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Motocross Media and the Two Stroke

by JohnNicholas on 04/24/2010

Over the past few months many interviews with the Super Stars of Motocross seem to contain a question about two-strokes. Of course asking them what their thoughts are about them. Kind of a loaded question.

As an example, here is one that was posted on Vital MX by MXEditor – Sean Goulart where he interviewed James Stewart at the Fuel TV Studios in NYC.

James... not having fun... lol

MXN: Do you ever still ride a two-stroke, just for fun?

JAMES STEWART: I rode the ones at my ride day, the two-strokes, and it’s just not…it’s just not there anymore you know? The new 450?s, like especially the Yamaha, are so good it’s hard to really want to ride a two-stroke for fun, the only thing that’s cool is the sound. I had one I rode at the ride days but I almost got smoked by a few dudes when I was riding a 250 two-stroke, so I said nah just gotta give it up, I just have to.

Of course this started a flurry of posts from all sides of the debate. If you would like to see for yourself check out this link –,20/Interview-with-James-Stewart-talks-about-2strokes-family-and-Bubbas-World,900676

Now let’s take a step back and think about something here. Are we asking the wrong people the wrong question?

How about some yummy veggie burgers??

How about a couple of hypotheticals. Do you think a cattle rancher would suggest you become a vegetarian? How about your typical MD, do you think he’ll send you over to an alternative medical practitioner? Would a died-in-the-wool Oil man recommend that you use alternative energy?

The answer to all these questions is easy, they wouldn’t. Even if in their heart of hearts they believe in those alternative solutions.

Which begs the question, why? It’s really pretty simple actually, they have a vested interest in their current paradigm. Are they wrong to not recommend what they may believe in? Well no, that’s how they make their living. Why would they suggest you do something that would affect their livelihood?

Now lets get back to our MX Superstar, here’s a guy that gets paid a considerable amount of money to race a machine that his employer pays him to race. It would be IMPOSSIBLE for them to say publicly that they prefer something other than what they are paid to endorse. That would be professional suicide.

Personally, I would never expect these guys to state an endorsement for the two-stroke.

Let’s look at the reasons behind journalists asking this question.

They are reading the same forums, sites, magazines as all of us. The word on the “street” is two-strokes for motocross. The dealer showroom floors are crowded with leftover four-stroke machines. There are a bunch in the warehouses as well. The manufacturers four-stroke wonder bikes are currently selling for a fraction of the Suggested List Price.

For sale... cheap!

On the other hand, try to locate a brand new two-stroke at a dealer. You have to start searching dealers far and wide in order to even locate one in stock! Not only that, but the dealer realizes he has a “hot” commodity and can actually make a profit by selling a motocross bike (something that doesn’t happen very often) so the price is firm and usually very close to retail. All this even though in some cases, the two-stroke is a “dated” machine with very few technological updates.

So these well meaning journalists think that the best person to ask about two-strokes is the MX Superstars, the guys who are paid to sell four-strokes to the public. Does anyone else see the folly in this thinking? Sure the journalist is happy because it sparks the debate again and if there is anything that MX fans are passionate about it’s the two-stroke vs. four-stroke debate. Many more people read their stuff and the magazine, website or media outlet is happy because more readers see their ads.

The funny thing is that at least in the case of the Stewart interview, the journalist “defended” James by saying that he was very sincere when he said it, so it must be true. My illusion is that even if James loves the two-stroke and would love to be able to race it, he would be very sincere about telling a journalist that he prefers the four-stroke.

And I don’t blame him. He is being paid to sell the bikes that Yamaha wants to promote and sell. Come on!

Is this enough? How about this much more?

Do you really think it’s that hard to be sincere, if you are being paid say $500,000. per year (purposely stated low) to ride a motorcycle? It’d be easy. Anyone could do it. Those that say they couldn’t or wouldn’t have not been in that position. It’s easy to say you’d do the right thing when it’s not your career on the line.

Which now brings us full circle, why is this question asked of someone when the answer will be no?

There is one reason… the tide is truly changing. More and more of the family-oriented, rank and file motocross racers are choosing what works best for them. And many of them are choosing the two-stroke.

This is big business and there are tremendous profits to be made or lost here. The manufacturers are hurting, the dealers are hurting and there’s a lot of product that racers just aren’t interested in buying. The marketing hype has run it’s course and has now slammed directly into reality.

Is it possible that the manufacturers “suggest” that the journalists bring up the two-stroke question? We’ll never know, but it’s possible.

And for those on the four-stroke side of the fence, I’m not spouting conspiracy theories here, just asking questions and pointing out the blatantly obvious.

You make the choice....

The question needs to move away from the Super Stars and come back to the person you see when you look in a mirror. What’s best for you?

You know, if that answer is a four-stroke, hey that’s great. I wish you the very best. For some people that is the best machine for them. This is not about killing the four-stroke or taking them away from the people that believe in them.

It’s purely about choice. Two Stroke racers want a choice. They want to choose what’s best for them.

Unfortunately, that choice has been taken away, first by lopsided rules. Then because of flagging sales figures, some manufacturers stopped importing two-strokes. Now with the tide shifting, there is a shortage of new two-strokes.

The moral of the story? Much of the motocross media has a vested interest in the business. Don’t buy into the marketing hype, make up your own mind based on your experience and what you think is best for you.

Keep the rubber side down.