Race Test: Zip-Ty Racing YZ250Coming into the final round of the World Off-Road Championship Series, it was all playing picture-perfect for me. Ty Davis had agreed to let me test his works YZ250 at Honey Lake MX Track in Nevada. Davis had three consecutive wins under his belt and was in the point lead when a drink-system failure during round five at Gorman, California, resulted in a costly DNF. But we still wanted to try out his bike, so Ty and his mechanic Jim Hardaker built a 2003 YZ250 in time for the event. Our main stipulation was to include only components that are available to the consumer (you).The hotel and rental car were reserved, Petty Officer Nylander and his girlfriend Holly were driving, my gear bag was packed and all that was left was to show up and race. This perfect picture began to fade when the forecast called for weather that involved snow chains and high wind advisories. After knocking out about two hours behind the wheel (the easy leg of the drive), I pulled over, downed half a bottle of NyQuil and tossed the keys to my trusted sidekick Bryan.My plan was exactly on schedule, and I expected to wake up at the motel in Susanville in northern California. Everything was smooth sailing until about seven hours into the drive when we began forging through Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The on-and-off rain we had been experiencing before was now a near full-on blizzard. Holly was at the helm gripping the wheel so tightly her knuckles were white. We crested the mountain averaging about 40 mph. Bryan was zoning in and out of sleep–waking just long enough for some backseat driving from the passenger seat before drifting off again. I tried to be a good copilot, but after quadrupling the recommended dosage of ‘Quil, I was so blank I didn’t even mind the Kenny Chesney blasting out of the speakers, not to mention being no help in watching the road. Once we reached Reno, the snow stopped, and 11 hours after leaving home we arrived at our hotel just in time for breakfast.A few hours of sleep later we were back on the road. This time our destination was Honey Lake MX Track. In theory, the Honey Lake WORCS course would be ideal for testing Ty’s YZ250. It rained some Saturday, but the layout looked good for Sunday with tight and technical terrain mixed in with some high-speed choppy sections.Davis made a long list of changes to transform his thoroughbred motocrosser into an effective off-road machine. Starting from the wheels up, he mounted Bridgestone tires to D.I.D Round Edge rims, switching tire sizes to an 18-inch rear and a 20-inch front. To achieve plush trail manners, he dialed in the suspension to the Zip-Ty off-road specs utilizing Race Tech Gold Valve components. In the cockpit, a Scotts steering stabilizer, a Renthal Fat Bar (Carmichael bend) and Progrip grips were bolted onto a BRP top triple clamp. A Zip-Ty Signature IMS 3.2-gallon tank with quick-fill capacity gave the YZ added range. A wide range of trail armor–from a Zip-Ty shark fin and radiator braces, T.M. Designworks chain guide and countershaft/case guard and Works Connection skid plate to the Acerbis hand shields–keeps the vulnerable areas protected. The only powerplant mods Davis made to our already-potent YZ250 was bolting on a Zip-Ty exhaust system and installing a Wiseco piston, a Hinson clutch basket and a Uni air filter.After riding for about an hour in perfect traction Saturday, I was excited for Sunday’s two-hour event. That excitement quickly turned into prerace anxiety when I woke up the next morning only to see snow coming down in the hotel parking lot. As we approached the track, the snow turned into a hard rain. Having grown up in SoCal, my mud-riding experience consisted of a novice water-truck driver spraying too much water on the track and waiting for it to dry out. The only thing going for me was I had the perfect bike for the conditions. After what seemed like an eternity later, I sat on the starting line awaiting the unknown. The only thing I could think about was my uncle Tom giggling with glee that morning as I got dressed for the race. His good advice had been, “Don’t try to look for good lines or traction because there isn’t any; just pin it!”Once I untangled myself from a few first-lap pileups, I was in the clear. The 18/20-inch wheels were the first things I noticed about the bike as I struggled to find traction on the extremely sloppy course. This recipe was the ultimate for grip in the three-plus miles of mud, rocks and ruts. The bike’s handling vastly differed from the stock form of a YZ250. Using Race Tech components, Davis valved the suspension himself, allowing for a customized feel. His specs are generally a little stiffer than most of his competition’s but worked great overall in keeping the power to the ground. The end result–a combination of ultraplush suspension and added steadiness from the Scotts steering stabilizer–made holding a line in the swamplike conditions less of a chore.Typical for a YZ, Davis’ bike was very responsive with an abundance of power down low, though it signed off on top. With the Zip-Ty Flow exhaust system, I could short-shift the engine without excessively abusing the clutch, and it still put out plenty of power. The very tractable low-end delivery was a blessing on the sloppy course. The power was easy to use, and I could always find traction with a limited amount of wheelspin. Best of all, it wasn’t overly tiring. That torque and friendly powerband saved me–I realized midway through the race that I could not use the clutch adjuster with the elephant ears taped over the hand guards. For better stopping control, Davis replaced the stock front brake system with an Am-Pro 270mm disc mated to a complete Honda front brake system. This setup dramatically improved the YZ’s brakes with more power and better overall feel.After an hour of slip-sliding my way around the gooey course in the rain, I pitted for some fresh goggles and fuel. The IMS dry-break quick-fill tank filled faster than I could switch my goggles. The slim Zip-Ty IMS tank made adjusting to Davis’ race bike easy and very comfortable. Despite its three-plus-gallon capacity, it feels like the stock tank when you are sitting down.An hour later I saw the beautiful checkered flag. The brutal event left me quite happy with the Zip-Ty YZ250; the only thing I would change is the stock seat cover to a Gripper to help in the slimy conditions. Davis’ YZ endured the entire two-hour torture session, crossing the finish line problem-free despite my secret desire for bike failure or a flat tire.And I even finished inside the top 20 of the pro class, mostly just pleased to have survived the grueling contest. As soon as my mud collection–I mean gear–was stowed in some handy trash bags and Nylander was done playing 20 questions with the top survivors, we were off on the final leg of our adventure. More snow, long stretches of pavement, more NyQuil and, oh yeah, my favorite–country music.