BETA 300RR: $8499
Beta continues to be the main European alternative to the KTM group, and most riders agree that the 300RR can go toe to toe with any off-road two-stroke in the world. It has electric start, a six-speed gearbox, oil injection and Sachs suspension components. The 2018 models have lost over 10 pounds in overall weight. The motor has a new top end, crank and connecting rod, and the kick-start lever has been eliminated.
BETA 250RR: $8499
The Beta 250 shares the same chassis and most of the same motor with the 300RR. It has only 5.6mm less bore, which gives it a snappier response than some riders prefer. It has electric start (no kick-start lever this year), oil injection, revamped Sachs suspension, and, for 2018, it has a big weight reduction, a new clutch, a new combustion chamber and other updates.
BETA XTRAINER: TBA
If you zapped a 300RR with your shrink-ray gun, this is what you would get. The Xtrainer is slightly smaller, shorter and mellower. It was originally designed for less experienced riders, but even pros have come to love it for its incredible versatility. It can snake through the tightest trails where full-size bikes barely fit. It also has oil injection, e-start and a much lower price.
BETA 125RR: TBA
Beta surprised us by developing a completely new motor and presenting the world with a 125 two-stroke off-road bike for 2018. The 125RR has a six-speed gearbox and a progressive mechanical power valve. The head is designed to accept different domes, so you can alter the power delivery. It has oil injection, and there will be an electric-starter kit available.
COBRA CX65: $5298
Cobra has won over 300 National titles in the last 10 years. The company’s CX65 has recently progressed to the point where it can challenge KTM in that class—in results if not in numbers. The bikes are handmade in low quantity with parts mostly made in the U.S. Last year the 65 got extensive upgrades, and this year it follows up with new wheels, low-friction swingarm bearings and Dunlop MX3S tires.
COBRA CX50SR & FWE: $4198/$5198
Every summer Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, becomes the world Cobra center. The CX50R once again had a massive presence disproportional to the small size of the company. The 2018 CX50 model gets upgraded brakes, lightweight wheels and Dunlop Geomax MX3S tires. The high-end Factory Works Edition (FWE) gets a Warhead cylinder and an extended wheelbase.
COBRA CX50JR & P3: $3998/$3598
Although Cobra specializes in making the world’s most competitive (and expensive) mini racers, the company also has something for true beginners. The CX50JR and the P3 have 10-inch wheels and much milder power output for younger riders. It also gets upgraded brakes, wheels and tires this year, along with billet triple clamps with adjustable bar mounts. The P3 is smaller and qualifies for the Special Limited class.
GAS GAS EC300 & EC250: $9299/$9199
After a factory shutdown two years ago, Gas Gas has been the focus of reinvestment and innovation. The EC300 and EC250 models have completely new frames, bodywork and suspension for 2018. The motors have new top ends. Horsepower is up, weight is down, and the company is alive and kicking. The 250 differs from the 300 only in bore size. There will also be an EC200 for $8899.
GAS GAS XC300 & XC250: $8999/$8899
Gas Gas makes both its 250 and 300 two-strokes available in a stripped-down version for cross-country racing. The XC models, such as the EC (enduro) models, have new frames and new top ends for 2018. They have the same KYB suspension but without the headlight or instruments. The XC models also get FMF exhaust pipes and silencers. An XC200 will sell for $8599.
HUSQVARNA TE300 & TE250: $9399/$9199
If you’re one of the pundits who say that Husqvarnas are just white KTMs, the TE models are proof otherwise. They’re designed for trail riding more than competition, but unlike the KTM XC-Ws, the TEs have linkage suspension, a unified subframe and airbox, Pro Taper handlebars, D.I.D Dirt Star rims and a Magura master cylinder. This year the brakes are made by Magura. The Husky 300 and 250 are identical aside from bore.
HUSQVARNA TX300: $9399
For those who are more competition-oriented, the TX300 is a racier version of the Husky TE300. It has more aggressive suspension and a little more hit. The fork is a WP AER 48 air fork, whereas the TE version has an open-cartridge Xplor 48. It has Brembo brakes, Pro Taper bars, a Magura-clutch master cylinder and D.I.D Dirt Star rims. Like the TE, the TX has electric start and keeps its kick-start lever.
HUSQVARNA TE250i: TBA
Husqvarna will be importing a fuel-injected, two-stroke, off-road bike in limited numbers for 2018. The TE250i features injectors placed in the transfer ports with a Dell’Orto throttle body and oil injection. For now, the bike isn’t homologated to pass U.S. emissions tests, so it is imported as a closed-course competition bike. The chassis is the same as that of the standard TE250, which comes with a Mikuni carb.
HUSQVARNA TC250: $7999
The motocross version of the Husky 250 two-stroke is stripped down to the bone. It has no electric starter, and it’s a five-speed. The suspension is similar to that of the FC450 four-stroke motocross bike. The fork is the WP AER 48 air fork. The hydraulic clutch has a Magura master cylinder. The motor still has a counterbalancer, just like the off-road versions.
HUSQVARNA TC125: $7099
Husqvarna’s 125 motocross bike was all new two years ago, proving that the company sees a future in two-stroke MX bikes, particularly for younger riders. The bike has a two-stage mechanical power valve, a six-speed gearbox and the same suspension components as the larger four-stroke MX bikes. Up front it uses a WP AER 48 air fork, which was a huge step forward last year.
HUSQVARNA TE150: $8299
For its smallest, dedicated off-road bike, Husqvarna started with the 125 MX platform, gave it a larger bore to bring it to 144cc and then added electric start. The fork is the WP Xplor 48, which has an open cartridge and coil springs. This bike will use all-new Magura brakes, in addition to the Magura master cylinder for the hydraulic clutch. There’s a handlebar-mounted map switch to tailor the power delivery.
HUSQVARNA TC85 (19/16): $6099
Husqvarna offers a big-wheel version of the TC85, something that most other manufacturers make you assemble for yourself. Aside from the 19-inch front wheel and 16-inch rear wheel, the big-wheel TC85 is the same as the standard version, meaning it got extensive changes to the motor and chassis for 2018. In front, it uses a WP AER 43 air fork, and the Xplor shock has new geometry.
HUSQVARNA TC85 (17/14): $5899
Husqvarna gave the TC85 a new chassis, new bodywork, new suspension and a massively updated motor for 2018. The chromoly frame is said to be torsionally stiffer but have more flex longitudinally. The front suspension is now an air fork, and both ends have more travel. The motor has a new top end and a new power-valve design. The crank is lighter, and even the engine cases are more compact.
HUSQVARNA TC65: $5099
Last year the TC65 got a major change, so for 2018 the changes are mostly refinements. In front it still uses the WP AER 35 fork, which has 215mm of travel. The rear suspension uses no linkage and provides 270mm of travel. It has a six-speed gearbox with a hydraulic clutch. The power valve is a pressure-controlled design.
HUSQVARNA TC50: $4199
This is only the second year for the Husky 50, but already it is having an impact in amateur racing. The 50 has a three-shaft motor and places the crank in the middle of the bike’s center of gravity. The reverse kickstarter is easy for a kid to use. The brakes are hydraulic, the clutch is automatic, and the front suspension is the WP AER 35 air fork.
KAWASAKI KX100: $4599
In order to create the KX100, Kawasaki gave the KX85 a 4mm increase in bore, a larger Keihin carburetor and larger wheels. The front is a 19-incher and the rear is a 16, as opposed to the 14/17 combination on the 85. The seat height is 1.6 inches taller. The chassis, suspension and the rest of the motor are the same on the two bikes, making the 100 a good bike to grow into.
KAWASAKI KX85: $4349
Kawasaki has paid more attention to the 85 class than any other Japanese manufacturer in recent years and has an amateur title from this year’s AMA Amateur Championships at Loretta Lynn’s to show for it. The KX85 got a remake four years ago when it got a big upgrade in suspension and power, as well as a cosmetic makeover.
KAWASAKI KX65: $3599
Kawasaki once owned the 65cc class in amateur racing, but with the coming of the KTM, Cobra and Husky 65s, the KX is now more of a play bike than a racer. It can still be modified into a competitive racer, and smaller riders love it for its 29.9-inch seat height. Parents love it because the price is more than $1000 less than other 65s and, face it, junior is going to grow out of the class tomorrow.
KTM 300XC-W & 250XC-W: $9299/$9099
In KTM model language, bikes that have the “XC-W” suffix are more trail-oriented than those without the W. So, the 300 and 250XC-W both have cushy suspension, wide-ratio gearboxes and a smooth power delivery. Both have the WP Xplor coil-spring fork and PDS rear suspension without linkage. Unlike their relatives in the Husky TE line, KTMs have Brembo brakes.
KTM 300XC & 250XC: 9299/$9099
These are the more race-oriented off-road two-strokes in the KTM lineup. They still have electric start and counterbalancer shafts like the XC-W line, but the suspension is quite different. The fork is the WP AER 48 air fork, and the shock uses linkage very similar to the motocross bikes’. The 300 has a 72mm bore, whereas the 250’s is 66.4. Otherwise, the 250 and 300 are identical.
KTM 250XC-W TPI: TBA
This bike shook up the world—or at least Europe—when it was announced. The transfer-port fuel-injection system makes it clean enough to qualify for Euro 4 emissions and the even tighter regulations to come, so it can be homologated for street use in some countries. That doesn’t include the U.S. where it is imported as a closed-course competition bike, just like other two-strokes. Aside from EFI, the bike is very similar to the carbureted XC-W.
KTM 250SX: $7899
KTM has redesigned all of its two-stroke motors within the last three years, so the 2018 250SX can lay claim to being the newest two-stroke motocross bike on the market. It has a motor similar to the off-road versions but has no electric start, a five-speed gearbox and linkage rear suspension matched to a WP AER 48 fork. It still has a counterbalancer shaft and a two-stage mechanical power valve.
KTM 150XC-W: $8199
Fans of the old KTM 200XC-W are slowly warming up to the 150XC-W, which was all new two years ago. It has electric start with a kick-start lever for backup and a six-speed, wide-ratio gearbox. This bike uses PDS rear suspension without linkage. It also has the Xplor 48 fork with coil springs. It doesn’t have the torque of the old 200, but it has more peak power and is much, much lighter.
KTM 150SX: $7199
This bike is a close relative of the 125 two-stroke motocross bike in KTM’s line. The only thing that makes it different is its bore, which is 58mm as opposed to 54mm. It has full MX suspension, including linkage in the rear and a WP air fork up front. The carb is a 38mm Mikuni TMX. The brakes are Brembo, and the hydraulic clutch has a Brembo master cylinder.
KTM 125SX: $6999
When KTM redesigned the 125 two years ago, it served notice that the two-stroke design is still very important to the company, and the 125 is a great transition bike between minis and full-size MX bikes. The 125SX has the WP AER 48 fork and linkage rear suspension. It has no electric start, but is the lightest full-size motocross bike on the market. A 144 kit is available.
KTM 85SX: $5799
This bike received more attention than anything else in the entire KTM line for 2018. The 85SX has a new chassis, new bodywork, new suspension and a new motor. Suspension travel has increased at both ends, and there’s a new WP AER 43 air fork in front. The steel frame is said to be 25 percent less rigid on a vertical plane while being stiffer in torsion. The motor has a new-style power-valve design, more compact cases and keeps its hydraulic clutch.
KTM 65SX: $4999
This bike utterly dominated the 65 class at Loretta Lynn’s Amateur Nationals again this year. Of the 133 bikes in the various 65cc classes, 104 were KTMs. It features a manual six-speed gearbox with a hydraulic clutch. The fork is a WP AER 35 and has 215mm of travel. The single rear shock is mounted directly to the swingarm and offers 270mm of travel.
KTM 50SX: $4099
There are few changes to the 2018 KTM 50SX, but last year it got new suspension, including the WP AER 35 air fork. This is the model that you see the KTM Junior Supercross Challenge kids race during intermission at most rounds of the Monster Energy Supercross series. It has an automatic clutch and a single-speed, and is the most common bike in the 50 class in amateur racing.
KTM 50 MINI: $3599
KTM offers the 50 Mini for young riders who are just entering the world of dirt bike riding. It’s a smaller, milder version of the 50SX with 10-inch wheels as opposed to 12 inches. The centrifugal clutch engages at fairly low rpm, and the engine has a single speed. There’s a coil-spring fork in front and hydraulic brakes at both ends.
SHERCO SE300 RACING & SE250 RACING: $9200/$9100
Sherco is a smallish French company that’s growing rapidly and will probably produce over 22,000 bikes this year. Wade Young and Mario Roman have been riding Sherco’s electric-start two-strokes and pushing the likes of Graham Jarvis and Jonny Walker in the Red Bull Hard Enduro series. The bikes feature WP suspension and an electronic power valve.
SHERCO SC 300 CROSS-COUNTRY & SC250 CROSS-COUNTRY: $9300/$9299
Sherco’s Cross-Country two-stroke models come with an FMF exhaust system. All Cross-Country models come with blue race bodywork and graphics, a WP closed-cartridge fork and a new WP shock with more aggressive valving. There are no lights on the Cross-Country models. For 2018 the 300 gets a new piston, rod, crank and engine mapping.
SHERCO X-RIDE 290: $7600
Sherco has its roots in the trials world, and the X-Ride reflects a little of that background. The bike is a very lightweight, 272cc two-stroke without electric start or a power valve. It uses a Dell’Orto carb and has a stainless steel head pipe that’s so long, it looks like something off a four-stroke. The X-Ride is aimed at very tight trail riding, similar to the Beta Xtrainer and KTM Freeride R.
SHERCO SE 125 RACING: $8400
This is an all-new bike for 2018. Sherco is investing in the 125 two-stroke market with an electric-start motor that uses an electronic power valve. The bike is a dedicated off-road bike, but it has a map switch that boosts power by 3 horsepower when shifted to the aggressive mode. It uses a WP Xplor coil-spring fork and a WP shock with linkage.
SUZUKI RM85: $4149
Suzuki’s RM85 has had the longest run of any two-stroke on the market. It continues to be an excellent bike for newcomers to the 85 class, because it’s physically smaller than most and has a torquey motor that most beginners find easy to manage. It is less expensive than the Yamaha or Kawasaki and much, much less expensive than the minis from KTM and Husqvarna.
TM MX300 & MX250: $8995/$8845
TM is a small Italian factory that specializes in making beautiful bikes to very high standards. The 300 and 250 motocrossers have electronic power valves, KYB forks, shocks made in-house at TM, hydraulic clutches and handcrafted aluminum frames that are said to be lighter for 2018.
Both are available in enduro trim; add $200 for the EN300 and $150 for the EN250.
TM MX144 & MX125: $8595/$8295
Small-displacement TM motors have a reputation for being very fast. The 125 and 144 have electronic power valves, Keihin carburetors, Nissin brakes, KYB forks and TM-made shocks. The porting is new for 2018, as well as a number of other changes. For the enduro versions, add $200 for the EN125 and $250 for the EN144.
TM MX100 JUNIOR & MX85 JUNIOR: $6545/$6445
These are the most exotic motocross bikes in the 85 class. They have hand-welded aluminum frames, electronic power valves, six-speed transmissions and are said to be very, very fast. The 100 has larger wheels, as well as more displacement, and increases in both bore and stroke. There’s also an 85 available in a full-size chassis for $8295.
YAMAHA YZ250X: $7499
Yamaha isn’t content to sit back and let Europe take ownership of the off-road two-stroke market. The YZ250X has suspension and power that are specifically aimed at off-road riding, and the gearbox has wider ratios than those of the YZ250 MX bike. The X lacks a larger tank and electric start, but it has a kickstand and an 18-inch rear wheel.
YAMAHA YZ250: $7399
The first Yamaha YZ250 appeared back in 1974 as a result of development that occurred right here in the U.S. The bike went through a crazy evolution for the next 30 years, but then it was left alone when emphasis shifted to four-strokes. The last major change was in 2015 when it got new suspension and bodywork. It remains a great bike, even if it’s somewhat dated.
YAMAHA YZ125: $6499
The YZ125 hasn’t changed for 2018, and even if it’s not that different from the 2005 model, it remains relevant and competitive with newer European 125s. The fork and shock aren’t that different from the ones on the current YZ250F, and the motor is still crisp, responsive and fun to use. It’s been called the world’s best-handling bike. Come to think of it, we’re the ones who said that.
YAMAHA YZ85: $4299
Yamaha hasn’t made a major change to the YZ85 since 2002 when it was redesigned and aimed at taller, more serious racers. Since then, the YZ’s lack of change has pushed it out of the limelight in competition, as KTM and now Husqvarna have captured the more serious racers. The YZ is still a little taller than the Suzuki and the Kawasaki and has similar performance.
YAMAHA PW50: $1,499 (2017)
This bike hasn’t changed in 30 years because it’s ideal for young, first-time riders as is. The PW50 is the bike that taught most of today’s racers how to ride. It even taught many of yesterday’s racers how to ride. The driveshaft, automatic clutch and adjustable throttle stop are key features. Its only real flaw is the lack of electric start.