Resources 1 Mar 2017

Advice: Manufacturer changes

Making a smooth transition to new machines with Nathan Crawford.

With a huge list of competitive motocross machines on the market today, manufacturer swaps are a very common occurrence in this sport, but just how should you approach your move? Each make and model has its own set of characteristics, its own positives and negatives, it’s a unique model and something that will take time to adjust to. Are you jumping from a 250 to a 450? Or going to opposite way and reverting back to a smaller displacement model? There certainly is a whole lot that goes into it. In this latest edition of Advice we checked in with factory Kawasaki newcomer Nathan Crawford hear his best advice on the switch following his own recent move from the Husqvarna FC 250 to the Kawasaki KX450F.

Image: Dunlop Media.

1. Choosing your new machine:
The way the bike handles is the first thing you need to be looking at when you’re changing to a new bike, also each manufacturer has different style of power from bottom to top. So it really depends on what manufacturer you’re switching to when it comes to exactly what you will find different between the two bikes but handling is definitely the big one. Certain bikes feel different, some may be thicker in the frame, and it could be thicker in the shroud and fuel tank area, things like that. It can even come down to how the bike feels like to sit on, a comfort thing.

2. Displacement:
For me in my recent situation, I jumped from a Husqvarna to a Kawasaki, so it’s everything to do with the handling, the feel of the bike and on top of that it’s the added weight. With the switch from a 250 to a 450 you’re looking at an extra five or so kilograms, it doesn’t sound like much, but it does make a lot of difference and also you throw that power in there as well. For me it was a massive jump and it actually took me a while to get used to it, so you need to allow the time to get used to that switch.

Image: MXN.

3. Open minded approach:
Obviously I have ridden 450s before, but I had never ridden a Kawasaki leading into my first day. For me it is key to have an open mind and not come in with huge expectations, knowing that I am going to adjust to whatever we have. If I wasn’t feeling it or didn’t gel straight away, I knew I would adjust, so for the first few days, or even the first few weeks, going in with an open mind and knowing that the bike will be a lot better is key.

4. Priorities:
Right off the bat, starting with suspension and with a standard engine, we just start with that to get it to where I’m fairly comfortable. After that you kind of work from back-to-front, we did a lot of stuff with my Kawasaki shock and once we got that sorted out it was time to work on the steering. So for us, we basically start out pretty much standard with a suspension setting and then work from there. You can have the fastest bike on the track, but if your suspension handles like shit then you’re not really going to be able to ride the bike to its full potential.

5. The team around you:
It’s very important to have the right people around you. I’m a bit of a sponge and I’ll take a bit of everything from people around me, but I also keep my group really tight and small. A good group of people around you in definitely going to help you in succeeding and get to where you want to be. You can have too many opinions at times, so it’s a fine line between having too many and too little.