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Regular Maintenance: 2 stroke vs 4 stroke

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I'm thinking of either buying a 2 stroke 125, or a 4 stroke 230, and I wanna get something straight here, because I've heard so many things from so many people, and they all seem to conflict with each other. I want to get the bike that's not gonna cost me a lot of money to keep going. Now, correct me if I'm wrong about any of this, but this is what I understand, from what I've been told.

-2 strokes require a yearly top end job, and it'll cost from 100-250 depending on if you do it yourself, or not.

-4 stroke trail bikes like the ttr230 almost never require any engine work, but if they do, it'll be pretty expensive, because they're much more complex.

-and if you could, can you explain what all is part of this yearly top end job that I've been told needs done with the 2 strokes? new pistons? rings? gaskets? cylinder honing? boring?

-and how often would a 2 stroke need a whole new cylinder? because that's like $500, I beleive.

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yearly top end on a 2 stroke is a gasket set piston rings and a piston, most of the time I dont touch a cylinder, cost you about $150 and less than an hour of your time.

a 230 trail bike all you have to do is change the oil sometimes lol, but the 230 is nowhere near the performance level of a 2 stroke

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a 230 trail bike all you have to do is change the oil sometimes lol, but the 230 is nowhere near the performance level of a 2 stroke

Yeah, you probably should be looking at a 250 instead of a 230 if you want comparable performance and physical size (full size frame).

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I'd say look into a 250 2 stroke. If your trail riding, the 125 might be a pain to ride without having much bottom end compared to the 250. And you will get more hours out of a 250 piston. My buddy has a crf230f (compairable to ttr) and everytime I look behind to make sure he isn't hung up, he usually has the bike on its side. The damn thing is a tank.

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Yeah, you probably should be looking at a 250 instead of a 230 if you want comparable performance and physical size (full size frame).

But don't you have to do almost yearly work on the 250 4 strokes, 'cause they're more race bikes than trail bikes, like the 230 is? Or are there 4 stroke 250s out there that are trail bikes too?

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But don't you have to do almost yearly work on the 250 4 strokes, 'cause they're more race bikes than trail bikes, like the 230 is? Or are there 4 stroke 250s out there that are trail bikes too?

There are, but if you get a 250 four stroke race bike you won't be running it very hard as a beginner, so you won'[t need to do that.

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So whenever I get better, and do run it harder, it'll need about yearly engine work? And that's a lot more expensive than on a 2 stroke, right?

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I have a friend with a YZ250F that is the most trouble free bike you could think of. He rides it hard and use all of it. He also is fanatical in maintaining it- oil changes and a clean air filter. It can cost a bundle to run anything if you neglect it, I find it best to be on the proactive side of things.

As for yearly engine work, well, this YZ logged over 200 hours of trouble free riding. That's an awful lot of time in the saddle.

You also need to maintain the rest of any bike, ie brakes, tires, suspension, exhaust. There is alot to it.

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a yearly top end on a 2t also depends on how much and how hard you ride the bike, if you take it out once or twice a month i think youd be wasting your money doing a top end every year. if your taking it out every weekend and beating the crap out of it yea then i can see a new top end every year

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If you don't ride a lot, it really doesn't matter which bike you get.

4 strokes will last longer between major services when its new. You will see people with 100+ hours on their motors without one hiccup. All you gotta do is oil changes, valve clearance checks and clean the carb before every season (if you are a seasonal rider).

2 strokes do require minor service more often, every 20 - 60 hours, depending on how you beat up the bike. They also require the jetting to be spot on, which means your oil/fuel mix has to be good and you have to be vigilant with it. Unlike 4 strokes, if the mixture is off on a 2 stroke, the motor will still run totally fine, but it will burn a hole through the piston or worse, cause it to cease. Major service on a 2 stroke is much higher then 100 hours, some people have over 200 hours on a 2 stroke bottom end with no problem at all.

If you buy a new 4 stroke and new 2 stroke and ride them for the same amount of hours, both bikes will need service around the same time. The 4 stroke will need its valves checked and the 2 stroke will need a piston. Both jobs cost the same amount of money if you drop it off to a dealer. If you can do the work yourself, but if your not mechanically inclined, it can be tough. But the MAJOR service on a 2 stroke might run you $600 bux, a major service on a 4 stroke WILL run you 2x more at least.

The big advantage with 2 strokes is not the casual, occasional rider. The big advantage is the guy who rides a lot, 3 - 5 times a week and is heavily abusing the motor. This is where 2 strokes really shine because all they need to do is buy a $130 piston and a $20 gasket every 40 hours, which takes 45 minutes to install, and they are pretty much done with their maintenance. The bottom ends are really strong on 2 strokes, especially if built properly. Where 4 strokes that get abused, tend to have catastrophic failures and or expensive maintenance bills. I've seen it time and time again, total, complete catastrophic failures and huge bills.

In summary, if you don't ride a lot, buy whatever bike you want. If you ride a great deal, think about a 2 stroke as it will save you money in the long term. Or you could do what most people do and buy a low hour 4 stroke and turn it around every year. heh 👍

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If you don't ride a lot, it really doesn't matter which bike you get.

4 strokes will last longer between major services when its new. You will see people with 100+ hours on their motors without one hiccup. All you gotta do is oil changes, valve clearance checks and clean the carb before every season (if you are a seasonal rider).

2 strokes do require minor service more often, every 20 - 60 hours, depending on how you beat up the bike. They also require the jetting to be spot on, which means your oil/fuel mix has to be good and you have to be vigilant with it. Unlike 4 strokes, if the mixture is off on a 2 stroke, the motor will still run totally fine, but it will burn a hole through the piston or worse, cause it to cease. Major service on a 2 stroke is much higher then 100 hours, some people have over 200 hours on a 2 stroke bottom end with no problem at all.

If you buy a new 4 stroke and new 2 stroke and ride them for the same amount of hours, both bikes will need service around the same time. The 4 stroke will need its valves checked and the 2 stroke will need a piston. Both jobs cost the same amount of money if you drop it off to a dealer. If you can do the work yourself, but if your not mechanically inclined, it can be tough. But the MAJOR service on a 2 stroke might run you $600 bux, a major service on a 4 stroke WILL run you 2x more at least.

The big advantage with 2 strokes is not the casual, occasional rider. The big advantage is the guy who rides a lot, 3 - 5 times a week and is heavily abusing the motor. This is where 2 strokes really shine because all they need to do is buy a $130 piston and a $20 gasket every 40 hours, which takes 45 minutes to install, and they are pretty much done with their maintenance. The bottom ends are really strong on 2 strokes, especially if built properly. Where 4 strokes that get abused, tend to have catastrophic failures and or expensive maintenance bills. I've seen it time and time again, total, complete catastrophic failures and huge bills.

In summary, if you don't ride a lot, buy whatever bike you want. If you ride a great deal, think about a 2 stroke as it will save you money in the long term. Or you could do what most people do and buy a low hour 4 stroke and turn it around every year. heh 👍

+1 I agree with above

To clarify on some of the ops other questions/concerns

1) You couldnt have picked 2 different bikes. The TTR/CRF is a mild mannered, heavy, low maintenance trail bike. They will run hundreds of hours with very little attention if maintained properly. A 125 MX bike is a high revving screamer that requires much more frequent rebuilds because of the RPMs they turn. 125s make very little low end power which makes trail riding very difficult for a beginner. I would not recommend a 125.

2) The frequency of repairs/maintenance depends on how often you ride and how hard you ride. No one can state that bike X needs a rebuild every year. Some guys may ride 20 hours a year and others 200 hours a year. Some ride balls out, some conservative.

3) Not all "4 strokes" are the same. It really depends on engine design. The older generation 4 stroke design (generally air cooled), such as the Yamaha TTR and the Honda XR or CRF230 are low maintenance engines. They also tend to be less powerful and heavy. Modern 250 4 strokes (often refered to as 250F's) are higher maintenance. If you trash the head and you cant rebuild one, you are going to wish you hadnt bought one. Even the parts alone to rebuild a 250F can be very expensive.

Have you considered something like a KDX200 or a KTM 200? What is your budget?

The KDX is a beginner friendly 2 stroke trail specific bike...lots of low end power and not so heavy. The KTM is a more expensive, better version of the KDX...more or less.

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I can't comment on 2 stroke maintenance, but I can give you my experience with the 230 and 250f 4 strokes...

I bought two crf230f bikes for our family when they first came out in 2003. Our family does recreational riding - maybe 100 hours per year on a good year. Maintenance consists of annual oil change and periodic air filter cleaning. Occassional inspection for loose bolts, etc. A new battery every 4 or 5 years. And occassional cleaning of the throttle tube. This year I serviced the forks and replaced the oil and seals.

I also bought a crf250x when it first came out in 2004. Maintenance included the same as on the 230 plus more frequent oil changes and air filter cleaning and semi-annual valve checking. The first time I checked the valves I was really nervous, but it wasn't that hard. I have now replaced the valves twice at around $750 each time to have my mechanic do the work. I have serviced the forks twice.

Many of my riding buddies won't own a modern 250F because of the maintenance. But the ride is so fun, it has been well worth it for me.

The real question is what type of riding do you want to do. My kids all learned on smaller bikes and then the 230. My daughters still ride the 230s. They love the bikes. Not intimidating and inspire confidence.

My boys moved from the 230 to the 250 as soon as they were tall enough and never looked back. The 250 has much, much better suspension and better power. It is just plain fun to ride.

Until recently the 250 was my primary bike. I also own a DRZ-400E which has plenty of power and a cushy ride, but I always picked the 250 because it was more fun to ride.

One important factor is the frame size. How well does the bike fit you? I am 6'2" and the 230 is just too small. But for shorter riders, it is a very capable "play" bike. But if you want something more serious, you will grow out of it quickly. The 230 does hold it's resale value fairly well, so you could start with that and then upgrade when you are ready.

Without knowing more about you and your riding objectives it is hard to give specific advice.

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ive been riding for about 30 years,albeit some of that time on quads,in the last 3 years ive had a crf230,2-crf250x's,and now a KDX220,by far the KDX is the most fun of them all,230 didnt have enough power or suspension,the 250x was a blast but wasnt quite right,currently the KDX is fitting the bill,feels light plenty of power{has some mods},takes landings from 6' to 8' jumps with out bottoming,im sure when i get a 300exc i ll be even happier lol

Have you considered something like a KDX200 or a KTM 200? What is your budget?

The KDX is a beginner friendly 2 stroke trail specific bike...lots of low end power and not so heavy. The KTM is a more expensive, better version of the KDX...more or less.

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This is OP. Sorry, I should have told you about myself. I'm 18, almost 6'1", 165lbs, and have about 5 hrs on a ttr230, and an hour on an rm85. I'll be mostly trail riding in Florida, but want to be able to have fun at the track every now and then, and if good enough, try my hand at a race or two. Obviously, I'd have to give up hopes of races with the 230s, but it's not THAT big of a deal. I was leaning towards a 125 for that reason though, plus 2strokes are usually cheaper when things go wrong than 4strokes. I know that 125s are a little tougher to ride on the trails, have almost no low end torque compared to 4strokes, and even 200cc 2strokes, and require a lot more work as far as keeping the rpms right, but some say that that's what newer riders really need to learn to do well, anyways. Plus, it seems like 2 strokes that are about 7+ yrs old don't really lose value after that, unless you beat up on them, so later, I wouldn't lose money when I upgrade.

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What is your budget??

Its difficult to recommend a specific bike without knowing the amount you have to spend. The KTM would be decent on the track and excellent in the woods...the KDX wouldnt be so great on the track...but they are good trail bikes. However, you will pay more for the KTM...Ive owned both.

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I have enough for whatever bike I want, but I'm kinda just looking for something that'll cost the least to maintain, not cost a whole lot to buy in the first place, but still be plenty of fun wherever I want to go. I'm willing to spend up to like $1500 or so, but I'm trying to keep it as close to $1000 as I can.

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I say find yourself the newest 2000+/ best condition 125 you can find within your budget learn to ride it and never look back. Clean the filter every ride, change the oil every couple rides and throw a piston and rings in it once a year and it will last you for as long as you want it to.

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