Graham Jarvis, Cody Webb and Jonny Walker perform superhuman feats as professional hard enduro racers. Although they ride different brands, all three seem to be in agreement of one thing – a 2-Stroke Enduro bike is the best weapon for tackling the toughest race courses on the planet. Just a dozen years ago, premix-burning race bikes were the only way to go. Then the 4-Stroke revolution took the market by storm, and soon the smell of castor oil and high-pitched wail that was at one time commonplace faded away. Sure there have been die-hard expansion chamber fans, but for most, power valves and reed blocks were a thing of the past.
Recently, however, 2-Strokes are having a revival of sorts. MTA just held its 2-Stroke World Championships at Glen Helen, and manufacturers are pushing their premix burning machines more aggressively. Customers are responding
in kind, making the switch back to the ring-dingers. And the biggest group buying is the enduro riders. So MotoUSA jumped on the bandwagon and gathered up three 2013 Enduro models to scratch our 2-Stroke itch.
Beta is jumping back into the 2-Stoke dirt bike market for 2013 after a long hiatus. Even so, the Italian company has plenty of experience with its trials bikes. After a development cycle of two years the Beta 250 RR is ready to mix it up with Husaberg and KTM for the top step in the segment. While the bright red frame of the RR looks similar to Beta’s 4-Stroke models, the chassis is new from the ground up, just like the engine. Can a first model year machine shake it up with the stalwarts of the class?
When thinking of 2-Strokes and off-road racing, three letters pop into most people’s mind – KTM. And with good reason – the Austrian manufacture has supported those running premix while other brands have moved all-in on camshafts
and valve trains. Team Orange has no less than 15 two-smokers in its line-up, but for our shootout the 2013 250 XC-W fit the bill for the battle of quarter-liter enduro supremacy.
When we picked up the XC-W at KTM HQ, we also picked up a 2013 Husaberg TE 250. The Swedish brand was acquired by KTM back in 1995 and even with the support of its Austrian parent company growth has been slow. If fact the 2012 4-Stroke models were not offered in the United States, but now the full line-up is available once again in 2013. But the only model we care about right now is the TE 250. It shares the same basic architecture as the KTM, such as the frame and engine, but does the composite sub frame and WP 4CS front fork create a better ride than its orange cousin?
We gathered up the three machines and headed for the McCain Valley OHV area just east of San Diego. Its varied terrain offered just about every challenge these enduro machines would face. We railed tight single track, climbed nasty hills, pounded whoops and battled technical slick rock to sort out which machine was best when the knobs hit the dirt.
Back at the MotoUSA offices we poured over the numbers that included weights, sound levels and pricing to offer additional data to our test riders opinions. One usual test we skipped for this shootout was the dyno testing. We had heard many horror stories of melting down 2-Strokes on the dynamometer, and we really didn’t feel like destroying even one of these bikes. We’re sure the press reps feel the same.
A quick side note, Gas Gas and TM both declined to take part in the shootout. We would have loved to have them in the mix , but all we can do is ask. We will continue to try and get our hands on both bikes for stand-alone tests in the future.
Before we get into the meat of this shootout, it has to be said that this shootout was one of the most difficult for our team to judge and score. The bikes were so close to each other that every single category was a matter of splitting hairs. But a winner must be crowned so let’s find out which 2-Stroke is the king for 2013.