by JohnNicholas on 10/17/2009
During the past week there was a meeting of all the major players in Pro SX/MX in southern California. It was a gathering of the OEMís, AMA, Promoters and others to discuss new ideas for the 2010 racing season.
It probably comes with no surprise that the two-stroke idea would be shot down. The enthusiastic crew from MX Sports, spearheaded by Davey Coombs, did their best to advise the importance of including two strokes in Pro Racing.
Unfortunately their voice was overwhelmed by the people that stood to lose the most from a change back to the two-stroke.
The OEMís, AMA and the others big argument against the two-stroke competing with equal displacement was met by the quote, ď250 vs. 250 isnít fair.Ē
Being the stand up guy that he is, Davey Coombs let people know about the decision on DMXS Radio and answered e-mails from people that wrote. What happened? He was skewered by some of the people that he had been supportive of. On one message board, DC was called nasty names and blamed for bowing down to the manufacturers and others.
But even after this horrific treatment, he went back on the message board and wrote the following;
ďGuys, sorry, I am just the messenger in this case. Not one of the five OEMs, including KTM and Yamaha, want to head this way right now. Nor does Supercross or apparently the GPs, just some of you and me ó but I will accept the blame for not getting this through. I didnít make four-strokes, and I canít save two-strokes, I just hold races that almost all of the race teams and top riders find worthwhile to participate in and support.
Do you want the teams and the top riders to leave now? I donít. So we are working on homologation rules and requirements for a few other options, but I now realize that itís not wise to bring those things up in a public forum until they either happen or donít.Ē
Itís a shame that one of the few people on the side of two-strokes, was treated with such a vulgar display of anger and hate. Especially when DC is new to this ďgameĒ. DC did the best he could and deserves a thank you for all that he has done. I certainly appreciate all his efforts on behalf of the two stroke faithful.
Back to our story..
Hmmm, so according to the OEM manufacturers, the AMA and the hop up shops, they are saying that a 250 two stroke will beat their technologically advanced four-strokes. They are afraid that someone with talent, along the lines of a Jason Lawrence will show up at a Pro MX race and spank all their highly touted four-stroke factory bikes. In fact, they are even concerned that some three digit privateer pro will show up on a two-stroke and give their factory racers fits.
Well at least the debate between which bike is better has been settled, and not by two guys on a message board that are giving their opinions based on what they think will happen. This is based on the manufacturers (who thoroughly test everything) saying that even with all the supposed advances in technology, the four-stroke is in danger of being beat, at the highest levels of racing by an older technology two-stroke.
But the bigger problem remains. The rules as they are now, virtually kill off the two-stroke entirely. At least in Pro Racing.
Since the Big 4 manufacturers are the ones that build the bikes that most of us ride and race, and are no longer interested in building the bikes that many voices are calling for, where does that leave us?
In an even more bizarre twist, it turns out that many manufacturers have a great deal of 2009 model 450 four-strokes still sitting on dealer floors and gathering dust in warehouses. So they are running deep discounts to move the bikes, and at least in Yamahaís case, they are running ads for 0 down, 0 interest and 0 payments for 12 months on the bikes that are not moving.
And yet Yamaha is holding up the release of the 2010 two-stroke line-up until February. The only real change in the 2010 two-stroke models is the graphics, so why the delay? So they can try to get their dealers to sell the four-strokes that they decided to market?
From comments on this site, message boards and people at the races, the sentiment is that more and more people are buying two-strokes for 2010. It will be interesting to see if this will really happen.
Not everyone that races motocross can afford a new bike, so some by used. If you have followed the used prices of motocross bikes over the past few years, you will notice a new trend. A used two-stroke will command much more money than a used four-stroke. Not only that, but clean used two-strokes are costing more and more to purchase in general. The reason being, demand is increasing at a level that is driving prices higher.
On the other hand itís becoming cheaper and cheaper to purchase a used four-stroke.
The one aspect that the manufacturers have overlooked is that racers, at least the ones that buy new bikes with their own money, usually have lower budgets to work with. Many of these racers use their new machine for a year or two, then turn around and sell their ďusedĒ bike in order to off-set the cost of their next new bike.
The trouble begins with the much higher cost of the new machines. Most racers have to take out a loan to buy their new bike. When itís a four-stroke, after they get the bike it ďneedsí a pipe, so they buy one that costs between $600 and $1,600. and go to the races. If they are really good with the maintenance, change the oil frequently, and donít rev the bike too much, they can expect their bike to last for a couple of years without any major problems.
Everything changes when the racer is a hard charger, a racer with plans of becoming a working pro. In order to be competitive, even at the local level, he has to invest much more than just a pipe. The folks that Iíve spoken to have invested a few thousand dollars only in their engine. The sorry side is, that itís not enough to compete in the pro nationals. Which is ruled by cubic dollars.
Now our up and coming racer has to practice on the bike he will be racing. And since he is competing at a higher level he has to race the bike much harder than the average guy, so he revs the bike just like the factory stars. Even after doing all the right maintenance, after a few months the bike needs a rebuild. If something catastrophic happens it will cost much, much more.
Now the possibility is, this up and coming racer took out a loan to buy the bike and borrowed money from family and friends to do the hop-up work to his machine. What happens when our luckless hero blows up his bike? Now he needs to invest a large sum of money into rebuilding his bike. The problem? He may only be able to sell his bike for a few hundred dollars more than the rebuild.
What happens is based on many factors, but the two Iíve heard most is heíll sell the rolling frame and go out and buy another bike. Or the guy will just be so frustrated, heíll quit racing and do something else. Neither is good for the overall health of the sport.
What can I do?
Ignore the hype and marketing buzz from the Big 4.
When you buy a new bike, buy a two stroke. While 3 of the big four no longer import two-strokes, both Yamaha and KTM still sell them. But they are not the only options. There are other brands which include, Husqvarna, Gas Gas, TM Racing, Maico and Service Powersports.
While in the recent past it was extremely difficult to get either a TM or Maico here in the USA, both will have strong distribution and representation here in 2010. Iíve spoken to both of the new distributors and they are planning ride days, so potential customers can try before they buy. Stay tuned for more information.
Then there is AJ at Service Powersports. They build new two-strokes of various sizes with the latest style frames and running gear. Sure they are a bit more expensive than some of the four-stroke offerings, but these two-stroke bikes can last for many years with minimal maintenance costs. Plus when you decide to sell, the bike will still have a good resale value.
Really, itís not necessary to buy a new bike every year! Just buy something that will last.
Or you can do what thousands of others have done, by a used two-stroke. There are some great deals out there to be had. In some cases you can find machines with low hours on them, these bikes are great deals.
If for some reason there is not a two stroke class at your local race track, get some buddies together and show up at the races and ask (nicely) if they could add a class for you guys. In my local area, the class with one of the biggest turnouts week in and week out is the newly formed 125cc two stroke class. This has garnered the interest of many other racers and the buzz is that more racers will be competing in 2010.
Remember two stroke motocross bikes are fast, light and tons of fun. The only way weíll see the return of two-strokes is if racers buy two-strokes from the manufacturers that actually make them.
The result will be that the Big 4 will either decide to make them again or theyíll stop making bikes altogether and build something else to make their company money.
You are the two-strokes only hope!