Technology or Shizbang Gizmos

Frank Rant

Have you noticed how complicated it is to work on your own bike these days.  Has our beloved sport of motocross gone the way of the automobile?  Back in my youth, you could work on your own car or truck and not worry that any small mistake you made was going to cost you thousands of dollars.  Today, it seems like you need a computer with all of the specialized software and plug-ins, and a thousand dollars worth of specialty tools to change the windshield wipers, and remember it will probably void your warranty if you do.  Now I don’t claim to be a great mechanic, but I do okay.  In my youth, I could split the cases, replace  broken gears on my CZ, and various Husky’s I owned.  I could even revalve and rebuild my own shocks.  Replacing top ends, and even bottom ends was not a problem.  Granted there were always a few shims, washers, and doo dads left over, but it always worked if not the first time the second or third for sure.  As the bikes have evolved from 2 to 4 strokes, the cost of maintaining them has doubled, tripled, and quadrupled.  Quadrupled, multiplied by 4, seems about right, 2 versus 4.  I cannot tell you how many riders have blown up their 4 stroke motor and simply parted the entire bike out.  In all my years of racing a 2 stroke I only did that once.  At the old Speedway 117, a night race, in practice, flat out going through the first turn sweeper in practice, I heard a loud clunk.  It sounded like you threw a handful of lugnuts into a metal bucket.  The bike stopped going forward really fast.  When I looked down to find the source of the noise I noticed the connecting rod was sitting outside the cases, the cylinder and cases had a gaping hole in the front of them, and you could touch the crank with all five fingers of your hand.  The motor ended up in a cardboard box that I would show to my amazed friends.  The bike never raced again.  Unfortunately that seems to be an all too common occurrence since bringing out the current new wave of 4 bangers.  Personally I have not had a single failure in any of my four strokes, (knock on wood) and I have to admit that I love racing them.  But, I have seen so many blow up it makes me think that it will be inevitable.  The problem arises not in that a race motor will expire, but how much cash and time is involved to repair that race motor.  Motocross has always been one of the most affordable motorsports you can be involved in.  Four strokes have changed that equation, granted it is still cheaper than going road racing, supermotoing, or god forbid, car racing.  If you are still racing a 2 stroke, I applaud you.  You are way smarter than most of us.  You can replace a top end in less time than it takes most of us 4 bangers to lube the hot start cable.  And at less cost than my oil and oil filter bill for 6 months.  The first time I replaced the throttle cables on my first 450 I nearly had a stroke.  What the hell are they thinking?   If they make it that hard to replace something as basic as a cable, excuse me “cables”, how can they expect the average joe racer to work on a four stroke.  Okay, it just hit me, now I see the light, just like it says in my trucks owners manual, Should warning light remain on, immediately bring the vehicle back to your dealer for service.  Like I said, is our beloved sport going the way of the automobile business?  And by the way, it doesn’t look like making the autos so difficult to work on saved the auto industry from inevitable disaster.  So now we have electronic fuel injection, with electric fuel pumps, to go along with our mapped ignitions, along with all the other shizbang gizmos.  And are the vast majority of us really going any faster with all the technology?  By the way that is the sound a four stroke makes if you don’t change your oil frequently, shizbang.