5 Best 2 Stroke Dirt Bikes For Trail Riding

Are you looking for the best 2 stroke dirt bike for trail riding? There’s a lot of models to choose from, so how do you know which one is good, and what makes a 2 stroke better than a 4 stroke?

This article will cover all of the top 2 stroke trail bikes, whether you’re a beginner or an expert. There’s different kinds of trails, so there’s no perfect bike for every type of trail and rider. That’s why we’ll look at what bikes are best for each specific kind of trail you might be riding.

What’s The Difference Between A Dirt Bike And A Trail Bike?

A trail bike is a type of dirt bike that is made specifically for trail riding. Trail bikes are easier to ride because they have softer suspension and an engine and transmission that is tuned for broad, smooth power.

Colorado Trip 2018 Edit 16 5 Best 2 Stroke Dirt Bikes For Trail Riding
My friends leading the way up this technical climb on a KTM 250 2 Stroke.

Dirt bike brands that still make 2 stroke trail bikes

Unfortunately, there’s only a few left, and there’s only one original Japanese manufacture making a 2 stroke dirt bike for trail riding. With that said, the latest 2 stroke trail bikes are as good as they’ve ever been.

The current dirt bike brands still making 2 stroke trail bikes are:

  • KTM
  • Yamaha
  • Husqvarna
  • Beta
  • Sherco
  • Gas Gas

The Best of The Best Two Strokes

Depending on what you’re looking for in a trail bike, these 2 stroke dirt bikes are the best bikes for it:

  • KTM 150XCW
  • Beta 200RR
  • Yamaha YZ250X
  • KTM 250XCW
  • Husqvarna TE300

Is A 2 Stroke Good For Trail Riding?

For many years, 2 strokes have been known to have a “peaky” and abrupt power-curve. This is not beneficial to trail riding. 

Modern 2 strokes have smoother power curves with good low-end torque. 2 strokes with smooth power are generally better for trail riding because they are easier to ride. 

2 Stroke vs 4 Stroke For Trail Riding

This will always be a great debate. There are many arguments to why each type of dirt bike is better for trail riding, but it all comes down to one thing. 

Colorado Trip 2018 Edit 22 5 Best 2 Stroke Dirt Bikes For Trail Riding
Trail Riding A 4 Stroke

What is your personal preference?


With that said, how do you know what your personal preference is if you haven’t ridden both 2 and 4 stroke trail bikes?

Below shows the benefits of each type of dirt bike.

2 Stroke Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Simple
  • Cheaper to rebuild
  • Good power to weight ratio
  • Easier to handle
  • Easier to start

4 Stroke Pros:

  • Broad power curve
  • No mixing oil
  • Latest R&D technology
  • Easier to ride longer
  • Generally longer rebuild intervals

The type of riding you primarily do should determine what the best bike is for you. There’s no “best dirt bike” for every individual because every person has different needs and preferences. 

Tuning and adjusting will almost always be required on any new dirt bike to suit your personal needs. This may be adjusting the suspension or adding protection for trail riding. 

Which KTM Is Best For Trail Riding?

The best overall KTM 2 stroke dirt bikes for trail riding are the 150 XCW, 250 XCW, and 300 XCW. 

The 150 is one of the lightest trail bikes available, but it has plenty of power. It’s great if you want a 2 stroke that is easy to handle and maintain, but want to be aggressive and have fun twisting the throttle. It doesn’t have a lot of low-end torque compared to a 250 or 300, so you’ll have to use the clutch more and shift it more often. 

The 250cc is the better all around model. It has enough power from low to high (when tuned to your preference). 

KTM’s 300 has been “The Enduro Bike” for a number of years now because there’s not much it can’t do. 

When compared to the 250, the 300 has more low-end torque, but there’s also noticeably more vibration. Although, since the better counterbalanced crank, the vibration has considerably less. This allows you to ride longer with more comfort because your hands won’t go numb as quick. 

Best 125 or 150 2 Stroke dirt bike for trail riding

Yamaha and KTM both make a 125cc 2 stroke enduro bike for trail riding, but KTM is the only dirt bike brand that makes a 150 2 stroke dirt bike.

and KTM 150XCW are the top small bore 2 stroke trail bikes. 

KTM 150 XC-W vs 150 XC

The KTM 150 has more overall power over the 125, as you might expect with the extra displacement. It also has electric-start, which the Yamaha doesn’t have.

The 150XCW has a wider ratio transmission than the 150XC, and the suspension is a little bit softer. The 150 was supposed to be KTM’s transition to a “new market” because they discontinued the 200cc XC & XCW in 2017.

Yamaha YZ125X

The YZ125X is Yamaha’s new 125 2 stroke enduro bike. It’s a slight variation of the tried and true YZ125 mx bike. The biggest changes are slightly different chassis geometry for off-road riding, the engine is tuned for smooth and broad power, an 18″ rear wheel and a kickstand. 

YZ125X vs 150XCW

When it comes down to it, each bike has its own advantages. This simple table will compare the key specs that differ for the Yamaha and KTM. 

Weight (wet)209lbs217lbs (est.)
Price (MSRP)$6499$8799

Best Beginner 2 Stroke For Trail Riding

A 250 or 300cc 2 stroke is not a good dirt bike for a beginner because it simply has too much power to safely manage. One extra twist of the throttle and you’re into the trees or creek. 

A 125 or 150 is definitely more manageable, especially being lighter, but there’s still a little too “peaky” to learn on. 

Finding The Middle Ground

A 200cc 2 stroke, such as the old KDX200 or KTM 200XCW are a great middle ground because they’re tuned for beginner-friendly trail riding. Unfortunately, neither of these bikes are made anymore. 

On the flip side, Beta has taken over the 200cc niche with their 200RR. It took over where KTM left off. The chassis is slightly smaller, making it easier to handle if you’re a first time or shorter rider. 

Electric start and oil injection are nice options that increase the fun factor because you don’t need to kick start or pre-mix your gas and oil. 

The engine is also tuned for broad power with good low-end torque, so it’ll feel more like a 250 without quite as much top-end ‘snap’. 

Best Yamaha 2 Stroke For Trail Riding

The new YZ125X and YZ250X are the only current 2 stroke enduro/trail bikes that Yamaha has to offer.

The YZ250X is the better overall trail bike for most experienced riders because it has plenty of power but has a broad powerband. The low-end torque makes it easier to short-shift and use smaller throttle inputs to get up hills and over logs. 

The YZ125X is a good enduro woods bike for younger and lighter riders. It’s still a quick bike, but the power is biased more towards the top-end due to being only 125cc. 

Best KTM 2 Stroke For Trail Riding

KTM has quite a few 2 stroke bikes designed for woods and trail riding. The 150XCW, 250XCW and 300XCW are the best overall 2 strokes for riding trails. You just need to decide how much power and weight you want to handle. 

250XCW mods for tall rider
My friend on his KTM 250 2 Stroke

They all have electric start, and as of 2020, they have KTM’s patented TPI fuel-injection, which automatically compensates for elevation and temp/humidity changes. 

Best Husqvarna For Trail Riding

Husqvarna, being a sister company of KTM, has very similar bikes. The TE 150, 250, and 300 are all great 2 stroke enduro bikes. You just have to decide how many CC’s you want to handle. 

Cheap 2 stroke dirt bike for trail riding

Are you on a budget and just want an affordable bike? These are the best used 2 stroke dirt bikes for cheap that can be used for trail riding:

  • Kawasaki KDX200
  • Yamaha YZ125
  • KTM 200XCW
  • Yamaha YZ250

Can I Use My 2 Stroke Motocross Bike For Trail Riding?

Motocross bikes can be used for trail riding, but most MX bikes have some significant disadvantages

Abrupt power and close-ratio transmission gearing, as well as harsh suspension are the biggest drawbacks to trail riding a motocross bike. 

You can combat these things with tuning and mods, up to a certain point. But in the end, it may take more time, money and effort than it would to simply buy a bike that’s already setup for riding in the woods or mountains. 

How to make dirt biking safer

Besides choosing the right dirt bike to start on, the number one thing you can do to stay safer is by getting proper training. As a new rider, I want to help you get started, which is why I made an online riding course on how to safely and confidently ride a dirt bike.

Click here to learn more with proper riding position.


Kelley Fager

I help newer riders learn to safely ride with confidence by teaching basic techniques in a way that's easy to understand. Learn To Ride With Control Here

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