News 7 Jun 2012

The Point: The Two-Stroke Debate

Two-strokes have been a major force in MXD this year, but do they belong against 250Fs?

Seemingly overnight, the 2012 Monster Energy MX Nationals pits have become a haven for the two-stroke – a piece of technology most of the racing world had discarded and left for dead as the four-stroke revolution came barging through in leaps and bounds.

But this year the MXD class is littered with the two-stroke machines and they’re winning races! We caught up with five of the industry big-wigs to get their view of the two-stroke’s mini-revival among the rookies.

Kiwi Kayne Lamont leads the pack on his KTM 250 SX two-stroke. Image: SImon Makker/

Kam Williams, MX Nationals commentator
I love two strokes and I think they’re fantastic. I’m just wondering about the power advantage a two-stroke has over four-strokes in the MXD class, but having said that, we’re not really seeing any two-strokes feature in MX Lites. Two-strokes is traditional motocross; it brings back memories of the 30-minute moto, and their sound and smell of premix is motocross in its purest form. I think four-strokes definitely have a power advantage out of the corners, but the guys in the MXD class are using the two-strokes well off the line and they’re really riding the pants off them.

Scott Bishop, GYTR Yamaha team manager
I’m certainly not against two-strokes, as my generation grew up riding then, but I just don’t know what the long-term gain is by riding two-strokes instead of four-strokes. At the moment most manufacturers are pushing four-strokes and that’s what all the major teams are running, so once a rider achieves success on a two-stroke, what are they going to do?
Assuming all the riders what to be professional racers, they need to learn to ride a 250F well, then a 450F. I think riding a 250 two-stroke is a short-term gain, but I don’t see what the long-term benefit is to spending a lot of time on that bike.

Kevin Williams, MX Nationals promoter

I’m amused by the people at the moment suggesting two-strokes should be banned from the MXD class. There’s all this hoo-haa about the 250 two-stroke, for example Joel Milesevic is an exceptional rider on a two-stroke and he struggles a bit on a four-stroke.
What we are seeing is that a number of riders coming out of juniors who are used to riding 125s and are still very strong and competitive are able to bring that forward.
If they were that dominant that they could win everything and it was just the bike, KTM would have everyone in the MX2 class riding a 250 two-stroke, as they are also eligible there.
I think people are getting ahead of themselves. I would rather see the MXD class be a two-stroke only class, as it is an affordable way to go racing.

The two-stroke's major advantage is out of the gates, but is a 250F better all-round? Image: Simon Makker/

Jay Foreman, Motul Pirelli Suzuki team manager
I can see the attraction, as a two-stroke is a cheaper way to go racing, but I don’t think the parity is right. You’ve got to remember the 450 – not the 250F – replaced the 250 two-stroke, and it’s possible to go incredibly fast on them if you’re disciplined with your throttle control. 
Any track that has good traction and flows, such as Murray Bridge and Wonthaggi, are going to benefit the two-stroke, but I think the hard-pack tracks of Appin and Horsham are going to be a big test and will see the four-strokes back at the front of the pack. At the end of the day I can see the reasoning for letting 250 two-strokes compete against the 250 four-strokes, but I think we could go about it in other ways. Still, it is great to see the two-strokes still going around.

Jeff Leisk, KTM Australia general manager
Obviously we’re ecstatic about the results the KTM 250SX is getting in the MXD class. It’s great to see the two-stroke is still eligible for both the MXD and MX2 classes. The benefits are the two-stroke has good horsepower out of the box and provides the riders, especially the younger riders and their households, with a lower cost alternative that can still be very competitive out there. While other manufacturers have ceased the production of two-strokes KTM has continued to develop them and is committed to develop them even further in the future. It’s a little strange the two-stroke hasn’t experienced the same dominance in the MX2 class, but it might just be a matter of a talented rider picking one up and proving its worth in that field. If that happens we might see more of a swing towards the two-strokes across the board.