Hooray for the fact that there was no rain at this race for what I think was only the second time in five years. The track was normal and stuff! So I thought this year was great! Early in practice it looked like a track I would love to ride, except for those dumb big jumps. Funny that it took until the 23rd moto of the year for a full battle between the top three fastest riders with apologies to Zach Osborne in the Class, right?
The YZ was the first appearance of the modern two-stroke engine as we know motocros today. The only motovross to beat Dowd in the final standings are Jeff Ward and Bear bottom motorsports motocross Stanton, who rides away to a dominating victory. Or if you guys know of any other areas to ride. The shifting is still grim and its clutch is cantankerous, but the motor pulls like a freight train. While RJ would soldier on motocrosd another year-and-a-half trying to get back to the front, it was obvious the old speed had left him. Looks like there are races at the fairgrounds in Eureka. The bike you buy today off the showroom floor is a culmination of over forty years Bear bottom motorsports motocross trial and error. Tyler Keefe signs up for that all damn day.
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Tony Blazier contributes what he thinks are some of the bikes that changed the sport of motocross in this essay.
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Tony Blazier contributes what he thinks are some of the bikes that changed the sport of motocross in this essay. Motocross is a truly unique sport. It is one of the only motorsports in the world where a competitor can buy a bone stock machine off the showroom floor and with very little modification be competitive at the absolute highest levels. The bike you buy today off the showroom floor is a culmination of over forty years of trial and error. This was not always the case. These early off road bikes were often extremely crude and very fragile.
In the early days the key to winning a race was often as much about saving the bike as going fast. Over the years the bikes have gone from claw hammer simple to space shuttle complex. Along the way there have been several seminal machines that have had a profound effect on the sport. These are the bikes that changed motocross. In the off road motorcycle world looked a lot different than it does today. Therefore it was a bit of a shock to the establishment when Honda came out with the 73 CRR Elsinore.
It was light, fast and in Honda fashion, extremely well made. The Elsinore made extensive use of lightweight aluminum components to keep the weight to a minimum. The power was hard hitting and as was typical of a straight piston port motor not particularly broad. Some even described it at the time as having a light switch power delivery. Even so the bike was considered very fast for the time. This was a serious race bike and it performed like one.
The 73 CRR Elsinore was the first shot in a battle that would see the Japanese totally dominate motocross by the end of the decade. For that money you got the absolute best technology money could buy. Every piece on the bike was trimmed and drilled for lightness. The airbox, side covers and even seat base were fiberglass. The YZ made liberal use of expensive but extremely lightweight magnesium and aluminum for everything from the engine covers to the gas tank.
The engine featured an advanced for the time six pedal reed valve intake and works bike like chrome cylinder coating for superior power and cooling.
The YZ was the first production motocross bike to feature a Monoshock. The single shock on the YZ was laid down and tucked in below the seat. That may not seem like a lot today but in it really was like owning a works racer. The Monoshock YZ started a trend in motocross where long travel became the order of the day. Without long travel designs, obstacles like double and triple jumps would never have been possible. This bike was the absolute pinnacle of motocross design in 75 and every guy who has ever dreamed of being the next Jeremy McGrath owes it a debt of gratitude.
The Y-Zinger was released in and was a wonderful little 50cc fully automatic play bike. It was a bike that could introduce junior to the love of motorcycling while at the same time being safe and easy to handle.
The amazing thing though, is what the buying public did with these adorable little bikes. Before you knew it, you had Mini Dads all over the country turning these toys into fire breathing race bikes.
It was not uncommon to see Y-Zingers with long travel suspension systems grafted on and highly modified engines pumping out 5 times the stock horsepower. Eventually the PW50 was eclipsed by purpose built 50cc full on race bikes, but for 15 years the little bike that could reigned supreme. In Suzuki took the next quantum leap forward in motocross design. It is hard to imagine now how fast bike design progressed in these early days of American motocross. Just look at a73 Elsinore and then look at this 81 Suzuki.
It is hard to imagine these two bikes are only separated by eight years of development. In 81 if you were riding a 73 bike you were riding an antique with literally half the suspension and power. Even by todays standards it is extremely complex. The Full Floater used a floating linkage at both the bottom and the top of the shock as well as a set of pull rods connecting the system to the swingarm. It was a Rube Goldberg looking apparatus if there ever was one.
The thing that made the Full Floater famous was the performance. This was the first rear suspension that really delivered on the long travel promise. These bikes absolutely ate the bumps.
The full floating design provided the fine articulation to the rear suspension that allowed the shock to be both supple and firm when needed. This suspension design would become the gold standard for the first half of the decade. The design proved too expensive to produce and by Suzuki had replaced it with a much cheaper and poorer performing design.
The name Full Floater would continue to appear on Suzuki motorcycles into the next decade, but they were Floaters in name only. Behold the first truly modern motocross bike, the YZ The 82 YZ was the first motocross bike to put together in one bike the key technologies that would shape motocross performance for the next 2 decades.
History has largely forgotten this machine. In 82 it was a mediocre performing bike at best. Because of this, people overlook it as the breakthrough bike that it was. For starters it was overweight and underpowered. Add to that a top-heavy feel, bulky ergonomics, and merely passible suspension performance. With all that in mind it is little wonder this bike has slipped into obscurity. Dig a little deeper though and you will discover a bike that planted the seeds for the amazing bikes we ride today.
In this bike was on the very bleeding edge of Moto technology. Features we take for granted today like safety seats and power valves all debuted on this machine. The YZ was the first appearance of the modern two-stroke engine as we know it today. The 82 YZ and YZ were the first production motocross bikes to feature a variable exhaust port. As the YPVS cylinder rotated, it would raise or lower the height of the exhaust port, changing the power characteristics of the motor.
Before the introduction of systems like the YPVS, engine tuners had to set up their power plants for either low-end power or top end thrust. With the advent of technologies like the YPVS the motor could in theory be made to do both. Many people believed the added weight and complexity of liquid cooling a cc bike far outweighed the benefit of sustained power over the course of a race. Team Yamaha in fact, actually went back to an air cooled bike to race in the 82 Supercross series. The major problem with the liquid cooling on this bike was the horrible design of it.
Yamaha bolted the radiator to the triple clamps and then routed the hoses through the steering head. As a result the YZ carried a great deal of weight very high on the bike. This poor design lead to poor handling and leaks over time.
The 82 YZ was a very advanced bike that fell well short of its promise. Even so it paved the way for the many great motocross bikes that followed in its footsteps. Take a look at the brand new KTM SX and you will still see many of the features pioneered on this bike. By Honda was on an incredible win streak. In 86 and 87 they totally dominated every shootout, in every class from 80 to Adding to that win streak was a remarkable string of National titles in every available class.
The 88 CRR was all-new from the ground up with a radical new design. The motor was a re-tuned version of the world beating 87 power plant but from there on it was clean sheet design. These bikes featured radically lowered tanks and bodywork to better centralize mass. The 88 CRR incorporated similar bodywork that was super narrow and low slung to keep the weight as centralized on the chassis as possible. This low sleek bodywork offered the rider the maximum amount of movement and control.
The topper to all this was the incredible looks of the machine. The 88 CR was like a Ferrari, it just screamed performance standing still. There is a funny truth about this bike however. In spite of everything this bike had going for it, the 88 CRR was actually not a very good bike. For 88, Honda had taken the hard-hitting 87 motor everyone loved and neutered it.
The explosive hit was gone and replaced with a slow drawn out power delivery that no one liked. The suspension was likewise revised and the new settings were much worse than the all-conquering Pro riders could make the bike work but lesser talents were punished.
None of that really mattered in the grand scheme of things though. Honda brought back the power the next year, but it would take them over a decade to again have suspension as good as the 87 model.
The CRR was a pro-oriented supercross weapon. As the next nine straight Supercross titles would prove, it was a job the CRR did very well indeed. In Honda took a huge gamble.
On top of that, with Jeremy McGrath at the controls, Honda had dominated the 96 Supercross season winning all but one race. With that in mind, it took a lot of nerve to totally scrap a popular, proven machine and bring out such a radical departure.
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Scott Motorsports: A Look at Through the Eyes of MXA – PulpMX
Once upon a time, there was no Twitter, no Internet, and certainly no live race coverage on TV we would have all switched channels 10 times and stayed up till 2AM to watch a live race on TV in the eighties. In those dark days, we had but one outlet to satiate out thirst for moto info- the motocross magazine. Yes, the info was three months old, but we all lapped it up like Manna from heaven.
MXA was the alpha dog and set the standard for the industry. For this installment of the motocross way-back machine, we are going to recall the great year that was , through the eyes of Motocross Action. January kicks off with a couple of stars of tomorrow on the cover, doing battle in the Trans-Cal Championships. Kyle Lewis 12 , Ty Davis 1 and Damon Bradshaw 12 would all go onto to have very successful careers, though each would enjoy very different paths. Both Bradshaw and Davis would claim Supercross titles, before retiring suddenly Bradshaw and switching to off-road racing Davis.
Ironically, it would be the least publicized of the three who would have the longest motocross career. There is also a wrap of the World Supercross Championship, which is a huge off season money maker for the vacationing Americans.
There are interviews with Bradshaw and the first man to win all three major motocross World Titles, Erik Geboers. Lastly, MXA saves the sport once again by answering the age old question: What is wrong with professional motocross?
MXA starts the review by asking if the reader remembers the glory year of where the little CR wiped the floor with the competition and proclaims Honda sure did. The motor is pro-oriented and harder to ride than the competition, but unbeatable in a race to the first turn.
MXA loves the CR and proclaims it the early front-runner for of the year. In Sweden, a surprising Pekka Vekkonen takes the victory over a Euro heavy field. The top American in Sweden is Ricky Ryan in 4th. Power wise, the YZ is hard hitting, but short on breadth. It is strictly a mid-range mauler and has little power at the extremes.
In the Bradshaw interview, Damon talks about the impressive moto scores he carded at his first pro National and how much he enjoyed banging bars with Guy Cooper shades of things to come from the Beast from the East. Bradshaw seems humble and even talks about how nervous he was sitting on the starting line next to riders like Ron Tichenor and Donny Schmit.
In short, Damon seems a world away from the cocky and brash kid that would be upsetting the apple cart of the established stars a mere 12 months later. Geboers is coming off the World Motocross title and basking in the glow of becoming the first rider to win a , and World MX title. The highlight of the entire issue has to be Carla recounting his dominating victory in his final ever race, where he actually stops at the halfway point of the 1st moto to enjoy a trackside pint of beer.
Power is decidedly low-to-mid, with a complete lack of top-end thrust. Handling and suspension is typical Suzuki, with plush action and razor sharp manners. In short, it is a phenomenal novice bike, but pros find its lack of top-end a major handicap.
In hindsight, this would probably have been a good idea and may have kept the Open class around a bit longer. Oh well. There is also lots of off season race coverage and tips on how to get sponsored.
All four bikes are well suspended and handle very well if very differently. In terms of power, the shrieking top-end of the Honda leads the horsepower wars, but trails in the usability department. In the final standings, the blazing-fast Honda proves unassailable, in spite of its pro-oriented powerband.
The is unique in a way only ATK can do. The is slower than a typical Open class machine, but it offers the best handling, smoothest suspension and lightest weight in the class. There is a new case-reed mill to go with its works-like USD forks and sleek, sexy bodywork. The power is very similar to its sibling as well, with a punchy delivery, but short spread.
Is that Jason Weigandt in the red ball cap? The race coverage in the February issue is a potpourri of events from all over the globe. Only the class goes as planned, with a dominating victory by Ronnie Lechien on the mighty KX The Dutch, who claim the top two spots, predictably dominate the race. The winner is a relatively unknown rider by the name of Edwin Evertsen who leads the race from start to finish.
Weird right? In Osaka the year old from North Carolina puts the hammer down and roosts away to a shocking victory over the likes of Rick Johnson, Jeff Ward and every other major player in the sport. In doing so, the Yamaha ace becomes only the third man to beat Johnson on a Supercross track in the last two years.
After the victory, RJ famously tells Bradshaw that the win may have actually been the worst thing for the kid, as now everyone will expect him to win it all the time. The statement will turn out to be prophetic indeed, as the intense pressure will lead the gifted twenty-year-old to walk away from motocross and a multi-million dollar contract a mere four years later. It is a run-what-ya-brung sort of deal where any bike can be entered. For March, we get a cover full of nearly horsepower and five ground-pounding mega-machines.
In other words, girly men need not apply. The chassis is stiffer, with a greatly lowered center of gravity that makes the bike feel much lighter than before. Handling is remarkable for a , with razor sharp turning and a bit of nasty headshake thrown in for good measure. Next up is Kawasaki big green teddy bear, the KX It is both smoother and faster than the Honda, offering one of the widest spreads of power ever seen on a two-stroke. This gamble pays of big time, as the Kawasaki is dialed and the CR is still a major work in progress.
While it is bigger and bulkier than the CR, for hard-core motocross, the KX is a better machine. Sort of. When men were men and bikes were scary. The CRR may have been a pussycat compared to its mid-eighties forebears, but the big five-honey still had enough ponies to scare the uninitiated into taking up golf.
It is in fact, quite a moldy oldie at this point. It still bangs, clatters and clangs like it has marbles loose in the top end and defies any and all attempts to rectify its finicky jetting. Suspension is adequate, but only just. MXA thinks the bike can win, but the YZ rider will be working twice as hard to do it. Great pains have been taken to mellow out its quirky personality and it shows. The power is strong and competitive with anything in the class and for once its Dellorto carburetor actually carburates.
The shifting is still grim and its clutch is cantankerous, but the motor pulls like a freight train. The Dutch White Power suspension is actually set up well and the bike does nothing particularly odd. In short, it is competitive, but its continental flavor is an acquired taste. Our last test of the issue is of the booming ATK thumper. This interesting Frankenstein machine is nearly twice the cost of all the other bikes and worth every penny.
With electric starting, it is also the easiest to light by a mile. Its only problems are its sumo-sized waistline, stratospheric cost and two-year waiting list.
In race action, we get a report from the running of the Paris Supercross. Bercy has become an off-season tradition by , and all the big names come out to do battle in the tiny arena. Rick Johnson is the big winner, capturing night one and the overall title over Guy Cooper and Ron Lechien. Tops in the shootout is Answer, with their trick new Alumilite bar.
The Alumilite is head and shoulders stronger that the others and will be the top bar in motocross until the unveiling of their Pro-Taper two years later. For April, we get the highly anticipated, but never duplicated MXA motocross shootout. The new RM is picked as the best looking, but its narrow power spread, weak brakes and suspect reliability relegate it to last. The YZ that won all the marbles the year before is refined and better, but does nothing truly better than the others.
It is a solid package that does everything well, but nothing spectacularly. It is the solid choice for a racer looking to buy it and race it right off the showroom floor. MXA declares the Honda both the best bike and the worst bike depending on your aspirations.
For a pro, the Honda is hard to beat, with its unparalleled horsepower, razor sharp manners and flawless durability. For pro riders, the suspension is less of an issue as they are likely to get it revalved anyway.
In the stock rankings, its bone-jarring forks are enough to knock it out of the top spot. Alone at the top, we have the Kawasaki KX It is smoother than the Honda, with a super wide powerband and easy-to-ride delivery. It is not nearly as well built as the Honda, but its awesome suspension tips the scales in its favor. It is a really cool walk down memory lane for any fan of classic moto. On page 96, there is also an interesting look at the latest craze to hit the motocross world-the mountain bike.
At this point, the sport is still in its infancy and none of the bikes offer suspension. The April cover is graced by the Chicken man himself, Jeff Matiasevich. At San Diego, Kawasaki Support rider Mike Fisher gets in on the act, leading several laps before ejecting himself over the berm and out of the lead. The bike lacks the torque of the Honda and Kawasaki, but is lighter and better handling than the big brutes.
Factory Yamaha actually plans to campaign kitted bikes in the Nationals later in the year. In the season opener, Johnny rockets out to a commanding lead and looks to have the win in the bag, when his Factory Suzuki nearly breaks in half off a double jump. The power is decent, but the transmission is notchy and the clutch feel is bizarre.
Overall handling is good, with passible turning and good stability.