First glimpse of 2003 crossers
If you want a sneak preview of what production bikes we’ll be all be on next year, the best place to look is the All Japan Motocross Championship.
For a more detailed look at the exciting line-up of off-roaders coming our way don’t mmiss the latest issue of MCN, out May 1- but here’s our first impressions.
The big-four Japanese firms use the series to road-test their pre-production prototypes. And at the curtain-raiser at Nara earlier this month there was plenty to get excited about, though the bikes everyone was talking about weren’t actually there – Suzuki revealed it has two new four-strokes on the way, but we won’t get to see them for a few months yet.
Here’s a first look at the machines we’ll be riding next year...
No sign of Kawasaki’s new four-stroke yet, but there is a revised and restyled KX250 two-stroke.
There are 5mm wider frame spars and a new aluminium sub-frame under the new bodywork.
Suzuki, which already has the impressive DRZ400 enduro four-stroke in its stable, has announced that it will reveal 250cc and 450cc four-stroke motocrossers around June or July.
The 2003 pre-production version at Nara had a new cylinder and exhaust valve plus a larger airbox to improve the spread of power, which rises from 55bhp to 58bhp. There’s also new, more compact frame geometry and redesigned plastics.
The four-stroke Honda CRF450 was launched last winter, but the bike raced at Nara had new, lighter crankcases, a new camshaft and a magnesium-bodied carburettor rather than aluminium.
Rumours persist that Honda will launch a CRF250 to compete with Yamaha’s hugely successful YZ250F, but bosses won’t discuss it.
Yamaha kickstarted the new wave of four-stroke motocrossers when it launched the YZ400F in 1997.
In 2000 the bike was upped to 426cc and for 2003 it gets new crankcases and a bigger bore again, taking it up to 449cc.
The changes are designed to keep the bike competitive in the fiercely contested open class, while also preparing for an anticipated world championship rule change which will allow four-strokes up to 450cc to race against 250cc two-strokes in 2003 or 2004 (the 250 division is the premier MX class).