rently on top of the National Enduro Series have
motocross-like power deliveries too. Racers all prefer that,
and the TM is a racer. The ignition has wild and mild settings, but once you go to the mild setting, you’ll want to go
back to the other one. It’s human nature.
Does that mean that it has poor tractability down low?
Not really. You can meter out the power to suit the job at
hand. The TM actually has perfectly useable power off the
bottom with absolutely clean jetting. It has enough flywheel
effect to keep from stalling, even at idle. But, it will rush
through the bottom quickly if you let it. Keeping the rear
wheel in contact with traction requires a careful balancing
act and proper use of the clutch. Two-stroke guys know
how to do it. Having said all that, there are other two-strokes that have much smoother power deliveries. The
KTM 300XC comes to mind, so does the Gas Gas EC250
and the Husky WR250.
Another fact that betrays the TM’s racing orientation is
the compression. The motor is fairly high-strung, and the
manufacturer recommends race gas. We ran it on pump
gas frequently without any ill effects, but when we showed
up on the line for a race, we always felt more comfortable
if we were running at least a half-and-half mix of race fuel
and pump swill.
Tossing around the TM is easy. It’s a great-handling bike,
and it’s fairly light. It weighs 225 pounds on the fabulous
Dirt Bike scale, and it feels lighter still. The lightest off-road
four-strokes are at least 15 pounds heavier, and beyond
that, the collection of cams, counterbalancers and other
spinning parts can make a four-stroke into a giant gyroscope—and therefore very reluctant to change course. The
TM is a blast on low-speed trails, and on the other end of
the speed spectrum it’s perfectly stable. The TM doesn’t
have any headshake and holds a line well.
We’ve come to terms with Marzocchi’s closed-cartridge
forks in recent years. The latest version can be made to
There aren’t many TMs
in the universe. Each
one is made by hand
out of excellent parts.
The sand-cast cases give away the limited production run
of TM two-strokes. This is a very exclusive motorcycle.
Being an off-road bike,
the TM 250E has an 18-inch
rear wheel, a kickstand, an
odometer and a headlight.
That last item is interesting,
because larger manufacturers won’t
ship two-strokes with headlights
to the U.S. anymore. It’s not
against any rules, but it might
identify the model as an off-road bike, and the TM (like all
two-strokes) can’t pass the
emissions test for off-road use
on public land. It’s imported as a
closed-course competition vehicle,
just like a motocross bike. That
means it’s not eligible for a California
green sticker, but we’re not aware of any other consequences.
A DIFFERENT TAKE
In the small universe of off-road two-strokes, TM is on
its own planet. Gas Gas and Husqvarna have bikes with
super-smooth powerbands and a four-stroke-like hit. The
KTM has more bite, but it’s still somewhat mellow in its
initial power delivery. Not the TM. This bike kicks you in
the pants hard. The TM doesn’t mess around; it’s a crazy-fast race bike and can’t be mistaken for anything else.
If you’re a card-carrying four-stroke rider, you might not
know what to do with a bike that has this kind of snap.
But if you never left the two-stroke world, the TM will feel
very familiar. It runs much like a last-generation 250cc
two-stroke motocross bike, only it makes more power. If
you could transport it back to an early 2000s motocross
shootout, it would be the fastest bike there. The fact that
enduro bikes are generally slower than motocross bikes
seems to be lost on TM. This motor would be perfectly at
home on a motocross track. That sounds a little intimidating, but keep in mind that the two-strokes that are cur-