Honda’s long-awaited four stroke motocross bike exists. Even Honda has admitted this, and provided us with a teasing sound bite on their web site. No other details are forthcoming from the factory at this point. Here is the speculation gleaned from several internet sites and press reports, however.
The bike will be aluminum framed (similar in design to the CR250 frame), will displace 450cc (or 480cc?), will weigh less than 240 pounds with fluids (but without gas), and will have Mike LaRocco in the saddle next year.
Allegedly, Steve Lamson was testing the bike in Southern California until he signed with Husqvarna for next year. Looking for a top-notch rider to race the bike in selected AMA Supercross and AMA National competition next year, Honda reportedly has its eyes trained on Mike LaRocco.
Honda is going to make some sort of announcement in Las Vegas this weekend in conjunction with the U.S. Open supercross race. Will it be an announcement regarding the four-stroke motocrosser, or simply an announcement regarding a new affiliation with former World and AMA champion Jean-Michel Bayle (who is reportedly in Las Vegas for the weekend festivities)?
Perhaps a more interesting issue (and a longer term issue) has to do with the displacement chosen by Honda for the bike. Apparently, Honda raised the displacement of its prototype in response to Yamaha’s bumping the YZ400 to 426cc. Just around the corner, however, was Yamaha’s introduction of the YZ250F four-stroke — and a new interest in small displacement four-stroke motocross bikes.
Even former National champion Brock Glover was quoted recently as favoring the KTM 400 four-stroke motocrosser over the KTM 520 — simply because the power is more manageable and the machine handles more nimbly (due to the lower displacement and consequent, smaller gyroscopic forces in the engine). Mere mortals (those of us who are not former National champions) are looking at the 250 four-stroke as perhaps the next big thing in amateur and vet-class racing. Take a look at my interview of Doug Dubach (the principal test rider of the YZ250F), where he claims the bike makes enough power to be competitive in the 250 class, yet handles better than a 125cc two-stroke.