Last year the EN 300 got
a new two-stroke motor, but
it’s not the type of “new two-stroke” that Internet minions
have been calling for. It’s not
direct injection or even electric
start. The engineers at TM are purists
who love the two-stroke design for its traditional virtues. Fuel injection still requires heavy fuel pumps and
batteries, especially in the case of direct injection. TM
even turned its nose up at the electric starter in order
to keep the weight down. Thus, the new motor is a somewhat old-school case-reed design with a five-speed gearbox. Its most sophisticated feature is the servo-controlled
electronic power valve. If you remember, Honda had
moved to this type of mechanism just before abandoning
the two-stroke altogether. You might say that TM picked
up where Honda left off.
The most impressive aspect of the motor is that it’s
hand-assembled. The cases are sand-cast like those of a
prototype or a works motor. This is a bike built in a race
shop, like HRC without the big Honda factory next door.
That’s even more clear when you take a close look at the
chassis. It has what looks a little like a modern Japanese
aluminum frame until you look carefully. The welds are
all beautiful, clearly made by an old-world craftsman.
Japanese frames have two or three hand-made welds in
places that can be seen easily, and the rest are made by
soulless robots. Look under the engine cradle and you see
welds that are downright embarrassing. Not on the TM
frame. Every weld is so well-done it should be signed. For
the select few who are familiar with the 2015 TM, the big-
gest change for 2016 is the frame. It looks the same,
but the geometry has been altered somewhat to make the
handling more responsive.
TM also makes a large number of its own parts in true
craftsman style. The triple clamps are billet aluminum,
the rear brake lever is nicer than anything on the aftermarket and, most amazing of all, the rear shock is made
by TM. In front it has a KYB fork similar to the one found
on a Yamaha. The rear brake is by Nissin, the front is by
Brembo, but with a Nissin master cylinder. The rotors are
Galfer, and the hydraulic clutch is Brembo.
This particular model is an off-road racer, similar in
purpose to the KTM XC line. But in some countries it’s
street-legal, thus it has lights and a horn. The tires are
Mitas FIM Enduro-legal, which are Europe’s version of
DOT rubber. TM augments the motocross-style Kokusan
ignition with a bolt-on flywheel addition and a lighting coil
mounted to the ignition cover. Even with all that, it’s the
lightest 300cc off-road bike in that somewhat limited class.
On our high-tech super scale, accurate to within 0.005
stone, the TM was 224 without fuel.
OFF-ROAD TEST This is a motorcycle
made by Italian crafts-
men who are fiercely
proud and independent.
In 2015 the TM 300 two-stroke motor was redesigned with a
new electronic power valve.
The Nissin rear brake is couped with a Brembo front brake.
Both are excellent.