When did the 500s lose top billing ?

Discussion in 'General & Off-Topic Discussions' started by skiz, Mar 7, 2012.



  1. skiz

    skiz Rookie DRN Member

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    Im interested in understanding what drove the focus from the 500cc to the 250cc + when. . I know the quick easy answer is probably technology like lite frames + advanced suspension made the liter bike quicker than the more powerful bike. . But Im interested in understanding how it played out

    The FIM started the 500MxGPs in 57 but no 250MxGP until 62, so the focus then was the 500s. . Roger DeCoster won his championships in the 500 class from 71 to 76. . The 500cc Carlsbad GP was the "most-watched motorcycle race in the country on ABC's Wide World of Sports until 1986" and the movie "Carlsbad USGP: 1980 -- One Day of Magic" immortalizes Marty Moates win even tho Marty Tripes had already won the 250cc USGP in 1978. . So the focus then was still on the 500s.

    But at some point the focus changed. . 93 was the last year AMA raced 500s. . The FIM downgraded their 500 class to a MX3 budget support class in 2003

    So somewhere between 1980 + 1993 the focus shifted from 500s to 250s. . By the time the 450 4strokes came in 97, the 250 class was already considered the top class

    What happened between 80 + 93 ? . What drove the focus to change ? . And was there a point or year when the top racers left the 500s for the 250s ? . Was there one specific technology development that drove the switch ?


  2. skiz

    skiz Rookie DRN Member

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    I just read this

    on this link
    http://www.fim-live.com/en/sport/vi...-of-individual-motocross-world-championships/

    "Eighties: the turning point.....

    End 1983, an earthquake shook the world of Motocross: Suzuki announced its withdrawal from the 500cc and the other companies reduced their budget.....

    But at the beginning of the 90s the 500cc class was declining more and more. The manufacturers concentrated their (reduced) investments in the 250cc class (except maybe the Europeans). And the 250cc became the top class: all the first riders in the classification were riders supported by the factories."

    Does anybody know know what drove Suzukis decision + why were all of the other manufacturers eager to follow ?
  3. skiz

    skiz Rookie DRN Member

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    One more thing

    AMA combined the Nationals schedule in 86 so that all the top riders could ride both 500 + 250 so it appears there was some pressure to get all of the top talent racing side by side.

    So it goes from DeCoster winning FIM on Suzuki in 76 (+TransAMA in 77). . The 500s are definitely top billing for Marty Moates in 80. . But then Suzuki pulls out of 500s in 83. . AMA combines schedules in 86. . AMA pulls the plug on 500s in 93

    Were the 500s not producing faster track times in the 80s ?
  4. Ol'89r

    Ol'89r Super Power AssClown

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    IMUO. In my unedumacated opinion, it's all about the lap times. As technology made the 250's faster, lighter and easier to ride the lap times got better with the smaller bikes. The 500's were a handful to ride. They wore you out compared to a 250. The tracks also got smaller and tighter. The big open Euro tracks with deep cushion like Decoster rode were perfect for the 500's but the smaller tracks were more suited for the smaller bikes. You can see this with supercross where the 450's use about 1/2 throttle to get around the track and over the jumps while the 250's are pinned most of the way around the track. Also, the addition of power valves in the 80's made all the difference in the world as to how the 250's performed and made them much easier to ride.

    You can have the fastest, most powerful bike on the track but, if you can't get all of that power to the ground, it doesn't do you much good.
  5. skiz

    skiz Rookie DRN Member

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    I wasnt paying too much attention at the time. . The only thing that caught my attention, at the time, was that Yamaha came out with the YZ490 and I remember being surprised that it was aircooled.

    My older brother had his yz250 + I was looking at a kx250 or a kx500. . I got advice that if I wasnt going to do vertical hillclimbing or go 80+ down any fire roads then I should get the kx250 (which I did). . That was sometime around 83 or so

    Wiki says the YZ490 went from 1982-90 + that the yz125 was watercooled in 1981 (doesnt say when the yz250 was first watercooled). . So the newest technology of 1981 was put on the 125 but was skipped in 1982 for the yz490

    It seems that even as Marty Moates was being cheered for his 500USGP win, the factories were already making plans to kill their technology focus on the 500s. . They obviously all kept the door open in case they later determined it was a bad move. . But when Suzuki got out of the 500 market in 83 + Yamaha didnt update the yz490, that was the beginning of the end.

    At this link
    http://motocrossactionmag.com/Main/News/CLASSIC-MOTOCROSS-IRON-1985-YAMAHA-YZ490-7201.aspx

    Motocross Action says the yz490 "It was consider(ed) one of the worst factory race bikes ever" even tho Broc Glover was able to win on it in the 1985 AMA500

    "many experts consider one of the worst factory race machines ever built is testament to his talent"

    But heres a weird twist in the tale:

    On the list of top 3 pts for FIM 500Mx I see Yamahas showing up in the last 5 years of 500Mx. . I dont understand what thats all about. . I see Peter Johansson in 98. . I see Andrea Bartolini in 99. . I see Marnicq Bervoets in 00 + 01. . And I see Stefan Everts in 01 + 02
  6. skiz

    skiz Rookie DRN Member

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    I think youve got something here

    Once Americans started beating the Europeans on the Europeans own terms (Bob Hannah 1978 TransAMA, Marty Tripes 1978 US250GP, Kent Howerton 1980 US250GP, Marty Moates 1980 US500GP, Chuck Sun 1981 US500GP, Danny Chandler 1982 US500GP, Brad Lackey 1982 500GP series, Danny LaPorte 1982 250GP series, MxdesNations 1981 all the way to 1993), then the AMA + the Japanese manufacturers decided to be the pace setters + do it their way. . The AMA + the American public wanted to see the bikes in the air more often, an approach that was totally successful in supercross

    We redefined motorcross and the bikes that fit our new style were the 250s that were lighter + yet more powerful than the old technology

    In 1997 the AMA pushed ahead with its next plan which was to bring in the 4strokes. . The FIM finally followed in 2003. . I know the 4stroke/2stroke debate is fierce + Im not saying the AMA was either rite or wrong. . Im just saying that America + Japan have been leading most everything about motocross since about 1980.

    The FIM labels all of their series as "World" Championships but thats only actually true for road racing. . The true top Championships for motocross are found in the US
  7. Bonehead

    Bonehead Lifetime Sponsor

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    In my opinion it was all about units sold in the US market mainly from the big four of Japan. The factorys stoped supporting the 500 budgets and it didn't make very good racing. You only had a few riders that could race one in stock form let alone a factory monster. So that leeds to the AMA and the big four saying lets just do the 125 250 class and drop all the 500s boom win win the factories only have to budget for 2 classes at the races.Then Honda sells the 500 for the next 15 years with no change other than plastics.Honda got the investment from that tooling x 100.

    Units sold in a down turning economy 85-90 Stop spending money on units that don't sell. End of the 500
  8. wardy

    wardy 2005 Lori Nyland Award Winner

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    LOLOLOLOL and they replace the 250's today with what/ oh ya thats right, 450 open class machines that are heavier then any of those old 500's.

    carry on.
  9. Vic

    Vic ***** freak.

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    A lot easier to ride, though.
  10. wardy

    wardy 2005 Lori Nyland Award Winner

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    i have rode both.

    they are open class bikes. not '250's
  11. Vic

    Vic ***** freak.

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    no doubt
  12. Bonehead

    Bonehead Lifetime Sponsor

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    Wardy I'm with ya Witch leads me to want to say Run the 450's out doors 250's suppercross develop the 150 for the lights OR JUST BRING THE 125 AND 250 TWO STROKES BACK
  13. AJ Waggoner

    AJ Waggoner Crash Test Dummy

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    Whoa!!! :)
    Don't forget that Bartolini,Bervoets and Everts were on YZ400/426/450 4 strokes,
    not a 500 open class 2 stroke, as was being discussed.

    Despite those guys amazing talents on a motorcycle, I have some serious doubts at their ability to pull off championships those years,if aboard the YZ490 2 stroke ;)
    So I don't think those titles are relevant to the demise of the 2 stroke open class.


    Suzuki dropped the model,
    because they dint sell many.
    Yamaha was pretty much was the same , and heavily petitioned the AMA to drop the 500 class.

    Ironically they came back to the AMA in 97? 98? to petition for a lift of the
    *production rule* so they could bring on the YZ400 4 stroke with Doug Henry on it, in the 250 class (with the allowed displacement advantage)


    I'm not blaming Yamaha for the demise of the 2 stroke open class!
    I'm sure overall sales were down on the model, so Suzuki and Yamaha suffered first,
    since the Honda and Kawasaki offerings in that line up were doing better sales wise.
    (but likely still decreasing)
    It is a bit telling that Honda kept making the bike until 2001 and a bit longer in other markets, and that Kawasaki did until 2004.

    Its also more than a bit ironic that the displacement allowences,and advancemsts in technology, have morphed the old traditional 125 and 250 classes to the point you have now a 250 and open class, with basically the samne or higher hp than before, and
    actually lost the 125 class.

    The open class dint go away really in the long run? it morphed through an internship in the 250 class , to being 4 stroke open class, (same for the 250F's in the 125 class) ?

    If that makes any sense

    lol
  14. skiz

    skiz Rookie DRN Member

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    You might agree with what happened with 4strokes in 97 or not agree but the one thing thats for sure is that the AMA + the Japanese manufacturers moved right in and took control of Mx from the FIM. . They ended the AMA 500 class after the 93 season + let bigger 4strokes beat up on smaller 2strokes from 97 onward.

    The FIM tried to pretend that they didnt notice or care, as if their European "World" Championship was all that mattered (schedule a couple rounds outside of Europe + you can call it "World" Championship, right ?). . But they finally gave in to the obvious in 2003. . MX1, 2, + 3 was a surrender flag. . By some stroke of stupidity, they apparently thought that if they copied the AMAs 4stroke move, they could then get back in the drivers seat. . They even made a failed power play on trying to take control of supercross + when that failed they tried to save face by slapping a FIM "World" Championship label on the series + run away

    Heres the story:
    http://motocross.transworld.net/100...worth-answers-questions-about-ama-supercross/

    Notice this paragraph:
    "Frankly, we have concerns about the competence of the FIM to manage a world-level supercross series. The FIM has established a contract with Dorna Offroad to handle its motocross and supercross events, but as I’ve mentioned, that combination has failed completely to create a competitive supercross series. And its grand prix motocross championship has never been in a weaker state."

    You can get a better item of the scope of whats going on here:
    http://motocrossactionmag.com/Main/News/WHATS-WRONG-WITH-THE-GPS-THE-2010-STORY-THAT-GIUSE-5553.aspx
    "In our humble opinion, GP motocross, as we know it today, is a dictatorship that is ruled with an iron fist."



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