Photos and Words By Mike Emery | @emeryphoto
GEICO Honda's Alex Campbell
Hometown: St. Charles, Minnesota
Years Wrenching: 3
Rider: Cameron McAdoo
Past Riders: RJ Hampshire, Garret Marchbanks, Eric Grondahl, Hayden Mellross
Growing up in rural Minnesota as the son of a farmer, it's no surprise that GEICO Honda's Alex Campbell spent his younger years ripping around the family farm on a dirt bike. Enjoying his youth on bikes that ranged over the years from a Gas Gas EC50 to a Yamaha YZ250F, Alex eventually took a liking to off-road racing and raced hare scrambles at age 16. With a highlight finish of third in the state championships competing in the B class, he has plenty of great racing memories. Of course, with all this riding and racing, he was destined to learn how to wrench on the bikes and took great interest in doing so. In high school, Campbell was an avid reader of TransWorld Motocross and had a specific interest in our Spanner features. From this, he decided that when he graduated he'd enroll in MMI and move down to Florida to pursue the dream of being a factory mechanic.
So off he went and while schooling met his first connection into the industry, Payton Stevenson, who is currently Ken Roczen's practice mechanic, but previously wrenched for Eric Grondahl. He allowed Alex to come by "The Nest" to learn the ropes and help out wherever he could. This was a great move, as he learned a heap of knowledge from Payton and also met Hayden Mellross, whom he eventually went on to work as a practice mechanic for. Still looking for a way to get to the races, he took a role with Grondahl as his motor home driver knowing that it would be a great opportunity to network within the industry. It proved to be another smart move, as he got to know the entire GEICO Honda team and soaked in any knowledge he could like a sponge. He then spent a season wrenching for amateur talent Garrett Marchbanks and Team Green Kawasaki, but when the opportunity came to apply for a newly open position at GEICO Honda as RJ Hampshire's mechanic, he jumped right on it. Campbell scored the job and jumped right into the mix. He credits Adam Snyder and the rest of the team for helping shape him into the mechanic he is today. When new rider Cameron McAdoo needed a mechanic, the team shuffled Campbell over, and the two have been paired up since. After we snapped some images, he was kind enough to break down the details of the all-new 2018 GEICO Honda CRF250R for us below.
All-New Platform: Everybody was really happy with the new changes that were made to the Honda CRF250R for 2018. We started testing in late September on outdoors, just to get a base on what the bike was like. It was kind of all hands on deck, and we only had one test bike at first. Everyone's initial reaction was that it was leaps and bounds better than the old bike, even in stock trim. That gave a breath of fresh air to everyone involved, and although it can be stressful at first due to the limits of having only so many parts, the new bike has been an all-around positive change for both the riders and the team working on it.
Engine: We have an engine department and have a lot of R&D that goes into it along with providing mapping options for the riders. The introduction of the two separate header ports made it into a whole different ball game, and Kristian Kibby and Andrew Hopson developed different options and tested them to see what worked best. Cameron likes his power delivery pretty standard; he likes it to have good bottom-end power into the midrange, but also needs it to carry out as well. But he definitely likes it smooth with more power delivery at the bottom-end so he can get out of corners and things like that. Yoshimura helped out a lot and gave plenty of options during testing. We're running their RS-9 full titanium system, with carbon fiber end caps on all of the race bikes right now.
Cockpit and Suspension: He runs the SX Race bend Pro Taper bars at full width, so he doesn't shave anything off of either side. His grips are Pro Taper 1/3 Waffle soft compound. He's very picky with his controls, so I set it to exactly where he wants it, and I always have him check it and sign off on it before he goes out. We use ARC levers and clutch perch, and he runs them in a pretty neutral position with height, but runs his front brake lever pretty close to the handlebar. The seat is stock height, but it's lighter seat foam. The pegs are works titanium pegs and sit at the standard position. He runs a factory Honda titanium shifter that is 5mm longer than a production shifter, and that allows his foot to fit in there easier. He runs the KYB PSF1 48mm forks, and his settings are among the stiffest settings under our awning on both the fork and the shock. His riding style is a little different, and he lands sitting down a lot, so he needs it stiffer because there is more weight on it in certain scenarios. The shock is a KYB A-Kit shock, connected to Factory Connection linkage. Trey Rein works in conjunction with Factory Connection and KYB USA to develop our settings, and then maintains and services everything in house in our race shop.
Brakes: The front brake caliper is a works Nissen billet aluminum unit, mounted to a Moto Stuff 270mm front brake rotor and brake hanger. The brake line is production, but we cut the sheathing off up by the number plate to make it lighter and cleaner looking, and the front master cylinder is a works Honda part. He likes his front brake lever on the stiffest lever option we have. The rear brake setup is a stock master cylinder, stock caliper, stock brake line, and the rear brake disc is a Moto Stuff thin disc for Supercross to keep it lighter. The brake pads are all OEM Honda, but I trim them a little, so if you have a quick wheel swap, it makes it easier. The rear brake pedal is a works pedal with a titanium tip and has a special stop on the back, so if the pedal is jammed up, it won't rip the guts out of the master cylinder.
Power Delivery: We run a Hinson Racing clutch setup, with their cool Factory Connection 20-year anniversary logo Hinson clutch cover. The front and rear sprockets are Pro Taper, and we run the D.I.D ERT3 chain. The wheels are D.I.D LTX hoops, which are a lightweight rim. The hubs, spokes, and nipples are all factory Honda parts. The tires are spec tires from Dunlop that help develop what becomes the production tire that everyone can buy.
Assorted Bling and Safety: All the bolts are titanium, and we also use some aluminum nuts and bolts where the strength isn't needed because aluminum is lighter than titanium. The water pump has a little bolt in there as a backup to the press fitting it comes stock with. That is just a precautionary measure during the races. The clamps on the left side of the coolant system are Oetiker clamps, and we run regular hose clamps on the right side. The Oetiker clamps save weight, look cleaner, and don't loosen up. The clutch side engine case is brown because the team has them Cerakote treated. The plastics are made by Cycra and add to the overall look and performance of the bike. We install a second start button up underneath the right side of the frame in case the main button is broken off during a crash or pileup. John Wisenor modifies the wiring harnesses on all of our race bikes in house, making a few changes that add to the reliability of the harness and connections during the demand of top-level racing.