2-STROKE TUESDAY: 2-STROKE BUYER'S GUIDE

 
(10/23/2012)
We love two-strokes! And we're not alone. The number of two-stroke dirt bikes available to the public is actually increasing for 2013. Here are some of the new models along with a collection of two-stroke icons.


MOTOCROSS BIKES
 

 
KTM 250SX
Two-stroke lovers have rallied around KTM in a big way. The 250SX currently offers the most advanced two-stroke motocross motor on the market. It has a five-speed gearbox, and sits in a chassis very similar to that of the 450SXF Dungey bike. The WP suspension has linkage in the rear, and this year the 250SX gets the new diaphragm clutch. Price: $7099
TM 250MX 2T
It’s impressive that a small Italian company such as TM can have such a full line. In the 250cc MX category, there are two TMs, one a four-stroke and the other a two-stroke. Both are five speeds and both have hand-welded aluminum frames with TM-made rear shocks and Marzocchi forks. Virtually all the aluminum parts are CNC machined by TM. Prices: TBA

YAMAHA YZ250
 
Yamaha gave the YZ250 two-stroke a new aluminum frame back in 2005, and then a few suspension changes followed, but it has been unchanged for a number of years now. It remains a great bike that is lighter, cheaper and faster than any 250F made. It’s also very easy to maintain. Price: $7150
KTM 150SX/125SX
KTM gives you two choices for the “school boy” age two-stroke rider whereas most other manufacturers have abandoned the class completely. The 125 and 150 are essentially the same bike aside from the bore and stroke. The 125 remains the fastest bike of its size, and the 150 is just stunning. Both have WP suspension with linkage. Prices: $6549/$6449
 
HUSQVARNA CR125
No dirt bike made offers this much value. Not only is the Husqvarna CR125 among the least-expensive full-size MX bikes on the market, it also comes with a bonus. With each Husky 125 sold, the buyer gets an extra top-end that punches the displacement out to 144cc. The power is very good in either configuration. Price: $6299
YAMAHA YZ125
Despite being unchanged for years, many riders still consider the Yamaha YZ125 to be the top bike in its class. The KYB suspension is excellent and the overall handling is amazing. The engine has a six-speed gearbox and is very reliable. The price is unchanged for 2013. Price: $6290
TM 125MX/144MX
TM is a tiny Italian boutique dirt bike maker that clearly is placing more emphasis on two-strokes than most other manufacturers in the MX world. The 125 and 144 have a new electronic power valve and amazing peak power output. TM has long been known for powerful motors in the go-kart world. Prices: TBA
KAWASAKI KX100/KX85
The KX85 is the bike that gave James Stewart his start. It hasn’t changed much since then, and neither has the KX100, which has a 4mm bigger bore and larger wheels (16- and 19-inch as opposed to 14 and 17). The two-stroke motors have KIPS power valves and a case reeds. Prices: $4249/$4049
KTM 85SX
KTM already had a very competitive 85, but it has been reworked for 2013. The steel frame has been updated, the fork is new and the engine has a new top end with a redesigned power valve. The 85SX still has a hydraulic clutch and now it has a tapered aluminum handlebar like the big bikes. Price: $5349
SUZUKI RM85/RM85L
Engine tuners still love the RM85 because the motor has so much potential. In stock form it has excellent torque, and the chassis is slightly smaller than the YZ or KTM, making it a good choice for smaller, younger riders. The L model has larger wheels (16/19). Prices: TBA
TM 85MX
TM surprised us with this little bombshell. The Italian company obviously put a ton of emphasis on the mini class for 2013, giving its 85 a new motor and a new aluminum frame. It has an electronic power valve and a six-speed gearbox. It has a hydraulic clutch, tapered bars, and is said to be very light. Price: TBA
 
 YAMAHA YZ85
Yamaha has the most race-oriented 85 of all the Japanese two-strokes. It’s physically larger than the Suzuki or the Kawasaki and the suspension is set up for the more experienced rider. It has a six-speed gearbox, and a case reed. No power valve is used, but the output is very good. Price: $3990
COBRA CX65
Now that the Cobra 65 has been around for at least two years, they are starting to appear in the results near the top of the big amateur races. Cobra is a U.S. company that has dominated the highest level of amateur racing for years, particularly in the 50 ranks. Price: TBA
KAWASAKI KX65
For young riders who are ready to use a manual clutch for the first time, the Kawasaki KX65 two-stroke is a winner. The seat height is a tick under 30 inches with the 12- and 14-inch wheels. The KX isn’t widely regarded as a competitive racer any more, but it can be pressed into service on a budget. Price: $3649
KTM 65SX
For the rank and file of the racing world, KTM owns the 65 class. The 65SX was redesigned from top to bottom two years ago and is made entirely in Austria. It has a case-reed, power-valve motor, a six-speed gearbox and a hydraulic clutch. Price: $4499
 
 

 

 
 


OFF ROAD 

BETA 300RR/250RR
This is a brand-new line of motorcycles for the U.S. Beta already has a long history of making two-stroke motors with its trials line, and it also has a successful line of enduro four-strokes. The new 300 and 250 two-stroke enduro bikes are logical off-springs. Like all two-strokes, the new Betas are imported as closed-course vehicles. Prices: $7999
GAS GAS EC300/EC250/EC200
Gas Gas is a two-stroke company, pure and simple. In Europe, there is a line of four-strokes that carry the Gas Gas name, but they are all powered by Yamaha motors and can’t be sold in the U.S. That’s okay, the mainstay of the company has always been these three models, which are identical aside from displacement. Prices: $8399/$8299/$7449
GAS GAS EC300E/EC250E
Both the Gas Gas 300 and the 250 are available with electric start. The starter and battery add a few pounds, but if you’re a fan of the magic button, you probably won’t care. Last year, Gas Gas got a new chassis with a chromoly-steel, perimeter frame. The airbox is all one unit with the subframe. The clutch is hydraulic and the components are first-rate. Prices: $8599/$8499
HUSABERG TE300/TE250
It might seem odd that Husaberg, a company known for four-stroke innovation, sells two-strokes in the U.S., but it makes perfect sense. Husaberg has a reputation for hard-core enduro bikes above all, and the TE250 and TE300 are just that. Both are very similar to KTM’s XC-W electric-start two-strokes, but get a different fork and subframe. Prices: TBA
HUSQVARNA WR300/WR250
Husqvarna’s kickstart-only two-strokes haven’t changed dramatically over the last decade or so, but gradual refinement has turned them into sweet off-road bikes. Both the 250 and the 300 have smooth power, six-speed gearboxes and KYB front suspension. The 250 has 5.6mm less bore but is otherwise identical to the 300. Prices: $7099/$6699
KTM 300XC-W/250XC-W
KTM’s two-stroke off-road bikes have ascended to icon status in the dirt world. Both the 250 and the 300 are extremely smooth and powerful. The W versions are very trail-oriented, with electric-start wide-ratio gearboxes and no-linkage PDS rear suspension. The two-strokes are the only KTMs in the “W” line that are not EPA compliant. Prices: $8299/$8199
KTM 300XC/250XC
KTM’s corporate goal apparently is to make its model line as confusing as possible with an alphabet soup of letters and dashes. Here’s the short form: if it doesn’t have a W, it’s pretty much a motocross bike. The 300XC and 250XC are two-stroke competition bikes with linkage suspension, but they have six-speed gearboxes and electric starters to go off-road occasionally. Price: $8299/$8199
TM 300E/250E 2-STROKE
The U.S. TM importer will be focusing most of its efforts on the two-stroke line for 2013. The 250 and 300 both have very powerful motors and beautiful, hand-built aluminum frames. The motors are sand-cast in very limited quantity, with six-speed gearboxes and V-Force reeds. The rear shocks are actually made by TM, as are many of the other components. Prices: TBA
KTM 200XC-W
This is probably the ultimate cult bike. The KTM 200 two-stroke has fans all over the world because of its smooth low-end power and unstoppable nature. The big news is that now the 200 has an electric starter. Otherwise, it’s the same no-link off-road bike that many people consider the best trail bike ever made. Price: $7499
 
KTM 150XC
Consider this the 21st-century version of the 200XC-W. The 150XC is based on the 150SX motocross bike. It has no electric starter, less weight, less bottom-end torque and more peak power than the 200. It has an 18-inch rear wheel, wider gear ratios, softer suspension and more fuel capacity than the motocross version. Price: $7199
HUSQVARNA WR125
It’s hard not to love the little Husky WR125. First of all, it’s more than just a 125. Husky gives each new owner a top-end kit that converts it to a 144. You can keep it for a spare or just go for the power on day one. The WR is virtually indistinguishable from the CR125 motocross version in the power department, but has softer suspension and a bigger tank. Price: $6299

 YOUTH



BETA R12/R10
Beta just keeps on broadening its product line. The Italian company that once was strictly into trials expanded into the enduro market a few years back, and for 2013 can be said to offer a full line of off-road bikes with this entry into the mini market. The R12 has larger wheels and more performance, while the R10 is aimed at 6, 7, and 8-year-olds. Prices: $2199/$2399
 
COBRA CX50/MINI
A few years ago, Cobra motorcycles changed hands, and the company is as strong as ever. The CX50 continues to be the only American-made motocross bike on the market of any size. It is updated every year and dominates amateur racing to this day. The CX50 mini is a smaller version designed for the 6-year-old class. Prices: TBA
KTM 50SX/50MINI
KTM invested in its mini program in a big way over the past few years. The 50 motor was redesigned two years ago and is made completely in Austria. Cobra might still have a strong presence at the big amateur nationals, but KTM is the most popular racing mini for rank and file young racers across the country. The Mini has 10-inch wheels and softer power. Prices: $3799/$3299
YAMAHA PW50
This remains the unquestioned king of the beginner bikes. The PW is the perfect way to learn, with a low seat height, light weight, automatic transmission and drive shift. The two-stroke motor has a throttle limiter that keeps little Ricky from getting too crazy. If you get the wrong bike at this point in your kid’s career, you can start a lifetime of riding on the wrong foot. Price: $1440

 

 


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WARNING: Much of the action depict­ed in this magazine is potentially dan­gerous. Virtually all of the riders seen in our photos are experienced ex­perts or professionals. Do not at­tempt to duplicate any stunts that are be­yond your own capabilities. Always wear the appropriate safety gear.

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