The 2018 SuperEnduro World Champ Speaks Up
Cody Webb claimed his first-career World Championship title in April, when he wrapped up the 2018 FIM SuperEnduro championship at the fifth and final round of the series in Sweden. Over the course of the last three years, Webb has established himself as one of the top extreme off-road racers in the world, and stands shoulder-to-shoulder with off-road greats like Taddy Blazusiak and Graham Jarvis.
Dirt Rider phoned Webb two days after his recent title and we asked the former AMA MotoTrials National Champ and three-time AMA EnduroCross champion to give us the inside scoop on tracks, bikes, and testing.
How does it feel to be a world champion?
It feels pretty awesome. It kinda doesn’t feel real.
How do the SuperEnduro courses in Europe compare to EnduroCross tracks here in the States?
I feel like the SuperEnduro courses are not as flowy as the EnduroCross tracks, and I think because of that I struggle with arm-pump a lot more in SuperEnduro than I do in the AMA series. With SuperEnduro there is a different promoter for every race. There’s the main promoter for the series, but it’s a different track builder every time. So sometimes the tracks will be really good, but other times I’m just arm-pump central because it doesn’t flow super well.
How do obstacles compare?
The obstacles are about the same. Sometimes the rock sections will be harder in the States. The corners and the flow of everything and the lips of all the jumps and the takeoffs in the States are just more predictable. In Europe you never know what to expect when you show up to the track. Like in Sweden we were racing on gravel because the dirt’s still frozen up there. They were worried if they used normal dirt that it would start thawing out and it would be a mud bath.
Did the gravel hurt?
Oh yeah, I got roosted a couple times and it wasn’t my favorite.
How big is SuperEnduro in Europe; is it bigger than EnduroCross or about the same?
It kind of depends on which race. Spain usually has a crazy amount of people. It seemed like the stadium was packed in Sweden, but I guess the way they had the benches and everything it didn’t hold an insane amount of people. When you look at the crowd, it looks like the crowd’s got a lot more people sitting around it. It’s kind of more of like a crazy show. They have an insane lights show with fireworks and a fireworks display. They put a lot into the show aspect of it and not so much into the race.
Do the European tracks favor the European riders?
I think they’re definitely more suited to the non-flowing kind of courses like that just because everyone in the US is so moto-based. We’re a lot more comfortable doing that type of stuff. I think another thing you have to take into account is when those guys come over here, besides Taddy, Taddy had his factory race bike every time because he was here full-time, but all the other guys would come over for one event. So they would basically get a bike for the weekend and be not as fully comfortable as an actual bike you’ve tested and ridden a bunch before. The bike I’m riding over there is solid. But for me traveling, it definitely takes a toll and it’s tough. Sometimes you’re not sleeping as much as you’d like to leading up to the race.
Are you riding the same bike over there every race?
For SuperEnduro we shipped the bike last September to Austria. Then my mechanic, Robbie Goolsby, he goes early and drives with Josh to the races together straight out of Austria. So we’re racing the World Extreme Series now, so Robbie and Josh are staying all week basically prepping bikes now, re-prepping EnduroCross bikes for WES. We’re going to be on 350s for all the classic enduros I believe. And then two-strokes for the extreme races. So basically they’re there all week working, prepping now for WES. They’ve got a hard life right now.
So you’re riding the same bike in SuperEnduro and EnduroCross?
Yeah, I ride the 350 EXC in both series. I opted to race EXC in the States too. I don’t have linkage for any of my bikes.
What do you like about the PDS bike?
I did back-to-back testing at the end of 2016. I felt like I was always looking for more. The year Colton beat me in the championship I was always messing with my bike. We basically took two days after EnduroCross and we went straight to testing for a year in advance. I opted for the EXC just because I was testing back and forth on both bikes in the matrix and some of the rock sections and I was always getting hung up on my linkage. I just switched it out and went with the EXC platform. I never realized the linkage was slowing me down because I kept getting hung up on it. The EXC isn’t for everyone, but for my style of riding and what I’m doing, I see an advantage to being on the linkless bike.
Explain the difference in the way the EXC handles compared to the linkage bike. What makes it different? How’s the feel?
I’m a taller rider than almost everyone. The linkage bike, when you take it off the stand it squats a little lower. So for me, I’m already so tall, I have to bend my knees when I’m sitting on the bike. The EXC is kind of like a stinkbug where it sits up higher in the rear. So for me it’s a little bit more of a comfortable feel. But the hardest thing for me when transferring from bike to bike was the way it has that stinkbug feel the front end was getting more pressure on it. So when I was turning I had to learn how to turn just a little differently, just get comfortable with it. It was kind of pushing the front end when I was first riding it. I’ve mostly figured it out now, but the two bikes definitely handle differently. The feel of the PDS I think works really good for off-road. It’s really kind of plush in the first part of the stroke and it doesn’t get super stiff. The linkage bikes, just the way the linkage ratio works they’ll really ramp up and feel kind of rigid. So if you’re looking for a nice, single-track off-road ride, I’m thinking PDS would kind of be your better option.
How is your style different than Taddy’s?
I think Taddy is just really aggressive. He’s not as crazy as he used to be. Back in the day, he would just send it at everything. I think it’s because of my size and my height. We’re both ex-trials riders, so we have similar technique there. But when I watch a video of me riding I hate the look of it. I just look like I’m moving so slow on the bike. A shorter rider always looks faster because their body moves quicker versus me. So when I watch videos of myself, it seems like I look more smooth and analytical without putting as much effort, but we’re still going the same speed.
Do you feel more comfortable in extreme races or in the indoor races?
I think I’m more comfortable with the extreme stuff, or maybe I just have more fun doing it. It’s kind of always something different. For me, I think I feel more comfortable and more enjoyable doing extreme riding when I’m training. When it comes to racing EnduroCross, I can go at 85 to 90 percent. I can ride that pace easily for 20 laps. But there’s something for me about going that extra five percent. I pump up and I can’t do more than like two laps. So I think in extreme riding it pays to be more patient and choose better lines. I like the extreme stuff more just because it’s not flat out the whole time. It’s about being patient and conserving energy a little more and choosing smart lines.
So are you more comfortable on a two-stroke now or a four-stroke?
At this moment in time I’m going to say the four-stroke. Maybe give it a month then I’ll say two-stroke because that’s what I’m hopping on now that I’m done with SuperEnduro. I rode the two-stroke here and there at some events lately, and then they wanted me to test some suspension before the WES stuff. It was so funny. I just left the parking lot where I was riding at. I hopped on this road. I went to pop a wheelie and almost looped out because all of a sudden it just kicked in and I wasn’t ready for it. I was like, whoa! I have to regroup a little bit. The power kicker is just different than the four-stroke.