Remember Chad Reed? The supercross and motocross legend is coming back to the track this weekend for the Red Bull Straight Rhythm and on a two-stroke at that! Reed’s never done this event, but the chance to put to use his build of his 2004 championship bike proved to be too big of a draw to stay away.
I called up Reedy to chat about his deal for this weekend and also, what’s the deal for next year? As the great Gord Downie once sang “Don’t you want to see how it ends?”
You can watch Red Bull Straight Rhythm live on redbull.tv this weekend.
Racer X: You’re back racing this week at the Red Bull Straight Rhythm, only with a twist: you are lining up on a two-stroke. How did it happen? Why did you agree to do it?
Chad Reed: Obviously, everyone was pretty much aware of me building up my championship bike. So, I think everyone was just kind of like … I just think the off-season races are just really stale. Our series and our new generation, they’re a little bit more fragile. They don’t seem to want to race all the time like we once upon a time did. In respect to them, I think the off-season races are pretty damn boring, too. They’re not what they used to be. They [Red Bull Straight Rhythm] decided to basically build a class just to have a bit of fun I think. I threw in the idea that it would be fun and cool and I would like to do it. Obviously, not re-signing with Yamaha, that put me in a little bit of a position where I felt like I was not going to be able to just ride my normal bike [a 2004 replica YZ250]. So then I built up another bike and it’s just neutral.
It will be fun. Ryan Villopoto is lining up. Mike Brown, Ryan Sipes, Stank Dawg, Ronnie Mac will all be there.
Obviously when I ride one—and I’ve rode one very, very little, to be honest with you, pretty much what you’ve seen me put on Instagram is the extent of how much I’ve rode it. It was just I quickly jumped on it and then my bus with the van on the back took it out to California. So basically, I did that little bit of filming and then the bike’s gone. I might go and ride it a little bit on Friday and make sure it’s all good, make sure jetting’s fine and all the fun things that you never normally have to worry about with fuel-injection these days. But I think it’s going to be fun. What’s it been? I think 13 years since I raced a two-stroke.
The good news is you’re one of the only guys that actually did race them out of everybody you’re lining up with.
Exactly. Obviously, I’ve seen RV [Ryan Villopoto] ride a two-stroke. He’ll be fine. The bike is at Mitch’s [Payton] so I know it’s not just a stock one. It’s a good one. And it’s RV. I don’t care what we’re riding— he’s going to be fast. And Ronnie Mac. It’s kind of like a bit of social media fun. I take it serious. It’s not like I’m going to be out there like saying, Ronnie Mac sucks. I watched him last year. Was it Jordon Smith that he beat one time or almost beat? I’m a little bit nervous of the Mac. Getting beat by RV is one thing. Getting beat by Ronnie Mac is something that you can’t live down.
You haven’t been smack-talking on social media as much as RV and Ronnie. Like you said, you want to make sure you can back it up.
And I haven’t been riding. Not even the fact that I’ve been riding two-strokes. I haven’t. Since Vegas I’ve maybe spent five hours on a dirt bike. I really haven’t. I’ve been busy. I’ve kind of been doing some personal stuff, to be honest. I kind of took a class. I’ve been to a classroom for pretty much the last three months. Just kind of doing stuff away from the track, to be honest.
The Red Bull Straight Rhythm is a cool idea. The guys should be applauded for doing it I think. It pays pretty good. It’s not a lot of effort. I really like the idea.
Yeah, I like the idea. I think the one thing that it takes away from is the fact that the guys are on the grind and they just raced last weekend. I think it’s a great concept. It’s a great idea. I think it’s a fitting race for the off-season. I think it has all the things that the riders probably would like and would enjoy if they didn’t have all the other stuff going on. A little unfortunate that the other stuff exists. It is what it is. But for me, this will be my first time there. Obviously I’ve watched it on TV and things like that. Actually, not last year, the year before, I went and watched. I think it was the year that James [Stewart] won. I went and watched that. So, that was fun. Being there live and watching James hit the whoops that one time just stupid fast was pretty fun. I thought James was going to race. Ricky [Carmichael] and I talked a lot about it.
Ricky and I were going to do that, and possibly put our bikes in a little care package to Australia, but that didn’t pan out. He has other commitments. So, I think it had potential. I heard that K-Dub [Kevin Windham] was talking about it. Maybe he’ll be a last-minute entry or something like that. [Ed Note: Windham was not on the entry list sent out by Red Bull.] But I think it will be fun. In my personal opinion, I think it will be the race of the night. I think the fans will like it. I think more people will tune-in because it’s a two-stroke race. I think it will be fun.
The little bit you’ve ridden the two-stroke, either the ’17 that you have or your race replica bike that you built up, better than you remember or worse than you remember?
My factory engine was better than I thought it would be. That surprised me, I would say. And mainly because I hadn’t rode a works one since I finished in ’05. Then you pretty much just jump on a bike with pipe and silencer. They’re fun to ride but, man, they’re slow. Nothing really exciting about them at all. But my works engine was pretty damn impressive. I was surprised how much bottom it had and how strong it was. Not like a normal two-stroke at all. Leads me to believe that obviously the works bike back in the day were a huge advantage, where nowadays you can take a four-stroke and throw a ECU on it, throw a piston in it, maybe a cam and pipe and you’re good to go. For the most part, you don’t even need a cam. Just a piston with a little bit more compression and a pipe and you’re good to go. Obviously in the old days our bikes were pretty legit.
I remember riding one here and there and it just seemed like you could wheelie for days in any gear on a factory motor bike. They were so good.
Yeah, and just the sound. I built up an engine that I felt would be close to basically what our works bikes were. Same pipe, silencer, carburetor, cylinder head—all the things that you could kind of bolt on there. It just didn’t come to life like I thought it would. If I’m honest, I’m busting out my works engine for Straight Rhythm. I think it will be more fun on my bike, that’s for sure.
Just sucks in the time and age that we are in 2017. I get that these guys race a lot and ride a lot, I just wish everybody could kind of support it a little bit better. Maybe competing energy drink companies stop their athletes from going? I mean, it’s not much work!
I honestly probably disagree with you. I watched Monster Cup. That’s got a claw all over it. The number 3 didn’t look like he wanted to be there, either. I’m sure after he hit the ground he really didn’t want to be there. So, my personal opinion, I didn’t see anything out of Eli [Tomac] that made me think, or I didn’t see that he felt like he really wanted to be at that race either. Which I don’t blame him. I think that’s the worst concept race ever. I don’t enjoy that race one bit. Watching it on TV was painful enough, let alone actually being there. I just think it’s too fast. There’s so much risk involved for sprinting and coming into the stadium wide open and doing that triple-triple section. If they’re going to have it at that stadium and that’s what they want to do, I almost wish that they wouldn’t go outside the stadium and they made it tighter and smaller and put more jumps in. Kind of tighten it down. Then it comes down to start. I think that “rubbing’s racing” would come back into it. That’s just my opinion from the times that I’ve rode it. You can’t pass. The roost hurts so much that you can’t really get close to the guy in front of you.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but we really haven’t seen massive battles at that race over the years. It’s kind of like people get a little bit close and that’s about it. Then it’s kind of like someone misses the Joker Lane and that becomes the excitement. Other than that, it’s nothing to it. The Joker Lane should be one second to a half second faster, not five.
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Maybe time to rethink the race a little bit with a fresh coat of paint and do something with it, kind of like the end of the U.S. Open a little bit.
U.S. Open was so fun. It was an industry thing. Everybody worked. It’s not just the athletes. Walking into the MGM just had a vibe about it. Everyone was there. The mechanics, the team managers, the team owners would be playing a game of cards. You were more relaxed and it was more fun. Now you take your bus. You don’t stay on the strip. It’s all business as usual. I feel like our sport just needs a little bit of flavor and the U.S. Open had that.
For you, we saw you on a Honda. Been riding, trying to put something together. Is there a chance you don’t race? What’s happening with your situation for 2018 supercross?
Yeah, there’s a chance that I don’t race, which is something that would suck, but it is what it is. I put myself in this position. I only want to ride probably two bikes for two teams. You definitely put yourself in a small window. That’s kind of where I’m at. If I’m honest, the new Honda is nice. The Husky I like a lot. So, there’s a chance that something could come together. I think the whole TwoTwo Motorsports concept has failed. I think I made it clear that that’s not an option. There’s a chance that I could go alone and do something, but it won’t be along the lines of how I did it before at all. It will be very, very different. I want to race. If I’m honest, out of all the bikes that I’ve rode and I’ve rode them all, the Husky, I really enjoy it. It’s fun. I like it. It’s light. It seems like it could be a really good race bike. Watching on the weekend the top five bikes being all the same makes me think that they’ve got something figured out. Definitely riding it makes me feel that I could achieve what I want to achieve out of it. So, we’ll see.
What are you going to ride at the Aussie race [AUS-X Open]? Do you know? Have you committed to that?
The Aussie race is the problem, to be honest. I’m committed to it and I don’t know. I think I’m less than a month [out], and I haven’t rode. I’m a little bit nervous about all this. I’m not in shape. I’m not. I haven’t been riding or training. I’ve just been concentrating on other things outside of motorcycles. Obviously the motorcycle stuff like trying to figure out a ride and a job and things like that. A week ago this conversation could have been really different. I kind of felt that something was going to happen and I was going somewhere, but that kind of fizzled a little bit, unfortunately. So now we’re back to square one. I’m not sure what I’m going to ride in Australia. Maybe my two-stroke.
For the Straight Rhythm, do we have a prediction?
I think the final will be RV. I’d like to think that I’ve got 45 seconds in me. I don’t know how many times. I might just do a couple of runs. Try not to wear myself out. I don’t know who all is racing, to be honest. I’ve kind of been busy doing my own deal. I’m not 100 percent sure who is all in. I heard Mike Brown was doing it and a couple of guys like that. But I think when all is said and done I think RV and I somehow make it to the finals and hopefully I can take him down.