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Future Two strokes.

matty

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In our evermore Green motivated world it seems the bad boys like diesel and of course the Two strokes are either rarely seen or in the realms of diesel set for a uncertain future in the current specification form anyway. but with the Work done by the Marine engine manufacturers initialy and the Likes Of the KTMs the last few years. Is there a future for the Two stroke in the Green Motorcycle world?
 

DSquared

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I have never owned a 2T bike but love my 2T snowmobiles. The power to weight ratio and power curve is really advantageous. I think once battery tech advances a little more, electric will slide right into the niche power market as the power curve can be programmed to feel just like a 2 Stroke coming up on the pipe.
 

matty

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Until we get Electric with Range and low weight ( comparative to fuel / weight) i dont see electric cutting it in the real world . The whole electric Evironmental/ green thing is fantastic when plugged into the magic electric grid. But wire it to a real main now we need to get that power by some means and couple that with Power cell life expectancy and replacement costs both to the environment and the wallet. No Musk or anyone else as still got the age old electric problem Power cells/ battery tech and charging both in time and what ungreen power we replenish the fuel cells with .
Supose if a guy or gal has their own water wheel power plant on that mountain retreat then its one partial answer, but reallity is we not got the battery tech sorted yet and no way the charging nor where the charge comes from.
 

Yinzer Moto

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To have a discussion, we need to define some parameters of what you are talking about. Most 2 strokes these days are used on shorter rides where the user returns to a home base every day. Is this what you are interested in?
 

matty

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To have a discussion, we need to define some parameters of what you are talking about. Most 2 strokes these days are used on shorter rides where the user returns to a home base every day. Is this what you are interested in?
Not really, Range and lots of it was always and indeed still is in the realms of the two strokes new or old.
I covered many hundreds of miles in a day and multiple days even week trips on T500 suzukis Yamaha YR5fs RD350Lc VPVs . No valves no valve checks oil changes as such and relative simplicity of construction/ operation give a two stroke advantages and couple this with the modern environmental emissions tech is there a future.
 

Yinzer Moto

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Not really, Range and lots of it was always and indeed still is in the realms of the two strokes new or old.
I covered many hundreds of miles in a day and multiple days even week trips on T500 suzukis Yamaha YR5fs RD350Lc VPVs . No valves no valve checks oil changes as such and relative simplicity of construction/ operation give a two stroke advantages and couple this with the modern environmental emissions tech is there a future.

I have very little experience with those bikes. How do they compare to a modern bike? My WR250R was ridden in the top 1/3 of its rev range for most of its life. Nearly 30,000 miles, I would guess my moving average speed of that bike is around 30mph, so that is 1,000 hours of motor time and still perfectly running. The first valve check is at 26,000 and one valve needed a slight adjustment to move it to the opposite side of the spec range. Just put gas in it and go. It is common to see reports of these motors going over 100,000 miles, the owners complain because the odometers just quit at 99,999.

Modern KTM 2 strokes that I have had, needed a lot of maintenance when ridden similarly. I had a KTM 150 that lived its entire life in the upper end of the rev range and it needed a piston every 30-40 hours of use. That is about 500 miles. Any 2 stroke ridden at the top of the power range is going to need similar rebuilds. Many people compare bike longevity without comparing how the motor is used. My 2 stroke trials bikes rarely gets ridden at the top of the rev range and will go 400-500 hours before needing a rebuild.
 

matty

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Well the T500 was a big for its day 2 stroke back in the 60s, and as it went on post titan it was steadily developed past the early shortfalls with high mile hard run gearboxes having some issues, yet by the 1970s to its end in i think around 1976 it was petty bomb proof for a bike back then. It was a genuine 105MPh bike and got there briskly and in a relatively tame state of tune that with suzukis excellent CCI oil system and engine design bassed around good air cooling, the T500 was a genuine long lived reliable mile muncher that stood the test of time very well indeed.
80mph cruising and good torque and power were a recipie for a nice fast tourer, it handled well enough and about the only critasisum i could level at it was it vibrated a bit, not the sort of parealel twin triumph T140 sort of vibes, but the buzzy sort of get off it after 4 hours and wow the world just stopped sort of thing.
But Reliable in use yes tough long lived yes. Overall despite its age i think they were well good.
Similar the yam R% and the Later 350 Lc Even the old RD400, that did over a hundred and was tough and reliable generaly.
 

ihmsakiwi

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High time they bought back a nice water-cooled big two stroke. A 19 year old me on my new GT750 ( 1970ish) leaving the start of a 24 hour rally. This bike really ate the miles. Super smooth but the suspension was found a bit wanting when riding hard in the twisties.
 

Shinyribs

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When Suzuki made the T500 Titan their goal was to overbuild a street-going 2T just for the reason of proving that it could be done reliably. Which tells me that the public opinion of smokers wasn't great at the time. Pretty cool that Suzuki wanted to do that, but the fact that it needed doing at all isn't a good indicator. Either way, the T500 is a unique case.

Two strokes are great, but I'm not sure the idea of using them where range is a big concern. They're hard on fuel.

I grew up on 2t and still enjoy hopping on a buddy's smoker now and then. I can't stand listening to the high frequency sound for extended periods of time anymore. Even just a ride along YouTube type video...about 2 minutes in and my head starts hurting.
 

Shinyribs

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High time they bought back a nice water-cooled big two stroke. A 19 year old me on my new GT750 ( 1970ish) leaving the start of a 24 hour rally. This bike really ate the miles. Super smooth but the suspension was found a bit wanting when riding hard in the twisties.
Is that an insulated cover for the fuel tank? Never seen that before and I'm trying to figure it's use.
 

ihmsakiwi

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Not insulated for any temperature reason just a vinyl cover to hopefully protect the tank from gravel rash as I was about to do many miles on rough roads and gravel.

It was the craze back then, Thank God it passed quickly. This bike had a beautiful goldeb / orange paint fleck that was too nice to cover anyway.
 

matty

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When Suzuki made the T500 Titan their goal was to overbuild a street-going 2T just for the reason of proving that it could be done reliably. Which tells me that the public opinion of smokers wasn't great at the time. Pretty cool that Suzuki wanted to do that, but the fact that it needed doing at all isn't a good indicator. Either way, the T500 is a unique case.

Two strokes are great, but I'm not sure the idea of using them where range is a big concern. They're hard on fuel.

I grew up on 2t and still enjoy hopping on a buddy's smoker now and then. I can't stand listening to the high frequency sound for extended periods of time anymore. Even just a ride along YouTube type video...about 2 minutes in and my head starts hurting.
From the early days of two strokes the simplicity of function and the lack of moving wearing parts not only made production cheap and given power per Cc was Good and engines were lightweight the Two strokes tended to be the more utilitarian and generaly smaller engines. There were a few Exeptions and by example Scott made bigger water cooled twins that were good quality designed and manufactured .
The germans Used the two strokes Both pre and post WW2 and NSU / DKW and others were clones by many after WW" taken in some cases as war reparations. BSA HD and many eastern block Two strokes were based or close copies of 3rd Reich era Teutonic designs.

Post war the need for Cheap transport worldwide meant the two strokes simplicity and relative cheapness etc made it the ideal choice of powerplant for everything from powered bycycles to small bikes and scooters.
Suzuki were just one of many firms to use the simple two stroke and italy england rusia gdr france etc all had brands turning out basic two stroke transport.
In the 50s some manufacturers started to make more powerfull designs and Italy japan and UK and certainly mz in germany had some far from utilitarian power mods sachs and even villiers in thec uk started getting improvements incorporated in their engines.
By the end of the 50s the Japs had improved their two strokes and the sucses in competition spilled over into the market place as they started their export drives.
I was a young lad in the 1960s but remember the likes of the 200 Invader and 250 super six suzukis Yamaha R3 and the kawasaki samurai twin , these were typical japnese bikes of their time and were by no means utilitarian or unrefined, in fact for the time they were good.
As time went by the 70s came and went fourstrokes from japan had blossomes with everything from singles to multi cyliders and evermore complex in design.
The two strokes are comparatively thirsty esspecial if highly tuned, but with modern two stroke tech the consumption should be possible to improve as too the emissions.
Two strokes have come on a lot from the early designs, and good crankcase construction bearing seal design and good production standards these days should make for efficient reliable allternatives to the now main stream fourstrokes.
 
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In our evermore Green motivated world it seems the bad boys like diesel and of course the Two strokes are either rarely seen or in the realms of diesel set for a uncertain future in the current specification form anyway. but with the Work done by the Marine engine manufacturers initialy and the Likes Of the KTMs the last few years. Is there a future for the Two stroke in the Green Motorcycle world?
No. Nostalgia is certainly a thing, but everything I've seen about the world indicates that we're moving away from internal combustion engines.

Here are my off-the-cuff thoughts on use cases for bikes that drive production. Because you might care a lot about some ridiculous niche sport like rally racing but nobody is making 450s because that's what they run in Dakar. Demand just isn't sufficient to drive production.

1. Urban use - short trips, relatively low speeds. Here in NYC, all the delivery scooters used to be little 2t scooters and now they're either electric bicycles or electric scooters. So I expect cities will eventually have primarily electric scooters and e-bicycles as transport. Pre-pandemic I was in italy and they had scooters everywhere in the cities. I expect those will all end up electric too across europe and that's a huge market. SE Asia I can't speak to and will be interested to see what happens there.

2. Cruising. I see no reason why we won't end up with electric cruisers too. Harley already came out with the livewire (and then promptly sabotaged it) and I expect we'll get an electric goldwing at some point. They're certainly heavy enough you won't notice the extra battery weight. If you're going on day long rides over the course of a week (or a weekend) then this seems like a fine use case to me. Same thing as any electric car - as the infrastructure for charging continues to expand, you're going to end up with more and more and more places you can stop and less planning you have to do. And as the battery tech gets better and better, it'll take less long to charge. But don't come at me with "oh, I totally don't stop and shoot the shit for half an hour when out riding with my buddies" because we both know that's a lie.

3. Commuting. Kind of the ideal for an electric bike - plug in at work, plug in at home. Electric bikes are already fast enough and with sufficient range to do this. Price does need to come down though but if you're ever looking at 6k for an electric commuter then I think that's a real winner.

4. RTW. Sorry, this doesn't drive bike sales but it's certainly one area where I don't think you can replace gas with electric. Although it's really the realm of the 4t and not the 2t for the reasons Yinzer Moto pointed out above.

5. Dirt bikes. There are a number of different subsets of this market. I think for marketing purposes it's really just two - trail riding and motocross. Motocross is perfect for electric. Just a little more progress and they'll have the power-weight ratio down and then maybe even improve on it. Trail riding is where there's a real problem, I think, but we're also not that far from being able to ride an electric bike instead. As it is, if you're going on loops you can come back to your F-150 lightning to charge. But I expect we'll hit 4-5 hours of straight riding in the next few years and that'll be the end of it.

It's important to note that there is a difference between whether or not there is a future for two strokes and whether or not folks will still ride two strokes. Folks will definitely still ride them. They feel nostalgia and love all sorts of dumb bikes that aren't as good as modern bikes just because it's what they rode when they were young. But even there, folks are starting their kids out on OSETs instead of pw50s now so who you've got another 20 years of nostalgia before the next generation comes up and doesn't give a shit about ICEs at all. You can still ride yours, sure, but the direction of the market and, in particular, the direction of the regulatory environment are very clear.

Without trying to be a jerk about it, I think maybe the question you're really asking is "hey, weren't our old 2t bikes awesome?" Yes.
 

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