Photos and Words By Mike Emery | @emeryphoto
Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Billy Hartle
Hometown: Clinton, PA
Years Wrenching: 4
Rider: Aaron Plessinger
Past Riders: Alex Martin, Phil Nicoletti, PJ Larsen
Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Billy Hartle spent his weekends at the racetrack with his dad like many who got an early start in motocross. “I always rode, but I never could ride well enough to get paid,” says Billy with a laugh as he reflects on his amateur days. Lucky for him, he was given the mechanical mindset to pursue his passions and follow a dream. Billy first attended MMI in Phoenix after graduating high school, and his career path was set. His schooling paid off immediately with a gig at a family-owned Honda dealership—a step in the right direction for his developing career. When his close friend Dylan Slusser gave an introduction to the Eleven 10 Mods team, it was the catalyst that set him on his successful path toward his current position.
Ultimately, teaming up with an up-and-coming Alex Martin, the two of them made an exceptional pairing and earned enough results to garner a ride from CycleTrader.com/Rock River Yamaha in 2014. They would see more impressive results that year, and a job offer came from the Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha team at the end of the season. The job was too good to pass up, and Hartle joined the squad wrenching for Aaron Plessinger at what was his first race with the team as an amateur at the Monster Energy Cup—all with nothing but support from longtime rider Martin. He’s been in charge of tuning Plessinger’s machine ever since and took some time to share a few details with us.
Suspension: The whole team is running factory KYB air forks and Neken clamps. We have our own employee who trained with Kaz Chiba at KYB who works on it right here in house. Currently, everyone actually runs the stock Yamaha linkage that comes on the bike. The rear shock is factory KYB, which has a few more adjusters on it to fine-tune for the rider’s preference. Suspension settings vary, but everybody kind of likes the same feel. Some guys do prefer heavier springs in the front or the rear to hold the bike up, but as far as the feel of the valve setup, it’s almost the same between all of the guys. It comes down to a matter of the spring weight and fork pressures. Aaron’s bike is usually set up on the stiff side because he’s so tall and can put a lot of leverage on the back of the bike, and that calls for a pretty stiff shock.
Power And Data: We use a lot of the GYTR components, like the head, cams, flywheels, and the ignition cover. For the clutch we use Rekluse TorqDrive, which has helped with our start feel. Also new for this year are the Wossner pistons we’re running. The exhaust we’re running is an FMF Titanium system with a 4.1 muffler. The mapping is all fairly close between all the riders; it’s not much different from guy to guy. We use the Vortex ignition system to program everything, and power delivery is kind of a personal preference, but Aaron really likes to have as much as he can get right out of a corner or over an obstacle. We’re always trying to improve our engine package. Brad [Hoffman] tries different things, tunes the bikes in-house on our dyno, and we learn what’s best. Right after a bike gets built it gets put on the dyno to make sure everything is all good.
Brakes, Wheels, And Tires: Aaron’s brake calipers are completely stock, both front and rear rotors are made by Braking. The stock front rotor is 270mm and we don’t need to put an oversize rotor on, but the Braking Batfly rotor does improve feel. We run Kite hubs matched to Excel wheels and Dunlop spec tires that are based off the MX3S.
Plastics, Graphics, And Seat: The Cycra Powerflow plastics and shrouds introduce more air into the intake and that helps the bike breathe. D’Cor provides our graphics as well as our seat covers, and if you look at the different riders’ bikes, you’ll see that some of them have a bit more ribs than others. We do that to give the guys traction on the bike, but to be honest, Aaron has enough legs to grip that he doesn’t really worry about them. We only use the ribs we need, so we save the extra weight of the fabric. We also run a little bit lighter seat foam just to get the weight down.
Small Details: We run CV4 hoses, which are very strong, and we don’t have to worry about anything happening there. The titanium pegs are made by Raptor and are completely hollow so dirt doesn’t pack into them. They’re all razor sharp, and I’m surprised at how well the boots hold up! We use Works Connection axle blocks; they’re a real nice fit. There are a bunch of GYTR trinkets like the front brake line and rear brake clevis—little things everywhere on the bike.
Comfort: He’s a tall rider, but his setup didn’t used to reflect that. He was kind of backwards for a while—he always liked really low bars and had them rolled back really far, but we finally got him to move them a little bit to give him some more room on the bike. Aaron runs the Neken bar, and it’s similar to the Suzuki Race Bend that ProTaper offers. They’ve been really durable, and we haven’t had any problems with them at all. We use ODI lock-on grips and he likes grip donuts, so ODI also supplies those. We also use ARC levers and clutch perches. The riders usually know what they want, and as long as they’re happy, they go fast.