Bikes That NEED To Be Made – Big Bore 2 Strokes!


Remember the good old days when men were men and they rode 500 cc two strokes? Women commenting on how big your balls must be and when are you coming back to bed? Now days all we have is puny 300cc two strokes that couldn’t pull the skin off a custard. I think that should change, bring back big bore two strokes! Two stroke lives matter!

The mighty KX500. You had to have some ticker to ride one of these flat out.

Ok so maybe 300cc two strokes aren’t for little babies, hell I owned a Gas Gas 300 and loved it. But why are there no more proper, big bore two strokes? Think back to the KX500s, CR500s, IT490s, KTM380s and Husqvarna 360’s of yesteryear. We need to bring back these size two strokes. I would absolutely love a modern, 400cc, fuel injected two stroke enduro bike. Surely I’m not the only one who thinks this? And we need two stroke street bikes again too. Can you imagine a 700cc two stroke sports bike? Bring that shit on!

Alright, two strokes still have a HUGE presence in the off-road world, especially when it comes to hardcore enduro riding. Their simplicity and riding characteristics make them stupidly loveable. And there are still a lot of manufacturers making proper, two stroke dirt bikes. There’s KTM, Beta, Husqvarna, Gas Gas, Sherco, TM, GPX, Reiju (formerly known as Gas Gas) and even Yamaha with their venerable YZ250X. On the street however, there isn’t much to talk about bar the odd scooter. 

We have to cast our mind back quite a ways to when Aprilia RS250’s, Yamaha RD’s and Kawasaki H2’s ruled the streets. So what happened to two stroke road bikes? Unfortunately emissions played a huge part in them going the way of the dodo. With stricter emissions coming into effect in the 70’s and 80’s, companies poured money into four strokes instead of the old oil burners. And then when racing, namely MotoGP and Supercross, moved to four strokes, it pretty much wrote their death sentence.

The Kawasaki triple. Such a beautiful bike.

But I think that should change and it can!

Two stroke technology has really been evolving recently. And not only evolving, it’s actually being implemented! Not too long ago, KTM introduced fuel injection into their two stroke models. Well technically its Transfer Port injection, but you get the idea. Now TM is also using the same system on their EN line of bikes.

For the street, Aprilia use an orbital direct fuel injected two stroke in their SR50 scooter and Suter, with their stupidly sexy MMX500, have a 576cc, V4 electronic port fuel injected motor pumping out 195hp. Oh, and it weighs only 127kgs…WET! Besides that, unfortunately there isn’t much else notable going on in the world of street bikes.

The Suter MMX500. My goodness is it pretty.

And we can’t forget jet skis and snow mobiles. Ski Doo use dual stage injection in their motors and Rotax have a turbo, yeah that’s right turbo, electronic, direct injection two stroke. Their 600cc engine is putting out 125hp and their 850cc 165hp! That would be a shit load of fun in a bike.

So the technology is there now. I think we can have our cake and eat it too people. I haven’t ridden one, but by all accounts the new KTM TPI models have a smoother power delivery, increased bottom end power, better fuel consumption and their piston longevity has been increased due to cleaner atomization.

OK, I like two stokes, I mean who doesn’t? They sound freaking cool, smell amazing, they are light, powerful and pretty easy to rebuild.

So why aren’t manufacturers making big bores again? My first guess is because they’ll cannibalize their current 4 stroke models. Let’s say KTM for example release a 500EXC TPI. I’ve got a feeling all it’s going to do is take sales from their four strokes. I mean they’ve already got a 350, 450 and a 500 in their four stroke range…I just can’t see it happening. By all accounts they had their TPI ready to go for years, but held off because the carbureted two strokes were selling well and they simply didn’t need to release the tech. A 400 EXC TPI would slot in nicely though wouldn’t it…

The problem they are going to face is four strokes are just so entrenched in the market now, not to mention they are bloody good. Companies have poured all their money into four stroke tech, I think it’s just not worth it to change over to two strokes, especially with how strict emissions are becoming.

Four strokes like the Beta 500 are light, fantastic bikes. There may not be a place for a 500cc two stroke any more.

What they would need to do, is something completely different that doesn’t affect four stroke sales. For example, put that Suter engine in a naked bike or hell, even a lightweight adventure bike. Detune it for reliability and you’re still getting possibly 150hp from a 150kg bike. That’d be bloody awesome!

I think it’s going to be up to one of the smaller brands to do it. The other brands have pretty set lineups and I can’t see them rocking the boat. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen, I just don’t think it will.

So what does everything think, would you like to see big bore two strokes return? Do you think they will? Let me know in the comments below. Until next time, keep it OnTheBackWheel people.

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