with the throttle. When little Johnny hops on the thumper,
his instincts will tell him to ride it like his 85cc. It will not
250cc. Would you be comfortable stepping little
Johnny up to a 250 two-stroke? Of course not.
What about a 250 four-stroke? Think about it. A
250 two-stroke is lighter, more nimble and has
more power, and little Johnny already knows the character-
istics of the smoker. The four-stroke is a few pounds
heavier, has slightly less power and little Johnny knows
nothing about riding four-strokes. The point? Stepping off a
mini on to either 250cc machine is a big step—a giant step.
The safe road. So what is the safest transition for little Johnny getting off an 85cc? A
125cc two-stroke. The proof is in the pudding.
Minicycle riders have been transitioning from
the 85cc to the 125cc for years without much drama.
The 125cc bike is under 200 pounds, agile, shares power
characteristics with an 85 and is manageable. KTM has
been putting its future stars on KTM 125SX two-strokes
when they are ready to transition out of the mini ranks.
They think it makes sense as a stepping stone.
Rule book. What would you do if a new rule
in your class stated that you could double your
displacement? Racers race to win, bottom line.
They want all they can get. This is what happened when the AMA allowed 250 four-strokes into the
125cc class and 450 four-strokes into the 250cc class. It
didn’t take long before the entire 40-man gate was filled
with thumpers. This displacement handicap rule almost
killed two-strokes. But, nobody had the foresight to see
how this rule would affect little Johnny. The good thing is,
something can be done. The AMA can step up and make
a rule that allows for safe and sane transitions from small
bikes to big bikes. That transition would be a 125cc.
FIM. The FIM offers the EMX125 class.
It is a popular class for aspiring riders
between the ages of 13 and 17, and they
get to ride on the tracks of the MXGP
circuit. Many factory MXGP riders are now being farmed
through the EMX125 class. This prepares little Johnny for
the big time by allowing him to grow and gain strength
before moving to a 250 four-stroke. It’s time that American
race promoters began promoting the 125 class. ;
Safety. Let’s be frank; motocross is not a
sport without danger. There are no ifs, ands
or buts about it; serious injuries can occur in
the sport. With that said, rules need to be
in place to make safety a priority. We can’t be the rule
makers. Only sanctioning bodies, such as the AMA, can
pull the strings. All we can do is become the picketers
who make the powers that be aware of pressing safety
issues, which is how we define 85cc minicycle riders
transferring to 250cc four-strokes.
Injuries. With each passing year the
number of injuries is rising among young
riders making the transition from an 85cc
to 250cc four-stroke. In other words, little
Not to mention how different the characteristics are
from a two-stroke to a four-stroke.
Weight. The average weight difference
between an 85cc and a 250 four-stroke is 70
pounds. That’s a big difference, even if you
are just lifting the bike on the stand. Now
think about that same 70 pounds hitting the ground at
speed. The force is multiplied by the amount of speed
at impact. This weight is also felt while little Johnny is
riding. Little Johnny has been throwing his 85cc around
on the track like a toy. Attempting the same moves with
an extra 70 pounds strapped on is a recipe for disaster.
Engine braking. It’s a big learning curve
understanding the effects of increased engine
braking when going from a two-stroke to a
four-stroke. Some engine braking traits are
obvious, while others are hard to identify. It is evident
the more engine braking there is, the faster it will slow
you down. Many young riders making the transition tend
to over-rev the 250 four-stroke in too low of a gear. This
puts increased weight on the front of the bike, making
for unstable corner entrances. Instability is dangerous.
Load up. The more engine braking there
is, the more the rear shock loads up. This
causes erratic behavior at the rear end. While
a two-stroke has a free-wheeling sensation,
downshifting early into a corner does not have adverse
effects on the handling. A rider new to four-strokes will
first think the suspension is the culprit. Hopefully, little
Johnny has experience riding bucking broncos.
Power. Not only does the 250 four-stroke
produce almost double the horsepower, it
also puts out a significant increase in torque.
This power curve is made to be ridden much
differently from a two-stroke. Getting used to the power
when coming from a smoker takes time. The small
displacement 85cc two-stroke is a light switch that needs
a fast finger on the clutch. A 250 four-stroke has a more
planted, broader powerband that needs to be metered
ABOUT 250 FOUR-STROKES & KIDS