Words Brendan Lutes
Photos Donn Maeda
Video Casey McPerry
If the success that the KTM 250SX-F has been enjoying on the racetrack this year in both Supercross and motocross is any indication of its performance, then it's easy to understand why the Austrian company didn't make any drastic changes to their 250cc four-stroke.
For 2013, the 250SX-F received only minor refinements to both improve durability and performance. Beginning with the motor, KTM ditched the six-speed transmission that was found on the bike previously and replaced it with a five-speed transmission with the goal of reducing weight and improving engine performance. The header pipe also received a new resonance chamber, reducing sound and giving the motor added torque. The suspension was where the majority of KTM's focus was, as the forks and shock received new valving and settings to not only better resist bottoming, but also reduce the harsh feel over high-speed chop that many riders experienced last year. Lastly, the front master cylinder is completely new and matched up with new, improved brake pads. The aim was to create a stronger more progressive front brake.
OUT ON THE TRACK
For 2014, the suspension on the 250SX-F is improved, offering a ride that is more confidence inspiring. KTM definitely improved the bottoming resistance of both the forks and shock. When coming up short on a jump, or going long, we could land with confidence knowing that the WP suspension would withstand the hit. One complaint that we did have with the suspension, however, was that over small rough chop, upon both entering and exiting corners, the forks and shock felt harsh. We were able to remedy this by going one click softer on the compression and one click faster on the rebound in both the front and rear. After that, charging into and out of corners was much easier.
As for the motor, since not much was done to it for this year, it felt much the same as the 2013. The bike definitely likes to be revved, and continues pulling through each gear until flattening out in fifth. Throughout the course of our testing, we found that the majority of the power was located in the midrange, meaning we needed to ride the bike in the sweet spot in order to truly make it shine. As for the five-speed gearbox, on fast straights, we ran out of gears and actually were in search of a sixth gear at times. In spite of this, though, the bike's power is still impressive and on par with its competition. We would really like to test it with an aftermarket exhaust, as it will likely open up the power more and give the 250SX-F the boost it needs right off of the bottom.
WHAT WE REALLY THINK
While this test is only our initial thoughts on the KTM 250SX-F, we can say that improvements done to the bike for 2014 have helped progress it ahead of the 2013 machine. The suspension is improved with better bottoming resistance and the motor feels very similar to the '13 bike. We have much more testing to do aboard this bike, though, so be sure to check out an upcoming issue of TransWorld Motocross for a more in-depth review.