The RZ350 formula gets updated for the 2020s.
Two-stroke sportbikes had their day, but now they’re done and gone, right? Wrong. Over in the U.K., Langen Motorcycles—a low-volume startup with some high-revving ideas—is revisiting the old-school oil burner with a limited-production run of custom-built, two-stroke motorcycles.
Clearly inspired by sporty, mid-80s two-strokes like Yamaha’s RZ-series, Langen’s bikes are a pleasant, if smoky, surprise. The company sourced its 250cc, liquid-cooled, 90-degree V-twin from Italian company Vins. Although two-strokes are often seen as outdated, this engine has modern touches like electronic fuel injection and a counter-rotating crankshaft. It supposedly makes around 80 horsepower, a massive output for a 250cc engine. As a comparison, Kawasaki’s hot new ZX-25R four-stroke should make around 50 horsepower, and that’s with a 17,000 rpm redline.
Langen’s use of high-quality, high-tech bike components doesn’t stop at the engine, however. For suspension, there’s a set of 43mm Öhlins forks up front and dual Ktech Piggyback Razor shocks in back. Brakes are dual-discs up front and a single disc aft with billet aluminum radial calipers. In addition, the bikes have hand-built aluminum frames and carbon-fiber bodywork to cut down on weight.
That, in a nutshell, is the appeal of two-stroke motorcycles: high power, low weight. Langen says its completed machines should weigh around 250 pounds. Most of the current 300-400cc beginner bikes on the market weigh between 350 and 400 pounds.
Langen’s machines are built for a different type of customer, though. As its website says:
“Each part is constructed to exacting standards using either modern methods such as 5-axis CNC machining and additive manufacturing or hand crafted using traditional methods such as carbon fibre [sic] lay ups and gold leaf gilding.
During the design and build of the motorcycle each new owner will have an input over the final design, ergonomics, geometry to truly create a unique machine and a lasting relationship with the team that designed and built their bike.”
Custom-built using expensive methods and components, from pricey materials—don't expect a Langen to come cheap, even if it’s “only” a 250. The bikes should be gorgeous to look at, though, and fun to ride. Langen’s website says, “motorcycles should provide raw excitement to ride and be a pleasure to stand and admire. Form and function can work in perfect harmony.” If you’ve got the dough, and you want a small, sporty bike that’s pared down to the essentials, it sounds like Langen’s got a machine for you.