So you're ready to ride like a pro.
Two of the most popular bikes veteran riders typically consider are the 250 2-stroke and the 450 4-stroke. As you know the pros in Supercross and Motocross all ride the 450 and if 2-strokes were allowed, the 250 class would be inundated with them – riders love their 2-strokes. (Both the Amateur level and Canadian Nationals as well as most local racing events do allow 250 2-strokes to compete against 250fs.)
There are advantages to each bike, however, so deciding on a winner is nearly impossible because it really comes down to personal preference. Just as we covered in the 125 2-stroke vs. 250 4-stroke guide, many of the same aspects of those bikes can help determine, for you, whether the 250 2-stroke is better than the 450 4-stroke, and vice versa. As with that guide, we talked with those who ride at MotoSport to get their thoughts and opinions on the 250 2-stroke vs. 450 4-stroke debate.
Comparing a 250 2-stroke and a 450 4-stroke
Keeping in mind that the 450 4-stroke is exactly what Davi MIllsaps, Ryan Villopoto and James Stewart ride (along with a whole lot of high-end aftermarket parts) it doesn’t mean the 250 2-stroke is a laggard. The reality is 2-stroke bikes with the same engine displacement typically have significantly more power than their 4-stroke counterpart. So deciding between the smaller 250 2-stroke against the 450f is not unrealistic.
We've boiled it down to the following categories to help you decide between a 250 2-stroke and a 450 4-stroke:
There are two primary riding characteristics of the 2-stroke that differ drastically from the 4-stroke: weight and top-end speed. The 2-stroke engine is pretty simple and thus weighs lighter, sometimes significantly lighter than the 4-stroke. How many times do you watch racing videos and a fallen rider struggles to upright the bike only to watch everyone pass him as he slips and stammers trying to get his bike back on two wheels? That's usually your 4-stroke bike.
The weight as well as engine displacement in the 2-stroke also gives the 250, or really any 2-stroke engine, a real burst of speed at the gate. Many riders love the adrenaline kick the 2-stroke gives and though it may not be for beginners, the challenge the 250 2-stroke bike offers is a plus for anyone trying to hone their skills and craft the way they ride.
Conversely, the torque and power of a 4-stroke is unmatched. You may not get the top-end burst of speed but for hard-core racing and endurance rides, the 450f won't wear you down like the 250 2-stroke. The lighter weight of the 250 makes for a rougher and mentally demanding ride.
The 450 could, in fact, make you a bit lazy with its smooth operation, easy ride and excellent power. The 250 exhausts you quicker both physically and mentally, but if you can swing it, a ride on the 250 2-stroke prior to a showdown on the 450f can actually make you a better rider and more competitive on the track.
There's no question which bike is easier to wrench on. The 2-stroke engine is, for lack of better words, simple. In fact, for anyone wishing to learn the mechanics behind how an engine works the 2-stroke motor is a great learning tool. Don't confuse its simplicity for its prowess though. Easy mechanics aside, it's powerful and is a blast to ride - all reasons why it holds such a strong fan base.
The 250 2-stroke requires maintenance more often, you'll rebuild the top end every 30 hours or so. The 450 on the other hand is not nearly as prone to failure because you don't need to ride it as hard as the 250 in order to grab the holeshot and stay ahead of the pack. The 450f also requires a lesser rebuild interval especially if you stay on top of oil changes and valve adjustments.
All that being said, do-it-yourself maintenance on the 250 is relatively easy, parts are reasonably priced and DIY, of course, costs much less than a professional mechanic. Yes, the 450f requires a lesser rebuild interval than the 250, but the parts are expensive and unless you know your way around the engine, hiring a professional is a must.
Finally, we'd be remiss not to mention fuel. Two-stroke bikes require you to mix gas. And, well, you know the saying, if you ain't mixing gas…then you won't hear the sweet sound of brap!
What's more important - looking like a professional or riding like a professional? The 450 4-stroke is a top-of-the-line ride and its price reflects it. Off the factory floor, you're looking at well over $8,000, but once you’re done with all the after-market add-ons, you've got a 10k ride.
A top-seed 250 2-stroke can be purchased for under $7,000 and after-market parts typically cost much less than the 4-stroke parts. Maintenance costs need to be factored in as well as replacement parts in the event of a yard sale.
We don’t know many riders who prefer to stay out of the garage. Wrenching and getting grease on our hands is part of the sport - the 250 2-stroke is a great bike for anyone who loves to ride, compete and then haul out the tool box before the truck gate is unlatched. The 250 is also a great next step as an upgrade from a 150 or even 125. It's got the speed and power to compete with any top bike at a more reasonable cost.
The 450f is as luxurious as you'll get when riding a dirt bike. It glides along the track, at times feels effortless and once you've mastered the ride, you'll have a hard time going back to anything else. It's an ideal pick for the serious competitor who spends time in local circuits and has a vision of being more than just a weekend warrior.
Of course if you have the means and want the best of the best who are we to tell you otherwise - get a 450!
Written By: AndrewT