Jeff Slavens is a 50 year veteran of the motorcycle industry, having worked as a line mechanic, factory mechanic, dealership owner/operator and current owner of Jeff Slavens Racing, Mondial Investment Properties and The Verdun Group.
In the 70s he and his two brothers raced Maicos. It was kind of a Team Maico Slavens, but as Randy Hawkins once stated, too many stallions in the same barn is not always a good thing. Every race day their mother was worried sick because when the gate dropped (back then it was actually a rubber band) the brotherly love was gone and the race was ON and they thought nothing of taking out the other in the pursuit of the win.
Those early Maico days are where Jeff’s engine and suspension skills began to develop. Maico Break-O was not allowed if you wanted to beat your brother so there were endless hours devoted to repairs, rebuilds, tuning, and suspension mods. He and his brothers studied magazine pictures of the factory Maico team bikes and cut, bent, and welded their frames to accommodate a lay-down shock position and increase wheel travel. From there shock and fork mods were developed by Team Slavens because there were no off the shelf items available.
His first affiliation with factory race teams was in the 80s with the then dominate Team Husqvarna. Later in the 80s and 90s it was with Team KTM and Team Suzuki and from then until now with Randy Hawkins Team Am Pro Yamaha.
When he worked for the Husky team he ported cylinders and did head mods for the entire team (enduro, HS, desert, mx). Boxes with dozens of cylinders (for the many National Champions and up and comers like Randy Hawkins) would arrive several times per year and of course they always needed them yesterday.
Also, during the 80s he started a long working relationship with then new comer Rodney Smith, who rode MX for Team Yamaha at the time. They first met just a few minutes before the first moto of a Washougal, Washington National MX. Jeff was there tuning for top ten Yamaha rider, Mark Flesia, when Rodney rode up and asked for help. His YZ125 was a dog, so Jeff took it for a little test spin in the jetting area. He returned and told Rodney to run up to the start line and pick a starting position while he rode the bike over to Rodney’s pit and started barking out orders to Rodney’s dad whom he had never met. They tore the carb apart in record time, changed some brass and Jeff blasted up to the starting line where engines were running. Rodney hopped on the bike, pulled the holeshot, and they’ve been friends every since. Rodney went on to win 5 Brazilian national Championships, placed 3rd in the World 250 MXGP, 3 National HS Championships, 5 National Reliability Championships, 6 ISDE Gold Medals (top American twice), and 5 GNCC Championships.
In the 80s Husqvarna was the dominant team in all types of off-road racing and Jeff was the cylinder and head guy for the entire team. Cagiva bought Husqvarna in the late 80s and ran it in the ground so the team riders were all looking for work . Many of them switched to Suzuki so then Jeff became the engine guy for that team. At approximately the same time Team KTM asked for some help and Jeff built the 290cc engine that Kevin Hines used to win the National Enduro Championship.
And then came the Javelin, Randy Hawkins. Jeff had built engines for the new young punk from South Carolina while he was with Team Husqvarna but the funny talking kid came on strong when he got comfortable on his Slavens ported, Dale Stegal tuned RMX and later on YZs. Randy went on to win 73 Nationals, 7 National Enduro Championships, and 12 ISDE Gold Medals with Slavens Mule Motors. He was recently inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
Now at age 68 Jeff enjoys traveling the world with his wife Sue to see the sites, architecture, learn about different cultures and find new friends and great places to eat. During the summer and fall you’ll find him riding the rocks on some of Colorado’s gnarliest trails.