With Sebastien Tortelli riding Honda’s prototype 450cc four-stroke motocrosser in Japan recently in front of journalists, and Honda posting a sound bite of the machine on its Internet site, one might forget that Suzuki and Kawasaki are hard at work at their own four-stroke machines.
Suzuki’s four-stroke motocrosser, rumored to be in the neighborhood of 460cc, could be released within the next six months. Kawasaki is also working hard on a “400 class” machine, possibly for off-road (as opposed to motocross use, at least at first). The displacement of the Kawasaki machine is not known, but, apparently, Kawasaki has been testing several different engine sizes.
With the wild success of Yamaha’s YZ250F (in the press, at least, the jury is still out on its racing success — but you can expect plenty), the off-road world seems to be quickly turning to four-strokes as the powerplant of choice. Strange, isn’t it, that just five years ago (before the dawn of Yamaha’s YZ400F), four-stroke machines were considered too inefficient and too heavy for serious competition, at least below the open class in Europe.