Q: IS THE ELECTRIC STARTER WORTH THE
A: Absolutely. The electric starter adds bulk, thanks
to the need for a battery and starter gear. However, even
the factory race bikes have kept the electric starters.
Why? Because the burden of the extra weight is offset
by the fact that their riders aren’t stressed about starting
their bikes on the starting line or if they fall late in a
moto. As for the MXA test riders, the electric starter is a
Q: HOW FAST IS THE 2015 KTM 250SXF?
A: It is deceivingly fast. The power builds slowly off
idle, ramps up through the midrange and then explodes
at high rpm. The KTM 250SXF is a different bike to
different riders. Slower riders will never be able to
summon the power of the double-overhead camshafts
and finger-followers. It requires a high-rpm commitment.
And if you don’t commit to keeping it on the pipe, you
will find the powerband to be flat and unassuming.
The faster the rider, the better he is at carrying speed,
and carrying speed is what racing a KTM 250SXF is all
about. Only the fastest of the fast ever get the full 42. 89
ponies out of the 250SXF.
We are impressed by the power output of the KTM
engine, but not with its old-school, linear, high-rpm
Q: HOW DOES THE 2015 KTM 250SXF
A: In the past we have raved about the chromoly
steel chassis and balanced handling of the 250SXF, but
that compliment always came with a caveat about the
forks. The WP bladder forks held the bike back in the
handling department. Thankfully, that’s no longer the
case. We’re proud to state that the latest iteration of the
250SXF is the best-handling KTM 250 four-stroke ever—
once the suspension is set up properly.
The interplay between the steel chassis, 4CS fork and
improved rear suspension add up to a sweet combination. Once set up properly, the 250SXF handles like a
charm. We also believe that KTM’s decision to reduce
offset by moving the front axle helps the bike’s stability
in high-speed situations.
Q: IS THE WP 4CS FORK BETTER THAN THE
TRADITIONAL 48MM WP FORK?
A: Yes, but the 4CS fork is quirky. Although not as
tuning-intensive as the Showa SFF, Showa SFF TAC, or
Kayaba PSF, the 4CS can be finicky to get dialed in.
Here is the process. First, balance out the chassis by
carefully selecting the proper race sag and fork height
for your weight, speed and track. Second, determine
whether you need a stiffer shock spring or not. Most
MXA test riders questioned the stiffness of the stock
shock spring rate, largely because of a G-out issue. For
our tastes, we opted to swap the stock 5. 4 Nm shock
spring for a 5. 7 Nm spring. Obviously, light riders will
not need to do this. Third, it’s important to note that the
4CS fork is very sensitive to clicker changes. During the
setup process we never encountered mid-stroke
harshness that haunted the WP bladder fork. Overall,
we’d rate the 4CS fork a B in stock trim, while the old
fork was, at best, a D rating.
Q: WHAT AREAS OF THE 2015 KTM 250SXF
DID WE ADDRESS?
A: Find satisfaction by making these changes:
(1) Map switch. KTM generously includes three
pre-programmed map settings (unfortunately, you need
KTM’s accessory dial, $50, to access these maps of yore).
On the dial, Map 1 retards the ignition timing and is best
suited for hardpack and slippery surfaces. Map 2
advances ignition timing and provides more hit in soft
terrain. This is far and away our favorite map setting, as
it livens up the powerband. Maps 3 through 10 are stock
but can be reconfigured with a special mapping tool. The
KTM 250SXF can run with the coupler unplugged. It will
revert back to the stock map setting.
( 2) Gearing. Be prepared to carry a quiver of rear
sprockets to the track. Less skilled riders went up as
many as two teeth, while quasi-fast racers actually
preferred taller gearing by dropping a tooth off the rear.
We suggest that you try both directions, because they
change the personality of the highfalutin engine.
( 3) Exhaust. KTM uses a noise-reducing mesh-wire
baffle in the muffler. We immediately removed it with
needle-nose pliers. Why? The bike is already very quiet,
and taking out the baffle improves throttle response. If
your bank account is flush with money, then we
recommend drop-kicking the stock exhaust for an
( 4) Backfire screen. The backfire screen is
integrated into the air-filter cage. It hampers airflow,
which mutes throttle response and the engine’s
effectiveness. Either remove the cage with side cutters
and needle-nose pliers, or spare yourself the hassle by
ordering a Twin Air Powerflow kit ( www.twinairusa.com,
$149.95). The system uses a sturdy aluminum filter cage
and includes a fire-retardant air filter.
( 5) Quick-disconnect fuel line. The quick-disconnect fuel line popped off the first day we rode the
2015 KTM 250SXF. We’ll chalk it up to a fluke, as it had
never happened on other KTM models in the past, but
beware of the possibility. Now we always check that the
quick disconnects are in place before riding. While you’re
at it, clean out the inline fuel filters occasionally.
Q: WHAT DID WE HATE?
A: The hate list:
(1) Weight. We love the electric starter, but KTM
needs to lose at least 5 pounds of heft to stay
( 2) Frame guards. KTM finally gave the consumer
what they wanted—an orange frame like the factory
team. Then they covered up the orange paint with black
frame guards. Frank Lloyd Wright is probably rolling over
in his grave.
( 3) Hardware. Torx heads and wood screws don’t
belong on a motocross bike. A KTM owner shouldn’t
need to wield such strange tools to remove a sprocket or
( 4) Bar mounts. Yes, we know that we whined until
KTM mounted taller bars two years ago, but after trying