Q: IS THE 2016 KTM 125SX SUSPENSION BETTER
THAN THE 2015 SUSPENSION?
A: KTM’s Achilles heel is on the mend. The forks on last
year’s 2015 125SX were harsh from the top of the stroke through
the middle, but you couldn’t soften the clickers or the forks would
blow through the stroke. It was a catch- 22. For 2016, the KTM
125SX’s WP forks are plush yet progressive, with the shock
following the fork characteristics to make for a balanced setup.
You can’t give WP all the credit, though, because the new frame
geometry aided in the pleasant overall feel of the 125SX. Oh, wait,
WP also makes KTM’s frames.
We want to note that both ends of the 125SX’s suspension are
exactly the same on the 2016 KTM 150SX, but they do not handle
the same. Why? Blame it on the 19.19cc difference between
the two. The 150SX packs a bigger punch that transfers more
load to the rear end. The 150SX also falls off the pipe more
suddenly, which puts more weight on the front end. The 150SX’s
more aggressive powerplant makes for a less balanced chassis. We
like the 125SX’s suspension better than the 150SX’s suspension—
not because of the WP components, but because the 125’s
smoother powerband makes the chassis more responsive.
Q: WHICH BIKE IS FASTER; THE 2016 KTM 125SX
OR THE 150SX?
A: To be honest, it’s a toss-up. Everyone loved the smooth
powerband of the 125SX. The 150SX was harder to manage. But,
the bottom line is that the 150SX makes 3 more ponies at peak,
and you can feel it, especially on the way to a big jump. The
question is, would you rather have an easy-to-ride bike with a
broad powerband or a quirky, fast-revving engine that will
boot you over big doubles?
Q: IS THE 2016 KTM 125SX COMPETITIVE IN THE
250 FOUR-STOKE CLASS?
A: On the dyno it looks closer than it is. It is only a hair off
the 2015 Honda CRF250 on peak power. Plus, the 198-pound 125SX
is only 20 pounds lighter than most 250 four-strokes. If you do the
math, on paper, the 37. 27 horsepower 125SX should beat a 40. 5
horsepower machine that weighs 220 pounds. That means it would
run with a Kawasaki KX250F, Honda CRF250 and the Suzuki
RM-Z250. Does it feel like that on the track? No. The nimble feel
of the 125SX will allow you to make time on the 250 four-strokes
on the tight parts of the track, but down straights you will lose
ground. The 125SX’s Achilles heels are big hills, deep sand, hard-pack dirt and long starts. The abundant torque of the four-strokes
will yank the smoker under these conditions. The 125SX would not
win the race against a sea of 250 four-strokes, but the 125 rider
will have more fun trying.
Q: WHAT IS THE ONE CHANGE EVERY 125SX
OWNER SHOULD MAKE?
A: Gearing. As with the 150SX, we opted to gear the bike up.
We went with a 49-tooth rear rather than the stock 50 because it
felt like a 51. Hold on; did that make sense? The bike was lacking
bottom-end grunt, so naturally we wanted to go bigger on the
rear sprocket, but this shortened the powerband, requiring more
shifting. When we went to a smaller rear sprocket, the 125SX felt
like it had more snap off the bottom and a broader powerband.
Additionally, it made us ride a gear lower, which raised the rpm in
the sections where we were lacking grunt before. Our testers, who
never know what gear they’re in, were deluded into thinking we
put a 51-tooth sprocket on the rear instead of a 49.