Those of us who have been in their teens during as late as the 1990 would have memories of ripping around the streets on good-old two strokers like the RX100s, Suzuki Shoguns/Shaolins, Yezdi Roadkings, RD 350s (I envy you
), LML NVs, Bajaj Supers/ Chetaks, etc. Today's four strokes bikes are more powerful and fuel efficient than these bikes of yore, but only someone who has ridden a two-stroke bike would understand how addictive it's heady power delivery could be.
Some of us might still be having these old and charming machines. For these members among us who still drink 2T instead of water and exhale premix along with CO2, I hope these tips on basic 2 stroke tuning (by 2 stroke guru Eric Gorr) would certainly go a long way in reigniting the 2-stroke passion.
Although a two-stroke engine has less moving parts than a four-stroke engine, a two-stroke is a complex engine because it relies on gas dynamics. There are different phases taking place in the crankcase and in the cylinder bore at the same time. That is how a two-stroke engine completes a power cycle in only 360 degrees of crankshaft rotation compared to a four-stroke engine which requires 720 degrees of crankshaft rotation to complete one power cycle. These four drawings give an explanation of how a two-stroke engine works.
1) Starting with the piston at top dead center (TDC 0 degrees) ignition has occurred and the gasses in the combustion chamber are expanding and pushing down the piston. This pressurizes the crankcase causing the reed valve to close. At about 90 degrees after TDC the exhaust port opens ending the power stroke. A pressure wave of hot expanding gasses flows down the exhaust pipe. The blow-down phase has started and will end when the transfer ports open. The pressure in the cylinder must blow-down to below the pressure in the crankcase in order for the unburned mixture gasses to flow out the transfer ports during the scavenging phase.
2) Now the transfer ports are uncovered at about 120 degrees after TDC. The scavenging phase has begun. Meaning that the unburned mixture gasses are flowing out of the transfers and merging together to form a loop. The gasses travel up the back side of the cylinder and loops around in the cylinder head to scavenge out the burnt mixture gasses from the previous power stroke. It is critical that the burnt gasses are scavenged from the combustion chamber, in order to make room for as much unburned gasses as possible. That is the key to making more power in a two-stroke engine. The more unburned gasses you can squeeze into the combustion chamber, the more the engine will produce. Now the loop of unburned mixture gasses have traveled into the exhaust pipe's header section. The gasses aren't lost because a compression pressure wave has reflected from the end of the exhaust pipe, to pack the unburned gasses back into the cylinder before the piston closes off the port. This is the unique super-charging effect of two-stroke engines. The main advantage of two-stroke engines is that they can combust more volume of fuel/air mixture than the swept volume of the engine. Example: A 125cc four-stroke engine combusts about 110cc of F/A gasses but a 125cc two-stroke engine combusts about 180cc of F/A gasses.
3) Now the crankshaft has rotated past bottom dead center (BDC 180 degrees) and the piston is on the upstroke. The compression wave reflected from the exhaust pipe is packing the unburned gasses back in through the exhaust port as the piston closes off the port the start the compression phase. In the crankcase the pressure is below atmospheric producing a vacuum and a fresh charge of unburned mixture gasses is flowing through the reed valve into the crankcase.
4) The unburned mixture gasses are compresses and just before the piston reaches TDC, the ignition system discharges a spark causing the gasses to ignite and start the process all over again. CYLINDER PORTING
The cylinder ports are designed to produce a certain power characteristic over a fairly narrow rpm band. Porting or tuning is a metal machining process performed to the cylinder ports (exhaust & transfers) that alters the timing, area size, and angles of the ports in order to adjust the power band to better suit the rider's demands. For example, a veteran trail rider riding an RM250 in the Rocky mountain region of the USA will need to adjust the power band for more low end power because of the steep hill climbs and the lower air density of higher altitudes. The only way to determine what changes will be needed to the engine is by measuring and calculating the stock engine's specifications. The most critical measurement is termed port-time-area. This term is a calculation of a port's size area and timing in relation to the displacement of the engine and the rpm. Experienced tuners know what the port-time-area values of the exhaust and transfer ports should be for an engine used for a particular purpose. In general, if a tuner wants to adjust the engine's power band for more low to mid range he would do the following things. Turn down the cylinder base on a lathe to increase the effective stroke (distance from TDC to exhaust port opening). This also retards the exhaust port timing and shortens the duration and increases the compression ratio. Next the transfer ports should be narrowed and re-angled with epoxy to reduce the port-time-area for an rpm peak of 7,000 rpm. The rear transfer ports need to be re-angled so they oppose each other rather than pointing forward to the exhaust port. This changes the loop scavenging flow pattern of the transfer ports to improve scavenging efficiency at low to mid rpm (2,000 to 5,000 rpm). An expert rider racing mx in England would want to adjust the power band of an RM250 for more mid to top end power. The cylinder would need to be tuned radically different than for trail riding.
Here is an example. The exhaust port would have to be raised and widened to change the port-time-area peak for a higher rpm (9,000 rpm). For either of these cylinder modifications to be effective, other engine components would also need to be changed to get the desired tuning effect.
Cylinder heads can be reshaped to change the power band. Generally speaking, a cylinder head with a small diameter and deep combustion chamber, and a wide squish band (60% of the bore area). Combined with a compression ratio of 9 to 1 is ideally suited for low to mid range power. A cylinder head with a wide shallow chamber and a narrow squish band (35-45% of bore area) and a compression ratio of 8 to 1, is ideally suited for high rpm power.
There are many reasons why a particular head design works for certain types of racing. For example; a head with a wide squish band and a high compression ratio will generate high turbulence in the combustion chamber. This turbulence is termed Maximum Squish Velocity, MSV is rated in meters per second (m/s). A cylinder head designed for supercross should have an MSV rating of 28m/s. Computer design software is used to calculate the MSV for head designs. In the model tuning tips chapters of this book, all the head specs quoted have MSV ratings designed for the intended power band changes.