the Yamaha YZ250F. With no prior
experience on a modern four-stroke, I
jumped at the opportunity.
At that time, the YZ250F was
the only 250 four-stroke in production, and it was allowed to line up
against 125 two-strokes. Off the start
I grabbed the holeshot—something
I was never able to do on my KTM
125SX—and powered away from
the competition. I fanned the clutch
and butchered the throttle, yet the
YZ250F’s power and ease of use
afforded me mistakes. My mind was
blown. After the race I exclaimed,
“Four-strokes are for me! Two-strokes
are lame!” How blind I was.
Granted, I had no choice.
The AMA, with their outlandish
displacement rule for four-strokes,
effectively quashed the demand for
two-strokes. Manufacturers saw the
writing on the wall. Honda ditched
their two-stroke effort, followed by
Kawasaki and then Suzuki. For 2014,
only Yamaha, Husqvarna and KTM
sell two-strokes in the United States.
They say that hindsight is 20/20.
At the time I didn’t much care that
two-stroke sales were evaporating
faster than rain in the Sahara. I was
your average four-stroke fan. New
technology was appealing. The
two-stroke guard could live in the
past. “Adapt or die” was my
philosophy, and the smokers were
living on borrowed time.
Then a strange thing happened.
The economy went belly-up. People
didn’t want to spend their hard-earned money on a new motorcycle.
They were struggling to keep food on
the table. Hobbies had to be put on
hold. When the economy finally started
to dig itself out of the trench it was
in for several years, public opinion
had changed. Riders burned by a
blown-up four-stroke were tentative
to reinvest. It’s the whole “Fool me
once, shame on you. Fool me twice,
shame on me” mentality. Instead,
people started buying two-strokes.
Used, abused or new, it didn’t matter.
My love for two-strokes was
reignited a few seasons ago. REM,
the weekly motocross race series at
Glen Helen, decided to create a 125
two-stroke Adult class. The prospect
of grown men banging bars on antiquated machinery was appealing to
me. It seemed like the super-sized
version of friends jamming around
on 50cc play bikes. I signed up and
We couldn’t imagine a better setting for
our Yamaha YZ125 project bike than an
oasis with palm trees and a waterfall
in the background. The all-black motif,
thanks to UFO Plastic, Dubya and DeCal
Works, added punch to our relic.