Monster Energy Kawasaki's Brian Kranz
Hometown: Saugus, CA
Years Wrenching: 12
Rider: Eli Tomac
Past Riders: Danny Smith, Josh Grant, Brett Metcalfe
When you look to the highest levels of motorcycle racing, the mechanical perfection and build quality of a race bike is a work of art in itself. But the bikes aren't just built to look good—they must be durable, too. Behind the scenes are guys like Brian Kranz who work tirelessly on these beautiful factory machines to assure that DNFs are nowhere in sight. With the emergence of the very fast Eli Tomac in recent years and the dominant fashion he's won by, it's evident that he, his motorcycle, and his mechanic, Kranz, are working in harmony. Tomac and Kranz have that special bond—so much so that Eli brought Kranz along for the ride from his familiar job at GEICO Honda to their new home at Monster Energy Kawasaki.
Brian's path to this point of success in his professional career started with a passion for riding, which later turned into a realization that he had a knack for turning wrenches. With the dream of reaching his current level, he enrolled in MMI to learn the ropes of the trade, and with a little luck on his side, he landed a job working for Yamaha of Troy right out of school, quickly finding himself surrounded by talented individuals whom he could learn a lot from. Fast-forward to today, and Brian is now an established top mechanic and one of the few with a rider in the hunt for titles. Before the duo embarked on a mission for the 2016 Monster Energy Supercross Championship, we sat down with Kranz and learned a few details about Tomac's Monster Energy Kawasaki KX450F.
Grip It And Rip It: “One of the most interesting things on Eli's bike is that we always run full-waffle grips, which is kind of out of the ordinary for most guys. Many run either half-waffle or full-diamond, but Eli just likes the extra traction with the full-waffle around the whole grip, and it's something that's kind of unique to him.”
KYB Suspension: “We're running the KYB stuff here at Kawasaki, and it's pretty cool that we can continue our relationship with them. We had switched to KYB on the Hondas, and he really liked it and got very comfortable with it. We really like working with the guys over there, so it was nice to be able to bring them along, and it seems to fit this bike really well so far. As far as tuning, everything is done in-house at Kawasaki with our suspension guy, Ricky Gilmore. We started off pretty close to where we were at with the Honda settings, but obviously it's a completely different chassis, so we've tweaked on it a fair bit, and it's working really well. Eli is on the stiffer end for sure; he's kind of a guy who charges into things pretty hard and with a lot of speed, so it needs to be able to take that kind of abuse.”
*Editor’s note: Eli is currently running a KYB spring fork outdoors, as opposed to the PSF system shown here.
Power plant: “As far as Eli's engine package goes, I don't think they could ever have too much power for him. He's the type of guy who likes a lot of hit on the bottom but then also wants it to over-rev. It's one of those things where we just give him the best package we can come up with, and as long as he's happy, we keep rolling with it. We also use all Hinson clutch components—it's the best stuff out there.”
Wheels And Tires: “We have the D.I.D DirtStar LTX rims on there for Supercross, which are a little bit lighter, and then we switch to the STX for outdoors because they're a little bit stronger. For tires, Dunlop provides us with factory spec tires.”
Stopping Power: “We run a works billet caliper that's a very cool piece, and you can kind of polish it up and bling it out on the race bike, so it looks awesome. Eli used to be really hard on his rear brakes—there were a lot of times during the outdoors where I had to bleed the brakes between races because he'd cook the fluid. Levers are pretty much standard, but he's pretty picky with his front-brake feel—he likes a really firm front brake where a lot of guys like a lot of movement in it for more feel. Eli likes that thing really solid.”