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Why Are Used 4-Strokes Cheaper Than 2-Strokes?

by MXHideout on 12/06/2011

You may or may not have noticed, but in my area, as well as many others in the United States, you can buy a used 4-stroke dirt bike of the same year as a 2-stroke for same price if not cheaper. Why is this, you may ask? There are many factors as to why this is happening. First of all, you have to realize that an “Asking price” is NOT the same as a “Selling price” on almost every occasion. While there are many people asking “X” amount of dollars for a their 2007 KX250F, they are almost always selling it for less, even if their price is “Firm”.

2005 YZ250F - $1500

While most racers in the U.S. are still buying new four-strokes because of their few advantages, many are going back to the ol’ faithful two-smoker. Why would they do that? For one, they are tired of dealing with 4-strokes. The maintenance, the breaking, the rebuilding, the billing, and more maintenance. Now, I’m not a hater of 4-strokes, and what I just said isn’t always the case, because some of them last a long time with just a little maintenance. It’s just that in the long run they will almost always cost more to operate because of more moving parts. Yes, a 4-stroke engine has almost twice as many moving parts as a 2-stroke. 4-strokes are like ticking time bombs, because when something breaks, it usually takes out many more parts with it, resulting in a “blown-up” engine.

If the owners aren’t sick of their 4-stroke after the first rebuild, they usually are after a second time. Not only do the parts add up to a large sum, but if you have the work  done by a shop, it’s nearly doubled. You have a piston and rings, valves, timing chain, chain tensioner, valve springs, shims, maybe the cylinder head ($400+ alone for most bikes) and cam(s) if it was run out of oil, possibly the crankshaft, bearings (they add up quickly), and cylinder re-sleeved or plated if it got scored. Although not every part needs to be replaced after every engine failure, but you can still see why it adds up to a much bigger bill compared to a 2-stroke engine rebuild. Some people put so much money into an engine rebuild that they could have almost bought another good bike for back-up instead….

2004 CR125R - $2000

Now you know why there are so many 4-stroke motocross bikes in the classifieds that need to be rebuilt; riders on a budget buy them, haul the bike to the track only for it to take a dump on them,  then they often don’t have money to fix them. To add to the fact, most riders don’t know how to or are not confident enough to work on a 4-stroke engine themselves because of their complexity, which is why they bring it to a shop to have it done (greatly increasing the rebuild cost).

I could give you a list of prices for new parts on a four-stroke engine rebuild, but it just feels redundant. You can look it up if you really feel compelled to (Let’s just say you could probably buy a used bike for the amount, especially after you include the cost of labor). It’s for this very reason that riders are switching to a 2-stroke. Racing is expensive, and if you are on a budget to start with, why dig a deeper hole?

Back to the “Asking” and “Selling” price, most people post their bikes for more than they are actually worth. It’s because they see the same bike for a certain amount, so they think theirs is worth at least that much too because that’s what they are “Going for”. This is far from the truth. In fact, a lot of people never even sell their bikes because they are asking too much. Smart sellers, or someone that want a quick sale, will either take at least a couple hundred off of their price initially when posting it, or they negotiate when someone comes to look at it. The only time you will be able to sell your bike in a reasonable amount of time when you are “Firm” on the price is when it’s already much cheaper than any other bike like it on the market. Even then, a lot of people go down another hundred or so, just to get rid of it.

In the end, it’s all about supply and demand, and the demand for cheap 2-strokes is exponentially increasing because of how cheap it is to operate them over a long period of time.

Mint 2007 CRF250R - $2100

 -Tom Stark –

Note: this article is not to sway you to buy a 2-stroke. It is merely news and information on what the off-road motorcycle market is doing, and what people are currently buying. Although, it does make 2-strokes just that much more appealing!