Although almost all new bikes come with economical and reliable (boring) four stroke engines, you can still buy an iconic used two stroke for not a lot of money if you shop around. Pound for pound, or cc for cc, they offer a whole lot more fun than their modern counterparts and make your ride to work much more interesting.
With rev hungry engines constantly searching for that elusive sweet spot, known to people ‘in the know’ as the powerband, you’re never going to get bored. Although you may be frustrated from time to time, as they are fragile beasts and need constant attention and the finest fully synthetic two stroke oils to keep them running well. Hit that magic spot where the tacho needle spins into oblivion and you’re transported to a magical place, where time and reality suddenly go backwards and the world becomes a much better place.
Here are ten of our favourite modern classic two strokes, listed in alphabetical order. This is by no means a definitive list though and I’m sure you all have your own nostalgic two stroke favourites.
For many years the Aprilia RS125 was the sports two stroke to own, great handling, fantastic engine and stunning good looks, not to mention a fearsome race pedigree. It’s been turned into just another boring four stroke now and is still a stunning bike to look at but if you wanna have some fun get a two stroke. You can pick up a clean 2008 two stroke for around £2000 if you shop wisely. Try to get a low mileage; well looked after model if at all possible, they can be fragile if abused (and they will have been).
With this later model Cagiva Mito you’re getting gorgeous Ducati-esque styling, and a learner legal restricted two stroke engine that can be liberated quite easily to produce the full power. That’s 27bhp at the rear wheel and with a power to weight ratio akin to an ant this is one seriously fun, fine handling motorcycle.
The 125/180 Runner quickly became the hooligan scooter to be seen on, it featured in various shootings, robberies and drug running empires and was often seen on CCTV footage on Crimewatch. It came as a 50/125/180 in two stroke form and if you’re buying one it’s the two stroke version you’ll want. There are plenty of abused examples around but shop wisely and you can still buy a good clean well looked after machine for £1500. Like the Dragster it also uses the Piaggio engine and tuning is obligatory. PSN Scooters in Batley, West Yorkshire are known for building rapid 37bhp engines!
The Dragster achieved almost cult like status and rightly so. Its potent Piaggio based engine was ripe for tuning and the distinctive styling gave it plenty of kudos. Available as a 50, 125 and 180 the Dragster is still fairly cheap to buy, you can pick up a standard-ish 125 for around a grand. Many 125’s come with the obligatory Malossi 172 kit and go very well, whilst still remaining fairly reliable. It’s an appreciating classic for the future and they’re perfect for customisation.
Talk of mid life crisis’ buying a vintage Lambretta is one of those things that has helped to inflate prices over the last decade. A restored Lambretta Series 1 like this one will set you back around £3,500, it’s not one of the most sought after models though. An Italian GP200 can set you back around £5000, a TV 175 will cost you around £8,000 and a replica of Jimmy’s (from the film Quadrophenia) Li recently sold at for a whopping $209,000 at a US charity auction, the original scooter used in the cult film ‘only’ made £36,000 at auction in 2009.
If there is one bike I wish I still owned it would have to be my 1992 Lucky Strike RGV250 N. This bike was the quarter litre two stroke to own, 56bhp, 125mph, kick start (no girly electric start on this baby), awesome handling and an addictive power band. A stunning machine. They can be high maintenance though, in fact they were back in the day so don’t expect them to have got any better, especially with modern fuel being so unkind to highly strung two strokes. Expect to get your hands dirty or be on first name terms with your local two stroke specialist. Worth the trouble though when they’re on song.
This may be a replica of the RG500 Barry Sheene raced to victory in the 1970’s but in 1985 Suzuki launched the road going RG500. It’s a hooligan two stroke of the highest order, around 75bhp at the rear wheel from a four cylinder howling banshee of a two stroke engine. They look outdated with small tyres, antiquated swinging arm and Knight Rider style clocks but it’s still a fearsome machine. Some mad shed building scooter rider has recently put this engine into a Lambretta frame…now that is crazy!
The PX has been around in 125/150/200 form in the UK since 1977 (give or take a couple of years when Piaggio halted production). It’s a four speed manual scooter, with legendary styling. Later models come with a disk brake and electric start. I’ve had one ever since buying my first Vespa T5 on my 17th Birthday in December 1987 and probably will always own one. Expect to pay around £1400-2000 for a PX200 in half decent condition, a T5 can be had for £1200-2000 (square headlight mark ones are the most sought after) or buy a stylish new PX125 for £3071.
Growing up back in the day the RD350 LC or YPVS was the bike to own and you’d hear one coming from miles away. Crisp sounding crackles from the twin exhausts, revs rising along with the front wheel as the rider fought to keep up with the ferocious power delivery and youngsters like me lived for every gear change. Heart rate rising as fast as the needle on the tacho, living the moment as if it were me in the saddle. An RD350 is still affordable though, I’ve just seen a project for £500 on eBay but expect to pay £1500 for a tired looking runner, or up to £5,000 for a fairly decent one.
Now we’re getting nostalgic, the Yamaha FS1E, or ‘Fizzy’ as it was affectionately known was the sports moped of the 1970’s, the bike to own during the ‘sixteener’ years. Middle aged men pay vast sums for a restored Fizzy these days so prices are fairly high but we’ve seen a restored example in good condition go for £1500 on eBay, projects are much cheaper.
That’s our top ten, how about your own favourites? If you’ve got a photo and some details we might add them at a later stage. Just use the contact button at the top of the screen.