Kevin Johnson's Team Faith/Fly Racing/ Michelin/Bobby J's Yamaha YZ250F - Dirt Rider Magazine

Arenacross racing is brutal. As if being crammed onto a tight track with 15 other pros for a high-stakes main event wasn't enough, racers also have to deal with peaky jumps, deep whoops, all-or-nothing starts and sharp berms that almost beg to be stuffed into. If you're an unprepared rookie, the speed and aggression of stadium racing can be a frightening experience. But for top pros like New Mexico's Kevin Johnson, arenacross routinely becomes a way of life when the season kicks off each December. As the premier rider for Team Faith/Fly Racing/Michelin/Bobby J's Yamaha, Johnson rides with the poise, confidence and respect for his competitors that only a veteran can possess, but even he will tell you that experience and skill are nothing if you don't have a good motorcycle underneath you.When Team Faith's head honcho Brian O'Rourke offered me a test on Kevin's Yamaha YZ250F race bike, I was a bit surprised. With a championship title in sight and a tight parts budget, it wasn't like the team had a fleet of extra bikes to go around. But then again, the damage that I'm capable of doing to Kevin's Yamaha is almost laughable in comparison to what his competition tries to do to it each weekend; the bike sees so much contact over the course of just one race, the sidepanels might as well have a target on them rather than a big No. 3! With that in mind, I gratefully accepted Brian's offer and headed to Denver for the second-to-last stop of the season. After two nights of watching Kevin tear up the track, I rolled out on amateur day to see what his race bike could do.Years of supercross and arenacross experience have shaped Kevin's technical preferences, and like most 250F riders he's thus become a big fan of straight-up power. However, unlike most of the guys on an AMA pro starting gate, Johnson isn't a stickler when it comes to bike setup. "Kevin is a horrible test rider!" joked team mechanic Chad Goodwin. "Actually, he has the ability to go fast on anything. If something isn't exactly to his liking, he adapts to it and just goes, whereas most riders will sit there and whine about what they don't like." As a result, Kevin knows how he likes his bar, suspension and power delivery, but he doesn't throw a temper tantrum if his race sag is off by half a millimeter or his throttle cable is a tad too slack. His general setup platform consists of a speedy rear shock, a rolled-back handlebar, a custom seat hump and quick, responsive steering from the front wheel. Simply sitting on Johnson's bike and fiddling with the controls reveals that the brakes are sharp and the entire bike is dialed. Yet it takes racing the machine to realize how truly dialed it is.Off the line, the Pro Circuit motor barks to attention and gets right to the good stuff, delivering a hearty mid-rpm pull that was perfectly suited for Denver's short start straight. Driving directly into the first whoop section, the bike stayed remarkably stable, considering how springy the shock felt (and how fast the fork rebounded when the holeshot holder disengaged over the first whoop!). Kevin's delivery is manageable but instant, and a quick snap of the throttle is all it takes to pull the front end out of trouble when a little extra onion is needed. Flowing into the flat sweeper turn and off the first double in the rhythm section, I felt that the extra weight on the YZ-F's front end (due to the fork legs being high in the clamps) gives the machine a wicked-sharp turning capacity, although I'd need to be as fast as Kevin to keep the rear Michelin in check with all the power coming to it. Still, the bike hooked up well on the hardpacked jump faces inside the cool arena, launching with a balance and levelness that's usually only achieved by factory-level suspension.

Above all, the best part of the Team Faith Yamaha is the here-we-go, wrist rocket-like power that emanates from the motor. One can squirt into a turn on Kevin's bike, square up on a dime while taking someone's line and then dart to the next obstacle before retaliation strikes. However, the bike isn't too powerful. While I did enjoy ricocheting like a pinball from turn to turn, I never once felt as though I'd launch straight off a berm, nor did I grit my teeth in anticipation of knocking them loose by overjumping any of the doubles on the track (flashback to Darcy Lange's fire-breathing KX450F last year. Yeow!). This sense of ridability, combined with the stock stability of the Yamaha, makes for a bike that's easy to go fast on without wearing you out.All in all, the Team Faith/Fly Racing/Michelin/Bobby J's Yamaha YZ250F is a strapping reflection of the team's star rider: sharp, balanced and remarkably approachable. The major difference, though, is that nearly every rider on the pro tour considers Kevin to be a friend. Yet after getting beat off the line and consequently slapped by Johnson's signature white plastic for 20 laps straight, I'm not sure they'd say the same thing about his bike!Read upcoming issues of Dirt Rider for more on Team Faith's admirable program.****Parts List
Pro Circuit: 951.738.8050;
Pro Ti-4 exhaust
Wiseco: 800.321.1364;
Clutch components
Hot Cams: 515.402.8005;
CV4: 800.874.1223;
NGK: 877.473.6767;
CR9E spark plug
MT Racing: 951.353.1253;
Vortex ignition
K&N;: 800.858.3333;
Air filter
Tag Metals: 619.299.6256;
Gearing (front and rear): 13/52
Triple clamps
RK Racing: 760.732.3161;
520 chain
VP Racing:
Pro 4.1 fuel
Silkolene Lubricants:
Comp Gear transmission oil
Athena: 800.222.3375
Pivot Works: 515.402.8000;
Michelin: 866.866.6605;
MH3 tires (front and rear)
Heavy-duty tubes (front and rear)
QTM: 714.575.5000;
Oversize 270mm brakes (front and rear)
Enzo Racing: 714.541.5218;
Fork revalve
Shock revalve
UFO: 815.264.9062;
JJW Designs:
SDG: 714.258.1224;
Seat with custom hump

01 A host of loyal sponsors make this bike what it is.
02 The Pro Circuit-tuned motor is perfect for tight, tech stadium tracks.
03 13/52 does the trick!