Suck, squeeze, bang, blow, suck, squeeze, bang, go – that has been the unfortunate life cycle of the two-stroke, as the fossil-fuel burning engine configuration has slowly ebbed away from all but the most intense of sports.
Rarely does one hear the high-pitched wine of a two-stroke road bike nowadays (and trust me, you would hear it miles off), and a new, production road-going machine is virtually unfathomable.
But Christofer Ratcliffe, former Chief Design Engineer at CCM, doesn’t share our scepticism, and after leaving the British motorcycle manufacturer has embarked on his own endeavour, striving to “really break the shackles and create something special”.
From his a workshop in Wigan (next to Three Sisters Race Circuit), Ratcliffe – of no relation to a fellow British automotive entrepreneur – has been working on a new, road-going 250cc two-stroke café racer. Under the Langen Motorcycles moniker – inspired by an old nickname of his – it will be revealed in full later this month.
Joining its carefully crafted form is function, with the machine expected to weigh less than 115kg, while putting out an estimated 80PS from its Italian two-stroke 250cc V-twin, built by Maranello-based ex-Ferrari specialists ‘Vins’. That’s the equivalent weight of a 125cc machine, and makes for a power-to-weight ratio of 0.7PS per kg – beating many modern supercars. The reason behind the two-stroke powertrain is as much logic as it is nostalgia, with Ratcliffe commenting: “From a technical point of view it is the weight, or lack of it! Using the two-stroke engine along with the other weight saving components means the bike is pushing 80bhp but is the weight of a 125cc bike.”
Langen continues: “We seem to have a window now that technology has advanced and before all new vehicles turn electric, [we have the chance] to give the two stroke a final swansong. Modern manufacturing techniques along with fuel injection and oil injection means the two stroke can meet modern emissions standards and still deliver incredible power to weight.
“But the main reason is just the love of two-strokes – going back to my old TZR125 when I was 17 and the raw feelings, smells, sounds that it brings back. The romantic in me also remembers my Father talking of his days as an apprentice in the early ‘80s working for Cotton Motorcycles and later CCM, bending chassis tubes for the 250cc two-stroke bike that went on to have success at the IOMTT. It feels great to launch a bike with similar heritage.”
Top spec equipment will clothe the machine, including Öhlins forks, a billeted CNC machined engine casing plus a carbon fibre fuel tank and bodywork with inlaid 24ct gold leaf detailing.
And the best part? Aside from the forks and engine, the Langen two-stroke will be entirely British built.
Originally due to be unveiled at the 2020 Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard, it will now make its debut at September’s Salon Prive. Pre-orders are open now, with a limited production run expected to begin in summer 2021, and an estimated price ‘in the high £20Ks plus VAT’. For more information, or to place an order, visit www.langenmotorcycles.co.uk