Two-strokes aren’t going anywhere, and here’s proof. The 2017 2-stroke buyer’s guide has almost 50 bikes, and many of them are all new this year. This list includes off-road and MX bikes, plus there are even more coming later in the trials category. Stay tuned.
BETA 250RR: $8499
Beta has broken down the barrier between two-strokes and four-strokes by eliminating one of the defining differences. You no longer have to mix oil in the gas. All the Beta two-strokes have oil injection. Otherwise, it’s still the electric-start Italian two-stroke that is developing a following too large to be called a cult.
BETA 300RR: $8499
This is the electric-start two-stroke that gave Cody Webb his first EnduroCross championship and continues to power riders like Kyle Redmond. It has oil-injection, Sachs suspension, an adjustable power valve and an FMF exhaust. The quality is excellent and the bike is easy to maintain, with features like the push-button seat removal.
BETA 300 XTRAINER: $7299
If you take the Beta 300RR and shrink it by about 10 percent, give it a smoother powerband that’s easier to use and aim it at tight trails, you have a bike that suits the best riders as well as beginners. The Xtrainer also has oil injection and top quality components. With most riders, the Xtrainer can clear 90 percent of the obstacles that a full trials bike can accomplish.
COBRA CX50P3 & CX50 JR: $3598/$3998
Cobra got its start in 1993, and is a legitimate American motorcycle manufacturer, specializing in competition mini cycles. Now there are four different CX50s for different levels of riders. The Jr and the P3 have 10-inch wheels with a new frame for 2017. The big news is that the two little bikes have been upgraded to the new “Venom” series motor.
COBRA CX50SR & FWE: $4198/$5198
Last year a limited edition Cobra called the Factory Works Edition was introduced to instant success in the mini racing world. Now the CX50SR gets many of the same upgrades, while the new FWE is updated further with a new cylinder, lighter wheels and a coated exhaust system. All Cobras have the new Pro Taper Micro Handlebar with a reduced diameter in the grip area.
COBRA CX65: $5298
Based out of Hillsdale, Michigan, Cobra has won over 300 National titles in the last 10 years. The 65 has been around for a few years now, but has recently come into its own as the only legitimate challenger to KTM in that class. The bikes are hand-made in low quantity with parts mostly made in the U.S. This year the 65 gets the most extensive upgrades since its introduction.
GAS GAS EC250E: $8199
Gas Gas left us for a year or so. When the company came back, it was with new backing and a commitment to focus on the things that made the bikes work so well for off-road riders back in the ‘90s. The EC250E will come with electric start as standard equipment. The Marzocchi fork and the Reiger shock are standard.
For a video featuring Gas Gas off-road two-strokes, click here.
GAS GAS EC300: $8199
You can get the Gas Gas EC300 without electric start if you so desire. The bike will be slightly lighter and less expensive. In fact, it is the least costly of the full-size 300cc two-strokes, and yet still has high quality components, including Brembo brakes, a Marzocchi fork and top shelf bars, rims, levers and parts. All the ECs have headlights and taillights.
GAS GAS EC300E: $8399
Gas Gas has a new importer and a new parent company. What remains the same is the mission of the 300 two-stroke. It’s still a traditional two-stroke off-road bike with core values that include torque and an ability to conquer the roughest, ugliest terrain. The EC300E has electric start, a six-speed gearbox and excellent value.
HUSQVARNA TC50: $3999
Husqvarna just announced its new 50cc racer. This is a serious racing motorcycle with the same three-shaft motor that comes in the KTM 50SX. The fork is the WP AER 35 and the shock is a WP, mounted directly to the swingarm. Both brakes are hydraulic discs. Even though most of the major components are similar to those of the KTM, the little Husky has a different feel and layout.
HUSQVARNA TC65: $4999
Just when we thought the 65 class in amateur racing had turned into a one-brand parade, Husky announced that it was joining the show. The newly announced Husky TC65 should be similar, if not identical to the KTM 65SX in performance, but has different styling, ergonomics and bodywork. It has the WP AER 35 air fork, a six-speed gearbox and hydraulic clutch.
HUSQVARNA TC85: $5599
Husqvarna is rapidly becoming a full-line motorcycle maker with all the bases covered. The Husky TC85 currently shares the position of most-coveted 85 with its blood brother, the KTM 85SX. The TC has a powervalve and WP suspension, just like larger Huskys, and features that some Japanese 450s don’t have like a hydraulic clutch and oversize bars. There’s a big wheel version for $5799.
HUSQVARNA TC125: $6999
This bike was completely new in 2016, which was the first indicator that Husqvarna was reinvesting the the concept of two-stroke dirt bikes. For 2017, the bike is further refined and it gets a new Mikuni carburetor and the WP AER 48 air fork. It still has a Magura hydraulic clutch, a six-speed gearbox and DID Dirt Star rims.
HUSQVARNA TC250: $7799
This is the newest bike in the Husqvarna line, and is the foundation for a whole family of two-strokes. The TC250 motocross bike has a new five-speed motor with a Mikuni TMX carburetor. It uses the same powervalve configuration as the motor it replaces, but everything else is new, including a counterbalancer shaft.
For more on the 2017 Husqvarna TC250, click here.
HUSQVARNA TE150: $7999
This bike begins with the TE prefix, which, in Husky language, makes it less agressive and more trail oriented than a TX. The 150 now has the same stroke as the TC125, so this bike is only a cylinder and piston away from being 125 legal in many Schoolboy classes. It has softer suspension and a headlight for the trail riding part of its personality.
HUSQVARNA TX300: $9199
This will probably be the best-selling Husqvarna of 2017. It’s the new two-stroke motor in 300cc configuration with electric start and a six-speed gearbox. It’s in a more aggressive state of tune than the TE models and it has the new WP AER 48 air fork. Off-road racing is its primary mission, but we know from past history that this bike can do anything, and do it well.
HUSQVARNA TE250: $8999
The TE series is the Husky version of the KTM XC-W two-strokes. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, then think of these bikes as more trail-friendly, eastern-oriented machines that are equally at home for play riding and racing. It has the new motor platform with the counterbalancer shaft, the Mikuni carb and electric start, but the new Xplor 48 fork has coil springs and soft settings.
For a video featuring the 2017 Husqvarna TE line, click here.
HUSQVARNA TE300: $9199
Husky is investing heavily in two-stroke off-road bikes for 2017. The TE300 has the new six-speed motor with the counterbalancer shaft, electric start and a Mikuni, just like the TE250 and TX300. This one has the smoothest power delivery and most trail-oriented suspension, following closely in the footsteps of the previous TE300s from Husky and before that, Husaberg.
KAWASAKI KX65: $3699
This bike virtually started the class back when it was a 60. It got a serious remake in 2000 and morphed into a 65, but has changed very little since then. It’s one of the smallest bikes that has a manual clutch and is perfect for a transition into racing. At the highest levels, the Kawasaki struggles to keep up with the newest 65s from KTM and Cobra, but sells for much less.
KAWASAKI KX85: $4349
Two years ago the KX85 was recrafted and brought up to date with a new top end, new suspension and new bodywork. Now the bike is enjoying a rebirth of sorts on the amateur racing scene. The KX85 returned from the 2016 Amateur Nationals with wins in many of the 85 classes, slowing the KTM tide somewhat.
KAWASAKI KX100: $4599
This is a good transition bike for riders who are a little too big for an 85. The KX100 has a larger bore, bringing the displacement to 99cc. The wheels are larger, with a 16-incher in the rear and a 19 in front, replacing the 14/17 combo on the 85. Racing rules vary, but the 100 is usually legal in the Supermini class, though it might be at a disadvantage in stock form.
KTM 50SX MINI: $3499
This is the most humble gateway into KTM’s massive offering of dirt bikes. The 50SX Mini is a milder version of the 50SX aimed at riders around four, five or six years old. It has an automatic clutch that engages at low rpm and 10-inch wheels as opposed to the 12-inchers on the standard SX. It has a coil-spring 35mm fork and hydraulic disc brakes.
KTM 50SX: $3999
If you look at the picture of the 50SX without any size references, it could easily be mistaken for a full-size motorcycle. It has all the same features, like hydraulic disc brakes and styling like that of the bike Ryan Dungey rides. For 2017, it gets an air fork, more adjustments on the rear shock and a new pipe. KTM recommends the 50 for riders up to 4’3” tall.
KTM 65SX: $4899
With rare exception, when the 65 class takes to the track in modern amateur racing, it looks like an orange fog has just rolled in. The 65SX fills a good 90 percent of the start gates. This year the KTM has a new WP AER 35 fork and updated rear shock. The clutch is hydraulic, the brakes are discs and the tires are Maxxis.
KTM 85SX: $5599
KTM has a fairly large horsepower advantage in the 85 class against Japanese 85s. It’s also the most sophisticated, with a hydraulic clutch, WP suspension (with coil spring forks), Formula hydraulic disc brakes and an oversize handlebar. The KTM is the most expensive 85, but holds its value amazing well on the used market.
KTM 125SX: $6899
When KTM redesigned this bike in 2016, it revitalized the 125 two-stroke world. We wouldn’t be surprised if even Yamaha saw an increase in sales, thanks to the commitment KTM made to the two-stroke engine platform. For 2017, the new motor gets a Mikuni carb and the new WE AER 48 airfork. It also gets a number of updates as you might expect in a second-year model.
KTM 150SX: $6999
When the KTM 150 was first introduced, it was an odd companion to the 125, and had a different crank with a longer stroke. Now, the new motor has been designed to support either top end, so you could, in theory at least, have two different bikes by buying an extra top end. The 150 has a very different personality, with a harder hitting powerband that might intimidate inexperienced riders.
KTM 250SX: $7699
This is the bike that two-stroke fans have been waiting for. The 250SX is the first full-size two-stroke motocross motor released since 2002. The same motor platform is used for nine different bikes across the KTM and Husqvarna lines, making it the biggest combined production run in the company for 2017. In MX configuration it doesn’t have E-start, but a kit is on the way.
For a video featuring the 2017 KTM 250SX, click here.
For impressions on the first ride on the 2017 KTM 250SX, click here.
KTM 250XC: $8899
In KTM nomenclature, the “XC” suffix (without a “W”) means the bike is very motocross oriented, but re-aimed for off-road racing through a few specific changes. In the case of the 250XC, it has E-start, softer suspension, an 18-inch rear wheel, a kickstand, handguards, a skidplate, a six-speed gearbox and a 2.6-gallon tank (as opposed to 1.6). It still gets the AER 48 air fork.
KTM 300XC: $9099
KTM doesn’t offer a 300cc two-stroke motocross bike, but the 300XC is a pure-blooded racer and can be taken to virtually any form of competition with a reasonable expectation of success. It has a six-speed gearbox, linkage rear suspension, the WP AER 48 air fork, a six-speed gearbox and electric start. The XC gearbox is a six-speed.
KTM 150XC-W: $7999
This bike has big shoes to fill. KTM decided to discontinue the much-loved, but aging 200 two-stroke with this in its place. The 150XC-W is in a very different state of tune than the 150SX motocross bike and has an electric starter. On the XC-W line, all the 2017 KTMs have the WP Xplor 48 coil-spring fork.
KTM 250XC-W: $8899
The guys at KTM know that the new two-stroke motor is very aggressive in its motocross configuration, and the XC off-road line is just as hard core. So the XC-W line has softer suspension designed for tighter off-road terrain, typical of the eastern and northwestern trails in the U.S. The 250XC-W has PDS rear suspension and the Xplor 848 fork.
KTM 300XC-W: $9099
It’s almost impossible to tell a KTM 300XC-W from a KTM 250XC-W. But you can usually tell the riders apart easily. The 300 appeals to an old-school off-roader who wants to torque his way up hills and be generally unstoppable. It’s a little less aggressive and a little more throaty. Both are designed to handle the toughest trails and events in the world.
KTM FREERIDE: Price to be announced
Some bikes defy category and even resist description. The Freeride is like that. It’s an electric start 300 without a power valve. It’s tuned for low-end torque and has a chassis with short, soft suspension. It’s made for the rider who wants to dabble in trials, but also wants to have a real seat and fuel range to cover more ground.
SHERCO SE250 RACING: $8700
Sherco’s off-road bikes are amazingly sophisticated considering the small size of the family-owned factory. The SE250R’s two-stroke motor has an electronic power valve, electric start and a hydraulic clutch. This year the bike gets a new head, new piston, new power valve and ignition timing, a new silencer and a number of other changes.
SHERCO SE300 RACING: $8900
This year there’s a big shake up on the international enduro scene, and Sherco is at the heart of it. Australian Matt Phillips has been dominating the E3 class with his Sherco SEF300R and Wade Young has been making inroads in Extreme Enduro with this bike: the SE300R two-stroke. The 300 and 250 are nearly identical, but the 300 has a bigger bore.
SHERCO X-RIDE: $7200
There’s a middle ground between trials and enduro that several different companies are trying to find. Sherco based its offering on a trials motor with a completely new chassis, unlike anything else in the company’s line. The finished product is said to weigh 190 pounds. It has an old-fashioned kickstarter, a five-speed gearbox and holds 1.8 gallons of fuel.
SUZUKI RM85: $4099
Long ago, Suzuki was known as a two-stroke company. Now the sole surviving example in the company’s line is the RM85. It’s been around for years, but still has a reputation as the most beginner friendly of the 85s with a torquey motor and a low seat height. This year it gets black number plates, new graphics and a price that’s still one of the best in class.
TM MINIS: FROM $6395
TM is a small italian company that makes some of the most hi-tech minis on the planet. The 85 motor has an electronic power valve and an aluminum frame. There are five configurations: standard 85 ($6395), big wheel 85 ($6395), standard 100 ($6495), big wheel 100 ($6495) and full-size 85 with an 18-inch rear wheel and a 21 front for $8295.
TM MX: FROM $8295
TM hand-builds some highly specialized machines that you simply can’t find anywhere else. One is the 300 two-stroke MX bike, which has a beautifully made aluminum frame and a very powerful two-stroke motor with an electronic power valve. The fork is a KYB and the shock is made in-house at TM. The 300 is $8895, the 250 is $8745, the 144 is $8495 and the 125 is $8295.
TM ENDURO: FROM $8495
There are four different two-stroke off-road bikes from TM. All share the same cult-like devotion to detail and quality workmanship. The 125 and 144 have the same chassis and mostly the same motors, but have different bores and strokes. The 125 is $8495 and the 144 is $8845. The 250 is $8995 and the 300 sells for $9195.
YAMAHA PW50: $1440 (2016 price)
There’s still no better bike for teaching a young rider how to handle a motorcycle. The PW50 has been schooling riders for over 30 years. It has a drive shaft , a tether and a throttle stop that can be adjusted as the rider advances. The only hint that the bike is somewhat dated is the lack of electric start. Training wheels are optional.
Yamaha’s YZ85 was reworked a little over 10 years ago and has gone unchanged since then. As a result, it’s tied with the Suzuki for least expensive of the class. The Yamaha is slightly larger and suited for older riders than the RM85. It’s the only 85 that doesn’t have a power valve, but still is competitive in the horsepower department.
The YZ125 motor hasn’t changed much in 12 years, but it makes good power and the suspension is the best in the industry. The bike handles flawlessly and makes you wonder why everyone doesn’t ride one. In 2015 it got new bodywork, and while it still doesn’t look like a modern four-stroke, it doesn’t look quite as old fashion as it did.
In 2005, Yamaha introduced the aluminum frame that the YZ250 still uses. The motor actually goes back a few years further. But the bike still holds its own on the track and has become an icon in the two-stroke world. Yamaha has continued its policy of giving the bike just enough attention to keep it relevant, and this year it got a 270mm front brake.
In 2015, Yamaha stunned us by suddenly deciding that the off-road world, and more specifically, off-road riders were worth pursuing. The YZ250X is a competition bike designed to go head-to-head with KTM’s two-strokes. It lacks electric start and a large tank, but Yamaha engineers worked hard on the powerband and gear ratios to make the bike work for the trail.