They claim Bry Mac’s bike is so special that we can’t know what’s inside (although after stripping it down at Hawkstone Park the ACU do) but the Pendrich Kawasaki team did let Ed Bradley take it for a spin – here’s what he makes of it… It’s been a while since we’ve had the chance to do a test at DMP so you can imagine how pumped I am not only to be at my own track but also to be testing something that is far from standard and not a 2014 model machine.
During the cold, bleak winter months Pendrich Kawasaki’s Bryan MacKenzie had the opportunity to go Stateside and put in some training laps over in the Mecca for motocross – that’s California, dudes. Shortly after running in his new stead, a machine malfunction resulted in a broken bone and a ruined trip… or did it?
Anyone who knows Bryan will know that he puts the hours in with his training and that any debilitating injury would have the man pulling his hair out – sorry, driving him mad! On this occasion both Bry and his mechanic BC (who are tighter than the knit on one of my grandma’s jumpers) turned a negative into a positive though after an opportunity to sit down with the king of the Pro Circuit Empire – that’s Mitch Payton – came about.
In the DMP car park, sat on the edge of the van’s open side door it was great to see both of these guys smile as they told their triumphant story – ‘we got to sit down with Mitch for an initial meeting and then our second meeting lasted two hours or so because we weren’t leaving until he had agreed to help us with what we wanted’!
The result of their determination and perseverance paid off to produce the machine that was sitting right in front of us ready to test. Bry has a firm belief that his machine is better than the CLS machinery which is racing in the GPs and that’s mostly based on the fact that Bry is continuously getting great starts and pulling huge holeys.
This bike is littered with the trickest Pro Circuit stuff that you can – and can’t buy! I was told, with the same smile on their face when they told the story about meeting Mitch that they could tell me about the special, special parts but then they would have to kill me! As I wanted to ride this weapon the conversation ended right there.
Just about all the parts on this bike are available off the shelf – such as your internal engine mods like the cylinder head, valves and springs. There is a super trick, production looking oil cooling radiator fitted to the back of the right hand side radiator and below that is the noticeably different header exhaust pipe which is shorter than other Pro Circuit pipes and gives the machine some high-end rev.
The rest of the bike has all the other trick bolt-ons that you’d find in the PC catalogue such as clutch and water pump covers etc. In the suspension department there is a factory Pro Circuit shock that Bry likes to run pretty soft but it is the front end that got me more excited than a kid trying to sleep on Christmas Eve.
The factory forks Pro Circuit are running this year are SSF air forks with oversized outer tubes that require larger diameter triple clamps so one fork leg controls your damping and the other leg is an air fork. The larger diameter tubes provide extra rigidity. These forks are undoubtedly light in weight and there performance should be excellent. We will find that out when we get out on the track.
The main track was tremendously rough with watered filled bumps after the previous night’s rain. I was really looking forward to watching Bry Mac throw his leg over the bike and give it some welly although it turned out he was struggling to throw his right leg one step in front of his left never mind a welly after being torpedoed by a rogue bike in the second moto of the British Masters at FatCat the day before.
In typical test bike fashion I was to ride the bike exactly as the bike is set-up for Bry so you can image that as I am three stone heavier than the Scotsman who likes to run a soft rear shock the back end felt really low… and here’s to hoping that this little machine can pull my fat ass around the track.
As soon as BC had finished straightening the bike up and making it totally bling again it was time to get it started and let it rip. Little did I know that my warm up would be kicking the bike over! Apparently, if you don’t bring it to life within the first three kicks it’s gonna take you a while. I was told this with that same smile on their faces as earlier…
Anyway soon enough it was barking and sounding savage – giving me a warm feeling inside. Riding down to the track the bikes layout felt really comfortable – the handlebars are quite low as well as the levers for me who likes them high! The gear lever is in a neutral place and although the brake pedal was too it had quite a lot of travel in it which means that I had to press along way down to lock up the rear wheel. It’s also interesting to note that Bry only runs a standard front brake disc. By his own admission, although happy with using the front brake Bry leans more towards using the back stopper to slow him down.
At this point I have ridden a number of 2014 250Fs and as soon as I got going around the track it felt great to be on a bike that is set-up even better, as you would expect, than a brand-new 2014 piece of kit.
The power felt great, it’s really torquey and very strong right from the very bottom as it picks up off the low rpm cleanly and races in to the mid-range so effortlessly that it’s easy to run high gears in the turns and carry your speed into the straights. I’m riding this green machine thinking I weigh over 14 stone and this thing is carrying me around magnificently.
The gearing was just right too because although the bike accelerated out of the turns quickly there was plenty of time to get the power down along the straights without shifting too often. When it was time to shift gears the little 250cc motor can even handle short shifts and still pull through without overloading the motor causing any dip in power.
When I came in from my first session I was met with that same bloody smile again – ‘so when are you going to rev it then Ed?’ was the message that I heard in stereo. ‘You’ve got at least another 500RPM left to use yet’!
So off I trotted back out on to the track thinking ‘I thought I was ripping her to bits last time. This time I’ve really got to scream it to bits – let’s do this’! I found it hard at first partly because it feels like I’m abusing the bike and partly because I like using the torque of a bike regardless of its engine size – however, it soon occurred to me that this motor likes being abused!
Leaving the gears even longer and making sure that there was no way possible to twist my right wrist any further the power leaves the mid-range and surges in to the top-end like a huge hand pushing you even faster towards the next turn. And just to satisfy to myself that I had definitely used those extra 500RPM I would leave the bike in the same gear and go an extra 750RPM higher instead where I found that the power would just feel empty. The bike would still be moving forward just without the surge of power and the motor still felt comfortable and like I might have to rev it even higher to hear the limiter but as there is no longer any more useful power there is no need to test it right?
Now to be able to test the motor as hard as I thought I did on a gnarly rough track, the suspension had to be as we say in Yorkshire ‘cock on’! Even with my extra weight the bike handled really well over the bumps and never once wanted to swap on me or buck me off along the straights. It was just super stable and as the back end is set up soft, the front end would ride light and I found it easy to pick the front wheel up over the huge holes.
Braking for turns is where I found it hardest to deal with as the shock was riding so low in the stroke that it would pack, kick up and hit me up the ass. This was bearable though as there was only a few places where I couldn’t magically create a smooth line – unless I got the tractor out and graded it!
What I did like about this bike is when we had a ride on the clay track at the far end of DMP. There are some flat, slippy, wet clay turns and the bike tracked and turned as if it was on railway lines and mostly because of how awesome the forks are. Squeezing the front brake as hard as I could the forks would compress and put all the weight on to the tyre with no washing out or pushing – just direct force straight in to the ground.
As soon as it’s off with the brakes I’d tip the bike in to the turn and both the front and back end gripped as if the ground was made out of Play-Doh. There’s no hint of the forks pushing the front wheel away, just a very direct feel with the ground which you get from the extra rigidity of the oversized legs.
On the main track the forks soaked everything throw at it with easy so with how the suspension is working so well together you are going to save yourself a whole heap of energy as you’re blasting out that extra 500RPM!
Jumping the bike continues to feel super safe, light and predictable with a slight twist. I’m used to riding my bike with a hard setting in the shock so when it comes to compressing the suspension in to the base of the big step-up I would get plenty of lift upwards in to the air but with this bike there was less lift from the softer shock unloading which gave less height and a lower trajectory through the air. This can only be a good thing as the wheels were back on the ground quicker and providing some forward propulsion!
All in all this bike has an amazing motor and some amazing suspension that makes it gorgeous to ride. In fact the ride is so good it made not finding out what the special parts were well worth it…