No one is trying to fool anyone. The KTM 250SX-F is mostly the same bike as the Husqvarna FC250 tested in this
issue. You know it, we know it, the executives at KTM know
it, and everyone is up front about it. But everyone also knows
that owning a dirt bike isn’t just about gears, hardware, nuts
and bolts. It’s a matter of identity, passion and devotion. No
one ever purchased a dirt bike for purely rational reasons. So,
even though these two bikes are essentially twins, there will
undoubtedly be KTM devotees and Husky fanatics squaring off
like it’s the Dodgers versus the Yankees. The company knows
this and is marketing the two brands in different ways.
Just different enough
WHAT ARE THE REAL DIFFERENCES?
Aside from market positioning, there are just enough mechanical
variations between the two bikes to make a difference. The ones that
matter are the airboxes and subframes. The KTM has a traditional
aluminum subframe housing a plastic airbox, whereas the Husky has one
big polyamide part that serves as both. Beyond that, it’s all plastic and
graphics, plus a different seat cover and a different handlebar. Both bikes
got a short list of common changes for 2015. The most important is the
WP 4CS front suspension. This fork has the rebound damping adjuster
on the right leg and the compression adjuster on the left. Compared to
last year’s WP bladder fork, it has 2mm less offset between the fork-leg
centerline and the axle, which has the same effect as the aftermarket
triple clamps with reduced offset that were popular on last year’s KTMs.
The front axle is a whopping 4mm smaller than the older one too. In the
rear, KTM lengthened the shock travel by 4mm, although revised linkage
gobbles that up, resulting in no net change in wheel travel.
The fork protector no longer wraps all the way around the fork tube.
That’s handy if you have a dribble that can be fixed at the track by cleaning the seals. As far as the engine goes, there are no changes for 2015,
beyond an O-ring or two in the oil pump. The KTM engine is a fuel-injected screamer with electric start and a hydraulic clutch—still unheard-of
features among Japanese 250Fs.