By Jaimee Davis
Photos by Heather Young
From no bike to a used Craigslist bike to a newly rebuilt factory bike…
When I started working at Transworld Motocross a few months ago my friends and coworkers joked about how long it'd be until I got my own motorcycle after six years of not owning one. As it turns out, the joke was on me because it didn't take long or much convincing.
Now you may be thinking, “Great, another girl who doesn't know much about bikes or is trying to make moto equal.” With the opportunities given to me at Transworld Motocross, I simply want to share the sport of motocross through my eyes, starting with this bike build.
I started riding when I was five-years-old on a Yamaha PW50. By 11 I had competed in my first race at Honey Lake on a Yamaha TT-R125. Through the years that followed, I advanced in racing classes, won some championships, and rode a number of different bikes. Racing was about having fun; I enjoyed it but never had the desire to train and ride hard enough to attempt to be a professional WMX racer. My brother JP, on the other hand, raced at the professional level in off-road with support from factory Suzuki. I saw firsthand how much hard work, dedication, and sacrifice was made to race at that level. Being able to ride with my brother was always a treat. He'd take me on hard trails and if I got stuck or fell he'd make me try again and again until I made it. His favorite line was "don't be a sissy, get back up," even when I broke my leg during a race. Typical big brother treatment, but it brought out the toughness in me.
My dad was a huge part of our success, always working on our bikes making sure they were dialed. He'd make me help because if I wanted to race I had to take care of my stuff and learn the basics of bike maintenance. My mom and other brother were also a huge part of our racing success. It truly was a family sport for us. For as long as I can remember racing was our life, 37 weekends a year for over 10 years.
After a bad wreck, I retired from racing but continued to go to the races with my family. I started announcing at the races and doing the commentating for the WORCS Fastest 5 Minutes videos. Being Ms. Social Butterfly I loved going down pit row to do interviews and announce the pro races. I'm pretty sure I was a mix of Jeff Emig and a moto mom with all the excitement of the racing action but also the frantic screams!
The constant racing eventually ended as school and a career became my focus, but the passion I have for the sport has never gone away. I've met some awesome people and most of my lifelong friends through racing. I've learned the value of a strong work ethic and have the utmost respect for all the men and women who race at a professional level with the help of their families and team because I know from experience it's not easy and it is a team effort.
Fast forward to the present…now not only do I get to be surrounded by bikes and racing action day in and day out; I get to work for the magazine that I subscribed to as a kid! (I may or may not have had a fan girl moment over myself when I got to test ride a TTR-125 for our August issue.)
On my first day one of the guys said, "I heard you used to ride. So when are we getting you back on a bike?" I chuckled and said that I was retired, but less than a few weeks later I found myself talking about how the KTM 125SX and 150SX stacked up, and which would be better for me to get back into riding on. Since I used to ride a Suzuki RM125, I was familiar with two-strokes and the size and weight of a 125. I texted Kacy Martinez who rides for Factory FMF KTM, and asked her what she thought. She told me that her KTM 150SX is the same size and weight of a 125 but has more power and is lighter than her KTM 250 SX-F. I was sold!
Thanks to Craigslist, I found a few potential bikes within a few days. The bike I was most fond of was a few years old and had only been ridden a handful of times. I don't need the latest and greatest so I figured I'd save some money getting a used bike. Granted it's much easier going into a shop and knowing you're getting a brand-new bike with no issues. Having been around motorcycles most of my life, I know some of the main things to ask and look for.
What year is the bike? – You don't want it to be too old, as it might be hard to find new parts. Furthermore, the older the bike, the more maintenance it will probably need.
How many hours are on the bike and how often was it ridden? – Sellers will probably lie – and hour meters can be replaced – but if you check the wear on the frame and other non-replaceable areas; you can estimate how much a bike has been ridden. Look at the tires, brake pads, engine covers…do they look old or rusty from sitting, or dented and scratched from crashing? You can usually get a general idea of how well maintained the bike was by the visible wear and tear.
Take a test ride. – See if they'll let you ride it up and down the street, shift through the gears and see how strong the engine is. Make a low-speed pass up the street in a high gear and take a stab at the clutch lever to see if the plates are slipping. If they don't let you ride it; start it and see how much it rattles and listen for any abnormal noises.
The price – Try to negotiate the price down, chances are if they're selling their bike they need to get rid of it. Make a cash offer and pick it up!
Within 24 hours I found a bike that fit all my criteria, got my answers, negotiated the price down and made a cash offer. And just like that, I went to check it out, took it on a quick test ride, loaded it up and was on my way. I think my smile was literally from ear to ear…I actually owned a bike again! I texted a picture of my bike to my family and said, "Look who's coming out of retirement!" My dad and brothers were excited and slightly jealous, but mom—on the other hand—needed some convincing.
The next day, I rode my bike all day long with my friends. It'd been about five years since I had ridden, but I felt like I picked up right where I left off! Riding felt so natural…almost like I had never stopped. For the most part, the bike ran great: it was a little rich but nothing some re-jetting couldn't fix. The bike had been sitting for quite some time, though, and aesthetically it wasn't as pleasing as it was to ride. In the words of swap, "It looked like it had been sitting at the bottom of the ocean."
What started out as a small makeover soon turned into a full-on bike rebuild. The best part about the project was working on it with my friends, as they were just as stoked as I was. My best bud Chris Johnson was planning to help me swap out a few old parts for some shiny new ones, but as soon as mechanic man JR Boyd got wind of the project he took over and ended up taking the entire bike apart piece by piece to clean, blast, tune and service. When all was said and done, my KTM 150 SX got the same "framing" treatment at the Rocky Mountain MC/ATV race bikes that Boyd works on daily, and my new pride and joy looked just like a brand-new factory bike. I always like to return the favor to those who help me and fortunately for me; all it took was a couple cases of beer and some pizza to please the boys!Since I'm not a factory rider and under no obligation to use specific brands and they are under no obligation to help me, I really do appreciate the ones that did support this project.
– Chris Johnson at San Diego Powder Coating took apart my bike and powder coated the frame to the exact orange that matches my new Acerbis plastics.
Powder Coated Frame | Price: $180-$225
Acerbis Complete Plastics | Price: $199.95
– ODI Grips for giving me new grips that won't cause me to get blisters. Let's face it, no girl wants rough hands.
Emig V2 Lock-On Grips | Price: $25.95
– Hoodie over at DT1 Filter Services heard about the project and helped me out greatly by supplying new filters that were much needed after the stock air filter sat for so long.
DT1 Air Filters | Price: $28.95
– The stock pipe on the bike was rusty and dented in a few places. Thanks to the guys over at Bill's Pipes for hooking me up with a shiny new one. They are a dream to work with! Seriously, if you want the customer support experience of a lifetime go to Bill's.
MX2 Expansion Chamber & Silencer | Price: $239.99
– The custom graphics were done by DS Moto Customs. I wanted some teal in the graphics, but not too much or too little. I told Dylan what I envisioned he nailed it on the first try. It was exactly what I was looking for and he was very easy to work with.
Complete Custom Graphic Set | Price: $199.99
– Seat Concepts surprised me with a one-of-a-kind custom seat that included teal ribs. It may be my favorite part about my bike.
Seat Concepts Custom Seat Cover | Price: $69.99
– Mika Metals supplied the bars, chain and sprockets; all of which needed to be replaced. To top it off, they added a custom teal bar pad. Notice a theme here with the teal?
Rear Sprocket | Price: $69.95
Chain | Price: $129.95
Bar Pad | Price: $19.95
– Boyesen hooked me up with a new clutch cover, side cover and rad valve to improve the bikes overall performance.
Clutch Cover | Price: $94.95
Side Cover | Price: $86.95
Rad Valve | Price: $179.95
– I've always run Maxxis tires so when given the option of what tires I wanted on my bike, it was a no brainer to go with the brand I know. I'm excited to have the McGrath Maxxcross MX ST tires.
Maxxcross MX ST Tires | Price:
– Dubya surprised me with a new set of Talon Evo wheels that really completed the look and tied the entire bike together.
Wheel Set | Price: $899
The smile I had when I saw my completed bike build was probably bigger than Jason Anderson's when he won the 450 SX Championship this year (if only I rode like Jason Anderson too). Thank you to Seven MX, Bell Helmets, Ride 100% and DA8 Apparel for helping me complete my look to get back on a bike. We'll save the post about fashionable gear for another day.
A huge thank you to Donn and Anton for giving me an outlet to share my experience, passion, and knowledge of the sport from my perspective, along with the rest of the Transworld Motocross team for always making me feel like "one of the guys.” My mechanics Chris Johnson and JR Boyd and the talented photographers, Donn Maeda and Heather Young who captured the reveal and finished product so well.
If you see me on my KTM 150 SX at the track come say hi! And if I get in your way out on the track, cut me some slack because I'm still getting used to riding again. HAHA! See you at the track and hopefully at some of the TWMX Race Series events!