Cologne.West Germany in the mid-1970s: Yamaha RD 250, Suzuki GT 750 or Kawasaki 750 H2 are loud and, above all, very fast. Japanese motorcycles thus become the wild two-wheeled dream of many young people.
In the East, people dream no less longingly at the same time. Here is the Trabant, the Volkswagen of the GDR, the object of desire. All dream-mobiles in the West and East have in common that their hearts beat in duple time. The two-stroke engine experienced its last heyday at that time.
Photo gallery: Classics against every emission standard
© Source: dpa-tmn
Today, more than 40 years later, it hardly plays a role on four and two wheels anymore. With the exception of small 50-cubic-centimeter scooters, new vehicles are almost non-existent, confirms Michael Lenzen, Chairman of the German Motorcyclists' Association.
Out of the two-stroke engine since Euro 4 standard
At the latest with the introduction of the Euro 4 standard, the topic of two-stroke engines in this form has become obsolete, explains Till Ferges of the trade journal "Motorrad News". Only a few pure sports machines with two-stroke engines, such as those from KTM, are still around.
Trabant expert Joachim Funke also sees the reason for the end of the two-stroke engine in car and motorcycle construction in the stricter exhaust regulations: "The legal requirements cannot be met by the two-stroke engine, which is why no more cars have been built for decades that rely on this engine concept."
The fact that the GDR held on to the two-stroke engine for so long – the last of the more than three million Trabants didn't come off the assembly line until 1991 – was due to the much simpler design and the resulting lower manufacturing costs compared to the four-stroke engine, explains the trained auto mechanic.
"Not only lighter, but also easier to maintain"
Funke, who is now responsible for technical issues relating to the "Trabbi" at the Inter Trab club in Zwickau, Germany A two-stroke engine has fewer components than a four-stroke engine, requires neither valves nor a camshaft, and is therefore not only lighter but also easier to maintain."
The simple design has disadvantages at the gas station today. With the four-stroke the engine lubrication is ensured, as long as one controls now and then the oil level and if necessary oil nachkippt. In the case of two-stroke engines, this is usually done by means of mixture lubrication, in which a gasoline/oil mixture must be refueled. Special gas pumps for the mixtures are rarely found today, however. The fuel must be extracted from gasoline. Mixing two-stroke oil yourself.
While the selection of two-stroke classic cars in the automotive sector is modest – apart from the Trabant, at most the Wartburg and the DKW F 102 still play a role – things look better when it comes to motorcycles. "Pretty much every manufacturer had something in their program at that time.", says Lenzen.
Caring for the classic
Today, Yamaha's RD models (250, 350), Suzuki's three-cylinder GT series (380, 550, 750), Kawasaki's Mach III and Mach IV, and the MZ models are enjoying increasing popularity, Lenzen lists. Till Ferges also sees these motorcycles as "classics". Even in the 1990s, the Aprilia RS 250 and the Suzuki RGV 250 were interesting two-strokes.
Anyone who owns a Suzuki GT 750, a Kawasaki 750 H2 Mach IV or a Trabant 601 usually cherishes this childhood dream. A lot can be done by oneself. "The advantage of two-strokes is that you can do a lot yourself, provided you have some basic knowledge, knows Funke. The Trabant requires very little maintenance: "Due to its design, there is no need to change the oil at all," says Funke, says the car mechanic. "Hardly anything more than a cylinder-head gasket breaks down."
The motorcycle experts Lenzen and Ferges advise one or the other preventive measure for the classics despite the low level of maintenance. The oil carbon, which is produced during combustion by the oil content in the fuel and settles, should be removed regularly, advises Lenzen. Ferges recommends emptying the float chambers before a longer shutdown: "Otherwise, when the fuel evaporates over time, a viscous, oily mass remains in the carburetor.