KTM plans one winning the World Championship with a totally revised 250 SX-F, a motorcycle relying on its great 250cc four-stroke engine that delivers its power all the way from low to the end of the rpm range. Fitted on an ultra-light and versatile chassis, that engine couldn’t have found a better place. Shall I even mention that the 2008 250 SX-F features a new appearance? Ok, it does!
KTM made quite an entry with the ready to race 250 SX-F because the bike stands as the culmination of quarter-liters four-stroke engine performance of all times. In order for a Japanese bike to pass along such a model, it should be heavily tricked out and oriented towards horsepower, the way this 248.6cc single cylinder, four stroke engine is.
But performance is not everything and KTM knows it. The bike also stands as a combination of versatility and lightness that has never been seen before.
The motorcycle public first enjoyed the release of the 250 SX-F in 2005 model year and the bike stood out as the best-performing 250cc four-stroke motocross bike offered by KTM which, I guess we can say it without any problems, was to became the fifth best motocross motorcycle maker in the world.
Many consider the 250 SX-F as being a culmination of KTM’s innovative design as only two years later all the four-stroke SX powerplants were much alike the one that came as a big Austrian hit (dual overhead cams acting on the four valves of the single cylinder).
KTM planned the biggest revision of the 250 SX-F for this year’s model and the engine was to receive a volume reduction of the intake tract, new cam timings, a new exhaust cam and a lighter circular crank. The chassis became even lighter and also new plastics were added. Color is, you guessed it, Orange.
It may have much to do with its manufacturer becoming a notorious fifth motocross bike builder, but it still has to deal with the early four until it can get its crown and go back to Europe because the big fight takes place in the States.
2008 Honda CRF250R
Honda is not used to losing and the CRF250R is among the most competitive bikes offered by the Japanese manufacturer so we would expect to a much disputed battle. The new CRF250R is fitted with the Honda Progressive Steering Damper which improves cornering and reduces fatigue. Also new are the settings to the engine which make the engine boots more power and implicit perform better on the track. With the higher compression and new cylinder head porting as well as the new works-style brake discs, the Honda CRF250R doesn’t go higher than $6,449.
2008 Yamaha YZ250F
Yamaha doesn’t like watching from the side so it enters the battle with its most refined YZ250F ever. An incredible all-around package relying on the awesome performing 250cc liquid-cooled DOHC four-stroke; five titanium valves engine mounted on a light and nimble frame, this quarter-liter is offered for no more or less than $6,249.
2008 Suzuki RM-Z250
Offered for only $6,099, the 2008 Suzuki RM-Z250 sees its way to the podium each and every time basing on its compact, light and powerful 250cc four-stroke engine which delivers all the low and mid-range power needed while sitting nicely on the lightweight aluminum chassis.
2008 Kawasaki KX250F
It’s the last, but not the least! The Kawasaki KX250F is the machine that gets the adrenaline flowing with a single twist of its throttle. For 2008, the 249cc four-stroke single with DOHC and four valves is even more reliable and offers better grunt while the new engine mounts use a 10mm longer spacer to reduce torsional rigidity so it would steer better. All that comes at the same price as the Suzuki: $6,099
2008 KTM 250 SX-F
The Austrians have not only revised the internal parts of this motocrosser, but the way it looks too. You will find the angular lines of the bike at the entire dirt bike line up of KTM and that is all due to aggressive look that the manufacturer intends on implementing for its rides.
Like a true motocross machine, the fenders are highly positioned, but are shaped specifically to KTM, as well as the front number plate. Of course, everything is Orange, even the monoshock’s spring.
The gas tank blends perfectly in with the narrow seat and it is surrounded by the nicely shaped side panels covered in Orange decals together with the white “KTM” writing on each side.
At the rear end, the muffler is specific to four-stroke engines and that can be easily identifiable at KTM models as the can is painted black. It is something about a contrast that this maker prefers with its specific color. Also black are the Excel wheels, fork and mudguards.
The centerpiece of the 250 SX-F is its engine, a unit which’s spread of power wasn’t perfect for some in the previous year’s model and which required aftermarket exhausts for a top notch feel, so that is what I first tested when I saw my way on the brand new 2008 model. The result: Excellent!
With the help of a new exhaust, a lighter circular crank, new cam timing and an intake tract that has reduced volume, KTM managed to achieve on the 2008 what customers tired trying to achieve on the 2007 model year. Shift first and get the revolutions per minute just above idle and the amazing torque will have you covered in a split second while the strong exhaust note will give others a clue of what you’re experiencing in case they don’t see the smile on your face.
All through the rev range I experienced smooth and yet strong power delivery which remains not constant, but healthy all the way up the 12000 rpm limit. What I most appreciated and made me wish I could take this baby home was the mid-range grunt.
I won’t challenge the KTM 250 SX-F with a regular Japanese bike in a straight line if I was you because the KTM will get on top of its class in the eyes of many and it is strongly recommended that we don’t make others feel bad while riding. Also, the SX has at its disposal a lot of power and acceleration to impress the public when exiting corners and preparing for a spectacular jump.
The close-ratio six-speed gearbox is there to make the engine’s power stand out even more as it has a gear for any section of the track so that the engine would be revved in the “magic zone” most of the time (in the low and mid-range, to be more precise). Given to this fact, you won’t be needed to use the clutch very often, personally I used it for second and third gears, but when you do, the feel in the lever will be firm and positive.
2008 KTM 250 SX-F
But when it comes to the way a bike handles, and especially a motocross bike, you are immediately determined to either brag about its chassis or have only bad words for it. I will go for the first option as this motocrosser is easily maneuverable thanks to its light frame which also enjoys being versatile and damn friendly. I had no problems directing the bike wherever I wanted and although the rear shock is a little wondering, you will get used to it in a matter of hours. The seat is firm and narrow, so I was properly accommodated, but we all know that a motocross rider doesn’t spend time almost at all in its bike’s saddle.
And even though I am not the roughest motocross rider, I enjoyed myself on a few bumps and received some very positive feedback from the front fork which has a thing with its bottom. It hates touching it! Bottoming resistance is impressively good, proof of the fact that KTM are now known also for the additional equipment, not only the reliable engines that made them famous in their early days.
Both suspensions being WP, the rear monoshock couldn’t have made a bad impression so it stood up proudly while I was landing on the much solicited back wheel. By the way, the Excel wheels make quite an impression out on the track (well, at least until they get covered in dirt).
What’s also impressive and also contributed to the KTM name is the braking equipment that ends up on these motorcycles, the 250 SX-F being no exception. I always like hearing Brembo instead of Nissin, but maybe that’s just me. Up front, the pistons can be applied with little force on the 260mm disc so the rider will most likely need one or two fingers to do so. The rear end can be easily determined to lose grip as it brakes on a 220mm Brembo disc. You will be often determined to brake strongly so it is good to rely on efficient braking equipment. Only that in this case, the whole bike speaks efficiency.
Special bikes come at special prices and for the 2008 KTM 250 SX-F the enthusiastic rider will have to pay $6,698. Not bad, if you consider the fact that this bike is heading straight for the podium.
In motocross, it is always recommended to stay with the winner and in this case we’re facing the actual winner. Power, reliability, handling and good looks are all qualities of the KTM 250 SX-F and these are also the ones which determine its sales charts to amaze even the marketing department at KTM.