Team Z125 Pro/Cycle World 24 Hr Mini Bike Race (Final Update)

Updates from the 2016 UMRA 24 hour race at Grange Motor Circuit

Kawasaki Z125 Pro
The Z125 Pro looks like a real racebike, just you know, smaller.Bradley Adams

When it comes to motorcycle racing, there's nothing quite like a 24 hour race. It's a mix of speed, strategy, and one sleepless night spent serenaded by motorcycles running feverishly around a poorly lit racetrack. It's fun, it's scary, and its how I'll be spending my weekend with the crew from Kawasaki USA. Our ride? A slick-looking (though mostly stock) Kawasaki Z125 Pro.

The fun kicks off at noon (September 10) and ends, well, 24 hours later, at noon on Sunday September 11. It's bound to be torturous and fun all at the same time, and I'm excited to keep you updated on our progress. How will the Z125 fare? How will we fare? Stay tuned!

Saturday 9:30 am
After a late night of wandering aimlessly around a Ralphs grocery store in the middle of Victorville looking for anything that'd keep us running for 24 hours, the team got its last bit of sleep. It's now 9:30 am, we've got our pit space set up and sat in on the riders' meeting. Practice is just starting, and since two of our six riders (me included) haven't even ridden the bike yet, we're out early.

There's thicker fork oil in the front, aftermarket bars, "race" rubber, and a few other bits, but otherwise the bike is stock, and works surprisingly well. Now to see how much fuel we're burning so we have a better idea of how long our stints will be. And to not burn ourselves out before the race even starts...

Kawasaki Z125 Pro
It's not official until it's got Cycle World stickers on it.Bradley Adams
24 hour mini bike race rider's meeting
The rider's meeting, where you learn there are 12-year-old kids who are going to be way, way faster than you.Bradley Adams

Saturday 11:45 am
The team has voted—looks like I'll be doing the first stint. Here goes nothing...

Saturday 1:45 pm
These long legs my dad blessed me with might not be good for folding up on the Z125, but man were they a blessing during the Le Mans style race start. We were grided 23rd, but I got a good run to the bike, it fired right up, and somehow managed to get myself up to 8th overall by the first lap.

Some mid-corner slides in the first few turns were a good reminder that the tires were brand new and hadn't been on warmers (we actually considered it), so I took it easy for the first few laps and let things settle down. A few faster guys worked their way forward, and then I found myself in a fun little battle with a Zuma scooter (seriously). I got by after a few laps of us waving at each other on the back straight, but made a mistake on my first solo run into turn one and he came back by. The battle resumed, until I made a pass stick and opened up a gap. That was a fun way to spend my first 30 minutes though.

Later in my stint, I was looking to close the gap to a Honda Grom that had got by the Zuma and me earlier, but while trying to get creative with lines and work my way around lapped rider on an XR100, dropped the front tire in a rut that had formed between the track and curbing, and gave the Z125 Pro its first set of rashes. Fortunately, I picked the bike up before it even quit, and rode back through tech without losing much time.

Lap times dropped back into the 1:11s when I rolled back out (I ran two in the 1:10 bracket, and the rest between 1:11 and 1:12), until I got the pit board signalling that my hour of fun/torture was up. Could I have done more laps? I thought so, at least until I tried to get my leathers off and most of my upper body/back began to cramp. It's going to be a long day. At least the grill just fired up...

Hour two report coming soon!

Saturday 2:45 pm
Joel, our second rider, ran a near-perfect stint, was super smooth, and lowered his lap times almost every time around. He even came in looking like he hardly broke a sweat. And I hate him for that.

After two hours, we've dumped some more gas in and sent team captain Brad Puetz out. The track seems to be thinning out, with some riders going down and heading back to the pits. There are still some teams out there that are looking really solid though. Currently trying to see around about where we're running. Regardless, there's still a long way to go.

24 hr mini bike race pit stop
Our makeshift quick fill wasn't as quick as we hoped it would be, but we've got the tank filled up and are ready for another two hours worth of laps.Bradley Adams
Kawasaki Z125 Pro
Kawasaki's Brad Puetz getting some laps in.Bradley Adams

Saturday 5:30 pm
We had one more small drop at the end of the fifth hour, but the bike didn't take much of a beating and we were able to get our next rider out pretty quickly. It seems like the team is getting into a rhythm, but it also seems like everyone's at that in between stage where they don't know if they should start trying to get some sleep or not. Right now, they're not, and are starting to move just a little bit slower. Stinkin' heat!

The last time we checked (about 40 minutes ago) we were fifth in class and just a few laps behind the leader. A lot can still happen between now and noon tomorrow.

Oh, and we're contemplating swapping shocks with one of the spare bikes we have. That might take a few minutes, but with the stock shock on our race bike heating up, we figure we might gain some of that back with some better feel and quicker laps on the track. This racing thing is serious...

Z125 Pro 24 hr race
Time for some food!Bradley Adams
Z125 Pro 24 hr race
Brad says he's finally starting to get the Z125 figured out.Bradley Adams
Z125 Pro 24 hr race
Our board man, Joey Lombardo. Arguably one of the greatest guys in the motorcycle industry. Okay, maybe we're bias, but still.Bradley Adams
Z125 Pro 24 hr race
And the racing goes on. And on. And on.Bradley Adams

Saturday 8:30 pm
The sun finally went down about three-quarters of the way through our 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm stint, and the temperature quickly followed. People are slowly sneaking off to bed for some much needed rest, while those who have been riding are actually putting in some respectable times considering it's dark out.

My stint went well, even if it took me a few laps to get into a rhythm and drop back down into the 1:11s. By the end, I was feeling more relaxed, and even more fresh than I did after the first stint. Maybe I'm too tired to think about the muscle aches?

Joel followed up that 6:00 - 7:00 stint with yet another solid string of laps, his lap times hardly dipping in the dark. I wish there was more to say about those stints, but at this point the guys really are just knocking them out, riding smooth and consistent.

So now the conversation turns to tires. We had only planned on using one set for the entire race. Will they make it? We know that, at least for the night, they're good, but that could change as soon as the sun comes up tomorrow and brings some life/heat back into the track surface.

Something to think about while the rest of us dip off to our beds...

Kawasaki Z125 Pro 24 hr mini bike racing
Let the night riding shifts begin.Bradley Adams
Kawasaki Z125 Pro 24 hr mini bike racing
Awesome Joey being Awesome Joey, still.Bradley Adams
Kawasaki Z125 Pro 24 hr mini bike racing
And he's off...Bradley Adams
Kawasaki Z125 Pro 24 hr mini bike racing
Meanwhile, our neighbors have broke out the welder for their Zuma. Got to hand it to them for not packing up. Told you this racing thing is serious!Bradley Adams

Sunday 3:00 am
Sleep, please!

Sunday 4:00 am
More sleep, please (I ended up getting about two hours and twenty minutes, total).

Sunday 5:45 am
Getting ready for my fourth and final stint. At this point I've realized you're bound to feel horrible as you sit there and get ready to go out, but will forget about that by lap two or three and then start having fun again.

Sunday 9:00 am
The much-dreaded early morning stints have come and gone. Thankfully. Unfortunately, somewhere between around 1:00 am and now, the timing and scoring app went down, so it hasn't been as easy to track our position. The last time we checked, we were fifth in class and tenth overall, and slowly catching the two Yamaha TTRs that were running third and fourth in our class.

Perhaps what surprised me the most about those early morning stints was that almost everyone on the team went quicker than they had in the day. Chalk that up to the cooler temps, which makes the riding seem like less work, and at the same time keeps the tires and suspension in a more ideal operating range.

It's heating back up now, but we've gone ahead and swapped rubber (only took about 5-6 minutes to get the spare wheels on) and everything else looks none the worse for wear. This little Z125 means business!

Oh, and in case you're wondering, we did catch the MotoGP race live. Guess that's the benefit of being up all night/morning.

Z125 Pro 24 hr mini bike race
Fake smiles. Because night shift...Bradley Adams
Z125 Pro 24 hr mini bike race
Watching a race, while watching a race (hint: the guys on the screen are slightly faster than the guys on track).Bradley Adams
Z125 Pro 24 hr mini bike race
There was tread on both sides of the tire at one point. We've got fresh rubber on now, and lap times are dropping again. It should be a good race to the end.Bradley Adams
Kawasaki Z125 Pro
Joel continues to drop his lap times and ran yet another flawless one-hour stint. This guy is a machine!Bradley Adams

Sunday Afternoon
That's a wrap on the 2016 UMRA 24 hr race. We finished ninth overall, behind a couple of super fast XR100s, even faster pre-teens on a Honda Grom (who were doing two-hour stints and made us feel like complete wimps), a Honda CRF150R, and a few other teams that were just overall quicker than us and had a better strategy.

Still, for committing to this race only a few weeks earlier, and having zero mini bike endurance racing experience, we're extremely happy with how the race went. The bike ran flawlessly, each of the riders ran near-faultless stints (hold for the two tip overs that only cost us a few minutes each), and the crew was absolutely on top of everything this side of the pit wall.

Would we race another UMRA 24 hr event in the future? Absolutely.

This is nothing like anything else in motorcycle racing, and we're officially hooked.

UMRA 24 hr mini bike race
Levi cooking up some breakfast.Bradley Adams
UMRA 24 hr mini bike race
The crew, still standing after 22 hours of racing.Bradley Adams
UMRA 24 hr mini bike race
The final rider swap!Bradley Adams
UMRA 24 hr mini bike race
The end of a 24 hr race is cause for celebration. In this case, essentially the whole paddock gathered on the front straight to welcome the riders to the line. Safe? Maybe not. An awesome way to end an exhausting day? Most definitely.Bradley Adams