This is war. Yamaha just rolled across KTM’s border with trumpets blar- ing, flags waving and swords rattling. The new YZ250FX is notice that
negotiations have been halted, the embassy has been shut down and no
diplomatic solution is possible. All that remains is direct conflict.
Until now, KTM has enjoyed free rein in the world of off-road competition.
Yamaha and the rest of Japan’s heavy hitters pretended not to be interested
in dirt—aside from the extreme ends of the bell curve: motocross bikes and
trail bikes. That left KTM unchallenged to build high-performance hardware
for off-road racing and hard-core riding. Bikes like the 250XC-F have the latest technology and the best performance that the Austrian factory can muster wrapped in an off-road package. That’s why that market has turned into
a KTM-versus-KTM affair.
Yamaha, in the meantime, only offered mildly tuned trail bikes like the
WR450F and WR250F for this segment. Now that’s changed. The YZ250FX
is a focused racer with all the intensity of the YZ250F motocross bike, but
it has electric start, a six-speed gearbox and off-road trappings. In other
words, it’s a KTM hunter.
APRIL 2015 / DIRT BIKE 39
The high-performance 250 four-stroke world is coming alive. The KTM 250XC-F and
Yamaha YZ250FX are race-bred and trail-worthy.
KTM TOOLS OF BATTLE
KTM’s 250XC-F might be called a niche bike, but it serves a very big niche.
As far as the government is concerned, it’s a competition bike that’s imported
under the same rules as motocross bikes. That’s in contrast to the KTM
250XC-W, which is classified as an off-road bike and meets EPA and CARB
emission regulations. The fact that KTM subdivided the 250cc four-stroke
off-road market into these categories shows just how serious the company is
about covering every angle in the dirt world.
Technically, the KTM 250XC-F is very similar to the company’s 250SX-F
motocross bike. It’s what a racer would build if he wanted to race the motocross bike in a GNCC or a hare scrambles. It has a larger fuel tank, an 18-inch
rear wheel, handguards, a kickstand and softer suspension.