Photos by Karel Kramer
I got the pleasure of getting the okay to test ride Mike Alessi’s MCR 450, straight from the final round of the AMA Motocross Series finale at Lake Elsinore where Mike finished an impressive 2nd overall in the series on a NON Factory machine. Consistently all year long in the 2012 AMA outdoor series Mike and his Motoconcepts team have beaten the best there is to beat. Getting zero help from the Suzuki factory, this bike was built on late nights and the help of all the teams sponsors. This is just an initial impression of the bike, look for a more complete breakdown of the motorcycle and Mike Alessi in a upcoming feature in the magazine.
I rolled out to Milestone MX Park at 8am anxious to spin some laps on the MCR 450. Being that I have ridden a few of the factory bikes out there I really was excited to see how close this bike could be to a full fledged factory team. Mike is a little shorter than me so basically all I did before I got on the track was raise his bars a little and run the front brake a little farther out. It literally took me 2 laps to keep comfortable on this bike. The bike is so fast but really easy on the arms. To my surprise I thought the bike would have this crazy amount of bottom end due to all the great starts Mike pulls, but it didn’t. It had a smooth roll on with a huge Midrange. 2nd gear rolled on nice and strong and I could carry that gear farther and longer than I ever let it. I shifted into 3rd before it hit the rev limiter and literally that was the gear I needed to be in 90% of the way around the track. It could pull 3rd gear everywhere. It didn’t have tons of top end pull but it had plenty for me.
The suspension, although it doesn’t look flashy with all the bling and coatings, worked really well. It doesn’t blow thru the stroke and stays up over hard landings and is balanced even when the track gets G-outs and on bigger bumps. I know the team and Mike have been putting in countless hours suspension testing and it shows. Sometimes people get too crazy with all the bells and whistles of suspension but end up going backwards. This goes to show the consumer out there that if Mike Alessi can get the job done on production-based suspension then I guess that means it’s good enough for us normal folk too!
The chassis was my favorite part of the bike. This MCR 450 is fun in the corners people! If there is a rut you’ll nail it. If there is a flat corner your going to nail it, it doesn’t matter. Yes the spec Dunlops do help a lot but let me tell you that this bike can corner like nobody’s business! Yes, the stock Suzuki can corner also but not to the degree that this MCR 450 could. I had a huge smile on my face when coming into corners. I can set up so early or pivot off of a braking bump – I could literally do what I wanted when I wanted to! This is all due to chassis set up. Every part of the bike works together. From the tires, suspension, motor, ergos – it never got out of control and was by far one of the easiest pro riders’ bikes to ride! I was so pumped I was almost going to call Tony Alessi to see if I could get one of these to race, then I came to my senses! The main thing about this bike was it was consistent around the track. Not at one point did this bike do something different. I knew exactly what it was going to do every lap, every corner and every bump! Consistency.
What is so cool to me about this bike is that these people got together and went racing on a production-based motorcycle and won! They grabbed sponsors that were willing to help develop the bike with Mike so he could get comfortable and it showed in his results. Even I was shocked on how good the bike was. Read more about the MCR 450 and Mike Alessi’s life in a upcoming issue of Dirt Rider.