Jay Burgess handles the wrenching duties for up-and-coming Martin Davalos. The spanner and his new rider make a good pair as the Ecuadorian Davalos rode his KTM 250 SX-F to victory in Toronto, Canada.
The riders who come out each week to do battle, often hurt, sick or demoralized, are the face of supercross as seen by the public. Many fans that spring for the pit pass in addition to their SX ticket may have seen some of the men behind the scenes. The people working frantically to make sure their rider has the best possible machine between their legs every time they go out. Mechanics are as special as the bikes they prepare, and they too come to work every day regardless of their bumps, bruises, scratches, cuts and busted knuckles. Negligent of rain, sleet or snow (though the latter are a bit rare in the SoCal region).
Each week we’ll bring you an inside look at a professional SX mechanic and their machine. For this first feature, meet Red Bull KTM’s Jay Burgess. The Kiwi native has hit it off with his new rider, Martin Davalos, and picked up the first victory of the year in Toronto, Canada. He shared his thoughts on the KTM Lites machine, his rider and what it takes to special tailor a bike for competition at the highest level.
A mechanic from New Zealand is working for an Ecuadorian rider who is racing an Austrian motorcycle in a stadium in America. That’s actually not so unusual in the “UN of Motocross,” KTM, and in the very international sport of Amp’d Mobile Supercross.
New Zealander Jay Burgess is a factory KTM mechanic for KTM North America, working for supercross rookie Martin Davalos of Ecuador. Burgess and Davalos actually hit big in their first race together just a few weeks ago when Davalos won the Lites main at the Toronto Amp’d Mobile World Supercross GP opening round. Burgess is KTM’s good luck charm for Canada, be cause he was working as the mechanic for Nathan Ramsey when he won in Canada too.
“It was a bit of a surprise,” said Burgess about his rider’s Canadian success. “He handled the nerves pretty good. I had been working with him for about two months. I’m like the Canadian veteran for the team.”
Burgess made some time to chat on a quiet, cold Friday afternoon at Anaheim, just one night before Davalos’ first AMA supercross – A1 – the biggie.
Davalos races a 2007 KTM 250 SX-F with an engine modified at KTM North America’s in-house shop, and White Power Suspension.
Everything seems to go down in the first night at Anaheim 1. The stadium is sold out, it’s tense and everyone wants to win badly and pins it. There is excitement and disappointment, then people stay up all night on message boards arguing about it and it seems everything that could have happened does. Then you wake up the next morning and realize Phoenix is next weekend!
Davalos races a 2007 KTM 250 SX-F modified by the Austrians’ in-house engine shop and fitted with a lot of KTM hard parts, White Power suspension and a few extra tricks. Plus it’s always new and fresh. “The bike for this race will have about 25 minutes on it,” says Burgess.
“The thing with Martin is he lives in Georgia, so it’s hard to get him here (California) for testing,” he said. “We have to test a couple engines in the race bikes. A race bike is a little different from a practice bike. (It) is fresher and everything is a bit stiffer.”
The time that the Ecuadorian does spend testing is fruitful, which is obvious from his early success. Young and playful, Davalos is known to fool around at the test track from time to time, especially when it comes to jerking his mechanic’s chain.
“He’s a bit of a compulsive liar,” jokes Burgess, “He never tells you the truth. It is like he tells you straight away he doesn’t like it and then he will get you to do some work, then he will say he actually did like it. He is pretty good with testing and things like that. He is pretty good at maintaining his own bike in Georgia.”
FMF’s Megabomb and Factory 4.1 carbon fiber exhaust by FMF is specially tuned to meet KTM’s needs as well as the strict AMA sound regulations.
Burgess explained the way engines are managed at KTM and the difference in usage between the mills for practice bikes and those of full-blown race bikes.
“A race engine pushes the limits a little more, it has more power and less reliability,” he said. “You put a lot more hours on a practice engine. Here you put in maybe 55 minutes for a race.”
All the work required for the motors alone is enough to consume one person’s full schedule. Knowing this, KTM, and other OEMs, have designated engine builders to handle the motor madness.
“I am lucky, we have full time engine mechanics and we just hand it over to them,” acknowledges Burgess. “They spend a lot of time on detail, and porting the heads – stuff like that. We use aftermarket valves. The cam is stock, I believe. The ignition curve is one we developed. We changed it ourselves. The carburetor is standard, but it’s a 37mm, not a 39mm.
“The pipe is the FMF megabomb,” he continued. “We spent a lot of time developing that with those guys. Quite often we send a race engine to them (FMF) for development specifically to our bikes. That is a carbon fiber silencer and we spent a lot of time with them to get it to the new noise limit for this year. It’s 99db. Those guys have been working pretty hard.”
On all his spare time, Burgess also fills the role of KTM’s Chief Mechanic in Temecula, CA. Under that cap he is responsible for acquiring special parts such as titanium goodies as well as overseeing the development of the chassis.
Making Martin’s 250 SX-F:
“In each supercross, we try a different one in each practice and go from there. The first practice can be a bit slippery compared to the second practice so you have to keep that in mind.”
Hubs: Special carbon fiber.
“The hubs have a solid carbon fiber piece in the middle. It’s bonded to the hub part. We get them complete as assemblies but we can repair them ourselves. We just machined it down a little bit so there are fewer things than could hit it.
KTM Hard Parts: Footpegs, Brake levers, clutch levers, hot start, clutch perch, rubber handlebar mount.
“It’s top of the line goods.”
Exhaust: FMF Megabomb, with carbon fiber silencer.
Brakes: Brembo, KTM Hard Parts.
Air Filter: Twin Air
Seat Cover: SDG
Graphics: One Industries
Tools: Motion Pro
Custom Tidbit: Davalos likes a short subframe which makes the plastic fit a little weird, and he likes his stupid hump in the seat.
Trickest Detail: The footpegs’ teeth are ground to a sharp point so his feet don’t slip.
For more articles, check out our Behind the Bike archive.