the bike would appeal to a larger market.
Q: HOW DOES THE TM 144MX HANDLE?
A: Right off the bat our test riders noticed a vague
sensation at the front end. Luckily, it wasn’t a geometry
issue but a lack of grip from the Czech-made Mitas C19
front tire. Once we switched to a tried-and-true Dunlop
MX3S (previously known as the MX32), the problem was
solved. The 2016 TM 144MX tracked straight, felt nimble
and turned on command. Oops! Did we mention that
we applied two Band-Aids by sliding the forks up in the
clamps and running 115mm of race sag in an effort to
bring the complete chassis down?
Q: WHAT DID WE THINK OF THE KAYABA
A: The last time we tested the TM 144MX, we
were appalled by its Kayaba SSS forks. Why? The
valving. We thought, why doesn’t TM just take the
forks off of a Yamaha YZ125 and put them on the TM
144MX? The answer is that Kayaba has a contract with
Yamaha that forbids Kayaba from selling any other manu-
factuer Kayaba SSS forks with Yamaha’s valving specs in
them. Thus, TM can’t get Kayaba SSS forks that match
Yamaha’s SSS forks. Why doesn’t TM just re-valve the
Kayaba SSS forks to Yamaha specs after they get them
from Kayaba? The cost of tearing down every fork on the
assembly line and changing the valving would be prohib-
itive—not for TM’s budget but the consumer’s. So while
MXA has repeatedly said that Kayaba SSS spring forks
are the best forks on the track, we are really talking
forth. For a small boutique brand, that commitment to the
144 program is a bold statement.
Q: HOW DOES THE TM 144MX RUN?
A: In most cases, and we are talking about the
KTM 150SX and GYTR YZ144 kit bikes here, the typical
144 delivers good bottom-to-mid power with an abrupt
sign-off on top. This is what happens when you upsize
the piston without a comparable increase in stroke.
Compared to their 125cc brethren, the 144s have tricky
shift points and sign off early. Not so with the TM 144MX
engine. It has a power curve very much like a 125cc.
That translates into lackluster bottom-end power followed
by a hard hit in the midrange and more than ample over-rev. Although the curve is very similar to a TM 125MX’s,
the power of the TM 144MX is more potent across the
board. Needless to say, we were impressed with how the
TM 144MX ran. It has an easy-to-ride engine that runs
best on fast tracks and pulls great under a load.
Q: HOW GOOD ARE THE TM 144MX
A: Each year TM seems to get closer and closer
to the ergonomics of the Japanese brands, but there
is one caveat: the average height of a 125cc motocross
racer is 5-foot- 8, but the TM 144MX fits best for riders
who are 5-foot- 10 (or taller). The handlebars are very
ape-hangerish. The rear end sits high, and the cockpit is
extra roomy. Although we can Band-Aid most of the TM’s
oversize issues, we think that TM should blast the 144MX
with a shrink-ray gun before it leaves the factory. Then
2016 TM 144MX: Long
gone are the days when
TM spec’ed RM or KX
plastic in different colors
(sometimes in pink). The
TM 144MX is attractive
and very modern looking.