The Langen Two Stroke: 250cc, 265 pounds, 76 bhp…
Here at BikeBound, we have a soft spot for two-stroke street bikes. There’s just something about the size, scent, and sensations of a two-stroke that call up an older era of motorcycling, when these blue-smoking machines dominated the street, strip, and circuit. Since the death of the high-performance two-stroke sport bike, the only way to capture that experience has been on a vintage bike — one whose chassis, brakes, and handling are a far cry from the performance of today’s machines. Until now….
Today, we’re thrilled to present one of the most exciting motorcycles we’ve ever featured — a new, modern, street-legal 250cc two-stroke that weighs just 265 pounds wet, boasts 76 bhp at 12,000 rpm, and manages to pass European emissions standards! It’s the Langen Two Stroke, built by Langen Motorcycles of the UK.
Founder Christofer Ratcliffe was born with two wheels in his DNA. His father worked for Cotton Motorcycles, helping to develop the fabled Cotton-Rotax two-stroke V-twin, and then there was his mother:
“My mum was a motorcycle dispatch rider at the age of 18 as her first job. Weekends were spent at bike shows, local bike club events, or getting involved in the family’s hobby, racing with a 50cc bike and 125cc sidecar two-strokes.”
Christofer studied mechanical and automotive engineering before going to work for companies such as TVR and CCM, but he wanted to make a bigger impact in the field:
“There has always been a desire to try to make significant input to the growth of the motorcycle industry, and creating a new company and brand felt like to place to do that with the largest degree of freedom.”
In 2019, the Ratcliffes sold their family home and car to found Langen Motorcycles, assembling a small team of engineers and technicians with high-level experience at Triumph, McLaren, BAC, Honda, and more. Their mission? To create a street-legal modern two-stroke sports bike:
“A two-stroke engine delivers the best power-to-weight ratio of any engine, so it seemed like a good place to start, and the first road-legal smoker would certainly make some headlines. We don’t like to do things the easy way!”
The heart of the Langen is a two-stroke V-twin originally designed by Ferrari engineer Vincenzo Mattia to create a reliable, powerful, and clean-burning two-stroke 250cc GP engine capable of producing 100 bhp. Over the past three years, Langen worked with Vincenzo to develop a road-legal version of the engine, tuned for better midrange and capable of passing modern emissions standards:
“The secret to the emissions is that the two-stroke oil pulsed directly to each crank bearing through oilways in the crankcases and is mapped across the rpm range depending on the engine load. This means there is always enough lubrication and crucially never too much.”
Then there’s the chassis, consisting of a lightweight 7020T6 tubular aluminum developed with the help of the help of the ex-Spondon gurus at GIA Engineering. The geometry is such to make the Langen both quick-turning and stable at speed, and everything else on the bike was kept as light as possible.
The result is a street-legal 265-pound two-stroke with 76 horsepower on tap:
“Some press riders have tested the bike and been blown away. The feedback has been ‘super natural stability’ and ‘the chassis is nothing short of miraculous. In fact, the whole package is a triumph of handling prowess – it’s simply perfect.'”
To say we’re excited about this bike is an understatement, and it’s not a one-off bespoke build either. Langen is building 100 bikes to order, each tailor-fit and customized to the owner’s size, weight, riding style, and aesthetic taste. Christofer says there are a small number of slots remaining, which can be reserved via Langen website.
Below, we talk to founder Christofer Ratcliffe for the full details on the Langen Two Stroke.
Langen L2T Two Stroke: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your company, Langen Motorcycles.
I have got it bad. Motorbikes go to the core and I rarely think about anything else! Growing up, my parents both rode bikes. My dad worked at Cotton Motorcycles as a fabrication apprentice, bending chassis tubes and hydroforming expansion chambers. The bike he was involved with was the Cotton-Rotax two-stroke V-twin, which had some TT and British Championship success in the hands of Steve Tomkin and Niall Mackenzie. It was the bike which eventually became Armstrong-CCM and broke the Yamaha TZ250’s dominance. There may be some subliminal influence there in the creation of the Langen Two Stroke!
My mum was a motorcycle dispatch rider at the age of 18 as her first job. Weekends were spent at bike shows, local bike club events, or getting involved in the family’s hobby, racing with a 50cc bike and 125cc sidecar two-strokes.
I felt a natural pull towards engineering and design, so studied Mechanical and Automotive Engineering. I had a stint at TVR Sportscars, the oil and gas industry, and eventually started at CCM in 2010.
There has always been a desire to try to make significant input to the growth of the motorcycle industry, and creating a new company and brand felt like to place to do that with the largest degree of freedom.
In 2019 the desire became too much to subdue, so we sold the family home and car to begin the adventure. We now have a small team of engineers and technicians with a wealth of experience from the automotive industry, from companies like Triumph, McLaren, BAC, Honda.
• What inspired you to create the Langen?
It was always the intention to create motorcycles that would be focused around engineering and design quality rather than built to a budget.
The launch model needed to be something that would instantly put us on the map, and most importantly, show the world what Langen Motorcycles is about in terms of build level, detail, and performance. The most important attribute of a bike that can make a significant improvement to dynamic performance is lightweighting. This is, and will continue to be, our key USP and secret to making machines that ride better than any comparable bikes on the market.
A two-stroke engine delivers the best power-to-weight ratio of any engine, so it seemed like a good place to start, and the first road-legal smoker would certainly make some headlines. We don’t like to do things the easy way!
• Can you tell us a bit about the origins of the engine, chassis, and the build process?
The engine has been in development for around six years. It started life as a personal project of Ferrari engineer Vincenzo Mattia, who later founded Vins Motors in Maranello. The unique fuel injection and mapped oil injection system were developed to create a reliable, powerful, and clean-burning two-stroke 250cc GP engine producing almost 100 bhp. The base engine is extremely strong, and this DNA is really prevalent in the Langen, even down to the tone of the engine as it rips through to almost 13,000 rpm.
After contacting Vincenzo and explaining the Langen story, and perhaps the romance with the Cotton 250cc bike connection, we agreed to begin development of a road-legal version of the engine. During the last three years, we have worked with Vins very closely to modify the base engine for better low and midrange throttle response and power delivery, charging systems, cooling systems.
We found a lot of nuances which could be improved to make the engine more user-friendly and durable for road use whilst complying with modern emissions standards. The secret to the emissions is that the two-stroke oil pulsed directly to each crank bearing through oilways in the crankcases and is mapped across the rpm range depending on the engine load. This means there is always enough lubrication and crucially never too much.
Once the special engine was confirmed, it was up to us to create the rest of the bike to the same level.
The brief for the rest of the bike was to reduce weight wherever possible and redistribute the remaining weight to give the best handling bike possible. Every component that isn’t CNC machined or fabricated aluminium is carbon fibre, including the fuel tank.
When designing the chassis, I took inspiration from the famous Spondon frames, utilizing large diameter lightweight aerospace tube to form a trellis. We contacted GIA Engineering in the Midlands, which was operated by some ex Spondon guys and still producing trick one-off aluminium tubular chassis. We gained a wealth of knowledge on materials, weld process, and jigging, which all went into the Langen chassis and swingarm development. Once we optimised the strength, fatigue, and stiffness through computer analysis, we contacted a foundry to produce a batch of 7020T6 tube to a size which wasn’t available anywhere in the world. Again, we don’t do things the easy way!
• Can you share the weight, horsepower, and any performance numbers?
The bike weighs 120 kg and produces 75 bhp at 12,000 rpm. We have programmed in high torque across the midrange to give creamy roll-on / roll-off power delivery where people ride the most. The all-important two-stroke powerband is still there above 10,000 rpm, but comes on progressively, so much more controllable than all our favorite two-strokes of old.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride?
Just awesome. We have high expectations but it even surprised us. It is unlike any other bike that you can buy.
The power delivery is intoxicating and addictive. Not just because of the sound and smell as you reach the higher rpm bands. At the same time it is a very easy bike to ride with smooth and strong pull from low rpm in any gear. This is where using the modern fuel injection and exhaust valves really makes a difference to what you expect from a two stroke.
The real jewel is the chassis. Some press riders have tested the bike and been blown away. The feedback has been “super natural stability” and “the chassis is nothing short of miraculous. In fact, the whole package is a triumph of handling prowess – it’s simply perfect.” Seeing this reaction makes the whole team beam with pride, as it is exactly what we strive for, no matter what engines we use in the future.
The geometry has been designed to be quick-turning but stable at high speeds. The head angle is 23 degrees, so quite steep coupled with the lack of weight (53% to the front). As the bike is so light and quick-turning, we could afford to introduce an increase in conventional ground trail coupled with a longer swingarm and wheelbase than a comparable sports bike. This gives great stability at speeds of 100 mph+ without sacrificing performance on the twisty B-roads.
• What’s the origin of the Langen name?
I would like to say that it is named after Eugen Langen, who was an entrepreneur and inventor working with Nikolaus Otto on the first combustion engine, who later set up the first engine factory in the world. But it isn’t. Langen was just a nickname that came out of a football game when I was young and for some reason it stuck. When we came to launch the first images of the new bike to the press, we didn’t have a name for the bike or brand, so I was persuaded by family to use my nickname.
In terms of the bike’s name, during development we always referred to it as “The Two Stroke,” so being an engineer rather than marketing guru, it seemed logical to keep the name. Our development code for the bike is L2T, so this can be seen in the 100 VIN numbers.
• Was there anything done during the development and production that you are particularly proud of?
There have been a number of interesting technical challenges to overcome such as the carbon fibre fuel tank, exhaust expansion chamber routing, and the location and routing of all the electrical components and wiring. The biggest challenge was accomplishing the weight and performance targets we set out at the beginning. This took a lot of iterative design work, optimization, and testing.
Personally, the thing that makes me the happiest is seeing how the team has taken the prototype bike and engineered it into what it is today. A bunch of talented people have shared the vision and created a very special machine, which is putting huge smiles on people’s faces.
• How can interested parties / potential buyers contact you?
We are building 100 bikes to order. Each bike is tailor-fit and fully customized to the owner’s size, weight, riding style, and aesthetic taste. There are a small number of build slots remaining, which can be reserved either through the website (www.langenmotorcycles.co.uk), emailing [email protected], or calling +441942724059.
Langen Two Stroke: Specifications
- Engine: Liquid-cooled 90° V-twin crankcase carbon fibre reed-valve two-stroke with twin contrarotating crankshafts, and electric start
- Dimensions: 54 x 54.5 mm
- Capacity: 249 cc
- Output: 76 bhp at 11,700 rpm (at gearbox)
- Max torque: 45 Nm/33 ft-lb at 11,700 rpm
- Management system: Vins direct electronic fuel injection with two 40mm sliding throttle bodies with twin reed-valve blocks, and direct separate oil injection. 1 litre oil tank – 2000m range.
- Transmission: 6-speed extractable cassette gearbox with multiplate oil-bath clutch
- Chassis: TiG-welded 7020 T6 aluminium spaceframe with carbon-fibre seat Unit (not subframe)
- Suspension: Front: Fully-adjustable 43mm TIN-coated Öhlins RWU inverted telescopic fork with 120mm of wheel travel
- Rear: Tubular aluminium swingarm with twin fully-adjustable cantilever K-Tech Razor shocks with 120mm of wheel travel
- Head angle/trail: 23 degrees/97 mm
- Wheelbase: 1450 mm
- Weight/distribution: 119 kg with oil, water and full street equipment but no fuel, split 53/47 %
- Brakes: Front: 2 x 320 mm Brembo steel discs with four-piston HEL radially-mounted billet calipers
- Rear: 1 x 240 mm Brembo steel disc with twin-piston HEL billet caliper
- Wheels/tyres: Front: 120/70-17 Dunlop Classic TT100 GP tubeless Radial on 3.0in wire-laced aluminium rim
- Rear: 150/70-17 Dunlop Classic TT100 GP tubeless Radial on 4.25in wire-laced aluminium rim
- Seat height: 320 mm
- Fuel capacity: 14 litres
- Top speed: Over 130 mph
- Manufacturer: Langen Motorcycles, Kingfisher Court, Wigan WN4 9DW, UK