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Handicapping and the Four-Stroke

by JohnNicholas on 04/07/2010

Over the past few years the media seems to have coined new terms to apply to two-stroke motocross machines. When the two-stroke is mentioned words like vintage and nostalgic seem to pop up. Everywhere from message board users to Ralph Sheehan and Jeff Emig on Speed Channel seem to have gotten the “memo”.

How can this be?

Well, it appears to be a slight-of-hand marketing trick. A way to discredit the two-stroke further. An easy way to make it look like if you care about two-strokes, you live in the past. It’s a simple and effective way to bulldoze the two-stroke fan and to ignore reality.

So what can I do about it?

Simple, use the word “handicap” every-time you speak about four-strokes in motocross.

What exactly is a handicap and why is it used?

According to Wikipedia;

Handicapping, in sport and games, is the practice of assigning advantage through scoring compensation or other advantage given to different contestants to equalize the chances of winning. The word also applies to the various methods by which the advantage is calculated. In principle, a more experienced player is disadvantaged in order to make it possible for a less experienced player to participate in the game or sport whilst maintaining fairness. Handicapping also refers to the various methods by which spectators can predict and quantify the results of a sporting match. [1]

According to FIM and AMA rules, this is equal displacement!

Obviously the four-stroke required an enormous handicap in order to be competitive with the lighter, faster two-stroke motocross machines. The current FIM and AMA rules allow the 250cc four-stroke a DOUBLE displacement advantage over the 125cc two-stroke and the 450cc four-stroke has an 85% displacement advantage over the 250cc two-stroke.

Is it better or is it just bigger? Ummmm… it’s just bigger!!

When the rule was first introduced, it actually worked decently, the bigger four-strokes were almost equal to the two-strokes. But as racers, engineers and tuners learned to extract additional horsepower from the four-stroke and the rule changes continued to take away every advantage from the two-stroke, it turned motocross into a four-stroke only sport.

Yet every single time the fact of the displacement advantage is brought up to a four-stroke proponent, it is promptly ignored, sidestepped or whined about. Usually a litany of how “unfair” it would be for the machines to be of equal displacement soon follows.

As has been written on this site before, for over 72 years the rules of motocross have been displacement based. The engine type was decided by which machine was faster. In the earliest years of motocross the four-stroke ruled. As the technology advanced the two-stroke came to prominence and began to be the machine of choice. The change came about because technology advanced for the two-strokes and the four-stroke were unable to keep up.  A choice made from competition alone.

Unfortunately Pro Racing rules in AMA SX/MX events and FIM MX GP’s allow a huge handicap for the four-stroke, which makes it difficult if not impossible for two-stroke machines to compete. Two-stroke fans are told to stop living in the past and to get over it, the four-stroke is the best machine for motocross.

The only way to battle this absurd rule is to knock away at the supposed superiority of the four-stroke, by pointing out the blatantly obvious. Four-strokes require a HANDICAP to be competitive.

Just think of all the fun you can have by sharing this fact with your four-stroke brethren..

Do your four-stroke friends need these?

When they ask you, “Why are you riding that old technology two-stroke?” You can casually reply, “Why do you need such a huge handicap to compete? “

At every opportunity, mention that the four-strokes are handicapped. There is no need to do this in a mean or combative way, in fact it will work much better if you say it casually, in the course of conversation (read bench racing) It will become a splinter in the mind of the four-stroke “revolutionaries” and start to wear on them after a while.

Then instead of thinking they are on a superior, technologically advanced machines, they will discover that they are on old technology with pretty graphics. A case of the emperor’s new clothes. The only way they can compete is to “cheat”.

So just add the word “handicap” to your vocabulary. It’s simple and easy. But even better than that it’s fun to do!

Enjoy the races!


Special thanks to Chris2T for posting the idea of handicapping on the Two Stroke Motocross forum. To see the original forum post please click this link.,237.0.html