WHY DID IT FINISH SIXTH?
Someone has to finish last, and
KTM has that dubious honor this
year. While the 250SXF has many
great attributes, it continues to
flounder in two pivotal areas of 250
four-stroke warfare: suspension and
powerband. Although the all-new
WP 4CS fork is a step in the right
direction, it is not set up properly.
If top-end power is your cup of tea,
then the 250SXF engine will sing
a sweet tune, but most riders will
never be able to maximize the
horsepower gains at high rpm.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT THE
2015 KTM 250SXF?
(1) Hydraulic clutch. It is
smooth, self-adjusting, fade-free and
works very well. The hydraulic clutch
has a unique feel compared to a conventional cable-actuated clutch.
( 2) Front brake. We can get the
rear brake to chirp like a singing
chipmunk when the brake heats up,
but there’s no better front brake on
the market. Honda and Kawasaki
upped their front-brake systems for
2015, but they don’t hold a candle to
( 3) Starting. Not only is the
electric starter a welcome relief for
lazy riders, but the engine is scary
fast at high rpm. The 250SXF is a
holeshot machine if the start
straight is long enough.
( 4) Reliability. KTM is quickly
becoming known for reliability. We
haven’t suffered a single issue on
the 250SXF. It’s also important to
note that the bike continues to look
great, even after months of moto
thrashings. The in-mold graphics and
robust plastics keep the 250SXF
looking like new.
WHAT’S BAD ABOUT THE 2015
(1) Engine. With stock gearing,
the 250SXF is a dog out of the hole.
It doesn’t show signs of life until
the rpm hits the midrange, at which
point it runs like a scalded cat all the
way to 13,400 rpm.
( 2) Gearing. Figuring out the
best way to gear the 250SXF falls
directly between Stonehenge and the
Voynich manuscript on the list of the
world’s greatest unsolved mysteries.
We might have cracked the code by
gearing the KTM taller, but then our
slower test riders struggled to keep
the engine on the pipe.
( 3) Suspension. MXA testers
were elated to learn of the 250SXF’s
new WP 4CS fork; that is until we
set tire to track. Yes, the 4CS system
is better than the old WP bladder
fork, but in stock trim the fancy new
4CS is set up improperly. The forks
are too stiff for all but the fastest
riders; they refuse to go through
their stroke. Not only that, but the
WP shock is just average.
( 4) Handling. Guess what
happens when the suspension fails
to do its job properly? The handling
suffers. On smooth tracks the 250SXF
handles well, but once bumps form,
the WP suspension can beat riders
to a pulp. The chassis didn’t allow
testers to settle into corners. If you
can fix the suspension, this bike
handles like a dream.
( 5) Engine braking. The KTM
250SXF suffers from engine-braking
issues. Be sure to downshift at the
last possible second to avoid loading
up the suspension, which has serious consequences.
WHICH SKILL LEVEL BEST
SUITS THE 250SXF?
This is a pro-level bike. It is
possible for slower riders to find
satisfaction in the 250SXF, but that
will require the judicious use of
money for aftermarket mods.
WHAT ARE OUR FINAL
THOUGHTS ON THE 250SXF?
Why, oh why, does KTM continue
to build a motorcycle that does little
to benefit the average rider? We feel
like we’re beating a dead horse by
stating that the KTM 250SXF engine
is too Pro-level and the suspension
underperforms. However, those are
facts that cannot be overlooked. The
250SXF is a good platform in need
of some tender-loving care. If KTM
moves the powerband down and
fine-tunes the forks, we’ll talk again