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Budget Talks I Two-Stroke V Four-Stroke | Latest

The cost difference between two- and four-stroke motocrossers may not be as big as you believe.

From the day that Yamaha launched its YZ400F motocross megastar in 1998, comparisons have been made about the relative costs of racing strokers and smokers. We don’t just mean the initial outlay on the bike, but also the cost of maintenance and mods.

So ADB thought it would be a good idea to do some proper research nearly 18 years down the track. Let’s take a close look at what you can expect to fork out if you select either a 250T or 250F to go racing and some of the financial speed humps along the way.


Your first outlay is the price of the bike. I expected there to be quite a big price difference between the four-stroke and two-stroke 250s but was pleasantly surprised to find out that there wasn’t much at all.
Average price of a 250T – $10,800
Average price of a 250F – $10,600

In fact, you may find yourself with a little bit of change if you chose to walk out with a four-stroke. This was the opposite of what I was expecting.

You need to make sure you leave the shop with a few spares in the van.

250T – One litre gear oil, $30; one litre of two-stroke oil, $30; chain lube, $20; air filter oil, $20. Total: $100
250F – 1.5-litres engine oil, $50; oil filter, $20; chain lube, $20; air filter oil, $20. Total: $110


After a solid weekend at the track you decide that you’re not getting anywhere near the kind of horsepower that you were hoping for. You decide to just dip your toe in the water with what we will call a Stage One hot-up. The job will consist of a complete exhaust system combined with rejetting/recalibration to make sure you’re getting the maximum benefit from the system.

250T – After-market chamber, $600; muffler, $230; jetting/tune, $160. Total: $990
250F – After-market header/muffler, $1000; EFI calibration, $80; Total: $1080


Now the time has come for its first proper service at a motorcycle shop. The bike requires all the usual bits and pieces such as oils and filters and a really good going over after being run-in.

250T service: $160
250F service: $180


Everything’s good after the first service but, after a couple more rides, the novelty of the new pipe wears off and, of course, you find yourself wanting more power. It is time to take the plunge. Here is where it gets interesting and expensive.

The two-stroke has less moving parts and is much simpler. It also is a lot easier to extract horsepower from the 2T than it is from the more complex 4T engines. Either way you’ll need high-octane fuel. Let’s take a look at what you might be up for when taking your bike to stage two.

250T – Cylinder porting, $500; cylinder head mods, $150; programmable ignition and map switch, $500; high-compression piston, $170; after-market reed-valve block, $300; 20 litres race fuel, $200.
Total: $1820

250F – Cylinder-head porting, $500; high-compression piston, $400; high-lift camshaft, $500; programmable ignition, $750; 20 litres race fuel, $200.
Total: $2350


The weekend comes and it is time to load the bike up and head out with your friends for a ride. It’s the first time that you’re heading out since you had the Stage Two mods.

It’s a great day at the ride park and you’re all set when the unthinkable happens. On your first lap, while warming the bike up, it locks up when landing off a jump. You have no idea what has happened but, due to the metal-on-metal sound, you know that it can’t be good.

After taking the bike back to your mechanic for a full assessment of the damage it turns out that the piston has let go and destroyed the top end.

250T – Replacement of damaged head and piston, $370; labour, $250. Total: $630
250F – Replacement of piston and two damaged valves, $1000; labour, $500. Total: $1500


There is no way that you’re going to recoup all the money that went into the bike but you’re prepared to lose a bit.

250T approximate re-sale with mods and 30 hours of riding: $8000
250F approximate re-sale with mods and 30 hours: $8000

The bike manages to sell reasonably quickly and when you finally sit down and do the maths on how much money you lost, you realise that it’s not quite as bad as you thought it would be.

250T: Total cost including purchase, mods, service and repair job, $14,240; sale of second-hand bike, $8000. Out of pocket: $6240

250F: Total cost including purchase, mods, service and repair job, $15,530; sale of second-hand bike, $8000. Out of pocket: $7530


So there really isn’t too much of a difference, money wise, between choosing the two-stroke or four-stroke. Sure, the four-stroke is slightly more expensive, but most of that extra cost was the Stage Two mods and the motor lunching itself.

But overall we feel the difference between the two is nowhere near as much as most riders think. The two-stroke bikes will always be a fan favourite and, having run one my whole racing career they will always have a huge sense of nostalgia for me.

It goes without saying that all of the costs listed here will vary widely depending on where you take your bike and where you buy your parts from. But it is a good base to give you a rough idea of costs with both options and hopefully give you some much needed information when the time comes to make your next purchase. Happy shopping!


For the full feature check out issue #449 of ADB Magazine.