KTM 250 EXC-F – Cycle Torque Magazine

22 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on KTM 250 EXC-F – Cycle Torque Magazine


Test by Ray Macarthur. Pics by Nigel Paterson.

THE all new twin cam RC4 engine is a far cry from the outgoing single cam LC4 driven 250 EXC Racing. The bike has impressive power and flexibility for a 250 four-stroke combined with a diet that has shed the best part of 7kg off the ’06 model’s weight and you have a formula that’s sure to impress and is guaranteed to keep the competition busy.

Engine and weight are the big news items for this new model, and they didn’t fail to impress. The new RC4 engine has pretty much the same 249.5cc capacity, but is a new design with a larger bore and shorter stroke, and the larger Keihin MX FCR 39 carburetor to replace the 37. Twin cams replace the single cam and compression is up a little from 12 to 12.8:1 which still requires premium unleaded fuel.

The new exhaust header pipe still fails to have a guard which may help shave the bike’s weight from the ’06 claimed wet weight of 113.5kg to an impressive 106.8kg for the ’07, but doesn’t save your nylons or leg if you lean against it. The muffler is a lightweight aluminium weight-saver designed for the EXC. There’s also both electric and kick start as you would come to expect these days.

When we first got the bike it was running well from midrange to top revs, but bottom end power was a bit low and the engine stalled easily. After a trip back to KTM for a tune up the bike came back running much better. The clutch is light and feel is good, and the electric start kicks the engine into action instantly.

Power and torque are impressive and delivery is smooth with very little vibration. The power comes on cleanly and progressively from a healthy bottom end through a strong mid range and revs out to a great top end that will let you dial on the power smoothly for great traction. Backing off is met with a crackle and a burble from its relatively quite but great sounding exhaust, which echoes the engine’s high state of tune.

With a flick of the right wrist, power transmits instantly to the back wheel, which gives you the feeling of real power control for a four-stroke of such small capacity. It bristles with the confidence to take on technical sections such as tight rocky uphills and still have the low end torque and flexibility to pull away without stalling or breaking into uncontrollable wheel spin.

This engine seems to be equally happy in the open trails, shifting cleanly through gears and revving out to a top speed that makes it clear this bike won’t be left behind. This engine is a whole new ball game compared to the ’06 250 EXC Racing.

The frame is typical KTM double cradle chrome-moly design with an aluminium sub-frame and largely the rest of the chassis appears pretty much a development of the ’06 model. The fuel tank is new with a twist and release cap that replaces the screw on cap. The pre- production bike we rode used a seven litre tank, but the bike that hits the dealer floors will have an 8.5 litre tank.

The new bike will also have black alloy rims and use wave brake discs which were not fitted to our ride.

The WP suspension is firm and feels like it can handle any situation with confidence. The rear uses the familiar PDS shock that doesn’t require a lever linkage system, and up front is a set of 48mm USD forks. All are fully adjustable for compression and rebound and allow a great adjustment range for conditions and balance.

The Brembo brakes are great and do everything they are supposed to so you don’t even think about them, which is the way they should be. Tapered alloy Magura handlebars are standard with good position adjustment to get the bars forward. The digital multipurpose speedo is a neat compact unit, a carry on from previous years that is functional and easy to use and see – it’s also backlit for night use. The bike has a sharp and stylish look with quality parts and plastics as you would expect from KTM…

The ride

Seat height and ground clearance are the same as the 06 model. Riding position and comfort are different for different sized people but we found the footpegs feel very high giving a bit of a cramped feel to the cockpit when seated. Taller riders may want to make some adjustment for personal taste with perhaps a taller seat and handlebars.

On board the bike has a familiar EXC feel with its very fast steering that gives it a light nimble feeling through tight twisty trails and tree studded sections. Of course that fast steering response comes with its usual drawbacks affecting high speed stability with rough or stutter bump sections sometimes causing the steering to break into some serious headshake. Riding style can help a lot by shifting your weight back and pulling the power on.

I haven’t known anyone to come off due to it, but it is an un-nerving feeling that can knock your confidence around when it comes on unexpectedly, and we would all be much happier if it didn’t happen.

A steering damper has become the standard for many KTM owners as the problem is common across the EXC range and is probably the best way to largely eliminate it. This is a cost you may have to allow for when buying the bike, along with the fact that there are no handguards nor an engine bash plate or exhaust guard. umps, roots, rocks both big and small are handled by the suspension with great poise and balance that seems to soak up anything, but if you want to get lazy and take on the rough stuff at speed sitting down the firm suspension will give you a kick and remind you to stand up. It’s a great competition and serious trail bike that is forgiving, rewarding and easy to live with in many ways, but it’s no soft off-roader.

Several times while riding this bike I had to remind myself that this was only a 250. Despite the occasional bit of headshake and a riding position felt just a little cramped, I couldn’t help but be absolutely impressed with this bike and I expect the full production version is going to really make its presence felt. For those wondering we have heard no plans for the 450 or 525 to get the twin cam engine.

The Bike is due on the dealer floors in early August and is expected to retail for $11990 + ORC. Warranty is three months parts only.


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