There are nine new two-strokes coming out of the KTM
factory this year. Picking the one model best suited to
compare with the Yamaha isn’t as clear as you might think.
Last year we paired the then-new Yamaha with the 2016
KTM 250XC in a strictly off-road setting. The Yamaha came
out on top. It had a much better power delivery for the trail,
cleaner jetting and better suspension for anywhere.
For this comparison we chose the more trail-oriented
KTM 250XC-W, which matches the Yamaha’s intended
mission more closely. The KTM’s new motor features a
counterbalancer shaft, something more commonly seen
on four-strokes. The electric starter has been relocated
under the motor, and a Mikuni TMX carburetor replaces
the Keihin that KTMs have used for 20 years. The XC-W
has a wider spread of gear ratios in its six-speed transmission than the more race-oriented XC version, but
the most obvious difference between the two models
is in the suspension department. The XC-W has a new
version of PDS no-link rear suspension and an Xplor
48 coil-spring fork in front, whereas the XC has linkage
rear suspension and an air fork. The new motor was
designed with weight reduction in mind. It weighs 223
pounds without fuel.
KTM equips its W line of bikes very thoroughly for
off-road riding. It has a headlight, an odometer, hand-
guards, a 2.25-gallon fuel tank and ODI lock-on grips.
Another big bonus that all KTMs have is a hydraulic
clutch. Yamaha has none of those, but it is $1400 less
expensive—$7499 versus $8899.