2014 250F MOTOCROSS SHOOTOUT
SCREAM FACTOR FIVE
imponderable redline around 14 grand and still seems to be
making more when the rev limiter spoils the party. The bike
also gets bonus points for having one technological advantage after another. The electric starter makes it the best
starting, the hydraulic clutch has the best feel (although not
the lightest), and the Brembo brakes are hands down the
best in the shootout. The quality of all the parts—from the
levers to the air-filter element—is excellent.
WEAK POINTS: The KTM’s shortcomings are not so
easily quantified. It’s a harsh, demanding bike. The peak
power is so high that it’s difficult to reach. Most novices
and beginners shift gears way too early. The suspension
remains universally criticized, although there are disagreements about why it’s so inhospitable. Some say it’s too
stiff; others say that it’s too soft. All say it’s harsh.
BOTTOM LINE: As far as quality is concerned, there’s
no contest here. The KTM is the best built of all the
machines, and it offers features that no one else has. But,
it’s lacking an element of fun. The KTM is all business, but
it’s competing in a world where business is supposed to
be left at the office.
Old-timers remember the days when there was a huge
engineering gap between European and Japanese bikes.
European companies just couldn’t compete with the development and manufacturing capabilities of companies like
Honda and Yamaha. Now that’s turned around. Japanese
manufacturers are moving slowly, while most of the real
progress is coming from the Europeans or, more specifically, from KTM.
The 250SX-F is a perfect example. It got a new motor
last year that clearly put it on top in the horsepower wars.
It is still the only bike in its class with an electric starter,
and the motor is the most sophisticated of the lot. The
bike uses WP suspension (with linkage in the rear), a steel
frame, a hydraulic clutch, and Brembo brakes—all items
that set it apart from the Japanese bikes. The 2014 model
is only slightly changed. It lost sixth gear, but the remaining five are unchanged. The grips, chainguide and front-brake master cylinder underwent slight changes too.
STRONG POINTS: There’s no question which bike
makes the most power. The KTM is virtually a 450 when it
comes to peak horsepower. The motor revs to a formerly
At the forefront of technology
The KTM 250SX-F
makes about as much
peak power as a 1998