Not so long ago, the imminent death of the two-stroke seemed certain, as advances in four-stroke technology and concerns over the environmental impact of burning pre-mix oil threatened to render the long-serving two-stroke engine obsolete.
Adding weight to the fears was the controversial decision Honda made to cease production of their two-stroke motocross bikes line-up. Recently, however, a wave of exciting new class-rulings have emerged from all around the world, ensuring the preservation of the two-stroke motocross bike in Junior- and several other levels of motocross competition. The world's most extreme off-road races have also been dominated by two-stroke machinery.
Two factors driving this resurgence of interest in the two-stroke are their easy maintenance and affordability, in contrast to the crippling cost and complexity of some modern four-strokes. For the guy on a budget, who pulls his bike out once a month, this is a massive bonus. And now, in answer to the pre-mix pollution problem, KTM is recalibrating perceptions with its class-leading 60:1 fuel/oil ratio.
Perhaps the best thing about these new-generation off-road two-strokes is their incedible versatility. Thanks to their user-friendly yet potent engines, you can happily ride them in two different mindsets – racing or trail – and they'll respond to either. With minimal changes, you can trailride with your friends on Saturday and then turn up and smoke an enduro special test on Sunday – it's up to you.