like current four-strokes, and these models are unlikely to
pass U.S. emission testing. The fact that KTM invested
so much in this motor tells us that direct injection won’t
come any time soon.
As for the rest of the bike, the XC-W chassis is a little
different from anything else in the KTM line, aside, perhaps, from the dual-sport bikes. It has the latest version of
the PDS no-link rear suspension with a completely redesigned shock this year. All of the factory off-road riders in
Europe use this design. Interestingly, none of KTM’s racers in America do. This bike also comes with a fork that’s
new for 2017. The WP Xplor 48 has springs in both legs
with a compression clicker on the left cap and a rebound
clicker on the right.
Between KTM and Husqvarna, there are nine different
U.S. models that use this engine platform. That’s the largest run of a single “motor family” in the company’s history. We’ve already tested a number of them, so we knew
we would like it. We just didn’t know how much. The
250XC-W might be the best of the bunch.
As we’ve already discovered, the motor is super
smooth. The counterbalancer snuffs out almost all the
vibration that we associate with two-strokes. Funny, we
never really knew that buzz was there until it was gone.
Now, when you go back to an older two-stroke, it’s obvious how smooth the new bike is. In addition to the anti-vibe aspect of the balancer, the balancer shaft lends the
2017 KTM 250XC-W
motor more spinning inertia, just like a heavier flywheel
would. When you combine that with excellent torque
and good carburetion, you get a bike that’s unstoppable
at low rpm. At the bottom, it’s nearly a trials bike, so no
matter how badly you muff up, the bike forgives you and
keeps on running. Today’s four-strokes might be better
than they once were, but none of them compares to this.
The 250XC-W’s low-rpm manners are nothing short of
As the revs climb, the power just gets better and better.
The KTM has an eager-to-go feel, and that willingness
spreads to the rider. As we said, we’ve ridden all the new
KTM two-strokes now, and this one runs the cleanest
and revs the quickest. On the 300, there’s a carburetion
glitch right in the middle that’s hard to remedy. The 250
motocross bike has the same thing, in addition to a very
sudden surge of power. With the 250XC-W, there’s only
the smallest hint of a jetting glitch in the middle. You only
notice it if you’re looking for it. It has none of the lean
surge that was evident on the 300, and the hit is much
smoother and more friendly than that of the MX version. In
terms of outright power, the XC-W might surrender a little
to the SX, but it’s still in the hunt with the Yamaha YZ250.
The motor is only part of the recipe that makes the W
such a textbook off-road machine. The bike feels light—
very light. It weighs 219 pounds without fuel, which is
amazing in itself. That’s lighter than a Yamaha YZ250X
Light, torquey and easy to ride,
the XC-W is the very definition
of a great off-road bike.