Photos | Courtney Staton/Stag & Bird Photography
A while back our friend Jeff Crutcher of “Inside Track” fame told us that he had a chance to spin a few laps aboard a privately owned JGRMX-tuned YZ250F. A dream bike for many, he asked if we’d be interested in a quick summary of the expertly built bike and his time in the saddle on a private track in the Midwest. Not ones to turn down interesting content (especially when it’s free), we jumped at the offer.
Coy Gibbs has a creative mind when it comes to business. While the race team of Barcia, Peick, Nicoletti displays JGR’s technology each weekend, Gibbs offers the exact same parts used on their YZ450F bikes to the public. We’ve poured over their online catalog quite a few times, which includes fully built Yamaha motors for MX racing and dirt-track outlaw karts, carbon fiber pieces, and modified chassis components. If you’ve got some time to waste, it’s pretty cool to see what can be purchased. If you have some money to spend, even better.
If you’re interested in having JGR go to work on your motorcycle, you’re in luck. They offer their range of services for bikes built by the major OEMS and we recently had them redo a CRF450R for us. That review will be shared online soon.
Crutcher is Pro level rider with a few trips to Loretta Lynn’s to his credit, so we’re confident in his testing abilities. His time on the bike was not intended to be a full-on noted review, but he picked out the positive points of the machine well and drafted an entertaining read. Enjoy…
In my twenty-three years of riding and racing dirt bikes, I've never truly ridden a factory bike. Typically reserved for the paid professionals, a full-fledged factory modified motocross race bike is the ultimate status of achievement. Hard work, sacrifice, good fortune, and a lifetime of obsession toward the next step pay dividends with the illustrious and ever-sought manufacturer contract. In perspective, less than one-percent of motocross racers will ever swing a leg over a motorcycle that has a total retail value above ten grand. Of that one-percent, such a small group will experience a bike that has been tested and rigorously developed by a team of department specific technicians.
With such little availability, it leaves a lot of room for judgment and speculation for "common folk" to whisper about in the local track pit grid. Many times I've heard racers talk of how disadvantaged they are because of the modifications they don't have, which is a silly thing to say when a rider is simply ignorant of what it is they are missing out on. Sitting on the line for your moto, there is nothing more intimidating than observing the bike next to you with what seems to be an endless litany of performance products. God forbid you have an acute nose and can identify the race fuel crisply expelling from your competitor's carbon fiber exhaust.
When a bike, especially at the local races, is decked to the nines and dressed in factory sticker kits- it gets everyone's attention. The competition has woes of how fast the alleged bike is. They have fears of how Cadillac like it handles on the slop and chop. When it's you who possesses the unobtainium, the second you pull up on Sunday morning your confidence will be a notch higher than anyone you're racing with. When you invest in your bike, you invest in your results.
A new market of factory offered performance has surfaced in the last couple years in our industry. KTM lead the way with its Factory Services department, a retail oriented come-with-your-wallet offering. The Austrian manufacturer saw a market that was completely untapped, left to the aftermarket companies to be the sole proprietors of modifications. As the old adage reads: If you build it, they will come.
Enter JGRMX. For many years the NASCAR originated professional racing team has been the establishment for factory Yamaha. Post 2008 recession left a major vacuum in professional motocross racing and a few satellite teams were designated as Yamaha's officially appointed operations. Joe Gibbs Racing has a scientific approach to motorsports, of which is par for the course in major stock car racing. Before the JGR alliance got a seat at the table, motocross had not seen such technology-forward research and development. Through pro level testing, the team had developed some of the best in-house race parts seen on professional level bikes.
Through a constant demand of parts from other smaller teams, some that JGR sold their product to, and analyzing the killing KTM was doing to factory hungry retail customers, JGR began to offer retail pricing on all of their race specific parts. Now the question lies, who can honestly afford to buy a race spec bike package that costs more than the MSRP of the motorcycle itself?
Triathlete turned hardcore motocross enthusiast Bruce Long owns this JGR edition YZ250F. A man of business, Long has built his career on seizing opportunity through business purchase offerings, acquisitions, and private investments. Now in his forties and able to exercise his wishes of owning the formerly unobtainable, he enlisted JGRMX to crop up two of their full-race edition Yamaha's.
As noted before, I was ignorant toward factory bikes and could only speculate as to how good full factory equipment truly was. When I swung my leg over the most expensive bike I've ever controlled, I knew immediately I was about to haul major ass. At first kick of the bike my bones grew warm and my senses heightened, and I straight up got a case of the willies. Blipping the throttle, knowing the race fuel was burning through an absolute fire breather brought an all-new high I had never experienced before. I had heard an alleged number thrown around of the bike being valued over $35,000. Frankly, I never asked. I didn't care. I knew it was the most expensive bike I had ever rode and in my mind it was worth a million dollars. So naturally, wringing the piss out of this thing was absolute priority number one.
The JGR built Showa A-Kit suspension had me at a loss for words on the track. It was perfectly dialed for my weight, and every single obstacle I threw at it was no longer an "obstacle." This built my confidence enough to push through chop that I'd be hesitant to stay taped through on a simple OEM revalve. Now here is where I want to illustrate an alternative view: I do not know if this was the best functioning suspension setup I have ever ridden. Was it the most expensive? Yes. Knowing so much R&D had went into the build of this suspension gave me enough ego to ride harder than I have in many years. This is where the cost to performance ratio is settled. Seeing the anodized fork and shock components gave me a boost to ride far harder than I would've had this been a buddy's stock bike.
Each trick part on the bike comes with a price, but what you get out of the final hop-up combination results in an otherwise unobtainable comfort. From the purple anodized front brake master cylinder cap with laser etched JGR logo, down to the custom carbon fiber glide plate and every single thing in between- each part served a purpose to create an absolute barn burning factory bike worthy of professional racing podium finishes. Once you let the genie out of the bottle on this bike, the major gains in your riding are going to be very evident.
I am not here to itemize each and every part along with its purpose and price tag, because when I was on the motorcycle that wasn't what was on my mind. Simply engulfed in a sea of cooperation between all five of the motorcycles controls, my time on the YZ250F was riding in a Zen like flow state. I was nailing all of my marks, letting the bike do its thing- of which can only be described with one word: unison. Operator error was nil, effortlessly scrubbing and dragging bar on a motorcycle with each performance part working seamlessly.
The powerband was strong and revved to the moon without a hiccup. I found that pinging off the limiter worked equally as well as lugging in the bottom. I've never been a fan of air revving like the kids are doing now days, yet the blips in the air my right wrist was dishing out only seemed to multiply the longer I rode. In my mind, I was the fastest rider to ever grace Bruce's private track and my lap times would never be touched. I was on my way to fame and fortune and endless lines of autographs once my test ride was over. As I collected myself after the moto, pen in hand jotting notes about the bike I realized it was not about parts and pieces alone, but the collective hours spent to dial all aspects of the bike in and what a monster the final product was. I found myself a little speechless over what just happened on the track.
Buying the consumer available JGR collaboration gets you two things: one of the absolute sexiest looking bikes ever produced, and the confidence that you are an untouchable moto God as soon as your tires touch the track surface.
I could've asked what the dollar amount was for the complete race bike, but in the end I knew my twenty-minute moto on the race machine would be priceless.