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The Cost of Racing – The Real Numbers

By | Opinion | No Comments

DollarSignbyJosette603There have been many discussions on the chat boards recently regarding the ever-increasing cost of racing…Especially with the advent of the four-stroke era. I thought it would be interesting to do a comparison of what it cost to race a 50cc motorcycle in 2001 vs. 2011. Before diving into the numbers, however, some explanation is in order: First of all, Column 2 and Column 3 are non-adjusted costs. What does that mean? In the simplest terms, the value of a dollar changes over time – inflation makes a dollar worth a little bit less tomorrow than it is today. So, Column 2 is what it would have cost you in 2001 if you would have opened your wallet (or purse) and purchased any of the listed items. That’s why I have included Column 4. This column adjusts for inflation so that you can compare the TRUE difference between 2001 and 2011. All values are in U.S. Dollars:


Cost in 2001

Cost in 2011

2001 Cost Adjusted for Inflation*

King 50




Clutch Shoes




Radiator Shrouds – Pair




Rear Fender




Cylinder Kit**




Gallon of Regular Gas




Signup at Mini Os




CR250 / CRF450




* – Adjusted by the average inflation rate over the decade – 2.5%/year ** – In 2001 this was for the cylinder only…2011 kit includes cylinder and piston kit

The numbers are pretty amazing! The cost of a Cobra King 50 has risen, but at less than the rate of inflation. The cost of many regular maintenance items have actually gone down both in terms of actual dollars and adjusted for inflation! Not so, however, for many of the other items that must be purchased to go racing – fuel, signups, and probably even Gatorade (not shown in this comparison) cost more. Also very telling is the cost of a new 450…Not only has the price of a full-sized bike increased, but it has done so at rate faster than if the bike had risen with inflation alone.

There is another factor that must be considered as well. Cobra sells fewer spare parts (per bike sold) than it did in 2001. Items like crankshafts, clutches, ignition components, chain guards, and brake pedals are much more durable than they were in 2001, and that translates into fewer spare parts required and lower overall costs to go racing.

Will motocross racing ever be cheap? Absolutely not…but we’re doing everything we can to make the sport more fun and more affordable for our families.

The ‘New’ 50cc Class at Loretta Lynn’s

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Two years ago, I strongly recommended to MX Sports (the company in the USA that runs the Amateur National Championships) that they re-think the Shaft Drive Class. I did this for two reasons: 1) There has been a steady decline in the interest in the Shaft Drive class over the past five years, and 2) There has been a steady increase in the number of modern recreational mini bikes at local events. Bikes like the Honda CRF50 and Yamaha TTR50 make up the majority of the entrants at the local Beginner or Trail classes, and it only makes sense to create a class for these bikes at Loretta Lynn’s…Otherwise you are asking a lot parents to purchase a second motorcycle that will only be used for one set of races, or more likely these days, just not participate.

Adding this class does present challenges…the TTR50 and CRF50 are somewhat different motorcycles. Neither conforms to a set of racing specifications for any class. That being said, I think the racing will be good, and a whole new group of kids will find out what it’s like to try to make it to Loretta’s.

As for Cobra entering into the fray, that won’t happen any time soon – if ever. Just as we never produced a bike for the Shaft Drive class (which would have been relatively easy to do), we’ll leave the truly beginner classes to other manufacturers. Besides, if this class is successful in bringing in new folks to the sport, then that will help Cobra out in the long run anyway.

So…Some questions:

For those that have tried the class this Spring, is it working? Are there many entries? Do racers seem to be playing by the rules? Does it seem like the class is bringing in a new group of participants?

Let’s hear from you…I hope for the good of the sport that this new class works!

Sean @ Cobra