2 Stroke vs 4 Stroke:  What's The Deal Anyway?

2 stroke vs 4 stroke - which one is better? Once upon a time there was a huge difference between the way a 4 stroke and a 2 stroke dirt bike performed. Two stroke motorcycles dominated the motocross and supercross classes because of their high performance and light weight. While the heavier, less nimble thumpers performed at their best in the enduro and trail circuits. Though, they still had to compete against the mad-men that were willing to strap themselves to a 500cc 2 stroke screamer.

Well, since the YZ400F made its debut way back in 1997, when Doug Henry won the final supercross of the year in Las Vegas on one... things have changed dramatically.

The fours have fast become the dominating force on motocross tracks. Why? Well it seems there are a number of debatable reasons. The power to weight ratio on 4 strokes is much better than it used to be, so a 450cc four stroke is now a lot closer to the weight of a 250cc two stroke and puts out an impressive amount of speed and power. Back in the early 90's four strokes were heavy beasts and were considerably slower than the two's.

With the new and improved thumpers, many people find them easier to ride with their smooth, tractable power delivery. But on the other hand, a lot of riders don't actually want that. They want the thrill, noise and adrenalin of a powerband that only a two stroke can serve up.

So why have some companies stopped making 2 strokes? Some people believe (and blame) the format of the AMA and large companies such as Honda that have had a heavy influence over the major Championship races that dictate the specifications of bikes that are allowed to compete against each other. Is this the reality behind why we have witnessed the decline of the popular two's? After all the popular question on many-a-dirt bike rider's lips is..   

When it comes to racing:  Is it fair that a 450cc four stroke is able to compete against a 250cc two stroke?  (As opposed to.. why not 250cc vs 250cc?)


It has also been said that another contributing factor to the 2 strokes decline is the pressure felt by government groups and lobbyists to phase them out because of the environmental damage they cause. But how much more pollution do they really put out compared to the 4's? It seems that the technology already exists to create a two stroke engine that is just as, if not more environmentally sound as a four stroke. Is it really because of these environmental issues that the Japanese bike manufacturers are putting little to no effort into new two-smokes?

To gain a deeper understanding of the way the two engines work, check out the mechanics of a 2 stroke vs 4 stroke. 

How good or bad is this for you and I as riders? Well, it would be terrible if we had to rely soley on the once dominant Japanese 'four' - Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki & Suzuki - as we'd be riding around on soon-to-be fossils that were last updated back in 2008. But fortunately for you two stroke fans the European dirt bike manufacturers have come to your rescue by continuing to sink hefty sums into the research and development and progression of the legendary two stroke dirt bike. 

There has long been heated debate about this topic, and I'd love to know the stats on how many mateships have busted up over such a contestable subject. And much like the never-ending 'Holden vs Ford' debate here in the Southern Hemisphere, I truly don't feel mankind will come to an agreeable conclusion as to which one of these darn bikes is better?! 


Click Here To Read About The Future Of Two Stroke Dirt Bikes 

Click Here To Read About The Future Of Two Stroke Dirt Bikes Part 2 

Click Here To Read About 2 Stroke Fuel Ratios
 


So I'll leave you with this to ponder before you dig into the hundreds of '2 stroke vs 4 stroke' articles submitted below by every dirt loving bike junkie wanting to chip their 10 cents in..  

Will the once-superior two strokes disappear completely?  I said almost 10 years ago when I first built this page that I don't think so.. and I'd say now that was a good call (during a time when a lot of people said they were on their way out). The hair raising Japanese 500cc weapons have long since dropped off the mainstream production line but the rest of the family are hanging in there thanks to the Stefans & Svens of the world. Top European manufacturers understand the importance of the development and progression of 2 strokes and are still forging ahead with them, winning many Enduro competitions - interestingly enough all throughout Europe where the AMA has no influence... hmm.

The good news for you and me my fellow rider.. is we have a choice of either! What we have at present is a healthy range of high performance four strokes and two strokes that offer almost everything you've ever wanted from a dirt bike. You simply need to saddle up on a few different pony's to find out which one suits your personality (and budget).. and get on with having some fun!


Got Something To Say About This Whole 2 Stroke vs 4 Stroke Thing?

Give Us Your 10 Cents Worth..

Here's YOUR opportunity to let everyone else know what your views are on this developing topic.

Since most people own four strokes these days, tell us how much time and money you spend on maintaining it. How often do you get the valve clearances checked? Do you have many problems in general or does it run sweet if you keep up with the services?

There are a lot of people who are undecided on whether to get a four or two so let everyone know about your experience to help them make a decision. I'm sure they will appreciate it!

Accepted comments will be posted up as it's own page, so I am looking for something with more depth than 1 or 2 sentances.

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Interesting Stuff Other Visitors Have Said

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Two strokes are better because they are lighter, easier to work on, cheaper in parts and in my opinion have better handling traits. I love how two strokes …

Young Riders Need Two Strokes Not rated yet
Growing up I never had much money so when I finally could afford to get into the sport I couldn't afford a thumper, so of course I bought a 2 stroke. …

Back To Two Strokes - Tired Of Riding Boring 4 Strokes Not rated yet
I started on a KX 250 - went to a KTM 525SX - then a CRF 450R with RPM Ice Cube 498 - and many upgrades, cams, full exhaust. Spent tons on valves and engine …

Four Strokes And Two Strokes Have Their Advantages Not rated yet
If you ride a two stroke, you know the thrill of going fast and being light and nimble. You can feel your bike as the powerband kicks in and you can go …

Nothing Matches The Power Of A 500cc 2 Stroke Not rated yet
I like both but feeling the raw power of a 2 stroke is an unmatched rush. 4 strokes are good for wheelies but none come close to a 500 two strokes power. …

Environmentalist, Lobbyist And The Parts Not rated yet
If you ask me I think both are awesome and I like variety and choices. But lets face it a four stroke has millions more in financial return. Think …

Happy 2 Stroke Bike Rider Not rated yet
My first motorcycle was a 1973 Yamaha L2 that was when I was in high school in the 90s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamaha_L2). My dad gave that motorcycle …

4 Strokes Robbing Peter To Pay Paul Not rated yet
The 2 stroke is better because if you look at the development of 2 stroke engines since, well let's just say late 80's to present day 2011, there has been …

2 Strokes Hold The True Spirit Of The Sport Not rated yet
Adrenaline. Competition. Excitement. Being a man. Isn't that why we all got into this sport? A few main points to the sport of off road motorcycling. …

I Think It Just Depends Not rated yet
I'm sure all of you motocross riders have heard all the buzz about 2 stroke vs 4 stroke. Well me personally I don't think it really matters. This is why.. …

Struggling On A Two Stroke Not rated yet
I wanna get started in racing but find myself fearing the jumps. I have been told from really good riders that race that I am fast in turns but like a …

Four Strokes Are Better Because You've Been Told They Are Not rated yet
I ride both two smokes and four strokes and can tell you that the market pushed four strokes down our throats. The market advanced the technology of the …

Four Stroke Starting Problems & Costs Not rated yet
I race a grand prix circuit in the panhandle of Texas. We have a dead engine start. The four strokes never start off the line. And the money that goes …

Back To The Old Skool Not rated yet
Just bought myself a bike after 20-yrs break. Wow, so many 4 strokes out there now, but I have opted for a 2 stroke. An old KX 125 for a year, and if …

2 vs 4 - Right vs Left Not rated yet
Thanks Hayden You have a great site, and I really loved that article on two strokes versus four strokes. I have other passions like I love soccer and …

Two Stroke or Four Stroke.. Pick Your Poison Not rated yet
I am a 2 stroke fan and I currently own a 2007 YZ125, but what people really have to understand is that on terms of reliability, which ever way you go …

Two's & Four's Are Equal To Me Not rated yet
The newer 4 strokes (mostly crf250r or kx250f) are a beast on the moto course. However the 2's are beasts also. 4'S might actually be a better moto bike …

Two Strokes Are a Superior Machine Not rated yet
I've done the dirt bike thing my whole life and I can tell you as an owner of both a 06 yz250 two stroke and a 08 ktm530 four stroke that the two stroke …

Mixed Feelings Not rated yet
I currently ride a 2006 KX 250 and love it! I have been considering a 09 KX 450 because of the fuel injection, but the cost of a top end alone is scary. …

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2-stroke traitor :) Not rated yet
Hi all. Yes, I am a traitor! My first bikes were 2-strokes and a lot of fun. My last 2-stroke was a 1985 CR250R I bought for $850.00 and rode every penny …

CRM 250R - A Clean Burning Two Not rated yet
Honda in their wisdom created a clean burning 2 stroke that was widely available everywhere but the US. I happened to ride one back in 1997. It was fully …

Manufacturers are Killing 2 Strokes Due to Cost Not rated yet
Environmental concerns are the PC reason for mfg's to phase out 2 strokes; however, it is more likely due to reduced R&D costs. 4 strokes are used more …

After Riding A Two Stroke Everything Else Seems Tame Not rated yet
Two strokes provide an unbeatable seat of you pants thrill that nothing else can compare to. They allow you to be genuinely shit-your-pants terrified in …

This Sums It Up Not rated yet
"Engine for engine, cc for cc, ounce for ounce, the two-stroke motocross engine is a vastly superior piece of equipment. If the two-stroke was invented …

The Best Bang For Buck Not rated yet
They are finding out that the hardcore rider will ride what they want to ride and not what they tell us to ride. I will never buy a 4-stroke and if …

4 Strokes Are For Lawnmowers Not rated yet
I've raced since age 5. I'm now 25, and during those days if you showed up with a 4-stroke at the motocross track you were not doing something right - …

From 2 to 4 With Age Not rated yet
I started riding a cr 125 in high school. Back then, like most high schoolers, I had very little fear and I could crash and laugh it off. The power band …

I Prefer Four Strokes Not rated yet
I'm really a fan of both bikes for different reasons. 4 strokes, I find ride better and can go over different terrain which is good for the way I ride. …

Rode a 2 stroke For The First Time Not rated yet
Well I've been riding for about 10 years. My first bike was a 1999 Yamaha pw50 and that is too small to have a noticeable power band. Ever since I got …

Hold On To Your 2's Not rated yet
I've been riding for 25yrs. I have owned both 2 strokes and 4 strokes. I believe they both have their place on the track and on the trail. I currently …

It's a Toss Up Not rated yet
I've always ridden two strokes and loved them - the explosive hit, the sound, everything. But a couple of years ago I threw my leg over a RMZ 450.. I was …

The Best Dirt Bike For You And Me Not rated yet
If you are wondering what bike is best for you, read this. I went out and did the research in the real life not the rich life. This story for me first …

The Pancacked (shortened.. i.e. no skirt) Piston Not rated yet
I'm commenting not on why 4 strokes are better (I have both 2 and 4 strokes), but I'm commenting on why the 4 strokes became much faster with the '97 Yamaha …

Lower Maintanance and Much More Fun Not rated yet
I have just recently changed bikes from a Honda CRF 250r to a Yamaha yz250. I can't believe that I have not made the change back to the two stroke before …

Two Stroke Where Have You Gone? Not rated yet
Yea I think the two stroke should be raced by the lights class and the 450s in the pros. The AMA has most to blame for this, when they put only four strokes …

Four Strokes Are Driving The Blue-collar Guy Out of The Sport Not rated yet
I really don't hate four strokes, in fact I might even be faster on one than my YZ250 - but I will never own one. There is a long term test on the …

Long Live 2 Strokes Not rated yet
Two strokes may pollute more and may be noisier than 4 strokes, but nothing compares to the hit of the powerband and the sound these motors make when they …

Half and Half Not rated yet
Between the two bikes it is a huge tossup - the noisy zing zing of a two stroke is something that I just love to hear at a motocross race but yet I prefer …

Fear And Four Strokes Not rated yet
FEAR is the reason for the appearance of the 4 stroke in motocross. Fear of impending "green laws". I've been racing for 35 years and I've seen it all …

Four Strokes Were Good Bikes Before... Not rated yet
... but got a bad rap largely because of their riders! Yep, that's right! Like monkeys learn to press buttons, 97% (whatever?) learned to ride these …

Direct Injection Retrofit Kits Not rated yet
Envirofit, a non-profit corp at Colorado State University, is installing DI retrofit kits on two-stroke Motorcycle-Taxis (Tricycles) in the Philippines, …

2 Strokes Easier For Me Not rated yet
I grew up riding on two strokes. I currently ride a yz250 two stroke. Last summer I borrowed my buddies rmz450. I found that I got tired quite fast. …

2-Strokes For Life Not rated yet
As a motorcycle Technician I get my hands on a lot of bikes. 4 strokes can be great, when they're running well. With the new high end MX bikes, you're …

Two Smokes For Life Not rated yet
As long as 2 strokes are around I will be riding one. For more reasons than one. 2 strokes fit my riding style, and my budget. Since I don't have the mechanical …

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Resurrecting 2-Strokes Not rated yet
I won't pay money to buy a new 4-stroke motorcycle when a 2-stroke will do the job better, even if it means resurrecting older bikes. It is actually cheaper …

45 Years of Four Stroke & Two Stroke Racing Not rated yet
I have been racing over 45 years, raced 4 strokes long before anyone else, in the 60's, Ducati's, BSA's, Triumph's, 1978 CCM's. Then Husabergs, then 98 …

The Big Corporations are Phasing out the 2-strokes Because.. Not rated yet
There is less money to be made in it. The companies with dominating shares of the market (such as Honda or Yamaha) can throw their clout to influence the …

15 Years of Racing - 2 Strokes Are The Way Not rated yet
I raced for 15 yrs when I was younger. Motocross, enduro's, desert, even 3 yrs of speedway. Rode a lot of bikes over the yrs and I remember several 2 …

4-Strokes Should Stay And So Should 2-Strokes  Not rated yet
I think yes keep the 2 strokes alive, that way people won't get sick of the 4 strokes. Come on people use your heads... if they ban 2-strokes and everybody …

Two Strokes Are Way Better Because Of Everything Not rated yet
Well, I've ridden 2 strokes all my life but now these so called "better 4 strokes" are being produced that aren't worth s%#t. They are way more expensive, …

NiMH - X Not rated yet
I reckon that before the next fifty years has passed you won't see two or four strokes... you will have high current, high power output, electric powered …

Financially Unable To Ride Not rated yet
Hi, I have just read your 2 vs 4 stroke dirt bike article. How great it is to read a comparison test by someone who knows what they r talking about & who …

2 Stroke Over 4 Stroke Any Day Not rated yet
Hi I'm Josh. I'd like to have my 2 cents about this topic. I ride a 99 Suzuki RM (2-stroke obviously) and I love it, it goes so hard I got no complaints. …

2 Strokes Are The Best, Because of This.. Not rated yet
2 strokes are easy to maintain. - Compared to a 4 stroke, the modern 2 strokes have nickel plated cylinders, which wears out the ring instead of the …

Two Stroke Future Not rated yet
A 2 stroke produces power every revolution making it vastly more efficient than a four stroke that needs two revolutions to do the same thing. All other …

On The Pipe And Loving It! Not rated yet
Having ridden a small fleet of two and four stroke dirt bikes over the years I just keep finding myself coming back to the excitement of the two stroke …

Compare Apples to Apples Not rated yet
250cc to 250cc two stroke wins hands down, for now. This is the way it is, but most likely will not always be. Can a four stroke be simple, cheap, dependable …

2 Strokes All The Way Not rated yet
Think about it... 4 strokes are a pain to rebuild because of all the valve timing. A 2 stroke you just pull off the jug and everything is uncomplicated …

2 Stroke All The Way Not rated yet
After growing up from a young kid to an adult riding a 2 stroke, I always thought they were the only true motocross bike to have. Then came the 400f, …

Two Stroke Rules! Not rated yet
Being an old git (over 40) I've been plugging round on a KXf 250, following my 13 year old no brain, no fear son on his KX125. This has resulted in me …

Two Stroke vs Four Stroke, Differences and Similarities Not rated yet
Four strokes don't have a power band like a two stroke so you don't have to worry about the power band kicking in and slinging an inexperienced rider on …

Four Stroke Maintenance Costs Make It Too Expensive To Ride Not rated yet
My son started motox on an 85cc 2 stroke. He then followed the natural progression, 125cc - 250cc 2t's. I used to do all the maintenance myself. It …

Good News For 2-stroke fans! Not rated yet
I was surfing the web just the other day, researching the new Maico dirt bikes that are now being built back in Germany in limited numbers. Supposedly …

Two Strokes Are Better... Way Better Not rated yet
I'll get right to the point. 1. The environment problem is a load of crap. I mean seriously, how much pollution does any dirt bike engine put out? …

No Comparison Not rated yet
Let me preface this by saying that I am not a dirt bike kind of guy. When I was younger, I learned to ride on a 4 stroke Honda 90cc road bike. As I got …

You Can't Blame The Manufacturers... Not rated yet
To be honest I considered a 450 over my 250 2-stroke. But I'm a part-time casual track rider and enjoy hitting the local sand dunes. People are jumping …

Two Strokes vs 4 Strokes Not rated yet
Well I'm 29 years young turning 30 in May. I've been riding two stroke 125's my whole life until a few years ago when I sold my 125 at age 26. I returned …

Two Strokes Sound Good And Go Hard Not rated yet
I've only owned two 4 stroke motorbikes in my life. One was a 1980 Honda XL125 and the other was a 1983 Suzuki DR125 The 2 strokes I've owned have …

Two Strokes Rule Not rated yet
The whole environmentalist rationale for eliminating 2-strokes is total BS. There are already clean-burning 2-strokes, and even if they weren't, the amount …

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2 Strokes Are More Popular Not rated yet
I have a 4 stroke dirt bike and I go to dirt tracks a lot. There's no one with 4 strokes. Everyone has got 2 strokes and the noise is crazy! But I seem …

Two Strokes - More Power & Simpler To Work On Not rated yet
I like 2 strokes a heck of a lot more than the sordid old 4 strokes. I mean the 4's are OK if you're not dead in the ol' bike nut. But for all of us …

WIMPS  Not rated yet
What I hate is all of these wimps. I think the big four need to start making big bore 2 strokes again. The first bike I ever rode was a KX500 and …

Personal Choice Not rated yet
I started riding 2 strokes all the way up to a Suzuki RM 250. They are without a doubt, serious horse power on any track. For a beginner it will spit …

2 Strokes Are The Bomb!  Not rated yet
Nothing else compares to the sound and performance that comes out of a two stroke dirt bike. They're super-tough, light, easy to work on, and a lot cheaper …

2 Strokes Dominate Not rated yet
I really find it hard to believe how the big four can steer away from 2 strokes. I mean, it's like they don't even relate to us. Have they never ridden …

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