Rider: Jeff Emig
Then: New Kawasaki factory motocross racer
Now: SPEED-TV color commentator
Photo: Paul Buckley
"The bike that changed my life was the 1996 Kawasaki KX250 works motocrosser. At the end of '95 I had been with Yamaha for five years, and decided to make a change. I returned to Kawasaki-the team I was with throughout my amateur career. The way we developed the KX250 factory bike for '96 was really interesting. We came up with a swingarm that was very different from production, and had to have it homologated with the AMA. It had bracing inside that almost form-fit the wheel. That swingarm completely changed the character of the bike. It made a difference in its ability to get starts, and changed the way it handled on the track. We spent a lot of time and energy developing that bike, but the fruits of our labor were obvious by the end of the season. We had won the AMA National Motocross title and the Motocross des Nations. In '97 I had my best season on basically the same bike. I won 17 of the 26 outdoor motos while winning the motocross championship, and won my only supercross title. Those were my most successful years racing, and I was the lead rider at Kawasaki, so that was a very special bike for me."