How do I get started with mini racing?
You've decided that minis are awesome (because they are), and now you want to get started mini racing - fantastic! However, NWMM hosts two different types of events - sprints and team endurance, and the mini racing rules allow a huge number of possibilities for bikes, anything from a 70s-era moped up to a built-to-the-hilt Honda CRF150R or a GP-framed 85cc two stroke. What's the easiest and cheapest ways to get started mini racing? Here's some guidance on how to get started with minis.
Sprint races vs endurance races
NorthWest Mini Moto offers two different race experiences every weekend: sprint races and endurance races.
Sprint races are single-rider races that typically last 8-15 laps; they are scored by rider, not by bike or team. In a sprint race, only the class that is racing (and sometimes one other) is on the track at a time. One bike can enter multiple classes, and every class will have a heat race and one or two main event races. The heat races determine where you grid for the mains, and the combination of your two main event scores is where you place. Sprint races take place on Sunday.
Endurance races are team races that last 6+ hours. They are scored by bike, not by rider, and most people think a team is necessary to be competitive. In an endurance race, bikes of all different classes are on the track at the same time, and pit stops are made during racing. Reliability, consistency, and pit stop strategy are very important for an endurance race. Endurance races take place on Saturday.
Required & suggested gear
Racers must have:
A full-face helmet with eye protection, that meets either Snell 2010+, ECE 22-05, ECE 22-06, BSI 6658-A, or FIM racing homologation standards. New MX DOT helmets from a recognized brand are also OK.
Abrasion-resistant gloves designed for road use (not MX gloves)
Boots that cover the ankle and leave no gap to the bottom of the leathers/pants
Abrasion-resistant pants and jacket that cover the body from wrists and ankles to neck with no gaps.
CE Level 2 or better body armor for the spine, knees, shoulders, and elbows.
It is strongly suggested that you get one- or two-piece leathers. Textile riding gear is acceptable but is easily damaged in a crash. Motocross gear has special requirements, see the rulebook for details. Used/damaged leathers are A-OK as long as they're not falling apart.
Westhold G3 (MX, Kart, or Car) transponders are required for all racing, and are available for rent for $25/weekend from NWMM. Transponders are rent-to-own - at the end of the season, all rental fees will be credited towards the purchase of a transponder. You can also purchase your own transponder from directly from Westhold.
Before you can race any motorcycle, you must get it ready for the track. See Section 4 of the rulebook in Rules for details. There is NO shortcut for this; read the rules! Most preparation can be done in a single evening with basic tools and safety wire/safety wire pliers.
Check the Rules, this is not a definitive list, just a reminder!
Gear - helmet, boots, gloves, abrasion protection (leather or cordura), body armor
Bike - safety wired, lights taped or removed, sliders as needed, no glycol coolant, catch can(s), good tires, no leaks
Entry - Register online before the race, rent or purchase a transponder, call before you haul if you have questions
Prep - Extra gas, extra sliders, extra levers, plenty of water, lunch, shade, COVID-19 PPE
Rentals and taste of racing
Not sure about racing and want to try it out? Not able to buy or store your own mini right now? Not to worry - you can still go racing! NWMM has multiple vendors that rent minibikes for both endurance and sprint races. Please contact these vendors directly to ask about rentals
NorthWest Mini Moto also has demo bikes available for single practice sessions and single sprint races as a part of our "Taste of Racing" program. Contact NWMM directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to try riding a mini at one of our races or practice days.
There are 7 classes to enter in both sprint and endurance races:
YCF SM F150 Spec
Supersport: Smallest and lightest of the minis. Honda XR100 with a 120cc kit and an XR80 front wheel, Yamaha TTR-125 small wheel (drum brakes), Yamaha YSR50, Honda XR50 with an 88cc kit and front forks with disc brakes.
Street 125: Plate-able road-going minis. Honda Grom, Kawasaki Z125 Pro, Kymco K-Pipe 125, SSR Razkull 125, Yamaha YSR80, Benelli TNT 135, Aprilia RS50 (stock).
Formula 125: Built to the hilt, but not over 125cc. Yamaha TTR-125 big wheel (disc brakes), Honda NSR50, Honda NSF100, Piranha SSR 125, Ohvale 110, Aprilia RS50 (modified), Kayo MR125, Honda CBR125, Kawasaki Z125.
Scooters: Vespa smallframe, Vespa largeframe, Lambretta series 1-4, Honda Elite, Yamaha BWS.
YCF SM F150 Spec: Minimal mods, spec tires, close racing. Any year YCF F150/155 SM.
Formula Middleweight: Minimal rules but still displacement-limited. Kawasaki KX65, KTM 65 SX, Honda CRF150F, Chinese YX-engined pitbikes with a 150cc-170cc 2-valve motor (SSR, Pirhana, etc), Ohvale 160, Kawasaki KLX-140, Vespa 100cc 2T scooter, Aprilia RS50 with an overbore, YCF SM-F150
Open: Premier class; the fastest of the minis. If it's legal anywhere, it's legal here. Honda CRF150R, CR/YZ 85 up to 105cc (no powervalve), KTM SX/RM85/post-2019 YZ85 with up to 100cc overbore (powervalve), Kawasaki KX100, Ohvale 190, Daytona 190cc motors (up to 212cc), Honda CRF230, Yamaha XT250.
Turn-Key Race Setups
There are a number of easy and inexpensive formulas that are competitive within the series; all of these will get you racing with an absolute minimum of effort.
An important thing to remember is that any lighter or smaller-displacement motorcycle can enter a heavier class when permitted by the rules. The smaller the motorcycle, the more racing you can do!
Street 125 with a Grom, Z125 Pro, Kymco K-Pipe 125, SSR Razkull 125, or Benelli TNT 135
The Street 125 class is intended to allow most 125 minibikes sold as street-legal to be immediately competitive. Honda Groms, Kawasaki Z125 Pros, Kymco K-Pipe 125s, SSR Razkull 125s, and Benelli TNT 135s need some safety wiring, a catch can, and removal of street equipment and you're good to go. An aftermarket exhaust is optional, and most suspension work is unnecessary.
Formula Middleweight & YCF SM F155 Spec with the YCF SM F150/F155
The YCF SM F150 meets all of our technical requirements for the Formula Middleweight class out of the box, sliders and everything, with only some basic safety prep to do before it is ready to go racing. At 150cc, the YCM SM will be competitive from the start in the FMid class. In the Washington/Oregon area, Adam Black with HH Performance is the local YCF dealer.
For 2021, we are introducing the YCF SM F150 Spec class. As the name suggests, this is a spec clas for only YCF SM F150/F155 motorcycles, with very limited modifications from stock permitted. This class also requires a spec tire to keep racing extremely close.
Formula Middleweight with the Kayo MiniGP MR150
The Kayo MiniGP MR150 is a Honda CRF150F-based GP-style minibike that should be immediately competitive in the Superbike class. For smaller riders or those who prefer a GP-style ride over the supermoto-style configuration of the YCF 150 SM. With a Honda powerplant, plenty of motor and other upgrades are available.
Formula 125, Formula Middleweight, and Open with the Ohvale GP-0
The Ohvale series is another set of turn-key motorcycles that will be competitive with zero or near-zero modification required. Although there are some challenges to running the Ohvales in the endurance race (mainly fuel tank size), our 2019 results show that you can definitely be competitive on them. An Ohvale GP-0 110 can race in Formula 125, GP-0 160 in Superbike, and GP-0 190 in Open. For the sprint races, an Ohvale should be hard to beat in it's class. To purchase or rent an Ohvale GP-0 for a NorthWest Mini Moto race, contact Forza GP.
Competitive Open-Class Setups
For minis racing in the Open endurance class, the most successful solution to date has been the Honda CRF150R, various 85cc two-stroke motards (Honda CR85, Yamaha RM85, Kawasaki KX85, KTM 85 SX). For our tracks, 17" wheels are favored although 12" wheels have had some success. This can be a very expensive build, but thousands of laps have proven this to be a very effective formula for Open.
The Ohvale GP-0 190 has also been competitive in the Open class endurance, but is hampered due to gas tank capacity. In sprint racing, the GP-0 should be extremely successful.
Honda XR100/CRF100 and Supersport
The Honda XR100/CRF100 platform is the most popular formula in past years for the Superstock 125 class. The typical formula is:
Replace the front wheel with a 16" wheel from an XR80
Replace the tires with Bridgestone BT45 tires
Install a BBR or TBoltUSA 120cc kit and a high-flow oil pump (optional - plenty of teams run stock displacement).
Go racing - this is a competitive machine even with stock suspension
Other Popular setups
Kawasaki KX65 on 12" rims (Formula Middleweight)
Yamaha TTR-125 on 17" rims (Formula 125)
Aprilia RS50 (with and without a 75cc overbore)
Various scooters - we've had a wide variety!
Almost anything! We've had an Open-class RM85, TTR-125, SSR pit bike, and KX65 all finish within 5 laps of each other in spots 2-5 at the end of a 6-hour endurance race.
Resources for Building A Mini
If you'd like to build your own racing mini, there are an almost-endless combination of platforms and parts that can lead to endurance and sprint racing success. Below are some common resources for building up a mini racebike:
The Mini Moto Alliance Facebook group is a great place to ask questions about building a mini, what parts and formulas are popular, and connect with others who are racing, building, buying, and selling mini moto race bikes.
MiniMob Racing has a huge selection of parts for a variety of racing minis - https://www.minimobracing.com/store/. For insane XR100 builds, these guys have all the Takegawa Superhead +R parts you can afford.
GatorRimz for wheels and tires - https://gatorrimz.com/
Fine Turn Precision out of Tacoma makes custom no-drill front axle sliders and many other custom parts for a variety of minis - https://www.facebook.com/Fineturnprecision/
MadLabs - sliders, brake kits, and more for a variety of minis - https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Community/MadLabs-1510672099237488/
For the truly dedicated XR100/CRF100 enthusiast, https://japan.webike.net/ has everything under the sun, especially if you can read Japanese.
Read the rules! There's important information in there about bike prep, essential gear, and how to conduct yourself at our races.