Rare, Fast, Exotic And Eccentric Two-Strokes Headline The Amelia'S 2021 Motorcycle Class

Company press release.
Join the discussion:

Rare, Fast, Exotic And Eccentric Two-Strokes Headline The Amelia'S 2021 Motorcycle ClassJacksonville, FL - The 26th annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance will present an eclectic and often ignored class of rare classic and special interest motorcycles on May 23, 2021.

The two-stroke motorcycle engine has a foot in two worlds. For developing nations (and those emerging from defeat in World War II) the two-stroke motorcycle was the path of least resistance for individuals requiring personal transportation. The two-stroke is simpler, easier to build and ultimately easier to coax big power from than a four-stroke engine. For decades exotic two-stroke engines ruled Grand Prix and motocross racing until they were legislated out of existence. Two strokes were lightweights without the bulk of a valve train or separate lubrication system. Every stroke brought ignition. Simplicity was a core strength. So was power. And so was that hazy blue exhaust smoke.

Until technology caught up with the two-strokes in the sixties and seventies, owning a two-stroke usually meant mixing gas and oil and having four-stroke riders call your bike a 'ring-ding', the sound many two-strokes make. A small compromise for very basic transportation.

Opposite that reality was the oddly named Scott Flying Squirrel, a British water-cooled two-stroke twin of the twenties. As its price tag was nearly double that of its British competitors, financial problems dogged the Shipley-based concern. A third place in the 1929 Isle of Man TT summoned an updated version of the Flying Squirrel. By 1931, as the Depression deepened, finances deteriorated further and Scott was unable to enter either the TT or the Earl's Court show where it debuted the Flying Squirrel in 1926. Yet the engine design had power and merit. The two-stroke Scott water-cooled twin lived into WWII with a version powering the infamous Flying Flea aircraft. In 1950 the rights to the Scott twin were bought by the Aerco Company and in 1956 they produced the Birmingham Scott. In the late seventies, Silk Engineering produced the Silk 700S, with a modernized and upgraded Scott two-stroke engine fitted into a modern Egli-type frame. The venerable two-stroke twin's longevity underscores the concept's validity and evolving technology kept Alfred Angus Scott's two-stroke alive for over a half-century.

Not all small displacement two-strokes were purely utilitarian. The DK-powered 50cc Victoria Avanti earned the affectionate nickname 'the Tin Banana' for its remarkable styling. Part moped (and seemingly part cartoon character) the 'Avanti' brought an unexpected touch of retro-future style to the basic transport slice of the German post-war motorcycle market while looking at home in such stylish surroundings as Berlin's fashionable Ku'damm.

By the end of the sixties the two-stroke's role began to change further. Suzuki brought the mainstream T500, an air-cooled 500cc two-stroke twin, to the American market. That was also the beginning of the emissions control era and the blue clouds issuing from two-strokes marked the impending doom of the species in the US. It was simply easier to make clean four-strokes. But the two-strokes left a wide fan base that remembers with pleasure the sudden and often violent rush of large displacement two-stroke power and torque.

'It's as though 2021's 'Weird & Wonderful' class somehow infiltrated our annual motorcycle class,' said Bill Warner, founder and Chairman of the Amelia Island Concours. 'Many of these bikes are the centerpieces of happy memories. For some Baby Boomers the ritual of mixing gas and oil for their first bike was a rite of passage. So that raises the question: Can a motorcycle finally win the Meguiar's People's Choice Award?'

posted on