Kawasaki Motorcycle test
Motocross used to be easily understandable to the layman (as well as
hardcore racers). The classes were called 125, 250 and 500—although the
500 class was also euphemistically called the Open class. Then, every
sanctioning body got into the naming-rights game; they tried to
trademark words like Supercross, Arenacross, Supermoto, MotoGP, MXGP and
any other alphabet combination that they could make a buck off of. It
didn’t take long for the fascination with proprietary names to extend to
the class names. Suddenly, new class names sprang up like weeds—and
typically the displacement of the bike was not a consideration in the
The pertinent question is whether or not all of this class branding
helps the sport, hurts the sport or is just grandstanding by sanctioning
bodies. You be the judge.
THE GENESIS: For years, the names were fixed to the displacement of the
bikes in the class. It made sense, and virtually everyone understood
it—at least they did if they owned a 125cc, 250cc or 500cc motocross
bike. Even if they didn’t know what the numbers stood for, it could be
explained to them by saying, “That is the size of the engine.”
REWRITE: In 2001, after Yamaha began racing the YZ250F four-stroke in
the 125 class (under a rule change that allowed four-strokes to have
more displacement than two-strokes), the waters started to get muddy.
Although still called the 125 class, the name became confusing when by
2006 there were no 125cc two-strokes racing in the 125 class. The quick
and easy fix was to call it the 250F class (with the “F” signifying
four-stroke), so as not to confuse it with the premier 250cc two-stroke
class that had allowed 450cc four-strokes in since 1997. Eventually, the
two-strokes were driven out of both classes. You would think common
sense would dictate that the new class names would be the 250 and 450
classes (without the F)—not so.
MISHMASH: In an effort to own the class names for business reasons, the
names were changed from the 250 class to the Supercross Lites and
Motocross Lites classes, while the 450 classes became the Supercross and
Motocross classes. Europe was also playing the naming game, and they
changed the 250 class to the MX2 class and the 450 class to MX1.
COMMON SENSE: The potpourri of names is confusing, and making it more confusing is that every country has its own system. In the USA, the old 250 class became the 450 class for the AMA Nationals and the Supercross class in Supercross. Meanwhile, in Australia, the 450 class was known as the Open Pro class, while the Europeans called it MX1.
AGREEMENT: It can’t be good for the sport to have different names delineating what kind of bikes are on the track. Logic would say that the AMA Nationals are on the right path with their simple cubic-centimeter class names (250 and 450), while the Supercross promoters are as far off-base as possible with their confusing Supercross Lites and Supercross designations. Under their
system, the Wimbledon Men’s winner would be called the Wimbledon Tennis Tennis Champion—because, in essence, the old AMA 450 Supercross Champion is now the AMA Supercross Supercross Champion—and the AMA 125 West Supercross Champion is now the AMA Supercross Lites Western Region Supercross Champion. Somewhere between the AMA National’s logic and the Supercross series’ insanity lies the FIM. Their MX1 and MX2 nomenclature is based on automobile racing designations, like F1, F2 and F3. There is still the need to explain what the names mean to the general public. But the same is true for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup, Nationwide, Camping World and K&N series names, not to mention Daytona Prototypes, GTP, Group C and GT in sports car racing.
MISHMASH: We applaud the AMA National Championship promoters for returning to the 250 and 450 class names, but we are certain that the FIM and Supercross promoters will never do the same thing. Still, it would be nice to have a worldwide consensus on what we are talking about—even if it’s a stupid consensus.