SUPERCROSS HISTORY: THE BIKE THAT TIME FORGOT

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SUPERCROSS HISTORY: THE BIKE THAT TIME FORGOT

On Jul 25, 2018
Last updated Jul 25, 2018

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This hand-built KTM 540SX was the first four-stroke to make a Supercross main.

Back in 1996, the rules of professional motocross changed so dramatically that the sport would never be the same. Under the guise of promoting four-stroke development, the AMA rewrote the “works bike” section of their rule book—which back in 1985 had banned factory works machinery from AMA races. However, to help the lowly four-stroke compete against two-strokes the AMA introduced the “Four-Stroke Exemption” rule. It allowed every manufacturer the right to race full works bikes, with two stipulations: (1) It had to be a four-stroke. (2) They could only race one bike for one season.

Yamaha was the manufacturer that lobbied for the rule change at the AMA Advisoy Board late in 1996 and it was assumed that Yamaha would be the first of the Big Five to build a works four-stroke and race it. But Yamaha wasn’t first, while Doug Henry waited for the prototype YZ400 four-stroke to be finished, KTM’s Lance Smail was the darling of the Supercross crowds on his Tom Moen-built KTM 540SX works…


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