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Modern 4 stroke vs 2 stroke reliability - buying dirtbike after many years hiatus

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Hello all,

 

    I know this is a highly debated topic and one that has probably been discussed at great length. I apologize in advance for opening up this can of worms. Unfortunately, when I have done searches both on this forum and google, virtually all the threads I have read are old (2004-2010, maybe 1 thread from 2011'). I have not seen anything (2013-2017) regarding this topic. I think with progression of engineering that reliability on both 2 strokes and 4 strokes on 2014 + bikes is vastly superior of that of 2004-2010 bikes. (maybe I am wrong....)

    My background: I had a Yamaha RT 100 and TTR 125L back in the day (my only dirt experience). Then ended up with a GSXR 750 after college, then a KTM 690 SMC supermoto, CBR 600 track bike, and then a Husqvarna 701 Supermoto. So I am not new to motorcycles but my knowledge of dirtbikes and dirt riding is pretty limited.

 

   Obviously coming from a street bike the maintenance and service intervals are substantially different than a dirtbike. Hell, even my track bike does not require all that much maintenance and I ride the crap out of that (change oil every few track days). I want to get a dirtbike that I can go ride some trails (I will probably just putt around) and occasional try and ride a MX track (I imagine I would be very slow. I road a MX track back with my TTR 125L but that sucked because it had no suspension- amongst other things).

 

    So while I do not need race bike power, I would like suspension capable of hitting some MX jumps. Hence why I do not want a trail bike like a TTR 230 or CRF 230. I want something that would be able to actually take some jumps if I get to that point (I at least want to try and progress to that point).

 

   My question is: Would a 2 stroke (no older than 2007')  be easier/cheaper to maintain than a modern day 4 stroke (2012' +). I have read 2 strokes need a top end rebuilt every 20 hours. Some say 30 hours, and I have heard people not racing run 2 strokes for 60-80 hours without a rebuild. Then they say 4 strokes are full engine rebuilds when they go (and the cost of the actual pistons and rods are significantly higher on the 4 strokes?) I will be riding not nearly as hard as many people on here would. I understand the powerband difference and all of that. I am more concerned with wrench time and cost to ride over anything.

 

P.S. Holy crap, people have their bikes overpriced on craigslist. I am trying to pick up a small bike for my fiance and I am seeing like 2004-2007 TTR 125L's for like $2,000- $2,200..... a 10-13 year old small displacement trail bike??? 

Edited by ak47bravo

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They seem to have the modern four strokes figured out. Most of what is written in the book is overkill, sure if you're a top level racer you'll want to keep your maintenance schedule pretty strict, but for the every average Joe that just goes out and rides on the weekends you can get away with going longer on your intervals. For example my brother has a 2013 KTM 350 XC-F, he went something like 175 hours on the stock piston. Took it out to replace it and it looked fine save for some carbon buildup on the top of it. I think he adjusted the valves once during that duration.

A two stroke on the other hand may be cheaper and easier to rebuild but will need it more often. It depends on the bike and size you get but we tend to get 50-75 hours out of a top end with mixed use. You'll also most likely have to spend some time getting the jetting set up on it to get it running optimal, two strokes only run as good as you can jet them.

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Id say the same, it depends on how well you maintain it. People are going 300hr+ on ktm 4s and 200+ on 2s. Like i said it all depends on the person maintaining it.

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I think it really come down to what you wanna ride. Both need maintenance. 2 stroke is cheaper and simple, but you gotta do it more often. I like the simplicity of a 2 stroke and knowing that its easy to keep it nice ans fresh. I got a ktm 200 xcw. Did the piston at 100 hours, riding it hard in trail, and it was just fine.

But nothing give me the peace of mind like my 2005 xr 650l!

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Well, I have an '08 CRF450X that I put 500-600 off road trail miles a year on. Oil change/check valves 2-3 times a year depending on miles and conditions. Only had to change shims once, didn't really need to do that, but I wanted to get the respective valves identical. No water pump, no framming intake valves, no cam chains, no nothing. So I think they're reliable proportional to your style and conditions. Granted, I'm a fat, old man trail riding in the wilds of WV and don't ask a whole lot out of it. And you sure can't ride on the east coast like in the dez. I have ridden in Baja so I know the difference. My homie track rides his YZ250's and to change top ends a lot. I also have an '81 IT465, head has never been off of, and an'01 XR650R that's the same way. But the big XR really has no equals, as it's a liquid cooled anvil. Don't think you can go wrong with any late model anything, really.  

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I appreciate everyone's input and experience. I feel the difficulty in finding a bike off of craigslist are there are very few that seem to have any maintenance records, or at the very least when you talk to them you can sense that they took good care of their machine.

You can have an incredible machine but if it is ridden hard and poorly maintained then even the most reliable bike will crap out...

 

It sounds like I will probably try and get a 2013+ 4 stroke. I am not an experienced dirt rider and probably would do much better with a bike having a wider powerband. From what I have heard though for the 2 strokes is that replacing the top end is crazy easy....

 

Thanks for yalls help.

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I've been riding dirt bikes for almost 60 years.  The newest bike I ever rode was 15 years old.  I'm not sure of the count, but it's around 15.  One third were two strokes and 2/3 were four.  I probably put 100 hours on the YZ250 two stroke Yamaha.  The most used four stroke was a Honda trail 90; 3000 miles.  Over all those bikes, the only one that required more than routine maintenance or minor repair was a four stroke Ducati 250 single.  It broke the main shaft in the transmission, and when I took it apart to fix it, the rings were broken as well.  I wasn't a racer, but my buddies and I ran the crap out of our bikes.

My opinion is that any reasonably low time bike, two or four stroke, will give you hundreds of hours of use with proper maintenance and attention to small things before they grow.  Then again, like the Ducati, you can get a bummer and end up putting lots of repairs in it.  If reliability is top priority, buy new.  Buying used, buy the highest popularity in your area for best support and parts availability. 

These days internet makes buying parts a lot easier.  The main shaft for the Ducati took three months to get from Italy.

The cheapest bike I bought was a 650 BSA basket case for $25.  The most expensive was the 1969 Honda CT90 for $700.  My latest bike , also the newest, is a 1981 Honda XR250 that cost $400.  The only bike I didn't like much was a 1970 Yamaha TT500 four stroke.  I don't remember what I paid for it.  It was nasty to start, and had too narrow of ratio between gears.

Your mileage will vary, except for the grin you get riding a bike.

tom

 

ce

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