New song with a familiar melody
It seems like everyone has heard of the KTM Freeride by now, but no one knows what it is. Most think it’s an electric motorcycle. It’s not. Some think it’s a trials bike. It’s
not. Some think it’s a dual-sport bike. It’s not.
So what does that leave? The KTM Freeride 250R is an
experimental venture into a new market segment—at least
it’s new to KTM. Virtually everyone else has been there.
We’ll pretend it’s new because the current generation of
riders is probably too young to remember bikes like the
Bultaco Alpina of the ’70s, the Honda Reflex of the ’80s
or the Yamaha Serow of the ’90s. In shorthand, it’s a trail
bike built out of a trials bike. Those other manufacturers
learned long ago that the trials bike market is very small
in America, so KTM is trying to make the concept more
palatable to the masses by giving it a seat and a 1.9-gal-
lon fuel tank. KTM actually started with a clean sheet of
paper for this bike, because the company doesn’t have a
trials bike to start with. The motor is loosely based on that
of the 250XC-W, and we do mean loosely. It has no power
valve and no kick-starter. The carb is only 28mm, and the
exhaust pipe has dimensions that would be more at home
on a four-stroke. KTM cut more than 4 pounds of weight
out of the motor, and the entire motorcycle weighs only
204 pounds without fuel on the breathtakingly accurate
Dirt Bike scale.
Part of the reason people seem so confused about the
Freeride is because it’s available in Europe in different
configurations. Yes, there is an electric version (three different models, to be specific), but those aren’t ready for
the U.S. yet. There is also a four-stroke version with a
350cc motor—but again, not here.