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KTM 250 SX-F – Review

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Following a major overhaul for 2016 and being the bike that powered Jeffrey Herlings to his third MX2 world motocross crown, the proven KTM 250 SX-F has maintained many of its championship-winning features for 2017, along with a host of valuable upgrades. MotoOnline.com.au recently put the quarter-litre machine to the test at Appin in New South Wales.

KTM’s philosophy has long been ‘Ready to Race’, and that’s evident throughout the complete KTM fleet, particularly with the 2017 250 SX-F. Its powerful and torquey engine paired with a light a nimble chassis provides you with every chance of being competitive out on the track, while a mapping switch located on the handlebar allows you to adjust the power to suit your ability and style.

The weight of the new generation SX-F models was a key focus for KTM, and that’s been displayed within the 250 SX-F as it weighs in at a slender 98.3 kilograms. Despite being equipped with an electric start, KTM managed to reduce weight through its chrome-moly frame, powerhouse engine and all-new WP AER 48 front fork.

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

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The steel chrome-moly frame has been designed to assist in ease of handling, stability and cornering. With the tight and rutted corners that Appin delivered, along with its flat and slick turns, it was really easy to feel the geometry of the bike come into play. Negotiating the usually difficult and tight sections was a pleasure on the KTM 250 SX-F – it was incredibly stable and allowed you to put the bike exactly where you wanted it. Having not ridden the new generation KTM’s before, I wasn’t sure what to expect of turing ability, however I was impressed within the first few laps of being aboard the bike.

The agile frame is accompanied by the previously mentioned WP AER 48 front fork and WP Monoshock. The WP AER 48 fork is one of the new upgrades for 2017, but what exactly is it? The WP AER 48 fork is a 48mm USD air-sprung split fork with separate functions for each leg. That means damping functions are on the right side, whereas the air spring is in the left. The left leg features a two-chamber system with a capsuled air cartridge to prevent loss of air pressure. If you’re worried about the outer seal starting to leak, the internal cartridge pressure will keep the bike in position.

When I first hit the track, the forks were initially too hard for me. This is where two things regarding the AER 48 forks really stood out to me: Firstly, the ease of adjustment – I was able to come in and drop air out of the forks to suit my weight and riding style (while we had KTM technicians to do so, it’s something that every KTM owner can do with the supplied air pump). For someone who only weighs around the 70 kilogram mark, this is usually a process that requires taking the forks out and fitting lighter springs – so it was great to be able make the adjustments needed in space of a couple of minutes.

Image: Jeremy Hammer (Foremost Media).

Image: Jeremy Hammer (Foremost Media).

The second thing that stood out was how the forks performed following the adjustments were made – I previously mentioned how impressive the cornering was on the KTM 250 SX-F, however with the WP AER 48 fork tuned to my liking, I found an all-time confidence in front-end feeling entering and travelling through turns – the front-end felt planted in both the rutted and blue-groove sections of the circuit. The forks are one of my personal standout features on the 2017 model.

Moving to the rear shock, which has been developed with the swingarm and frame to ensure maximum performance, is equipped with a softer spring and setting to suit the all-new front-end. The WP Monoshock worked flawlessly with other characteristics of the bike and absorbed the harsh hits and chattery bumps with ease.

The KTM 250 SX-F engine has been a strong contender in the MX2 category for several years now, and 2017 is no different. It has an abundance of torque that feels like it just wants to keep on pulling – that was significantly evident on the uphill sections at Appin, however it also has plenty grunt down-low to pull you out of turns without any trouble.

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

The state-of-the-art Keihin Engine Management System with electronic fuel injection features a 44mm throttle body – due to its unique injector position, the engine’s response is instantaneous. Ensuring the engine remains at an optimum temperature are two WP-engineered aluminium radiators, while a rigid crankshaft with a unique design allows the engine to perform at high speed levels and also enhances durability. The five-speed transmission provides seamless and smooth gear changes, while the Brembo hydraulic clutch delivered a precise and consistent feel every time.

New for 2017 is the mapping switch located on the handlebar, which also features traction control. Riders have the option to select launch control, traction control and can swap between a standard or advanced mapping. After playing around with the mapping switches for several laps, I opted to use the advanced mapping option for the remainder of the day – it was much more aggressive and suited my riding style really well. As for the unique traction control feature, that really comes into play when the conditions are quite slick. The launch control is also a neat feature that is ideal for being more efficient out of the gate.

The controls of the bike match the other impressive characteristics of the bike – KTM’s have always been known to have good brakes, and the 2017 250 SX-F is fitted with Brembo’s once again. Galfer disc brakes paired with the Brembo brake system provides an incredible stopping experience, and that’s with the assistance of a 260mm front disc and 220mm disc at the rear. ODI lock-on grips are fitted to NEKEN handlebars, which are fixed to rubber dampening mounts atop of the CNC machine triple clamps.

The 2017 KTM 250 SX-F features neat and aesthetically pleasing bodywork, however it’s been designed with functionality in mind. The tool-less airbox eases the frustration of replacing and installing air filters, while in-moulded graphics maintain that new-bike look for an extended period time. Along with the bodywork, the new model KTM’s feature a ‘no dirt’ gear shifter and foot pegs – it’s a unique design that prevents dirt and debris clogging up in what are common areas.

Finishing off a host of little yet important features is an hour meter located atop of the triple clamps, this is great for helping with regular and consistent service intervals, and it’s one of those things that adds to KTM’s ‘Ready to Race’ philosophy.

Overall, the quarter-litre machine is a significantly impressive and ultra-competitive package. After spending the greater portion of the day on it, I left with a smile from ear to ear and nothing but good comments on it. The 2017 KTM 250 SX-F is now available Australia wide for a recommended retail price of $11,495. For more details on KTM’s extensive range, visit www.ktm.com

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