Isn’t it funny how things come full circle? Two-stroke motorcycles became very popular in the ’70s and ’80s due to their power, lightness and simplicity. While roadgoing two-bangers began to disappear for environmental reasons, manufacturers embraced the off-road smokers well into the ’90s.
They were the kings of motocross and enduro, but eventually they, also, were phased out. High-revving four-strokes became the preferred engine and Jap two-strokes all but disappeared from the moto landscape. But recently, the smokers have been making a comeback. It’s most likely a nostalgia thing (much like how vinyl records have resurfaced), but improvements in technology have made them much more reliable and environmentally friendly.
The two-stroke has been popular in enduro for a few years, and it seems the motocross world is starting to catch on. While some brands are producing two-strokes, the Japanese seem reluctant to go back there. As a result, many people are choosing to build their own twostrokes using restored engines in modern frames. There are also plenty of restorations and vintage-inspired builds that have caught the attention of fans around the world.