Motorsports Powerhouse: A Q&A With Cristy Lee
By Contributing Editor Adam Waheed
Cars, bikes and girls - always a good mixture, especially when a petite blonde is calling the shots. Say hello to Cristy Lee - equal parts mechanic, rider, driver, and camera personality.
This Florida-Born Motorsports Host is a Pure Enthusiast at Heart!
Raised as a gearhead from an early age, Cristy began her career behind the microphone at a Detroit radio station. Fast forward to today and she wears a number of hats; co-hosting two shows on the Velocity Network - Barrett-Jackson auctions and All Girls Garage.
She also reports for BeIN Sports, coverage of choice for the MotoAmerica motorcycle road racing series. In between traveling the country and the long hours behind the camera, Cristy unwinds like the rest of us: riding her motorcycle.
We caught up with her while she indulged in some R&R at Deals Gap, North Carolina, riding the infamous Tail of the Dragon on her fresh lime green Ninja ZX-10R.
What’s going on, Cristy? What are you up to today?
We trailered the bikes down here to Deals Gap and stayed at one of the lodges. We’ve been doing some riding the last couple days. It’s beautiful. It’s awesome out here.
Are you on your own time or are you there for work?
I’m on personal time unwinding with my Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R. At home I’ve got a Kawi Vulcan S Cafe, which is a pretty sweet little cruiser. It’s like a sport 650cc cruiser. It’s a great bike, but this weekend it’s all about spending some quality time with the Ninja.
Why did you choose those bikes?
I have so much going on with MotoAmerica so it was kind of a no-brainer to get a Ninja. I have a couple of 600s in the garage so I was like, I want the fancy liter-bike with all the electronics. The Vulcan, on the other hand, is a great entry-level cruiser for anyone. Doesn’t matter if you are a woman or not. I also have a KLX140. It’s a great little bike for females, or shorter riders who want to play in the dirt. It’s a pretty cool little package deal from Kawi.
What are your thoughts on the Ninja ZX-10R? How do you like riding that bad boy?
It’s been a fun experience for me. It’s a pretty big bike with a lot of fancy electronics and a lot of adjustability and tuning that goes along with it. So, just learning how to ride it has been a process for me. I’ve only put about 500 miles on it. I haven’t really taken it on any twisties or on the track yet, so this is my rst experience really riding it, which is great because every time I run a session I’m getting more comfortable on it. It rides differently than a 600. Overall I think it’s a great performing bike.
Is it stock or have you been twisting wrenches on it?
It’s bone stock right now. I haven’t even taken off the license plate holder! That big rear fender thing is still on there, all the reflectors, everything. I have some work to do - ditching the normal stuff that you’d strip off a sportbike right away.
I haven’t played much with a lot of the electronic settings either. There’s traction control. There are different settings for the anti-lock brake system. The steering damper is electronically adjustable. There are a million different settings of things you can fidget with and tune to your liking. As I start to get more comfortable on it, I’ll start to play with some of that a little more.
When it comes to bikes are you a tinkerer? Do you like modding your bikes or do you like to keep them stock?
Honestly, with sportbikes, I always want to make modifications. With a bone stock bike, like the Ninja, there’s a ton of stuff you can get rid of right away, in my opinion.
I started riding on the street again about two years ago. I took a break for five or six years from street riding and just did track riding. With the track bikes you can shave 15 pounds right away by taking off some of the stock parts, like the rear fender, mirrors, etc. So I’m always interested in changing and modifying the bikes.
This year I built my track bike, which is an ’07 Triumph 675. It was fairly stock before, so I pretty much stripped everything off and replaced it with all performance parts. That was a fun build. It was quite an experience because I’ve always bought built race bikes and turned them into track bikes, and just maybe changed a few things. I never took a stock bike and shaved off the stock stuff so I could throw on aftermarket sprockets, rear sets, quick-shifters and such. The bike had some issues when I first got it, so there was some troubleshooting along the way. But I like to tinker so it wasn’t all that bad. I like to spend a lot of time in the garage with the bikes and play with them.
Over the winter I bought a 1971 Triumph Trophy that is in need of a lot of love. I’m hoping to turn it into a cafe bike as a fun project. Probably do some fab work and some modifications. I’m pretty excited about that.
Does your enjoyment of tinkering help with your role in All Girls Garage?
My tinkering has been mostly with motorcycles and sport bikes specifically. The show is more four-wheel driven. We do some work on motorcycles on the show, but not as much as automotive. The show has been a really cool op- portunity for me to take what skill sets I have with bikes and translate those to four wheels. We pretty much do everything on the show from fabrications, modifications, restorations. We bolt on parts, do performance stuff, aes- thetics - a little bit of everything. It’s a 30-minute show and it’s basically how-to automotive.
The show features me and two other ladies (Bogi Lateiner and Rachel De Barros). We tell you what the project is, dive into it and then you show the finished product. We do work on motorcycles; mostly because I’m always like, more bikes, more bikes! But I think from the behind-the-scenes perspective there’s just not as much of an ad sales opportunity with the motorcycle industry as there is with automotive. We are working to change that because I think people who love cars can also appreciate and love motorcycles whether they’ve ridden one or not.
I assume you probably like the latest and greatest high-performance cars, but what’s your favorite thing that gets you going?
I do but I don’t like the latest and greatest. It’s kind of an interesting love-hate thing with some of the cars we work on. Learning the chassis and the suspension for cars versus a motorcycle has been the biggest learning curve for me because it’s just so different. Suspension on a car, suspension on a bike, they are two totally different worlds. Learning that has been really fun for me over the past couple years. When we get a brand new car in the shop, like a 2015, 2016, what’s great about it is usually the products we’re installing are also very new and come with really specific instructions, every little part and piece that you need. Everything is clean versus when you get an older model and there are always problems. You start taking stuff out, you find something you didn’t expect. It’s messy and it’s dirty.
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