to the guys, so it doesn't take up their whole week.
Have you always been a good test rider or have you had to learn how to feel things on a bike?
Over the years, all the different teams that I've ridden for have always liked working with me and liked my feedback. I've been around for so long, though, and when I was a kid, I didn't know anything. I just raced the bike. As I did more and more testing, and learned about the bikes mechanically, I got a better feel for it. I think anybody that has done it for this long has a good feel for a bike.