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School me on: 2-strokes

  1. #1
    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    School me on: 2-strokes


    I'm very seriously considering adding yet another motorcycle to my gaggle. This one will be either be a higher-end dual-sport to replace my KLX/DRZ, or a light weight "woods weapon" added and the KLX would get 80/20 tires and go street only. If I add, I have been waffling back and forth between 2 and 4-strokes for this. I am considering a 2-stroke partly because I've never owned one and am kind of interested in changing that. New challenges, all that. I've never even ridden a 2-smoke.

    What does one need to know?
    I see hours listed on a lot of CL ads. What is too many hours?
    Rebuilds: Top end vs bottom end. Watching some youtube, top end looks like something I can handle, bottom end not so much. Do the bottom ends need to be rebuilt regularly?
    How can you tell when it is time to rebuild a top end?
    Teach me about mix? Do you always mix the same ratio? Why would you go stronger or weaker mix?

    Set me straight.

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  2. #2
    its in my blood caloots's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    125cc need lower end rebuilds often.. 250 last longer on the bottom end.. I'm my experience, racing 250, I've never had to replace lower end bearings.. but I usually got a new bike every few years.. 250.. run full synthetic oil and keep the air filter clean and oiled.. it won't need much.. depending on how much riding you do, piston and rings once a year

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  3. #3
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    Depends entirely on which bike you get. 2 strokes are generally awesome and simple. The maintenance is actually pleasant, as opposed to bikes packed to the gills with heavy, complicated moving parts.

    Racier 2 strokes will have single ring pistons. More woodsy bikes will have dual rings. There is a quantum leap in durability with two ring pistons. KTM woods models, KDXs and others can go 300 hours without a top end! That is many years of dirt riding. The hours don't add up as fast as you think. The clock isn't ticking while you are on the side of the trail catching your breath or waiting for friends. In a 5 hour day on the trails, you are lucky to log 2 hrs on the meter.

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  4. #4
    Super Moderator TheIglu's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    I don't agree with the statement of 125's needing bottom ends any more often than 250's.


    Bubs, I've had my fair share of 2 smokes, they are easy to maintain/ride/enjoy. I'd rock another any day for a light woods weapon. I wouldn't recommend making it a dual sport. Keep the KLX for that.

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    Lifer loudbeard's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    I'm probably riding exactly what you're looking for in a 2 stroke, KDX 200. Cheap, reliable, low maintenance. I'll be dirty riding from now until there's too much snow, you're welcome to give it a rip. Bring that DRZ down to Hodges one weekend and you can get some seat time.

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  6. #6
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    125s are irrelevant to bubs. That is NOT the right choice for him IMO. Pinned is on it. KDX reg'd for the woods only. You will likley never need to open the motor. Just tires and linkage/wheel/stem bearings.

    I take that back, the one are that does need maint on the KDX is the powervalve assembly. Replace the spindles on a used purchase, and check them in 2 seasons.

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  7. #7
    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    Right. I have my heart set on getting something "nice" .. nicer than the kind of bargain basement machines I normally go for anyway. Basically I have my heart set on busting my piggie bank and buying a later model KTM. If I replace the KLX, it'll probably be either a 350 or 500cc 4-stroke. Last weekend I was reminded that a dual-sport is always a compromise; the gearing on the KLX that feels too low on the street feels (way) too high in the dirt. Moral is I'm thinking of ditching one of my street bikes and keeping the KLX as a backup street bike and adding something more woods focused.. and leaving it that way.

    If I keep the KLX, that means I don't need a machine to handle any street use, including commuting or such nonsense. Enter the 2-stroke option.

    So basically I'm thinking a KTM 200 or 250 2-stroke. I want something that can be plated strictly for hopping between trails. Thus 200 XC-W or 250 XC-W. I think I have those models correct. Although I think I'd consider a Husq TE250 too. .. My research here is incomplete.

    I've received advice to just get a cheap/old CR125/CR250 or KDX2x0 or something. But the more I read, the more I think I just want to get a nice, light, modern enduro. (NOT a dual-sport.) I think that means KTM. Everyone tells me KTM owns this market, and I'm starting to see it.

    But really.. about living with 2-strokes. For mild recreational riding I should not expect to rebuild these machines often? Rings and pistons EVERY year?!
    Teach me about mix. Hours. Etc.

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    Last edited by nhbubba; 11-05-14 at 09:55 AM.

  8. #8
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    I just told you it would be many seasons before you need to open the motor on a woods bike. 300 hours could take you 10 years to ride!!!

    Just mix your fuel fresh before each ride at the recommended dosage. KTM is very light on the oil at 60:1. 32:1 is the more common ratio.

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  9. #9
    Super Moderator TheIglu's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    I'd find a low hours KDX220. Bit more modern than the KDX200 and still reliable as the sunrise.

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  10. #10
    Super Moderator TheIglu's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    You really can't know hours are true or not from a CL ad unless it has an hour meter. Look at other things, paint on frame near the pegs, condition of chain sliders, etc. That's far more of a truthful assessment of time used.

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  11. #11
    Lifer tsorfas's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    We have ruined this mans life

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  12. #12
    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    Ruined? I'm digging life pretty good these days..

    Clayton: Rumor (interwebz) has it the KDX220 needs its piston swapped out immediately and that the front suspension is.. meh.. needs a swap from their motocross offering.. and then needs to be resprung.. and.. and..

    Why can't I just go buy a KTM 200 or 250 and be done with it? It's only money. And I see the value this time. I think I'm prepared to just spend the fuggin' money and be done with it.

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  13. #13
    Lifer Chippertheripper's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    I'm sure all these questions will have been answered by the time I can put together a full response, but: plated, well maintained and probably orange. Top end lifespans vary with displacements. Bottoms vary with air filter maintenance.

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  14. #14
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    Quote Originally Posted by nhbubba View Post
    Ruined? I'm digging life pretty good these days..

    Clayton: Rumor (interwebz) has it the KDX220 needs its piston swapped out immediately and that the front suspension is.. meh.. needs a swap from their motocross offering.. and then needs to be resprung.. and.. and..

    Why can't I just go buy a KTM 200 or 250 and be done with it? It's only money. And I see the value this time. I think I'm prepared to just spend the fuggin' money and be done with it.
    Hogwash! you will be faster for the first 3 year on a bone stock KDX. Guaranteed!!!!

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  15. #15

    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    niiiiiiiiiice

    my '90 kdx needs kips work before I even rode it...and yes, the newer 220's don't have the reliability of the older bikes...the top end will blow up

    go ktm 200

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  16. #16
    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    Wasn't really into the "pick me one" stage yet. Just last week I had my heart set against 2-strokes entirely. But whatever.

    So x00 hours is "a lot" and x0 hours is "not a lot"? As Paul says, it will probably take me quite some time to stack on ~300 hours. Seems like frequent rebuilds wouldn't be an issue for me.

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  17. #17
    Eatibus almost anythingus Marc R's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    Paul, curious where is the difference between KDX and KTM 2 strokes, power? Suspension?
    I'm thinking of my first dirt bike, and want it newb friendly.
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_E_D View Post
    Hogwash! you will be faster for the first 3 year on a bone stock KDX. Guaranteed!!!!

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  18. #18
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    There it nothing more newb friendly that the KDX 200. It has a much lower COG and seat height than the KTMs, making it more sure footed going slowly. It also has much softer suspension, again, making it easier to ride slowly in the rocks.

    The KTMs are sharper handling, have more power (but really, you don't need it), and take a fair bit more tweaking to get the suspension dialed in. Ultimately they have a lot more potential for the expert rider.

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  19. #19
    Go Fast Glasses McBiggity's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    love my kdx200. Although I only rode it once before I swapped on a kx125 front end. The motor is great at low speeds and in tough stuff. Seat height is perfect for me- 30" inseam. It's light and easy to handle.

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  20. #20
    Lifer Chippertheripper's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    Paul sort of hinted at it, but the geometry is weird on a kdx. They did different things to get the cg low...and seriously, I think it's sprung for 110#.
    I'm a little confused as to your intentions...but you're gonna sell a street bike, keep the drz as a dual sport/round towner, and get a woods weapon? Or sell everything but the wee and the SV and get a 350/500??

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  21. #21
    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    If I knew what I wanted, I'd have it by now.

    Plan de-jure is:

    Wee stays, probably indefinitely.
    SV stays, remains track only.
    VFR goes.
    KLX stays or goes.

    If it goes, it gets replaced by a 4-stroke street capable dual-sport. Probably 350 or 500, maybe 690. Probably 500.

    If it stays, it gets 80/20 rubber, the boat sticker does not get renewed and it does not see "real trails" ever again. Remains a backup street bike for giggles. Occasionally gets the sumo wheelset fitted to it. Occasionally goes to work, bike night, that jazz. Gets/stays geared high.
    Collection gets augmented by something lighter and more fun in the woods.

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  22. #22
    Lifer Chippertheripper's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    If I'm spending your money, I'd keep the drz as a back roads/sumo, and get a woods weapon. While the 350/500 is more than capable out in the trees, if you're looking for a singletrack bike (that's pretty easy/no maintenance) a full on plated dirty is what you want...
    Now to break THAT down, the modern 2t is very easy to ride maintain. 300hrs I feel is an exaggeration, but 100 for a 250/300 is nothing. That's 2 years of really steady riding, at least. And about $200-250 in parts and an hour and a half from start to finish (plastics and all) to redo. For <$500 you can pull the whole lump and have a shop go through it, as long as the jug is fine.
    A modern woodsy thumper will require frequent oil changes (5-10hrs) just as many air filter changes as a 2t, and valve checks. For a trail bike, this isn't a big deal at all. Again, an hour or so, stem to stern. The trade off for diligent engine maintenance here is long life. A woodsy thumper will go a long time before it starts eating oil. (5yrs + if well maintained and ridden recreationally). But come rebuild time, it could be as spendy as $2000, depending on whether or not you need to do the valved, machine the head, the whole 9.

    There are characteristics of each type of bike to love. You can't analyze that on the web, because the numbers don't tell the story of what it's like to ride each. Neither do the yt video reviews. You've gotta ride some of each to figure it out.

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  23. #23
    Super Moderator TheIglu's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    You need to try a 2 stroke. Even a little 125 is a blast on the pipe in the woods. It goes from tame to irrational wheel spin in short order. But the hit, oh the hit. Here comes the stink, here comes the breeze......

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  24. #24
    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    Yeah. Almost there.

    Unfortunately trying before I buy probably isn't in the cards, once again. I'll probably shoot to do what I always do: buy smart with the intent of flipping it if it sucks, but then living with it for 10+ years in spite of myself anyway.

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  25. #25
    Lifer Chippertheripper's Avatar
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    Re: School me on: 2-strokes

    You're welcome to try a well set up 300 whenever.

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