Riders who are looking for an extremely powerful and easy to handle motorcycle fitted with a two-stroke engine are offered by the Austrian manufacturer not just one, but two motorcycles that are meant to satisfy their riding needs. Tuned for hard enduro use, the 250 XC and XC-W (e) are true challenges for 250cc two-strokes and 450cc four-stroke motorcycles.
What sets the 250 XC apart from the competition is the two-stroke engine which is meant to sound mean off the road. This unit received a new crankshaft and modified casing in order to deliver constant hard-hitting power, but pure enjoyment is also felt when maneuvering the bike as it receives a brand new frame with PDS geometry and upgraded suspension.
The 250 XC-W (e) uses the same recipe, only that the E-starter comes standard.
The new millennium brought at KTM a whole bunch of new bikes known as the EXC models among which was situated the awesome performing 250 EXC. Equipped with a 249cc liquid-cooled single cylinder, two-stroke engine, the bike began writing history for the perseverant manufacturer and the results soon followed. More of a motocrosser than an enduro, the KTM 250 EXC was fitted with a kickstarter, something that didn’t changed until this day.
2006 was to bring a redesigned bike that by now became 250 XC and which received its much needed upgrades (new crankshaft, modified casing, new frame, improved suspension) two years later.
2007 Honda CR250R
KTM knew it was up against the best in the business so that is why it made these two models so competitive. Competing with Honda CR250R is an absolute nightmare as the bike delivers incredible two-stroke power from the 249cc unit mounted on an ultra-thick, aluminum-framed chassis. This is how Honda made it through, but considering the fact that the KTM models are set-up for off-road use, we’ll forgive their attitude.
2008 Yamaha YZ250
Another Japanese blast that doesn’t let the KTM catch its breath is the Yamaha YZ250, a two-stroke dirt bike that delivers the latest in power response and handling and it is all due to constant testing and development, resulting into a track master powered by a 249cc liquid-cooled two-stroke; reed valve inducted engine.
2007 Suzuki RM250
Suzuki RM250’s power and handling combination is what sends it against the KTM 250 XC and XC-W (e), but the track is its environment so it is where pure performance is being delivered by a 249cc, two-stroke, single cylinder, liquid-cooled, AETC, piston reed powerplant.
2008 Kawasaki KX250F
Last but not least, the Kawasaki KX250F has incredible results and manages to situate itself always on the podium. For 2008, this ride gets even better as Kawasaki improved the way it shifts, handles and delivers its power. Pretty much everything is top notch, like Kawasaki thought us.
2008 KTM 250 XC-W (e)
Model year 2008 brought for the new KTM 250 XC and XC-W (e) redesigned plastics which look pretty much the same on both models, but if you look closely you will easily see the difference especially if the bikes are one next to the other.
No matter model, the 250 XC is characterized by an aggressive look that is representative for KTM, as well as the Orange color.
Fitted with the heavy artillery (high mounted front fender, sharp looking rear fender, nicely finished side panels covering the fuel tank and blending perfectly in with the seat), the dirt spreader does stand out.
As I was saying, painted both Orange and combined with black, the bikes don’t look different from one another at all, but taking a closer look reveals the black mudguards and black muffler on the XC-F while on the XCF-W mudguards remain orange and the silencer has the color of the material it is made of, Aluminium. Also different are the decals which come as font for the model writing. 250 XC is simply written on a stripe of orange while 250 XC-W (e) comes right next to a flame imitation decal.
Both bikes look practically the same and you will see that performance isn’t very different either so for many riders it will be a tough choice.
Definitely among the most successful KTM models, the 250 XC and XC-W (e) are built for delivering pure performance at all rpm levels so that riders will be truly impressed and hooked to KTM. This is what happened to me too when I found my way on the dirt bikes.
What immediately amazed me was the incredible power available right above idle and how that accelerating feel is being sustained in the mid range while the top end is healthy and enjoyable. KTM made no concessions when it came to these two models and the plan was to make them as reliable and as awesome performing as possible.
You will find that it did succeed as the first two gears will have you holding on the handlebars with all your strength and that’s where all the fun is in trail riding. The two-stroke engine is performing spotless in any given situation and it seems always prepared for challenges.
But what I most appreciate, right after the powerful and torquey engine is the way this bike handles. You can through it around with great ease and notice that it listens to your every single requirement and after a few miles you won’t be surprised no more and the handling part will come naturally. No obstacles are too big for it and no hills are too steep, but when it comes to impressing the friends on 450cc four-stroke motorcycles, it is easier to pass them in a straight line and through them a smile as they eat your two-stroke smoke.
The clutch feels firm as it smoothly engages and the gearbox is very precise on both models. Five gears are enough to properly value the 249cc two-stroke’s potential and have the XC going with 100mph.
On the trails, these rides feel calm and reassuring even when the road ahead looks bumpy and that is all due to the WP suspensions which do their job of absorbing bumps properly. I decided that it needs a bit more rough exploiting and rode it over rocks and uneven terrain in order to have it lose a bit of its decency feel, but as much as I would have tried, the bike would still go on and prove efficient for any kind of surface.
The blast will come to an end sudden and with great efficiency as the two front Brembo pistons are applied on the 260mm disc and the single rear Brembo piston actions on a 220mm disc. The off-road tire crampons will bury themselves in the ground and end the ride in a fulfilling and impressive way.
When you’re looking for a bike and see that one specific model is significantly more expensive than the competition’s it doesn’t necessarily mean you should not consider it. All contrary! You should take in consideration a dirt bike such as the KTM 250 XC offered at an MSRP of $6,948 and the KTM 250 XC-W (e) marketed for $6,898.
Whatever model you choose to go for you will find that performance and handling standards are raised to new levels and the E-start on the XC-W (e) will definitely come in handy. But if you are hooked by the simple XC and still crave for the advantage of an E-starter, you can easily upgrade as the casing and ignition rotor allow you to do so.