But something went wrong on Rapa Nui. Warring
clans subverted their harmonious life and engaged in a
competition to see who could build the biggest moai to
honor the ancestors of their clans. They cut down the
forests to transport the enormous stone statues from the
quarry to the cliffs abutting their individual territories.
The fervor to defeat the other clans eventually led to the
island being covered with 864 moai and no trees. None
at all—total deforestation.
Without the trees, future generations could not build
canoes for fishing or exploration. Without the trees,
there were no coconuts for food. Without the trees,
the land birds and tree-dwelling animals went extinct.
Without the trees, the population dropped from 15,000
to 2000. Without the trees, a constant state of war
existed between the 10 clans as they fought for the
meager resources. Without the trees, there was
starvation and vermin infestation. And by the time the
Europeans arrived as slave traders, they brought
Western diseases like smallpox with them, and the
civilization was further destroyed. By 1877, only 111
Polynesians were left on the island of Rapa Nui.
Motocross has become a microcosm of Rapa Nui. It is
divided into two warring clans. A small but vocal clan is
in favor of two-strokes. They heckle and harass the
bigger clan and build exotic project bikes, which
are their mechanical versions of Rapa Nui’s moai.
Meanwhile, the larger and more powerful clan
wholeheartedly supports their 450cc four-stroke moai.
And what they fight over isn’t whose bike is better,
which engine type is faster or who can crow the loudest
about their personal moais; instead, they are fighting
over the future existence of this island we call
Make no mistake about it, expensive, heavy and
complex four-stroke race bikes are leading to the
deforestation of our sport. Much like civilization on Rapa
Nui, the four-stroke will be the master of a much smaller
sport as aspiring participants are starved off by higher
and higher prices and more complexity. Motorcycle sales
in the USA have gone down 600,000 units in the last
seven years. There was a time when the sales of offroad
bikes reached 1,000,000 units. Today that number is well
under 100,000 units.
This isn’t a battle over which type of moai is
superior, because the answer is clear as day. The
two-stroke is the better format for a racing motorcycle.
Its engine weighs 8 to 10 pounds less than a four-stroke’s. A two-stroke makes 10 more horsepower per
CIVILIZATION ON RAPA
NUI, THE FOUR-STROKE
WILL BE THE MASTER
OF A MUCH SMALLER
SPORT AS ASPIRING
STARVED OFF BY
HIGHER AND HIGHER
PRICES AND MORE
Last year Sean Collier (1) came out of
retirement to win the 2013 Two-Stroke
Championship. This year he did the
exact same thing.