2 Stroke VS 4 Stroke Dirt Bike – Which is Better for Beginners & Trail Riding?

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Are you looking to get a bike? Trying to decide whether a 2 stroke or 4 stroke dirt bike is better? Well… I’ve got some “bad” news for you. One isn’t necessarily better than the other. At least not technically, speaking.

The age-old debate of between getting a 2 stroke VS 4 stroke dirt bike is still going strong – although not quite as strongly as before.

Back in the day, you know… waaay back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, you would watch racers like Ricky Carmichael, Jeremy McGrath, and Jeff Emig and they all rode two strokes. Two stroke dirt bikes dominated in both motocross and supercross races.

But then it happened…

1997 YZM400F Prototype

Doug Henry came along riding a heavier and louder prototype (1997 YZM400F) and snuck away with a win in Las Vegas. From that point on, four strokes were on the map.

Riding a 2 Stroke VS 4 Stroke Dirt Bike

The choice between the two isn’t cut-and-dry. There are a few different things you should consider and there are pros and cons for whichever you choose.

For instance, what type of riding are you going to do? Are you going to stick mainly to the track or mainly to the trail? Or, would you rather spend most of your riding time at the dunes?

All of this (and more) comes into play.

Let’s take a look at a few of the important factors that could determine which is the better choice for you.

Which is Better for Beginners

As is the case with this entire article, the following is simply my personal opinion.

Yes, I DO have experience riding both 2 strokes and 4 strokes, but I also realize that there’s probably some dude out there that’s going to read this and think how wrong I am. And you know what? That’s fine… but I’m still right! 😉

Beginners should ride 4 strokes.

Which is Better for Trail Riding

When it comes to riding trails I find it hard to make an argument for a two stroke. My choice is easy – four strokes for trail riding.

The 4 stroke engines produce a smoother, more predictable and controllable power than 2 stroke. Also, they have more low end so you can lug the bike and rely on it’s torque without worrying about fouling a spark plug – you have to keep a dirt bike revved for the majority of the time you’re on it to prevent fouling plugs.

Which is Better at the Dunes

Here’s where a 2 stroke gets my vote. When riding at the dunes, you really can’t have enough power. That is because the power the 2 stroke engine produces is much more controllable at the dunes. Dune riding is primarily going up hills and drag racing your buddies. You go to the dunes to see how fast you can go and to see how far you can wheelie your dirt bike.

If I had the a bike for each type of riding, I’d have a Honda CR500 for the dunes. But would I dare take that thing out on the track or into the woods – nope.

Owning a 2 Stroke VS 4 Stroke

Let’s face it – owning a bike is a commitment. Once you buy one, chances are you’re not going to be able to sell it for  more (or even the same) than you paid… unless you got a screaming deal.

Difference in Buying

Another win for the two stroke. Two strokes are much cheaper to work on (as we’ll discuss next) and they’re usually quite a bit less to go out and buy.

Not only are new two strokes cheaper than new four strokes, buying a used two stroke usually saves you even more.

Difference in Maintenance

Again, the 2 stroke gets my vote… but (for me) this category doesn’t carry quite as much weight.

Four strokes are known for being expensive to to rebuild. Two strokes, on the other hand, are known for being relatively easy to work on and inexpensive (comparatively) to rebuild.

However, when you get into the standard maintenance like cleaning the air filer and changing the oil, the two bikes are the same.

Is a 2 Stroke or 4 Stroke Better?

I hate to say that one is better than the other, but… you stuck with me this long. While I don’t think a two stroke is better than a four stroke (or vice-versa) I do have a recommendation of buying and riding one of the other.

4 stroke.

I’ve ridden and owned both. With the exception of money (who cares about that, right!?) and riding at the dunes, 4 strokes offer a more manageable (which I usually consider more reward and more fun) ride along with all the power you’ll ever need.

Oh yeah, one more thing… 4 strokes go BRAAP!