The History of Motocross

Motocross is, in fact, a product of trials bike riding. However, motocross has almost certainly overtaken trials in terms of worldwide popularity, and has gone on to develop a number of distinct differences.

Motocross racing became known as ‘scrambles’ in the early 1900s. Off-road bikes were being modified in order to offer the best capabilities when racing across the particularly rough terrain where such races were usually help. Features such as the swinging fork rear suspensions were incorporated on these vehicles long before they were in common use. Instead, these bikes were modified almost exclusively for use within the motocross arena, giving the sport its own unique image.

BSA became the largest manufacturer of bikes used within motocross, and by 1952 the FIM, motorcyclist’s international governing body, were presiding over a number of races and tournaments. Although motocross had achieved much popularity throughout Europe, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the sport was introduced to the United States. The first stadium motocross event was held in America in 1972, at the Los Angeles Coliseum, although it was European riders who continued to dominate the sport in general.

By this time, Japanese companies had become the main manufacturers of motocross vehicles, although environmental laws in the US placed certain restrictions on the technology which was used.

Nowadays, motocross events are frequently held in large indoor arenas and outdoor courses all over the world. There are also a number of sub-disciplines which have developed, such as supercross, supermoto and freestyle motocross. Although bike technology has also come further than ever, there has been a certain resurgence in vintage motocross racing, where competitors use vehicles which pre-date 1975.

Why Does My Dirt Bike Keep Fouling Spark Plugs?

Sick of having to replace the spark plug on your dirt bike almost every ride? Chances are, it’s a fairly easy fix. But there can be several variables to the equation. Incorrect jetting is the number one cause of plug fouling, but we’ll get a little deeper into what the most common causes could be and how you can fix them before spending a ton of cash on spark plugs.

No Air = No Combustion

Dirty Air Filter

First thing to do if your spark plug has been fouled is to check the air filter. If it’s really dirty, that makes it difficult for air to get through to the engine, causing a rich condition. Either clean it thoroughly with some Air Filter Cleaner, or buy a new filter. Before you put it back in the air-box, treat with some air filter oil or spray. BE CAREFUL, though, because adding too much oil can also clog up the filter, resulting in another fouled plug.

What Mixture Are You Smoking?

(For 2-Strokes) While the gas/oil ratio doesn’t equate to what the jetting is, you can still foul plugs, or worse, if the mixture is wrong. Depending on your bike, it’s best to look at your owner’s manual for the correct ratio. For most 2-stroke motocross bikes, a ratio is 32:1 or 40:1, gas being 32 or 40, and oil being 1. For those that don’t it, it means that for every 128 ounces (one gallon) of gas, you add 4 ounces of 2-stroke oil for a 32:1 ration, or just over 3 ounces for a 40:1 ratio.

If you have too much oil in the mixture (such as 12:1), then you will probably end up fouling the plug because it is more difficult to burn that much oil. Don’t try to cut corners with the oil though, because it’s very important for your dirt bike’s engine. 2-stokes need the oil for lubrication on the cylinder walls, so if you don’t have enough (or any for that matter) then the cylinder walls will run dry, causing it to overheat and seize the engine very quickly. So it’s very important that you put in the right mixture pre-mix to your 2-stroke gas tank.

Also, 2-strokes have reeds that air and fuel go through into the cylinder, so if they are cracked or broken the bike will not run right. This could cause the plug to foul, so before you go out and buy anything expensive, make sure the reeds are still good.

Too Rich

Turn Up The Heat!

While this usually isn’t the main problem, it could be that your spark plug isn’t burning hot enough. Having a hotter spark will ignite the fuel stronger, leaving less residual gas/oil in the cylinder that could cause the plug to foul. This isn’t the best choice, but I’d say it’s safe to go one plug hotter than stock. Spark plug manufacturers aren’t always the same, so make sure you find out how they rate them.

4-Strokes Foul Plugs Too…

Don’t be fooled into thinking that only 2-strokes foul plugs. 4-Strokes, although it is not as common, do foul plugs. Like I mentioned before, improper jetting is the main reason why dirt bikes foul spark plugs. Almost every motocross bike comes rich from the factory (especially Honda 2-Strokes when they were being made). It’s usually a pretty simple fix, but many riders are too lazy and would rather continue buying plugs instead of spending a few bucks a jets.

Can 4-Strokes Foul Plugs?

If you know for sure it’s a jetting issue that’s causing the fouling (you’ll know this by looking at the plug, which I’ll cover on how to read one in a future article), then the first thing you should do is go down a size or too on the main jet. Your goal is to get a crisp throttle response at any rpm. If you ride in the lower rpm range often, then you’ll want to go down on the pilot jet and lean out the clip position (learn the Basics of Jetting Here). By leaning out your bike, your bike will not foul plugs as easily, allowing you to ride all day long.

You Can Always Just Ride Harder

If you want to go the easy route (well not really!), just ride the bike harder. Spark plugs usually foul at low RPM’s, so if you’re wringing your bike out you shouldn’t have as much of a problem!

IF NOTHING ELSE WORKS!!!

If you’ve tried all of the above, then there’s a chance your dirt bike will need an engine rebuild. A worn out piston can cause a rich condition, which results in the plug fouling. So if the top-end hasn’t been rebuilt for a while, you’ll want to do that. Not only can this solve your plug/jetting issues, but it may prevent a major engine failure in the near future because of worn out parts.

Good luck, and keep that bike running strong!

-Tom Stark

Wikipedia: Revolutions per minute is a measure of the frequency of a rotation.

FMF SST Pipe Review

Looking for some bolt-on power for your two-stroke? I tested the FMF Gold Series SST Pipe on a 2003 Yamaha yz125 and it is a great pipe for riders who want smooth and more power. The power-band got a healthy increase of horsepower and was broadened; resulting in less of a ‘hit’. The bottom-end power was close to the same as stock with the SST, and the mid-range was slightly better than stock. This FMF pipe makes the bike easier to ride because it’s not as snappy, and the throttle response was spot on and hit right off of idle. The FMF SST pipe also gave my bike a lot more over-rev compared to stock. That was probably the biggest change I felt because the power just dropped at really high RPM with the stock pipe, but the FMF SST pipe kept the bike pulling for much longer. I really liked that because I ride in the high RPM range.

Overall it’s a really good horsepower addition and makes it easier to ride if you stay in the mid-range and and top-end because that’s where there is more power, plus the over-rev adds additional gains that can greatly help faster riders. But for beginners or riders who like to lug the bike around more, it’s better to stay with a stock pipe or an FMF Fatty. The FMF SST is made of high-quality Steel which is stronger and more durable than the stock exhaust pipe. The SST is also chrome plated, which gives it a great shiny look that lasts long. Thanks for reading this, and I will have more reviews to come!

Buy My FMF SST Exhaust

-Tom Stark

P.S. Check out my other review for the FMF Fatty Pipe if you haven’t already

’03 Yamaha YZ125 With FMF SST Pipe

Ultimate MX Hauler – No More Ramp or Straps – Review

Tired of cheap Chinese junk? Now you can haul your dirt bike on your hitch in a different, yet easier way. The Ultimate MX Hauler is the latest and greatest in technology when it comes to hauling your bike to the track or trails. There are no required straps or ramps; it is easy enough for any one person to load a dirt bike on it.

No More Rails Flopping Around

Unlike other motorcycle/dirt bike carriers, the Ultimate MX hauler does not have a rail that the wheels roll up onto. Instead, you roll the bike up to it so the bike is sitting above the platform. For most vehicle hitches you won’t have to do any kind of lifting or pushing to get the bike up on the carrier, which is why you can go to the motocross track without needing any help.

Who Needs Tie Straps?

That’s right, the only reason why you’d ever need a strap is for holding your handlebars to hold them in the same position. The ultimate motocross hitch hauler uses a strong metal platform that your bike’s frame rests on, and holds it on with a hooked shaft retainer that goes through the foot-pegs. It’s threaded on the bottom side so you can clamp it down tight with wing or locking nuts.

Ultimate MX Hauler

You Get What You Pay For

What are you expecting when you buy cheap Chinese stuff? Junk. Yes, 99% of their products are sub-par. Thankfully, this Motocross bike hitch carrier is made in the U.S.A. Yes, it does cost a little more, but its build quality and innovative technology is worth it. Like I mentioned above, you don’t need straps to hold your dirt bike down, and there’s no risk of tipping it over when loading it up since you don’t need a long and un-sturdy ramp.

Since it was made in the U.S., the engineers took the time to build it right. Dual-diagonal bracing and a hitch stabilizing pin give it the strength needed to stay sturdy on your vehicle’s hitch. There’s two polyurethane plates riveted onto the carrier, protecting it and your bike’s frame from getting scratched up.

Made In The U.S.A

That in itself means a lot. Like I said before, you never know what you’ll get when you buy Chinese because they usually have lower tolerances/quality on their products. The Ultimate MX dirt bike hauler has laser cut arms and deck to give it a great fit every time. It has a strong powder coated finish, and the jacking tube is 18 inches long for to give you the extra leverage to easily raise your dirt bike up. It’s also powder coated and has its own carrier built-in to the hauler.

Other Specs

The hitch receiver tube is 2 by 2 inches and is made of 1/4 inch steel for strength and durability. It has adjustable locking holes, allowing you to lock it at the desired height. It has a 375 pound carrying capacity, so it will hold a full-size dirt bike. Your bike’s suspension is ‘saved’ due to the fact that there is no load on it when traveling. Have a gas can? No problem; there’s an optional rack for it so you can keep the fumes out of your vehicle (Most other motorcycle carriers don’t have a spot for a gas can). And last, but not least, it’s Made in the U.S.A.

Why Should I Buy The Ultimate Motocross Bike Hauler?

  • You can use it all by yourself
  • It puts less strain on your vehicle because the bike is closer to the hitch
  • You can use it as a convenient work-stand as well
  • Easy to handle and store
  • Allows you to haul your dirt bike with most vehicles
  • No tie-downs (just a retainer strap to hold your front wheel)
  • Parking and backing up is much easier than with a trailer
  • Includes an optional gas can rack

Negatives?

With so many positives, there’s got to be some setbacks, right? Cost is probably the biggest factor here. But like I said before, you often get what you pay for, and this is the case when looking to buy a dirt bike carrier. It costs more than most other hitch carriers, but the features and build quality make up for it; just ask the consumers. A problem that some people may have with the Ultimate MX hauler is the ground clearance if they have a low car or a steep driveway (this is the case for any motorcycle carrier). Just be careful when going over abrupt road changes so the carrier doesn’t scrape if you are driving a car or lowered vehicle. Another downside is that it doesn’t allow you to drop the tail-gate on most trucks/SUV’s when loaded up. You can see out the back window, but the license plate is obscured, and the tail-lights are harder to see. You may want to check with your state to see if you need extensions/add-ons for them.

What Do The Buyers Have To Say About It?

  • I prefer this to the ramp-type haulers that require tie-straps
  • It is a well designed hauler and worth the money
  • This thing is totally stable going down the road
  • Good compromise between a pickup truck and a trailer

Buy My Ultimate MX Hauler Here

-Tom Stark

 

What To Look For When Buying A Helmet Cam

Helmet Cams have become very popular in the extreme sport scene. There are so many to choose from now that you have to do a lot of research to find which one fits your needs and budget. They range from very inexpensive and poor quality for the newbie, to somewhat expensive and HD for the weekend warrior or videographer.

Depending on what you’re looking to spend, there are many different qualities a helmet camera can have. The main specs you want to keep in mind are: image quality, sound quality, size, mounting units, and durability. I’ll let you in on some other quirks these “first person” cameras have, but the more and better options you want out of a cam, the more it’s going to cost you.

Definition?

No, we’re not finding the meaning of words here (you can leave that to English class). Definition in the video world refers to the video resolution, or image quality. So the higher the definition, the clearer and better looking the video image will be. There is standard definition and high-definition. There is quite a difference when comparing the two, so if you are wanting an HD helmet cam there will be a jump in price. Full HD helmet cameras, such as the ContourHD, come with 720p and 1080p, as well as 960p on the GoPro HD.

Wind Is The Enemy

For years, camera companies have been trying to figure out what it takes to get rid of/minimize the sound of wind blowing by the mic. While most cameras are muffled up to “dull” the sound of wind, it makes the entire audio sound like trash. If you’re riding a dirt bike, hearing the exhaust is important for most riders, especially when it’s a two-stroke being ringed. Finding a camera with good sound quality can be difficult, and you may end up having to buy top-of-the-line if it’s a must. Helmet cameras aren’t bank-breaking expensive like studio-quality camcorders, so don’t worry too much.

How Big Is Too Big?


I Think It's A Little On The Big Side...

The size of a helmet cam is crucial; at least in my mind. I ride trails, so I don’t want this giant camera bolted to my helmet that’s going to get caught on all the trees/branches hanging over the trail. Not only is the size of the camera important, but I also believe the shape is too, in some cases. The two common shapes are a square and a cylinder-shaped camera. Obviously the cylinder is going to have better aerodynamics for high speeds and mounts up tighter to the helmet. Although, the square box can be mounted in different locations (more on that later). Basically, the smaller the better, but if you’re doing high-speed footage such as drag racing, you may want a more aerodynamic camera.

It’s More Than Just A HELMET Cam!

Most helmet cams have other mounts that you can buy separately. They usually are for your chest, a handlebar, seat post, forks, or anywhere else you can stick one on. They can be a little expensive for what they are, but there aren’t really other options if you want a good and sturdy mount. For motocross and riding bikes, the best mounts will be for your helmet and chest. Any other places are usually too shaky and don’t show as much of what’s going on.

The reason I’m saying this is because not all helmets have mounts for whatever location you want to put them. Take the GoPro for example; it’s a small, rectangular-like box. It can mount on the top of your helmet, on the side, under the visor, and you can get a nice chest mount for it. But, it may not have the features you want out of a helmet cam. Its rival, the VHoldR Contour, may have some better features, but can only mount of the side of your helmet (goggles), and under the visor with some work. Take this into consideration when researching helmet cameras, because you don’t want to buy the perfect camera with all the right specs, only to find out it can’t mount up where you want it to.

What If I Crash With A Helmet Cam?

Let’s face it, everyone is going to crash sooner or later, some (much) more than others. Having a durable camera is important if you are mounting it in a location susceptible to impact. A regular digital camera mounted to your helmet is probably going to get destroyed the first time it hits the ground. Fortunately, helmet cams are made more durable, but not all are same. Some have a protective housing surrounding it, making it withstand almost any crash. Others that are made on the cheap side may not last as long. So, if you know you are going to fall a lot or the camera is open to branches and other objects, you’ll want to add this to the list of features to research.

Helmet cameras are perfect for capturing those moments or close-calls, or wipe-outs in first-person. Good luck on your research for finding the right camera, and don’t forget to check out my review for the VHoldr Contour HD!

-Tom Stark