Motocross is a unique sport. It is one of the only motorsports in the world where a competitor can buy a bone stock machine off the showroom floor and with very little modification be competitive at the absolute highest levels. These bikes use the best of technology and resources with the ultimate goal of producing a light-weight, durable motorcycle with mind-blowing performance figures. The bikes available today have over forty years of technology imbibed into them. However, this was not the case when the sport was picking up pace. The bikes back then were upgraded street bikes sporting knobby tyres. They were often quite crude, very fragile and the racers and teams always had a question lingering on top of their minds with regards to the durability of the bike. Winning a race not only was being the fastest on the track but quite often, it would be making the bike last till the end.
The game-changing bike was first introduced by Honda in 1973 with the Honda CR250 Elsinore. It was the most serious, race-ready machine made at that time. It was light, fast and in typical Honda fashion, extremely well made. Honda was the first company to introduce the extensive use of lightweight aluminium components to bring the weight down to a minimum. The highlight of the Elsinore was that it required no modifications to go race and it was ready to hit the track right away.
To give perspective, here are the spec sheets of a 2015 250cc off-road bike from Honda is the CRF 250 L and that of the game changing ‘73 Elsinore…
1973 Honda CR250M Elsinore and 2015 Honda CRF 250L
Bore and Stroke:
76mm x 55mm
Fuel Tank Capacity
The factory bikes used are Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha, and KTM in the wildest of graphics and colours that the team and riders can come up with. While a factory bike costs $4,999 (For the Honda CRF 250L), the modifications costs are humongous and most of them aren’t street legal. By the time the race bikes roll out of the shop and to the races, they can be worth as much as $70,000.
A just about stock bike which is effectively setup for the weight, height, riding style, encounter, and riding terrain is going to be far better than one particular that is cranking out 50% much more horsepower than everybody else. Hence, modifications are a must have on supercross bikes.
The modifications involved are those to the suspension, the new fuel injection system, tyres, brakes, the exhaust system, ignition and most importantly, the engine. Most supercross bikes use a 4 or 5 speed manual gearbox as against the stock 6 speed gearbox that comes pre fit on the bikes.
Steve Mcqueen Riding the Elsinore in a fun video by Honda