We give KTM North America credit
for demanding the all-new WP 4CS fork
on its four-stroke motocrossers (the
European versions come with older
WP units). It was a brazen move that
paid off. The new fork is very good.
With a solid chassis, hydraulic clutch,
awesome front brake, smooth shifting,
stronger rims and flashy orange frame,
the 2015 KTM 250SXF is great. The
only area holding the bike back is the
engine, which is perfect for Pro-level
racers but too hyperkinetic for anyone else.
Handling. The KTM 250SXF’s chromoly steel chassis
handles like an F- 22 Raptor. It is stable at speed and
well balanced through corners.
Suspension. We proudly endorse WP’s new 4CS fork.
Suspension was the flaw in the 250SXF package. The
4CS technology is the answer to our prayers.
Brakes. Stopping on a dime is never an issue with
the KTM 250SXF. It has the best front brake in the
250 class bar none.
Electric start. The electric starter is a double-edged
sword. We don’t like the added heft but appreciate being
able to start the bike with the push of a button.
Clutch. It’s a smooth operator. More than that, the
hydraulic clutch is self-adjusting and fade-free. We love it.
Rims. We’ve had no complaints with the rims since
KTM switched from silver- to black-anodized Excels.
They hold up well to abuse.
Weight. KTM needs to figure out a way to keep the
proven electric starter while cutting overall weight off
the 250SXF. It’s a fatso.
Exhaust. The stock muffler is quiet, but that’s in
part because of the mesh-wire baffle. At the very least,
remove it (along with the built-in backfire screen in the
air-filter cage). We suggest investing in an aftermarket
exhaust for more power down low.
Hardware. Given our druthers, we would banish
Torx heads and wood screws from motocross bikes.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to live with this quirky
hardware after purchasing a KTM.
Gearing. It’s wrong. Faster riders geared the 250SXF
up (13/49 combination) so that they could stay in second
gear longer. Vet and Novice riders preferred gearing it
down (13/51 combo).
Bar mounts. KTM went to taller bar mounts a few
years ago, but they need to go even higher. Fortunately,
KTM sells taller bar mounts through its PowerParts
BEST SUSPENSION SETTINGS?
Forks. These are MXA’s recommended 2015 KTM
250SXF fork settings (stock settings are in parentheses).
Spring rate: 0.46 kg/mm
Compression: 8 clicks out ( 15 clicks out)
Rebound: 13 clicks out ( 15 clicks out)
Fork leg height: 5mm up
Notes: Use fork-leg height to help balance the chassis.
On tighter tracks, we raised the fork legs to put more
weight on the front wheel.
Shock. These are MXA’s recommended 2015 KTM
250SXF shock settings (stock settings are in parentheses).
Spring rate: 5. 7 Nm ( 5. 4 Nm)
Hi-compression: 1-3/4 turns out ( 2 turns out)
Lo-compression: 19 clicks out ( 15 clicks out)
Rebound: 13 clicks out ( 15 clicks out)
Race sag: 104mm
Notes: The shock is very sensitive to sag. We also
went to a heavier spring rate. Be sure to measure static
sag after dialing in the race sag. If static sag is more than
40mm, then you’ll need to go up a spring rate.
WHAT DID WE CHANGE?
Here is the short list of things the MXA wrecking crew
changed on the 2015 KTM 250SXF.
(1) We geared the 250SXF up by dropping a tooth from
the rear sprocket. Slower riders (Vet and Novice level)
should go the opposite way.
( 2) We ditched the stock handlebars for taller oversize
bars. Another option is to buy taller bar mounts.
( 3) We added an aftermarket exhaust pipe to help
spread out the powerband and make it more manageable
for less-skilled riders.
( 4) We changed the map settings (found under the seat).
We preferred Map 2, which had advanced ignition timing
and provided more hit in soft terrain.
( 5) We swapped out the stock 5. 4 Nm shock spring for
the heavier 5. 7 Nm spring. Riders under 170 pounds can
get away with the stock rate.
WHAT DO WE THINK?
The 2015 KTM 250SXF has so many good attributes that
make it stand out; however, there’s a major plot twist. The
one thing holding the 250SXF back from total domination
is its Pro-only powerband. ❏
MXA RODE TEST