Back before the AMA doomed the two-stroke by allowing an unfair displacement advantage for four-strokes, motocross was a considerably
cheaper and more rider-friendly sport. Although the AMA
isn’t totally to blame for the drastic decline in two-stroke
sales figures, its ill-conceived rule changes were the
death knell. Who are the other suspects on trial for
ensuring four-strokes rose to prominence and two-strokes
fell off the map?
(1) Professional racers. Gatorade, the sports-drink
magnate, famously marketed basketball superstar Michael
Jordan by urging everyone to “Be like Mike.” It was a
brilliant marketing campaign. Why? People want to
emulate their idols. Professional motocross racers are
lauded by their adoring fans. It’s natural that Amateur
motocross riders would choose to use the same
equipment as the stars. During the advent of the
modern-day four-stroke, when improvements were made
to power and reliability, nearly all professional race teams
hopped on the four-stroke bandwagon. Subsequently, the
buying public was influenced by what the world’s fastest
racers were choosing.
( 2) Consumers. Money talks, and by 2007 the vast
majority of motocross bike purchases were four-strokes.
Booming popularity of the new technology caused rapid
growth and expansion (leading Honda to produce a
150cc four-stroke and KTM to eventually unveil a 350cc
four-stroke). As a result, four-stroke sales dwarfed
two-stroke inventory movement. The buying public
shattered the two-stroke market, because consumers
spoke with their wallets.
( 3) Manufacturers. In 2006, the “Big Five” manufacturers collectively offered 21 different models. For 2009,
however, there were only 14 new models, as Kawasaki,