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Behind David Pingree's Red Baron 119

Wednesday, May 9, 2007
David Pingree’s Red Baron MiniMoto SX weapon.
The MiniMoto SX is no ordinary pitbike race, and David Pingree's Red Baron factory bike is no ordinary steed.
Minibike racing for adults is a mini-industry all in itself. There are mini nationals, mini supercrosses, mini videos, mini hop-up shops, not-so mini injuries and all of it great fun. There are even mini factory riders, like David Pingree.

"This is David Pingree's Red Baron race bike that we use in the 10-inch wheel class. It started out as a CRF50 a long time ago. It's a pretty new 50, but the only things left stock on it are the inner cases, everything has been modified." That's Alex McElyea, who built Pingree's Red Baron 50 for races like last weekend's Maxxis MiniMoto SX at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

Pingree races a 50 that isn't really a 50, and it's so modified there is really nothing left of the stock bike. "We change the frame, suspension, wheels, top end, transmission, there is really nothing left stock but the inner cases and some nuts and bolts," said McElyea.

Minibikes are a thriving business in the US market, with plenty of specialty hop-up shops building ever-cooler and more expensive hardware. Who can resist spending $8 zillion on something trick that hardly goes fast enough to hurt you? The vendor areas at the MiniMoto SX are packed with shops that can supply a full race package for a mini.

One of them is Red Baron. Red Baron's McElyea prepared a tricked out 50 for Pingree and spent about a week in testing. He took a few minutes to explain just how far a shop like Red Baron modifies these 50s.

"We do a lot of testing," said McElyea, "Maybe six or eight solid test days, trying everything; new tires, new suspension, new pipes, new cams if we want something different with the engine. Once Pingree is comfortable on his bike, we turn him loose on his practice bike. He rides maybe another four or five times before the race. Most of the time is spent developing the bike. He can ride them fast right away."

Red Baron claims this is pumping out 20 horsepower.
Red Baron claims this Daytona motor is pumping out 20 horsepower. If so, that's nearly 10 times as much as a stock CRF50.
A new bike is basically scrapped except for the cases, and Daytona replaces the bottom- and top-end parts, more than doubling the displacement. Red Baron makes a frame/swingarm combo, and their own forks and wheels. Toss in some trick disc brakes, and seat and plastic, and you just made an all-new motorcycle.

So with a supposed grownup on this mini, you would think he'd be exceptionally tough on his miniscule equipment, but not this one.

"He's not hard on bikes," said McElyea, "He is particular about the setup which is good for us so it helps us develop the bike to a pretty high level. He's very easy on the bikes. We replace tires and change the oil and they run all year long."

On the subject of the rider, Ping, the former factory rider known for his wise-guy wit in his popular column in Racer X magazine, we just had to ask.

"He's not as nutty as he comes across," said McElyea "He's awesome for us and he helps us develop our stuff. We are into this because it's fun, and David helps us keep it fun, and at the same time, he helps us develop our bike. I can't say enough good things about him."

Behind David Pingree's Red Baron 119:

Motor - Daytona head, cylinder, double overhead cam, 119cc engine. "It makes about 20 horsepower. Everything with the engine is Daytona. We have a special cam based on David Pingree's input that revs a little higher and makes a bit more horsepower."
The bikes are small  but they sound like a full-blown 450! These things are obnoxiously loud.
The bikes are small, but they sound like a full-blown 450! These things are obnoxiously loud, but the free-flowing Pro Circuit exhaust is a big part of finding the all-important horsepower.
Carb - 28mm Keihin.
Ignition - Daytona with stock flywheel. "David likes a heavier flywheel. That way it doesn't stall as easily."
Exhaust - Pro Circuit titanium pipe.
Frame - Red Baron G2 Aluminum Factory Frame.
Swingarm - Red Baron Aluminum.
Suspension - Factory Red Baron forks, Fox Podium shock.
Wheels - 12" Front, 10" Rear. "We use a 12" front wheel on the 50 instead of a 10" which makes the bike a little more stable."
Hubs - Red Baron.
Front Brake Calipers - Formula.
Rear Brake - Red Baron billet, and Formula disc brake.
Tires - Michelin Starcross. "We tested them and they seem to be the best for the hard terrain."
Clutch Lever/Perch - ASV non-breakable.
Grips - Renthal.
Gas Cap - Red Baron billet.
Graphics - One Industries.
Footpegs - Red Baron billet.

For more articles, check out our Behind the Bike archive. 

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