Motocross

Sshhh-toopid!

Sshhh-toopid!

of the cheater bike is upon us. THE RISE of the cheater bike is upon us. Yes, that’s right, the tree-huggers of America didn’t feel that they were shutting down enough motocross tracks so now we’re being forced to ride obnoxiously loud bikes that every neighbour in a five-mile radius will surely complain about. I mean, come on! Those guys have shut down tracks for anything imaginable (saving an endangered kangaroo rat who lived close to a California track was my personal favourite) and now because four-strokes pollute a tiny amount less than two-strokes we all have to ride bikes that p*** off the neighbours!
That’s not to say four-strokes aren’t faster than their two-stroke counterparts but it’s only because the AMA has allowed four-strokes twice the cubic capacity. If you were to race a 250cc two-stroke against a 250cc four-stroke, it wouldn’t even be close. It doesn’t make sense to me why everyone is pushing so hard for a motorcycle that’s heavier and slower to respond than what we already have.
I assume that the original term ‘thumper’ was meant to refer to the deep, loud sound it produces (line up next to one on the startline or follow one up a hill and you will understand this meaning all too well) but I’m sure if you ask Tim Ferry or Ernesto Fonseca they would give you a different explanation. A four-stroke has a slight lag time in throttle response that inevitably ‘thumps’ its rider into the ground. Anyone who’s ever ridden a supercross track on a thumper has probably experienced this lag first hand. You hit the gas while jumping through a tight rhythm section and before you realise the bike didn’t respond you’re already on your head. In a sport such as supercross, where a millisecond reaction time is the difference between near-death and perfection, how can you ride a bike that is two milliseconds slower to respond on average and randomly hesitates even longer?
Some people say that four-strokes are easier to ride than two-strokes and I have to admit that I do love my DRZ400 and have an arsenal of DRZ110 pit-bikes that seem to be indestructible. The problem lies in getting it race-ready. Taking a two-stroke on a leisurely cruise is like driving an F1 car down the interstate – they aren’t much fun to ride slow and they beg you to go faster. Four-strokes on the other hand are similar to Cadillacs. Plush, fun and easy to drive but would you really want to speed through the track in your grandma’s four-door?
If four-strokes truly were easier to ride, freestylers around the world would be flocking to get their hands on one. Mike Jones tried one, once… He broke his neck and his back. Kenny Bartram sold his within the first six months and Trevor Vines did about the same. Andy Bell rode a KTM 520 with no silencer at a few competitions back in the day to freak out the audience. Unfortunately, Andy’s gig ended when he realised the biggest trick he could pull was getting the beast from the take-off to the landing without auguring himself into the ground.
In a sport where speed and power mean little to nothing, like in freestyle, two-strokes will forever rule. Unfortunately, if you want a holeshot in an outdoor national you better have nitro – unless you’re on a thumper. Every year it seems there’s a new AMA rule that puts two-strokes at even more of a disadvantage. Next year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see James Stewart riding a four-stroke. I don’t know if any of his competitors have any inkling of hope left but if he shows up at the first round on a four-stroke even the best will be lucky not to be lapped.
I understand that they have to make an effort to help appease the environmentalists but after finally getting my property more erosion-free and animal-friendly than even the best-kept national parks, my friends bought four-strokes and the neighbours (half-a-mile away, over a hill and through the forest) found an entirely new angle to let me pay Uncle Sam – noise pollution!
I’m off to race at the Race Of Champions, representing the USA along with Boris Said and Casey Mears. Last year the USA won for the first time with Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Colin Edwards. The way it works is that each country gets to select a road car driver, a dirt car driver and a motorcyclist. We all drive equally prepared rally cars against our division. Normally the US gets smoked because we don’t have any top rally drivers but last year was a breakthrough and hopefully we can carry the torch on this year.
Travis Pastrana, courtesy RacerX