That heading, in all caps, is written exactly as I read it in the e-mail waiting for me when I returned from lunch. All I could think about was how lucky I was that Lemmy is at Bike Week in Daytona working on his tan and getting into trouble on big American-bred cruisers. He would have never let me hear the end of this.
You see, Lem wrote a great article back in September entitled “Where did all the two-strokes go?” In the conclusion, he predicted that two-smokers would inevitably make a comeback once someone introduced fuel injection technology to the category.
Today is that day.
Although Lem wasn't entirely correct in his prediction (he suggested we wouldn't see fuel injection on a two-stroke until new laws were passed rendering it a necessity), he came pretty damn close. It’s no surprise that KTM is the manufacturer making this technology a reality. As the Big Guy discussed in his original article, the Austrian manufacturer’s tour-de-force efforts in two-stroke innovation have been second to none.
Once the AMA allowed 450 cc four-strokes to compete against 250 cc two-strokes in closed course competition, the thick smell of burning oil all but vanished. However, KTM stuck with two-stroke technology for their enduro line of off-road machines. As two-strokes are lighter and easier to work on than their four-stroke counterparts, it makes them ideal candidates for enduro riding.
Currently, KTM all but owns the enduro market with their robust catalog of two-stroke and four-stroke machines. So why is the announcement of a new fuel-injected engine so important?
Environmental regulations were at the forefront of two-strokes disappearing from showrooms. As the EPA began passing and enforcing increasingly stringent laws for motorcycles entering the U.S. market, it became easier to invest in four-stroke technology than to fight back. But this is 2017, and thanks to KTM's continued investment into two-stroke engineering, they now possess the technology to eliminate carburetors, thus allowing their two-strokes to exhale cleaner than ever.
According to the press release, KTM is dubbing this new technology Transfer Port Inject and will be designated “TPI” within their model line. In addition to improved fuel economy, it will mark an end to having to pre-mix fuel prior to filling the tank. KTM also claims “a completely new experience in terms of power delivery and rideability,” a pretty bold claim from the company whose motto is “Ready to Race.”
So far, three models featuring this new technology have been announced. Europe will get the first two, the 250 EXC TPI and 300 EXC TPI, set for a May release. North America will receive the third, the 2018 250 XC-W TPI, will be available in limited quantities by late fall.
If you read that as I first did, it sounds like Europe is getting street-legal two-strokes. Not so. While the EXC product line in America is KTM’s street-legal dual-sports, in Europe the designation is reserved for their enduro line.
Is that to say that we’ll never see a street-legal two-stroke motorcycle again here in the United States? At this point, I wouldn’t rule it out. If KTM has showed us anything, it’s that they are committed to advancing two-stroke technology, even if everyone else out there has ruled it obsolete.