How the 125 can save our sport

The current generation’s enjoyment for the sport of off-road motorcycles is fading; the sport is in trouble. The modern day motorcycle family consists of the financially stressed parents with a maxed out second mortgage, topping out their credit cards so they can buy their home-schooled child another seven thousand dollar 250cc four stroke in the increasingly ridiculous hope that he’ll one day make it big and all that stress and sacrifice will be worth it. This high-tension situation is all too common and has lead to many an argument, and even injury, from parents pushing their kids too hard to be the next Villopoto, Stewart or Dungey. Further adding to the bonfire is new, more complicated (and less reliable) technology, pushing prices higher in an era where incomes continueto shrink. All of this leadsa family to experience motocross less as a bonding hobby andmore like an ultimatum: go fast or we sell the bikes and possibly the house as well. Is this really the direction in which we want our sport to continue? After all it wasn't that long ago that tracks across the United States were filled the smell of premix and the echoes of 125cctwo stroke motors being revved to that sweet spot around12,000rpm. The bikes were cheaper, lighter, muchless complicated and arguably more fun. Gates were full of teenage boys itching to showcase their talents and prove their skills in the mastery of shifting, clutching and cut and thrust 125cc warfare. In hindsight it was the quintessential American Motocross experience.
If the above loss wasn't hard enough to reconcile consider thatvery few parents are willing to let their 14 year old son do much more than drain the oil out of their 250 four stroke today. In contrast, given the sheer simplicity of the 125,fathers and sons could share in the experience of working on the bike, bonding them not only to each other but also to the bike itself. Kids nowadays look at their motorcycle as a tool; something they abuse on the track and their dad washes off and re-preps for the next round. Not so with the 125. With the 125 this same kid can change his top end, get his hands dirty and improve his own machine. He now has a vested interest in his dirt bike and feels closer to it; this translates to his enjoyment on the track. It’s the same reason the guy who personallyrestores or improveshis car has such a passion for it: he feels directly connected to its performance. This distills passion and the unbreakable bond so many Vets today still share with the sport. The youth of today are missing this and it's heartbreaking.
When you think about riding a 125cc two stroke around your favorite track, it’s hard not to smile.It’s a sensationofflying as you’re wound out, using as much momentum as possible on a bike you can flick around with ease. The average rider on the modern day 450 can’t even come close to riding the bike to its potential, but the same person on a 125 can feel like Carmichael as he’s all over the clutch, pushing for every inch of potential speed he can muster; it makes him feel like a hero. It’s also fair to say that a 125 is a much safer transition for a child just coming off of mini’s. Most kids can't touchthe ground when they move up and their first bike is now not only 20 pounds heavier than its two stroke counter part, but also has the added inertia of the engine and, as is often the case, a pumped up motor with much more power than necessary. It’s no wonder more kids are getting hurt riding dirt bikes than before all in the hopes of attaining a future that only one tenth of one percent of the population will experience: succeeding as a professional racer. They are missing what truly is more important: the passion for doing something you love. It'stime to rethink the formula.
Let’s face it, dirt bikes are onlygetting more expensive to enjoyand,at a time when cut backs and lay offs are such common terms, the future of our sport is looking pretty bleak. Two strokes have been the cornerstone of our sport for nearly half a century and fueled an exponential growth in motocross and off road that, at the time, was being killed by the complicated and unreliable four stroke dinosaurs. Arguably if not for the bending of the rules to allow bigger four stroke motors to compete alongside two strokes, we might not be stuck in the situation we find the sport. It’s time to get back to basics and bring the fun (and affordability) back into racing motorcycles. It’s time to bring back the 125 two stroke.