Detailed Comparison Of A 2 Stroke vs 4 Stroke Dirt Bike – Its Pros and Cons


2 stroke or 4 stroke is something very common question among the bike riders. If we see in details there’s really not a correct choice, it’s a matter of personal preference and riding style of individual riders

There are some basic things you need to know before you decide on 2 stroke or 4 stroke. Now, let’s discuss in details what is two stroke and four stroke, so that you can take an informed decision.

Understanding The Differences Between The Engines

How the Engines Work

Now let talk about how an engine works. This is may sound technical, but I will try to explain to you in simple terms so that you have an idea about how the engine works.

“Stroke” refers to the movement of the piston in the engine. 2 Stroke means the piston moves up and down and completes one circle.  The first stroke is called a compression stroke where the fuel is injected into the chamber and the second stroke is called an explosion of the compressed fuel. On the return stroke, the new fuel mixture is inserted into the cylinder.

A 4 stroke engine has 4 strokes, 2 forward and 2 backward to complete an action inside the engine. 1 compression stroke and 1 exhaust stroke. Each is followed by a return stroke. The compression stroke compresses the fuel-air mixture prior to the gas explosion. The exhaust stroke simply pushes the burnt gases out the exhaust.

Now we have seen the basics of engine stroke let focus more on the benefits of it and how it translates into visible differences between the two.

Power:

Since the stroke varies with each the power displacement is also felt when you ride the two bikes. 2 stroke bikes have more raw power compared to the 4 stroke bikes since for every alternative stroke the fuel is injected into the chamber to release power to the bike. More fuel it displaces more the power, in this case, more raw power.

Whereas in the 4 stroke engine fuel is injected less since it has to complete three other strokes to inject fuel, so the power is produced evenly without having the outburst of raw power. People who are beginners find the four-stroke much manageable in the start of their bike experience since they are surprised with the raw power like in the two-stroke.

Handling:

When it comes to handling two-stroke feels very light since it has fewer components compared to four-stroke engines. Heavier the bike, it will be hard to manage in the dirt ride, so two-stroke has an upper hand when it comes to weight.

Handling problems can also arise with the power of the bike. If you are a beginner, you will definitely find it hard, in the beginning, to manage your 2 stroke compare to four stroke because the power produced by the 2 stroke is raw and fierce compared to the constant discharge of power in the four-stroke.

Repairs:

It is very hard to pinpoint a specific winner in this case simply because both has its advantage as well as disadvantage.

Two stroke is much cheaper when it comes to repairs because it has fewer components compared to 4 strokes. Rebuilding a 2 stroke engine is much cheaper compared to 4 stroke but the advantage comes to 4 stroke in terms of stability in the engine. A rebuilding of an engine is more required with 2 stroke but with 4 stroke it much stable and rebuilding is a rare occurrence.

Operational: When it comes to adding fuel 2 stroke has a slight disadvantage since you should always mix the oil with gas every time you fill the tank. But with four stroke the oil chamber is completely different to gas and you don’t have to mix oil with gas.

This simply means you should always have oil with you if you have 2 stroke bike. Using gas without oil will make your engine seize quickly.

2 Stroke: Pros and Cons

Now, lets look into some pros and cons of each engine types:

Pros of 2 Stroke Engines:

  • Engine construction is simple and straightforward
  • More power since fuel is pushed every other stroke
  • Light in weight since the engine has fewer components
  • Cost of the bike is cheaper

Cons of 2 Stroke Engines:

  • Biggest disadvantage it doesn’t last long compared to four-stroke engine
  • Parts of 2 stroke wear out faster
  • Oil should be mixed with gas every time
  • Less fuel efficient and cost more for operating
  • More pollution compared to 4 stroke engines

Pros of 4 Stroke Engines:

  • Advanced engine construction technology
  • The constant release of power
  • Easier for beginners to ride
  • Last longer compared to 2 stroke engines
  • Wear tear is slower and efficient
  • No oil required to mix with gas
  • More fuel efficient
  • Less pollution and friendly to the environment

Cons of 4 Stroke Engine:

  • The engine is heavier, since more moving parts
  • Costlier compared to 2 stroke but last longer
  • Less raw power, may not suit the power seekers
  • Now let’s looks into 3 dirt bike categories and its Pros and Cons:
  • Family / Casual – medium Trail   4 stokes – (and in rare occasion 2 strokes ex. pw80)
  • Series examples; TTR’s, PW’s, CRF-F’s, KLX’s, DRZ’s, XR’s

Family / Casual 4 strokes:

PROS

  • Ideal for beginners
  • Easier to ride (No Clutch options available)
  • More reliable
  • Maintenance free or less maintenance
  • Long lasting and value for money

CONS

  • Not designed for hard riding
  • Low ground clearance
  • You won’t have a burst of raw power
  • Heavy compared to a 2 stroke one

Overall these types of bikes are ideal for beginners especially starting your kids out on bikes and also for if you want a good bike that will hardly ever give you trouble.

Racing 2 stokes – series examples; YZ’s, CR’s, KX’s, RM’s

PROS:

  • Light in weight
  • Easy to ride and flexible conditions
  • Very good power and aggressive for riding
  • Much faster compared to other bikes
  • Much better power to weight ratio
  • Cheaper compared to other bikes

CONS:

  • Require more maintenance
  • Break down can be more frequent
  • Harder to ride if you’re a beginners
  • More raw power requires more shifting
  • Requires more effort in clutching
  • Wears you out faster due to more effort on braking and clutch
  • Require mixing of gas and oil every time
  • Not too great for trails

In summary, all the rider who has ridden a 2 stroke can describe them as the lighter faster bikes. They have a real kick to the motor and have more power in motor size. But, at the same time, they are harder to ride and require a lot more work. It seems to wear you out faster, and for some people, the higher motor revving has a tendency to scare/intimidate riders.

When it comes to maintenance, Two strokes require more short-term keeping up and monthly replacements. But at the same time, the parts don’t cost as much as if a 4 stroke broke down. If you have the knowledge of maintaining bikes or do have an interest in learning few things on your own, this may be more beneficial to you. For me, it just wasn’t worth it, but that’s my choice.

Racing 4 strokes – series examples; YZ-F’s, CRF-R’s, KX-F’s, RMZ’s

PROS:

  • The smooth release of power
  • Easy to ride on trials
  • Less effort on brake and clutch usage, so you won’t wear out faster
  • No mixing of oil with gas
  • Ideal for racing and trials
  • Less short-term maintenance
  • Less breakdown
  • Long-lasting engine with superior technology

CONS:

  • Heavier compared to 2 stroke
  • The breakdown is infrequent but more costly
  • Less raw power
  • Less speed compared to 2 stroke

In recent years 4 stroke bikes are becoming more and more popular for a good reason. Superior technology and consistent performance of the 4 stroke compared to 2 stroke bikes. The short maintenance cost is very low and you save a good chunk of money and it adds up. Since the release of power is consistent, it is easy for the beginners to ride and your confidence improves very fast.

The most important advantage being you can use the 4 stroke for trials and motocross, so you don’t have to stuck with one or the other. Your choice is completely under your control and not depending on your bike

In my opinion, 4 stroke racing bikes are the best type of bike that caters for average riders and pros.

Some Additional Things To Consider In Making Your Decision:

Have you ridden bikes (or quads) before?

One of the factors you have to consider is whether you have experience in riding a bike or you are a newbie. If you just started to learn bike it is always better to go with a bike without a clutch so that it will be easier for you to learn. Once you have experience riding the bike it is time for you to upgrade to bigger bikes preferably above 125.

Every bigger bike has a clutch. You have good and bad with a clutch. Always it is better to have a clutch because you have more control over your bike. If you are a learner it will be hard for you to concentrate on a clutch and learning the bike. Once you learn how to use the clutch it will be second nature and you will appreciate the clutch functionality.

I am not saying you shouldn’t start with a clutch. It is a matter of choice. If you want to learn with clutch go for it. I have learned from the beginning with a clutch. It may be a little intimidating but you will use to soon and it becomes second nature.

If you are young and under 16 don’t go straight with a bigger bike. It may seem easier for you on the look of it but it becomes difficult to control the weight and acceleration together when you are young. Go with a bike that is suitable for your height and the weight you can manage and you can always upgrade by trading your old bike.

What is your budget for your bike?

The budget may be a factor that drives your decision. If it is, then you need to consider the various price options available for the bikes. Do not decide anything beforehand. Just go to the bike shop and shop around. See what type of bikes and their prices. Generally, the 2 stroke bikes are cheaper and you will have more options.

You also have 4 stroke options available but it will be pricey compared to the 2 stroke. You have various range of bikes available in 4 stroke also. You have weight all your possibilities and then decide on your bike.

Remember, the most important thing is you have to consider everything when it comes to procuring your bike. Your dirt bike and accessories you need to drive safely.

Some of the accessories you need are a good helmet, knee pads, arm pads, goggles, chest pads and a nice pair of boots. All these play a vital role to have a comfortable and safe riding experience. Always source good accessories because it protects you from injuries. I bought all my accessories at amazon.com and you will get at a good price. Check the price of accessories here to get the latest price.

How do you plan on maintaining it?

Maintenance is a key part of your dirt bike experience. If you don’t plan on changing the air filter and oil regularly then a racing bike is not the best bike to buy. You don’t want to buy a bike that you won’t be able to keep up with when it comes to maintenance. If you do, then it will just break down every time you go out to ride it.

I had a PW80 beginner 4 strokes bike which doesn’t give maintenance issues and it’s good for a long time without touching anything. But if you have a race bike the maintenance is a regular occurrence.

Always consider your ability to maintain the bike yourself. If you have the interest to learn it is always worth it to learn a few basic things like oil change, air filter change and keeping your screw tight, etc. Don’t worry about the tools required to maintain the bike. It is not that costly you might think. A good torque wrench is what I had with a few basic tools to maintain my bike. You can learn more about the best torque wrench here

Personal preference

If you have come to this length by reading all the information above, you will have fair information about the 2 stroke and 4 stroke now. Combined with all the information now you have to use your personal preference in the mix and decide on the bike you need to have.

Everyone has a choice and I totally get it. You may love more power or a smoother release of power. Your interest might different from trails or races. Whatever it is you have to know your choice and consider something you will love to ride.

At the end of the day, whatever bike you have it will be fun to ride and the experience get is something you cannot express but feel 100%.

Go and get it and have fun riding.

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