As much as the battle between bike brands and component makers rages on throughout dealer showroom floors and the various bicycle races, there is another PR battle being waged in the world of motorcycling. Ever since the days (in the early 90’s) when Yeti Cycles own John Parker recognized the cross-over of talent, technology, and publicity that existed between the two communities when he sponsored some of the nations most successful motorcycle racers (Jeff Stanton, Johnny O’Mara, Scott Russell, Sue Fish, Jeff Ward), the bicycle industry has always been aware of the promotional opportunities brought by sponsoring throttle twisters.
From the riders perspective, in the last decade especially, having access to both bicycles and former bicycle racers to aid in their training as been a significant boon to their own on-track success. To that end Shimano has stepped-up their sponsorship of an A-list of riders to help influence the brands pedigree of components among the throttle-twisting set.
Given that January is always a big month among the SoCal throttle-twisters due to three rounds of the 17 round AMA Supercross Series held within the first six weeks of the year, it is when the bike brands do their best to coax some mingling between the diverse group of athletes.
Last Sunday marked the second annual running of the Shimano Moto Day ride that was held at component makers’ headquarters in Irvine, CA. The event was put together by Shimano’s Joe Lawwill (here addressing the crowd) as a friendly ride and get-together merging the friendly moto and pedal communities.
Welcome to Shimano’s new cycling headquarters which opened last year and is located across the street from their old digs which is now dedicated to fishing and all the “work” stuff.
Shimano had this sweet Fat Chance mountain bike on display which had many of “the kids” looking on in astonishment at the relic….”Where are the electronics? Where is the suspension? Where is the carbon fiber.” Note the top line – “Competition – it fuels everything we do.”
No doubt Shimano has a lot going for themselves in the realm of new technology. In addition, they have Wayne Stetina, who is to America’s cycling pedigree what carbon fiber currently is to the bike market. As a VP at Shimano, Wayne doesn’t much care about motorcycles, but he lives for pedaling and how to improve the product…as evidenced by his test bike that relies only a front disc brake. Wayne’s reasoning, though perhaps unmarketable, is nonetheless sound…”What good does a rear disc brake do? All the stopping power is in the front, so why not save weight and complexity and just run a single disc?” We love Wayne.
This is Mike Bell. His dad was a famous race tuner. He was a former Supercross National Champion as well as a winner of the Mammoth Kamikaze Downhill race. He also won the first ever mountain bike race held inside the Los Angeles Coliseum as the intermission act for the Supercross race. Mike is also famous for simply being one of the friendliest people in the world.
This was Cole on Sunday morning along with his trainer Brian Lopes (r). Thanks to Brian’s prodding, Seely is veteran of both Levi’s Gran Fondo and the Mike Nosco Memorial ride…he wasn’t sure which one was harder. Brian also puts his years as one of America’s most multi-talented riders to good use by also training riders on the Troy Lee Designs/KTM team.
Beyond the plethora of National Champions on the ride, there was also former World MotoGP Champion Nicky Hayden who was just weeks away from heading off to foreign lands to once again represent America in the MotoGP wars. Riding alongside Nicky is his brother – sure, another National Champion, Roger Lee.
Probably the fastest couple in America, multi-time National Road Racing Champion and factory Yamaha rider Josh Hayes is a hardcore cyclist as is his wife Melissa Paris who is a top road racer as well.
Jeff Ward is one of America’s most successful motorcycle racers with a National Championship career spawning over five decades and in three different venues: motocross, Supercross and Supermoto. In his spare time he was also a top three finisher at the Indy 500. Next to him is Eric Bostrom – yes, another National Champion who is also obsessed with bicycles.
…as cool as the modern crop of throttle twisters are, none of them hold a candle to the outright coolness and hero factor as Joe Lawwill’s dad Mert. Besides earning the AMA National Champion title back in 1969, Mert was also a star of the greatest motorcycle movie ever made, On Any Sunday.
A2 Moto Photos: John Ker