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By Paul Fenn
If reports on the death of 2-strokes have long been exaggerated, those reports themselves officially took a bullet to the head last week.
Big Orange has taken what was once viewed as a beautifully noisy, gas-guzzling, but hyper-fun technology and made it cleaner, more fuel-efficient and, the Austrians claim, more nuanced.
And even more hyper-fun, we're hoping.
As for imagery, this napkin scratching was all KTM was willing to tease with...
Gotta love pollution control
Driven in part by ever-tightening Euro and USA smog rules, KTM made it official on March 15 in what it self-deprecatingly called "a major global milestone" that it will unveil the world’s first serial production fuel injection 2-stroke enduro machines.
These will be revealed at an upcoming official launch in May. And wouldn't you know it, I'm not busy that weekend!
Two models, the 250 EXC TPI and 300 EXC TPI, will be added to the model year 2018 lineup. And in an exclusive gift to Canadian and U.S. riders, the 250 XC-W TPI model will be offered only in those countries.
KTM is on a monstrous roll
The company made a billion-dollar profit last year and is gleefully spending that play money on reinventing motorcycling. This is their second industry-quaking announcement in the last few months (the other being its soon-to-be-floated 790cc parallel twin lineup).
And you can bet your earplugs that the 2018 EXC range will meet a red-hot reception on showrooms given that it offers clear benefits over carbureted models. KTM's scantily-clad press release cited "drastically reduced fuel consumption while also no-longer having the need to pre-mix fuel or alter the machines’ jetting."
And the 2-stroke Transfer Port Injection (aka TPI) models "offer a completely new experience in terms of power delivery and rideability," said the release.
Bring on the revvvolution
KTM believes its new 2-stroke fuel injection technology is revolutionary. But it isn't the only manufacturer banking on updated 2-banger tech. Sherco showed off its own fuel-injected 2-stroke 300 engine at EICMA in Milano last fall.
So, while it's unlikely there'll be all-out war among makers, it's healthy for the industry that the citrus people at least have a French poodle nipping at their heels. Because it would seem the Japanese manufacturers are presently not in the mood to relish that role (Africa Twin notwithstanding).
For now, we know next to nothing
KTM Product Marketing Manager Joachim Sauer said of the launch, “We have been developing 2-stroke fuel injection for some time and our goal was to create competitive motorcycles with all the benefits of fuel injection, while fitting into our 'ready to race' mantra."
"In Europe the bikes will arrive at the dealer floors in early summer," he added, "and in the U.S. and Canada, the new 2018 250 XC-W TPI will be available in very limited quantities in late fall.”
Everyone remembers their first 2-stroke
I've always had a soft spot for two-strokes because they scare the bejezuz out of me.
My very first bike was a two-stroke 750 triple. Picture the idiot at 19 swinging it over his cafe-styled Suzuki GT, ported, polished and expansion-chambered. The experience was like hooking up with a new kind of girl with kinks and tricks up her sleeve that make you feel all naive and delightfully out of your depth.
So, yeah, baby! Two-strokes are back, and staying.
And check in with me often, for I am gunning to be among the first to review these new bikes.
Further study below...
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