Photos and Words By Mike Emery | @emeryphoto
GEICO Honda's Richard Sterling
Hometown: Lake Elsinore, CA
Years Wrenching: 8
Rider: Jeremy Martin
Past Riders: Dalton Bailey, Chris Plouffe, Thomas Covington, Chris Blose, Anthony Rodriguez
Growing up in an area of California where motocross reigns supreme, it was only natural for Richard Sterling to become a rider and racer. When he realized the dream to become a professional wasn't going to come to fruition, his buddy Dalton Bailey enlisted him to spin wrenches instead. Sterling--who knew the basics by working on his own bike--jumped on the opportunity after taking a few business courses in college. Sterling spent a couple of years working for Bailey, then moved on to his next gig with Team 51FIFTY, wrenching for Chris Plouffe. It was there that he credits engine builder Naveen Dassanayake for teaching him the strong work ethic, effort, and skill it took to make it as a professional in the industry.
The next step was working for amateur Thomas Covington on Team Green Kawasaki, where he got to work closely with the Pro Circuit staff. "I would look at pictures of Mitch Payton's bikes and be like, 'Okay, this is how it needs to be done,' and I would try to make my bike look as close to theirs as possible. A move to N-FAB Yamaha to work for Chris Blose is where Sterling got to learn from Allan Brown. "Allan taught me a lot and let me know I wasn't just a parts changer," says Sterling, who credits the time spent under Brown's tutelage as what propelled him to the next level of his profession.
Star Racing Yamaha called next, and Sterling was recruited to tune for Anthony Rodriguez. When A-Rod suffered an untimely injury, Sterling was paired with a rookie pro named Jeremy Martin, and the team went on to win the 250 National MX Championship. The two have been inseparable since, and Sterling even agreed to accompany Martin to GEICO Honda this year. When asked about the success between mechanic and rider, Sterling answered, "You're half mechanic and half motivational speaker. We always stay positive, and you learn your rider and when to push him. We have a bond that can never be broken." Read on for some details that Richard was nice enough to share about Jeremy's number-6 GEICO Honda race bike.
Power and Delivery: Kristian Kibby and the engine team use specifications developed through hours of testing when the race engines are built. Everything is done in-house, and factory Honda resources are available to us as well. All the race engines are essentially the same, and there might be a few tweaks here and there that different guys like, but the mapping is huge. Kibby's life is invested in the mapping--he's such a guru and it's unreal how much tuning capability we have through the ECUs. Jeremy likes to manage the power by staying in the meat of the torque and carrying momentum; he'll carry a gear for a long time, more than your average guy. Our clutch setup is Hinson, we use Pro Taper sprockets with D.I.D chains and wheels, and Dunlop spec tires.
Suspension: With Factory Connection being its own suspension-tuning company, there are multiple suspension manufacturers they deal with. It's ultimately up to the rider, and every rider can choose what brand they prefer to race with using endless settings. For Jeremy, it came down to his existing relationship with KYB that made his choice easy. He's running an A-kit spring fork, and they're dialed in for him. He likes the fork really plush, and he prefers the feeling at his hands to be soft and fluid but the fork to be more progressive with a lot of hold-up. He runs a matching A-kit KYB shock, which is similar in setting--it's not going to kick around when he's charging, and it has sort of a dead feel.
Sizing, Comfort, and Control: Jeremy runs the Pro Taper Carmichael bend bar, and he prefers the softest compound white grips. They come with half-waffles on them, but Jeremy prefers them with the waffle of the grip cut off for him. Handlebar and lever positions are pretty neutral right in the middle so he's in a standard over-the-front-of-the-bike position. He's really pretty easy on the bike; he doesn't abuse the brakes or the clutch. His seat is specially cut for him to the height he prefers, along with the subframe being cut down 10 mm. He's also the only one on the team who runs frame griptape. The foot pegs are up 5 mm and also back 5 mm, and that seems to help open up the bike a little bit for him.
Bling Factor: The front brake caliper is works Honda, and the hubs are also works pieces. The triple clamps are works Honda, and we can do any degree we want with them, along with the offsets. The rear brake pedal has a titanium front, and we run the brake snake through it. The chain guide is works and has no second hole in the front of it so mud doesn't get packed into the chain. The plastic is all Cycra Powerflow, and graphics are made by D'COR Visuals. For outdoor racing we run the custom carbon fiber tanks that hold a little more fuel to make it through the long motos. We run a special-made radiator on the right side that is longer to cool the bike down better, with the option to run a fan on the back for a mud moto or if it's super hot outside. The hoses are made by CV4, with the hose closest to the exhaust wrapped in extra heat wrap. The footpegs and all of the bolts are titanium, and the Yoshimura exhaust system is also full titanium with carbon fiber end caps. The minimum weight at the races is 212 pounds, and all I can tell you is that we are close to that!