Rider: Mike Alessi
Then:Up-and-coming amateur motocrosser making his professional debut
Now: Factory KTM rider and AMA Pro moto winner on the new 350 SX-F
"Obviously the KTM 350 SX-F is a great motorcycle, but I think the bike that changed my life was the Terry Varner-built FMF Honda CRF450R I rode at the Steel City [Pennsylvania] AMA National in 2004. I'd ridden my first Pro National at Millville [Minnesota] three weeks earlier, and I ended up riding Steel City and getting the podium at just 16 years old. The bike was amazing: Race Tech suspension, Varner-built motor... You know, I was just a privateer, and to go out there and get third behind Ricky Carmichael and Kevin Windham in only my second try-even Carmichael himself can't say that! That was a huge accomplishment, and I think that weekend and that motorcycle were honestly what changed my life. It felt so great to be on the podium, to prove to myself that all the hard work and training I'd put in to prepare for that moment was worth it. It was everything I expected! I still have that bike in my garage as a trophy, and I'll never get rid of it. It'll be something I cherish for the rest of my life."