Which bike to buy? Do I go with a two-stroke or a big four-stroke racing bike? That is often one of the toughest questions to answer, but it is a question we get a lot from our readers, especially this time of year as we publish our first impressions on the website, and shootouts in the magazine.
Sam asked this very question in a recent email to us from transworldmx.com:
“The reason I’m writing is because I have been riding for two years, and I think I’m ready for an upgrade to a bigger bike. I’m 5’8″ and have a Yamaha TT-R125, and I’m getting a little big for it. So I don’t know what my next bike should be. Do you think a YZ125 would be right for me?”
We figured there was no one better to answer this question than Yamaha’s own Terry Beal, who gave us the following pointers to consider when shopping for a new bike…
1. Your Body Size and Weight
“Whether you’re moving up to the 125 two-stroke or the 250F, there are several things to consider,” said Beal. “We feel for anyone moving up from our host of TTRs, whether it’s a TTR125, a 125LE, or even our two-stroke YZ85; the main thing to consider is your physical size. You want to feel comfortable on the bike,” Terry went on to explain.
Your height/weight will have a big impact on how comfortable you are on a bike, and how fast you are able to ride it. It helps if you can touch the ground easily, and you should feel like you can comfortably maneuver the bike in corners, etc.
Starting is another consideration, and as Terry went on to explain, “a two stroke is very easy to start, and starts in gear really easy.”
2. Riding Skill/Experience
“Obviously it depends on your class, for example, the schoolboy class at Loretta’s is exclusive to 125 two-strokes, so if that’s a class you like to race, then the 125 is your only option. But for a kid that’s a fast level racer, that goes to Loretta’s and races, or if you’re a competitive racer at your local track and you want to win, obviously the 250F has racing advantages,” explained Beal.
“Coming out of the gate and out of corners, the pulling power gives the 250F a distinct advantage,” Terry went on to say of the four-stroke racing machines.
“So yeah, for fast racers, if you’ve got some championships on the 85 and you feel ready to move up, the 250F is going to be a better pure racing weapon. However, if you’re a beginner, or a novice rider, sometimes the light weight and ease of starting a two-stroke 125 may actually yield better results versus a 250F. A 125 is physically easier to manage, which means over the course of a moto you won’t be as tired,” said Terry.
Unfortunately, motocross is an expensive sport, and cost can definitely play a factor when choosing a new bike. We asked Terry about that…
“Typically two-strokes are less expensive to work on, and the retail price is about $1000 less than a 250F. Again, if you’re just a weekend rider, if you’ve been riding the TTRs out in the hills and you just want to move up to something fun, the two-stroke is going to start you in the sport for a lot less. Plus, in the used market you can find great deals on two-strokes, sometimes for almost half the price of a four-stroke.
One final issue to consider is bike maintenance. It does you no good to buy a new bike if you won’t be able to properly maintain it. As Terry points out, two-stroke motors are generally easier to work on; “It’s easier for the regular person to work on, if you don’t have a lot of experience working on bikes, its going to be easier to do the necessary maintenance with a two-stroke.”
In our experience, maintenance on a four-stroke is not particularly challenging, but certainly things like re-doing a top-end are going to be easier on a two-stroke.
We hope these tiips will help you make the final decision when upgrading to a bigger bike.