The 1998 Yamaha YZ400 four-stroke.

Dear MXA,
I’m from England, where the things MXA says are very controversial (no one over here has ever forgiven Jody for calling Dave Thorpe the “World’s Fastest Novice”). That said, on British chat rooms they say that Jody’s opinion of the first Yamaha YZ400 four-stroke is what drove the two-stroke out of the market place. Thus, they think that Jody’s current defense of the two-stroke rings hollow since he always wrote great things about four-strokes. He may be pro-two-stroke now, but he was pro-four-stroke then. What does he say in his defense?

jodymaicosaddlebackThis is Jody at Saddleback Park in 1981. The Maico 490 is one of the best race machines ever made.

MXA tests motorcycles — that is our primary focus. And when we test a bike that performs very well, we say so. So, MXA wrote good reviews on the original 1998 Yamaha YZ400 four-stroke. Was it our intent to write good four-stroke tests to kill the two-stroke? Don’t be silly. No, we wrote them for the simple fact that the YZ400 and some of the four-strokes that followed it were great all-around machines and they were offered for sale. We also wrote many bad test reviews of two-and four-strokes that stunk.

JWlonghairJody’s two-stroke roots go back to the 1960s when bikes were air-cooled, hair was long, silencers were small and a race bikes were stripped down to their bare essence.

If your job is to test motorcycles, you test them. You don’t get to pick and choose what you are assigned to evaluate. You climb on board and do your job to the best of your ability. It’s cynical to think that any MXA test rider would have written a negative test report on a four-stroke, just because he favored two-strokes. Or vice versa. We work for motorcycle racers, buyers and fans. It is our job to give them the clearest assessment of what their hard-eared cash will buy.

SUICIDE11Sailing a Honda CR250 past Suicide Mountain.

Since this seems to be about whether Jody’s long standing defense of the two-stroke, and the points he made in his “Two-Stroke Manifesto,” have been tarnished because he wrote accurate test reports on four-strokes. That is foolish. It should also be noted that unlike the majority of the motorcycle media, MXA has never stopped testing two-strokes (and there were years when MXA was the only magazine to request two-stroke motocross test bikes from manufacturers).

JW100sThe good old days of two-strokes. This is the 100 Pro class at Saddleback Park — Chris Parker (514), Mark Lawrence (11D), Jody Weisel (front number plate flapping) and Randy Skinner sweep down the road turn. Yes, that is a Jeff Ward Racing Products-framed XR75 with a sleeved-down CR125 engine in it leading a Yamaha YZ100, Suzuki RM100 and another sleeved-down Honda CR125 (only in a full-size frame). These bikes were cheap to buy, simple to maintain and a blast to race.

Jody has remained true to his personal belief that our sport was damaged by expensive, heavy and complicated machinery that couldn’t be fixed at home in the garage (with simple tools) and could only produce competitive power if given almost double the displacement. There is no denying that four-strokes raised the cost and complexity of motorcycle ownership at a time when the economies of the world were in free-fall. Thus, we now have a motocross market that is 75 percent smaller than it was 10 years ago. Could the two-stroke have stopped this from happening? Only if you believe that less expensive products, that do the same job, as well or better than expensive products, are a better buy.

Unfortunately, the sport can’t close the barn door after the horse has bolted. The manufacturers are so heavily invested in four-strokes that they can’t turn back — especially in this tough market. However, individuals can.

JODY'SKTM250This is Jody’s current KTM 250SX two-stroke, but he rarely gets to race it because he is required to test whatever is assigned to be raced.



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