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Story by Trevor Hunter
It’s our favorite and least favorite time of the year – the annual 24 Hours of Glen Helen is upon us! Very few races or events will test both man and machine quite like the 24 hour does, but that’s what makes this race so special and unique. We typically cover around 700 miles and anywhere from 60-80 laps from 10AM Saturday morning to 10AM Sunday morning. The terrain is varied – from wide open sections, to the motocross tracks, to endless silt singletrack and all with countless lappers mixed in for good measure – everything about the race challenges you. It’s tough to describe the feeling of waking up at 3AM (that is if you can get any sleep at all) and gearing up in dirty, sweaty gear to go ride circles around the hills of Glen Helen. It’s not something that can be described, just experienced. And what an experience that is.
For 2022, we’re looking to defend our Overall win from last year and we feel we have one of, if not THE best bike on the line. We’re piloting our 2022 YZ450FX test unit that we’ve spent the last few months dialing in with our eyes set on this race in particular. The Yamaha is a proven bike that we know can last as long as any bike out there, and with last year’s success, there isn’t another bike we’d want to line up for this year.
Our rider lineup has gone through a few changes since last year and in the past few weeks, but it will consist of Cole Zeller, Clayton Roberts, Tyler Belknap, and myself. All of us are still fairly young – an average age of ~21 – but we feel this is a solid team that is capable of getting the job done. We weren’t able to bring back Chance Fullerton due to injury and Thomas Dunn was unable to return for other reasons, but we hope this team will be the winning quartet come Sunday morning. The Pro field is going to see more talent this year than it has in the past which is exciting for this race. Since COVID, the Pro team participation hasn’t been quite as deep as in years past, but the SLR Honda squad is bringing in a rockstar team and the always solid Kilmartin Racing Team is coming back with a vengeance, along with a couple other Pro teams coming in.
Our bike setup is similar but different to last year. Again, we’re sticking with a fairly stock platform on the YZ450FX for a reason – it works. We’ve tried some different aftermarket parts and accessories and most of the time, stock works best. Some different exhausts, triple clamps, and more have all been tested on this bike but none work quite as well for us as the stock components do.
Our biggest mod this year has been dialing in suspension with TCS Powersports. Last year, we didn’t have much time to really find a setting we loved, but we started back in June of this year and have continuously tested with this bike to evolve into the setting we’re running now. We’ve stiffened up the rear end quite a bit and massaged the front end to our liking, including running a KYB A-Kit part in the fork, and we’re all pretty happy with how the bike is working – much better than last years setting which didn’t have much testing time behind.
Other than that, we don’t have many performance mods done to the bike. We haven’t made a whole lot of changes other than suspension since our last YZ450FX UPDATE. We’re sticking with the 14/52 gearing with some fresh drivetrain components from Sunstar, a GUTS Tall Wing Seat, IMS Tank, Dunlop Tires stuffed with Nitro Mousse’s, and a few more goodies thrown in.
One change we’ve made since the last update is we took the GPR Stabilizer off. Running the GPR top clamp, we didn’t like how it affected the bikes handling all that much. GPR has since updated their clamp design to go with the split clamp, something we feel would probably work better than the older style solid clamp, but a lot of this race is pretty tight and a stabilizer isn’t 100% necessary in the conditions. They are nice to have, but we’re going to go without one and see how we fare. We do have another GPR mount coming in that we will test out as we feel it’ll work much better than the older clamp that we have.
Stay tuned as we provide an in-depth bike breakdown, a race report, and some videos capturing the event and all that goes down at Glen Helen Raceway this weekend. For updates throughout the weekend, follow @DirtBikeTest and @TrevorHunter224 on Instagram.
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