Monster Energy Kawasaki Elf Team Pfeil are one of Germany's most famous and biggest motocross teams. Team Principal Harald Pfeil from Eastern Germany is one of the greats in motocross and has played a major role in helping to shape the German MX scene. He is as honest as the day is long and a man of high principles. It's immediately obvious that he's doing a lot right, as he's worked with Filip Neugebauer for twelve years without a break and has been able to retain the services of successful riders like Florent Richier for many years at a time. And last but not least, he gives his riders the right tools for the job, as with the KX450F ridden by the Belgian Jens Getteman. So let's take a closer look!
The engine which is at the heart of the bike has been reworked for Monster Energy Kawasaki Elf Team Pfeil by RSE Racing in the Netherlands. "It has, among other things, non-standard valves and valve springs, specially ground camshafts, a specially designed Vertex piston, a Carillo con-rod, a finely balanced crankshaft, a Hinson clutch, and a Vertex ignition module with special RSE mapping," said Pfeil, adding, "Jens Getteman is on excellent terms with our tuner and went out testing with him several times this spring. Basically, what we're trying to do is not just extract more grunt but modify power delivery as well so that the engine is in perfect harmony with the rider's style. For example, Jens prefers to have plenty of performance in the upper rev range while Filip's preference is for lots of low down power." The two radiators are standard parts with just some minor modification to increase the performance of the water pump. The exhaust system is from HGS and is adapted to suit the state of tune of the engine it's fitted to.
The entire braking system on the Pfeil bikes comes from Goldfren. Larger discs than on the production versions can be fitted in order to increase stopping power depending on the rider's preference. Harald Pfeil: "By using discs, pads, brake calipers and cables exclusively from Goldfren as a complete package, we not only increase stopping performance but everything is more durable than on the standard machine." Thicker discs and top-quality materials are used throughout.
The carbon-fibre tank is made by CMT and is both lighter and larger than standard. "A fast rider cannot manage with the usual fuel tank in a long race on a sandy track," said Pfeil. "The standard tank is adequate in the amateur classes, but a pro rider will soon run out of fuel at the pace they travel and with the longer race distances involved." CMT's tank holds 7.5 litres, which is about one litre more than the production version. It also looks amazing, which is a welcome side effect.
Getteman's bike features a complete suspension package, including fork bridges, from Sölva in South Tyrol. Roland Sölva's suspension components enjoy an excellent reputation in the motocross scene and are looked after by Rolf Ringwald (R.R. Racing Suspension) in races. "The service and support from a suspension technician are just as important as the quality of the suspension," said Pfeil. "The rider must have absolute confidence in his suspension technician and the two must find a way to communicate effectively with one another. It's also the reason why the riders in our team are not all obliged to use the same spring components. Everyone has their preferences and their favourite service guy. Here again, we try to keep riders happy so that they can utilise their performance to the full."
The wheels are made by Haan Wheels in the Netherlands and have heavy duty spokes and Excel A60 rim rings. "When our top guys really open the throttle, they can jump over a table in one go and land on the flat," said Pfeil, commenting on how his speedy riders like to ride. "The standard wheels are pretty sturdy but would not last long with the treatment they get." The green anodized hubs are made by Haan Wheels themselves while the rims are from Excel.
The handlebars and almost all of the flashy anodized bits such as the green brake fluid reservoir caps are made by ZAP Technix in Blankenhain. Apart from being more durable, they do it for the simple reason that it makes the team bikes look good. Pfeil: "Some parts, such as the Hinson clutch cover, are just that bit more robust than the standard offering while other things are there simply for effect. We only have the rear swinging arm anodized black, because it looks good."
The bike's brake lever sticks out a long way, but this is not a tuning feature strictly speaking but Jens Getteman's personal preference. Unlike the majority of riders who like to feel the brake's pressure point as close to the handlebar grip as possible, the Belgian prefers a brake lever that sticks out a long way and for the front brake's pressure point to be a long way out too. "The riders all have their personal preferences," said Team Principal Harald Pfeil with a chuckle. "Our job is to adapt the bike to suit their needs as best we can and to see they get what they want." Another thing that strikes you straightaway are the very rounded footpegs that are the Belgian rider's personal preference. While some riders like their footrests to be extremely sharp so that their boots will not slip off, Getteman prefers them to be a bit slippy with worn teeth on the footpegs.
All riders in the team use over-the-counter Bridgestone tyres. While in winter, riders use inner-tubes in the Supercross, Mefo mousse rings are used exclusively for races outdoors. "The risk of puncturing is just too great otherwise," said Pfeil. "The feel that the riders get is not quite as good as with a tube and the right air pressure, but if you've got the experience, there are a couple of tricks you can use to adapt mousse rings so that the rider is happy."