who demands the latest and greatest technology
regardless of the cost. Think of Factory Edition
owners in the same way you think of people
who stand in line all night to be the first to buy
the latest iPhone. They gotta have it and they
gotta have it now. The 450SXF-FE always
delivers. Note that the Factory Editions have
heralded monumental firsts in KTM’s motocross
line—electronic fuel injection and WP 4CS forks.
The latest 450SXF-FE is a glimpse at what is
coming down the KTM pipeline for 2016.
All well and good for the 450 four-stroke
crowd, but in my eyes the KTM 250SXF had
long been overlooked. It seemed that KTM’s
engineers put so much effort into the 450SXF
Factory Edition that they ignored 250 four-stroke
development. KTM’s malaise about the 250SXF
did them no favors. That realization should have
hit home with the KTM brass this year when
MXA ranked the 250SXF in next-to-last place in
our “250 Four-Stroke Shootout.” The writing was
on the wall—KTM had work to do in order to
climb back up the ladder.
I need to clarify that the MXA test crew works
as a cohesive unit. Everyone on the staff tests
all of the bikes, from 125cc two-stroke tiddlers to
fire-breathing 450cc four-strokes. We give input
and work through every conceivable setup. It
is only then that we learn all there is to know.
At that point we sit down at the computer and
regurgitate all of the information we gained
through hours of tiresome testing. So, even
though Jody Weisel, Daryl Ecklund and I are
responsible for writing the bike-test reviews,
getting to that point is a collaborative effort.
That’s why you’ll never find a byline attached to
a production bike test…until now.
I should let the stench out of the gear bag.
Since 2007 I have been MXA’s resident 250
four-stroke aficionado. Every year, typically from
June through November, I live on a 250F. Sure, I
help test other bikes when summoned by Jody,
but most of my time is spent on the smaller
four-bangers. Staying away from other bikes is
a self-imposed ban. Just as Jimi Hendrix never
dabbled with a glockenspiel, I find that keeping
my eyes on the 250 four-stroke prize is the best
way to achieve expertise.
I’ve spent more hours than I can remember on
KTM 250SXFs, and they’ve all been similar. As
the years have passed, my patience with KTM’s
R&D department has waned. Historically, the
250SXF has been a confused machine. The
highest placement the 250SXF has ever received
in a shootout is third, and that was years ago.
Harsh forks, an unpredictable rear end and a
top-end-only powerband spoiled an otherwise
sterling package. The 250SXF, a perennial winner in select areas like brakes, clutch, peak
horsepower and starting, was often relegated
to a lower overall ranking because it lacked in
the categories that mattered most. KTM’s brain
trust has never been pleased with MXA’s unflattering reviews of the 250SXF, but it took a long
time for our message to make it to Mattighofen,
Austria. Finally, KTM has unveiled a 250SXF
Factory Edition for 2015-1/2. Hallelujah!
The list of changes made to the 250SXF reads