by Ben Wical

Now, the great two stroke versus 4 stroke battle...

Since I like 4 strokes and 2 strokes, I'm not going to prefer or endorse one or the other.

My first bike was a 125cc Suzuki Ag bike 2 stroke. Back then I was just thrilled because after years of saving, I could afford a bike. It didn't have much of a powerband and you couldn't thrash it around a motocross track, but it was fun, felt fast because it was so low to the ground, and easy to start. Plus when it broke it was really easy to fix due to the simple engine.

However, starting it was hard on a cold morning. And when it didn't start, kicking it over for twenty minutes at a time wasn't too fun. This is why I don't like two strokes. They are quite temperamental, and if you really think about their engine, theoretically they shouldn't work, or at least still have most of the exhaust in the piston when it fires.

As I became older, I bought a 4 stroke 250. It was great. Not only was it a lot more powerful than the old Suzuki, it had great suspension and the power was so versatile. This is why I love 4 strokes - the tractable power. What I don't like about 4 strokes is either they have less power than a 2 stroker, or if they are a new high revving 4 stroke, they require ridiculous amounts of maintenance. I recommend everyone to own an old style 4 stroke trail bike at some time. Having to do bugger all maintenance is a blessing after owning a high end motocrosser.

Back to the 2 strokes. Anyone that has ridden a 250 two stroke will know that they have insane power. Some bikes have power nearly like a light switch, instant and full on. This can be good or bad, depending if you want that power or not. Also, 2 strokes are quite light, this is why I enjoy riding them.

All in all, 2 strokes and four strokes are still viable bikes. People will tell you to get one or the other, but only buy one on for what you are going to use it for. 2 strokes are fun, light, easy to maintain and powerful, but also temperamental. 4 strokes are fun, tractable and grunty, but also require huge maintenance. But some bikes, like the 300cc two stroke enduro bikes, are in between. Sometimes called '3 strokes' or '6 strokes' because of their ability to amble along like a 4 or get screamin' into the pipe like a traditional 2 stroke.

So I don't take sides in the old 2 versus 4 battles and arguments, but I still find it sad that the twos are dying out. I love all bikes, large and small, two or four. I think anyone can ride any bike, but just pick the right one for the conditions and your riding level and style.

Thank you for reading, FOUR STROKES RULE! Joking...

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Dec 08, 2010
Old Contra New 4-strokes
by: Big Sven

There are major differences between the old 4-strokes and the new ones. They were standard production bikes in the 50-60's, yes, Matchless and BSA Gold Star, Triumph twins, the Czech ESO (not immediately aware of any other major manufacturer) but the best ones - now I'm referring to the top bikes ridden by the best men in the world, Rolf Tibblin, Bill Nilsson and Sten Lundin etc. - were hand-built specials that cost a fortune to order. But not to run. For they produced on average about 35bhp at 6200-6500rpm, they had REAL flywheels, not the tin-cans modern bikes have, but even these were much lighter than a street bike or a production MX version had. Well-spannered and cared-for they would run all season with nothing more than valve-springs, rings, primary-chains and clutches.

The hairiest bike was the X-Cam Lito, it's short-stroke plain-bearing crank and special cam allowed it to rip up to 8,000, but max power was around 7-7,500 giving 45bhp. Nobody could ride it! (But I'd love one. I know a local dealer who has one he raced from new, but he ain't selling. The glued-together alloy frame needs regluing, the glues in those days weren't very good).

It was rare for such a bike to blow up. If it did it cost a fortune to repair. More than a modern 4-stroke, as the parts were handmade out of the finest materials by a craftsman. The few standard production bikes (rather engines, they usually slipped the engine into special MX-chassis, Cheney, Rickman etc) were also, in general, reliable. Tracks were smoother in those early days, suited to the bikes. Clutches and gearboxes were the only real problem, not quite up to the job, being modded road bike stuff.

I'd buy and ride one of the old 4-strokes with pleasure, fun to bang-around on. They were REAL 4-strokes. But, of course, they aren't for racing on today, and certainly not on most of the tracks available.

These modern Jap offerings - ok, there are European ones too, but the Swedish Husaberg and Highland went bust and Highland was made in China anyway as are perhaps not a few of the others - are of a different design, one that doesn't suit them, to my mind. No flywheels, extremely high-revving, wrong materials in the motor (I'd NEVER use titanium valves!) piston designs that need a careful eye on as the slightest wear gets them rocking in the bore and BANG! Same goes for the cams/rockers, very susceptible to wear. Add to this the by far rougher tracks than those of the 60's, tracks that changed to challenge the lighter 2-strokes, and now the added strain of enormous suspension-travels, is simply too much for the 4-stroke and it's myriad of sensitive parts.

In this regard a 2-stroke wins hands-down, they ARE designed and made to take the punishment, proven fact.

May 09, 2009
Biased Man From Cumberland
by: jeff flick

Ben, I'm the biased man from Cumberland and I do appreciate the comments you made. Especially about the 300 2-strokes being fun, tractable & grunty! I also agree with your comments regarding the older 4-strokes, "NOT the newer higher revving ones". Those are the ones I despise! The ones that always need valve adjustments, the ones that always need routine maintenance, the ones that go through the pistons, rings, rod bearings etc.etc. And the ones that cost an arm and a leg to rebuild!

I like 4-strokes for the street only. They just don't belong in the dirt period! What I always suggest to all of the 4-smoke fans out there is to give one of the 300cc 2-strokes a shot & you may just totally forget about the newer higher revving 4-smokers altogether! Yes, just get on the list & try the KTM300xc or the 300xc-w, the gas gas 300 or the new German owned Husqvarna 300wr.

I ride a 300xc. There are no valves, routine maintenance is simple & I change my oil 11,000 times a minute with just a twist of the throttle!

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