Four Strokes Were Good Bikes Before...

by UnionManInChinesePants?
(Bathurst, N.B. Canada)

... 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 machines without understanding the mechanics of what was going on inside them. Fouled, flooded & fk'ed up, they were leaned against the shed and deemed "pieces of shit". All the while - "Operator Error"!. Yeah, let me explain.


Did you ever watch a guy Kick-Start a Harley? Turn the motor slowly with the kicker, bringing the piston down, suck a good rich mixture through the carb and then maybe another half-kick to bring the piston up and make some compression, turn on the key for some fire and then... only then... Kick it over the top for Real. And if all the mechanicals are right - starts every time.

Unlike a two stroke in-which the piston is only Up or Down, this sequence must be followed or riders will kick till they tear the kickstart gear out of the case. They run about $375.00 in a Yamaha. Yet I've seen riders kick that thing, intake-stroke to intake-stroke, wrong-stroke to wrong-stroke. Eventually brake/foul it or get really unlucky and have it backfire, break their ankle & throw them over the handlebars. Seen it - TT500. Normally at this point it ends up parked by the shed and it's owner looking for a two-Stroke.

That was then... Eventually the factories caught on to our stupidity, dropped the kick-start levers and installed ELECTRIC STARTERS. This continual engine rotation led to reliable starting and running four strokes and allowed factories to focus on the tuning, performance and evolution of the modern four strokes we know today.

Enough with the history and on to the ride. Many riders enjoy and take advantage of the A.B.S. braking effect 4-Stroke back-pressure has on the rear wheel, allowing them to go into the turns deeper and harder without using the brakes which reduces speed and steering. 2-Strokes tend to ning-ning-ning and glide. Riders must also be careful not to let off the throttle till the rear wheel leaves the lip of a jump or back-pressure may cause the bike to nose-dive. Knowing this ahead of time, a rider can make adjustments that exploit and take advantage of these characteristics. Also, all that titanium five-valve, uni-cam, powder-coated graphite impregnated criptonite stuff wasn't there before.

Most modern four strokes make incredible torque and it's amazing just to roll it on. If you have/get/acquire an old 4-Stroke and would like to have it start well, run well and last well - Kick it nice and ride it right! Some of these old thumpers are really rare & valuable machines. Their drink & stink 2-Stroke cousins may have out-legged them in the past but that was then. And, if you happen to have/get/acquire a new, modern 4-Stroke with electric start... Well, sucks to be everyone else!

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