Back to basics without engine break
There is a familiar sound starting to return to the track from coast to coast. We grew up with it. We left it behind, convinced there was a better way. Focuses change and priorities shift but passion.. now that stays constant. To be competitive on a national or international stage at the professional level, there is but only one option. Buy current, race a four stroke. The smooth, broad power band of todays modern four strokes coupled with vastly improved chassis characteristics and ever evolving suspension delivers a product simply unmatched by any modern two stroke available. Maybe you don’t race in the “Pro” division. Maybe the budget is tight but your hunger to twist a throttle is unsatisfied. Maybe your main focus of racing motocross has switched from needing to win every heat to needing to have boat loads of fun regardless of your results. If you fall in those categories, you’re why I find myself… in familiar territory.
The dawn of the new millenium brought many new and exciting things to the race track at both your local raceway and the stadiums where names like Carmicheal, Wey and Thomas made their mark. Preprinted numbers and graphics gave bikes a bold, new look. Energy Drinks brought new opportunities for an extreme audience to stay up all night without blinking and there was unfamiliar bumble at the track… It was the new kid in town.. Thought to be sluggish and over weight, participants and enthusiasts were the ultimate sceptics. Never could a motor designed for the trail be completive with a finely tuned factory two stroke in the capable hands of the sport’s top athletes. That was until the “Thumper” landed beneath on of those athletes. At first it was the starts which shone brightest with even riders like Mike Larocco leaping out to uncharacteristically strong starts. Once refined, the advantages and benefits were clear and one by one our superstars put down their mixing oil in exchange for lineal power delivery and smaller gear boxes.
As a buying pubic we bought in and bought in hard with nearly all racers and casual riders across the board switching to four strokes in seemingly a matter of months. We loved our four strokes. We loved being able to jump anything right out of a corner. We loved never being in the wrong gear and most of all we loved feeling a rock star on two wheels now able to easily navigate tricky sections with ease. We loved the four strokes so much that we deserted the machines we claimed to adore so dearly. In response, manufactures listened to the markets demands and many dropped the two stroke product line with exception of mini-cycles. The companies who kept stamping out two strokes did exactly that and the industry saw very limited development to the peppy machines pushing more riders to the highly advanced baritone options. We’ve now arrived at the point of no return as far as professional racing is concerned but maybe.. just maybe the two stroke may walk among us once more.
The saying that motocross is a“young man’s game” often referring to the fact that it becomes increasingly difficult for ones body to keep up with the depends of a sport which asks us to be dynamic and fearless. (both of which are difficult for many adults to muster up) A responsible adult who has to go to work on on monday morning has a harder time letting it all hang out than a 15 year old who’s responsibilities are limited to his want to go fast in all facets of life. The more I think about that young man’s game moniker of which motocross is labeled I start to see it’s new multi meeting. Motocross has become (and a great thanks to four strokes) a young man’s game because for most young people in the sport they are not footing the bill. It’s only when they get older and they are required to provide their own machine for high flying fun that reality sets in that they can not afford to take part. With many racers feeling the pinch of a strict budget and having been left on the sidelines with a discombobulated thumper in the posterior region of their pick up truck, alternate routes to two wheeled satisfaction are needed. Thats why we’ve ventured back toward this familiar territory.
There have always been stead fast two stroke die hards. Rebels if you will. Not so silently clinging to the roots of their passion for two wheeled exhilaration. Those rebellious individuals have been easily drowned out by the thunderous rawer of the four stroke revolution but recently there has been an increasingly louder up rising in the form of greater numbers of two strokes at the track. Young adults looking to get their moto fix and unable to purchased a brand new machine are turning back to the simplified, easy to maintain equipment of yesteryear. The idea the a couple year old two stroke being much less of a risk than an aging thumper has adult racers of all ages combing through sites like Kijiji, E-Bay and Greg’s list for gently used and race worthy machines. On a recent trip to California (Moto Mecca) I could not believe how many two strokes I saw under riders of all types and abilities. It would appear that a good portion of the motocross market is simply looking at the ten thousand dollar price tag attached to the throttle grip of their desire four stroke and simply saying “No.”. These patrons still possess the love and hungry to twist a throttle but at that price are unable to justify the purchase.
For a racer entering their mid to late twenties they may be coming to turns with the harsh reality that their spot under the factory tent has long since come and gone. A level of competitiveness is diminished and replayed the a craving for the purest reason to enjoy the sport of motocross. Fun. These riders still love motocross and instead of racing from championships or trophies they race in search of fun. And what is more fun than ringing out a crisp two smoker passed someone one a brand new four stroke? well, among two stroke combatants there is no greater satisfaction. With more and more racers on a budget these days the demand for less competitive yet still capable equipment is rising. So far brands like Yamaha and KTM/Husqvarna lead the rebellion as their machines are newer and more readily available with a few less hours of abuse on them. Will other brands answer the call and put the two stroke back into development? Will we see companies putting more into their 2015 models than bold new graphics? For companies like Honda who don’t make any more two strokes of any displacement, likely not but I see the number of two strokes at the track only rising especially in markets where riders are into motocross primarily for the fun of it. I myself any happy to see the old technology back in great numbers and with 250 two strokes able to ride in all full sized classes a very versatile machine can fill a new roll.
The reality is that four strokes are here to stay and provide every competitive edge imaginable. The evidence is irrefutable that the light weight screamers have been out done but the riders have shown they still serve a great purpose. It is impressing to see the passion for motocross coming through in the form of low budget riders finding a way to participate where otherwise they wouldn’t be able to line up. Two strokes are our heritage and it’s nice to see them re-emerge to inject a little bit of fun and excitement to a race day which is seldom short of either one. The strictly competitive racer may still pick a thumper when choosing a weapon to head into battle with but for those less competitive and figure if they’re going to get 7th they’re having the most fun getting 7th, the trusty two stroke is there waiting and ready to rip. After racing through the four stroke revolution its awfully nice to drift back into Familiar Territory.