Up or down: Adding a tooth to the rear sprocket is best on
tight tracks, but most riders preferred to drop down to a 49.
No doubts: Every manufacturer’s front brake–aside from
Husqvarna–pales in comparison to the KTM Brembo unit.
Welcome: After years of complaining, MXA test riders were
finally given the KTM 250SXF engine they desired. It rips.
Plus, with the taller gearing, there was less load on the
suspension in the rough.
Q: WHAT ABOUT THE ELECTRONIC AIDS?
A: We pulled the airbox cover off, unearthed the
map dial that was tucked away under the seat, and
switched to the aggressive map (Map 2). This setting
opened up the powerband, and while KTM includes a
map that detunes the engine (Map 1), we would rather
meter traction with the throttle. As for the launch control
switch on the handlebars, which doubles as the map
switch, every test rider preferred not to run it. We believe
that lessening wheelspin on a 250 four-stroke off the start
is more of a hindrance than a help. To learn the intricacies of how to activate the launch control mode on the
KTM 250SXF, be sure to consult the August 2015 issue of
MXA. It’s a confusing process.
Q: HOW GOOD ARE THE WP 4CS FORKS?
A: They’re good. Not great. To be frank, for more
years than we care to remember the 250SXF forks were
hindered by incredible mid-stroke harshness. Pulling oil
out of the bleeder holes was merely a band-aid fix.
KTM decided to try something different for 2016. The
engineers gave up on their old valving concept and
lessened the mid-stroke harshness. The 2016 WP 4CS
forks emphasize a plusher feel.
Our fastest test riders could bottom the forks over big
jumps, but for small riders, Novices, Vets and natural-terrain tracks, it was the first time that we were willing
to turn the compression clicker in. In the past, we always
went out, hoping to alleviate the harshness. We welcome
the change. It was a daring move to build forks that
work better for average riders than fast riders, but it
was based on the novel idea that average riders buy
more KTMs than AMA Pros. Overall, the forks were
monumentally better than what came on any 250SXF
prior to this year.
Q: HOW DOES THE 2016 KTM 250SXF
A: The KTM 250SXF is a conundrum. It is the Dr.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of motocross bikes. Why? The
chassis is superb, but to make it work, you have to
get the suspension balanced. On smooth tracks with
manicured berms, the 250SXF handles like an F- 22
Raptor. The suspension remains balanced, helping provide
traction for an engine that wants to scream. On rough
tracks with square-edge bumps, however, the KTM is
capable of exacting revenge for past transgressions.
KTM has a little more work to do to solve the mystery
of damping, spring rate and shock linkage geometry.
KTM did help the frame’s peccadilloes by increasing the
torsional rigidity while lessening longitudinal stiffness.
The changes steady the chassis, but the shock needs
more work. The soft settings are good for svelte and
slower riders, but any ham-fisted throttle jockey will
quickly discover the downside to KTM’s setup. Loading
the rear end forces the shock to drop into its stroke and
create a seesaw effect between the front and rear end.
We remedied the problem by adjusting the sag and going
in on the high-speed compression. Even with our issues,
we vastly prefer 2016’s softer settings, because they
allow more wiggle room for the target audience.
Q: WHAT CHANGES DID WE MAKE TO
IMPROVE THE 2016 KTM 250SXF?