2017 KTM Off-Road Ride Day | Cochrane’s MX Park
By Jeff McConkey and Billy Rainford
We were invited out to Cochrane’s MX Park east of Toronto to ride the new line-up of 2017 KTM 250cc Off-Road bikes. The guys at KTM Canada got there the day before and marked out a great course that would take us ‘gently’ through most of the terrain riders would experience when they purchased one of these enduro beauties.
While 4 riders were out on the course, the other 4 sat in and learned all the technical aspects of the individual bikes and checked out some of the new soft goods and hard parts from the extensive KTM Canada catalog.
Here is a rundown of what Jeff and I thought of each of the 4 bikes tested.
250 XC-F $10,299
Jeff: The first bike I hopped on was the XC-F. This was the only 4-stroke model we were riding and I was really excited to get on it. Instantly, it felt like my more familiar motocross bike. The bike had really good power down low and it continued to rev later in the gears. 3rd gear on this bike was a ton of fun. It still had some solid hit, but also allowed me to lug it, once the trail tightened up. The stock 260mm front brake rotor allowed me to really dive into the corners and attack some sections like I was moto-ing.
To me, this is the perfect bike for the rider/racer looking to share his time on the moto track and also in the trails. A great 250 four-stroke motor in a very nimble and flickable chassis. The new AER 48 front forks would be perfect for both disciplines, and leave a smile on any rider’s face.
Billy: This was the 3rd bike I rode. As I left the pits this felt like it was going to be the easiest bike to ride through the trails. The 4-stroke power delivery matched with the gearing was perfect for the open areas as well as the tighter stuff. I think I was used to the 2-strokes feel and managed to stall this one a couple times in the tight stuff. Fortunately, the push-button start had me re-fired each time before I came to a halt.
The new AER 48mm forks save about 3 pounds off the front end! This bike is fast, stable, and light-feeling in the woods. Once I got used to the 4-stroke again, this bike did everything I wanted it to. Watching the guys go through the ‘no tools’ air filter change was impressive.
250 Freeride $9,299
Jeff: This was the 2nd bike I rode, and honestly I did not know what to think going into it. First impression of the bike…. “Is this a trials bike? Is it an off-road bike?” I really didn’t know what to expect. I sat on it, hit the electric start, fired it up, and tested my levers. I gave the throttle a twist and heard the ‘bah dung dung dung..” It was a 2-stroke, to my amazement.
My ride started off a little slow as I had no idea what riding position to use or really how to ride it. Once we got onto the trail it was amazing how easy this thing was to handle. It carved through the tight sections and was pretty easy to get over obstacles. It was a ton of fun.
Not the fastest thing, and not a bike you want to jump, but boy could you ever have a blast on this thing anywhere. The Freeride actually got out from under me at one point, and ended halfway up a tree. It was very easy to pick up and get going again which scores big in my books. In my opinion, this is the perfect pit bike/ trail bike/ having fun bike.
Billy: For some reason, this was the bike I was really looking forward to trying. I rode it at the end of the day and so I was most used to the trails when I got on it. It immediately felt like something completely new to me — part trail bike, part trials bike, and a big part of unknown!
It took a little to get used to the strange 2-stroke motor on this thing, but it was amazing! I have to say that it felt like I wasn’t quite on the right bike in any of the sections of trail but I was smiling from ear to ear on all of it. I was also told early in the day to stand up more and this thing felt perfect to stand and carve my way through the trails. It made no sense to me, but I came off this bike at the end of the day and, regardless of my newly blistered hands, wanted to ride it until dark.
I’m not really sure what this bike is for, but go get one anyway!
250 XC-W $9,999
Jeff: This was the 3rd bike I rode. Instantly, this bike felt really easy to ride and carry speed. The motor didn’t have a hard hit, which was really nice in the tighter single track trails. I found myself riding a gear higher, where I was able to lug the bike. The suspension seemed to ride so much softer and plush with the WP Xplor forks and rear shock. Like all KTM’s, the hydraulic clutch was a dream to use, and the XC-W’s 6 speed wide ratio transmission worked excellent everywhere. If I was a woods guy, this bike would be my first choice. I still can’t get over how easy it was to ride in the woods. I also felt like the seat was a little softer, and it made it easier to sit in the tight stuff, and when I was being lazy.
Billy: This was the first bike I rode and it may have been the perfect choice. This bike is part of the 4-bike series — 150, 250, 300, and 300 ‘6 Days.’ Being a 250 2-stroke, I was a bit worried about learning the tight sections on the course they had laid out for us, but my fears were soon removed. The new counterbalance made for easy and smooth delivery of the power and I didn’t stall this thing once – and vibration is kept to a pretty much non-existent level. This being a ‘W’ bike meant it was a WIDE ratio gear box. You could grab a gear and hang onto it for a long time. The Xplor suspension (no linkage) also made it easy for me to claw my way over the trickier rocks and logs sections with no chance of getting hung up.
250 XC $9,999
Jeff: This was the 4th and final bike that I rode. To me, it was a very similar ride to the 250XC-F, except it is a two-stroke. The motor had a nice hit going through the gears and let you rev it out a little more before shifting. It comes with a 6-speed transmission, but I really didn’t feel like I had to shift it too much. Riding this bike a gear higher helped in the tight sections, but the bike had more than enough power not to chug down low. The controls felt very similar to a moto bike and it would be very effective on the motocross track as well as lining up for hare scrambles and enduros. Just like the other models, I got off the 250 XC with a huge smile on my face.
Billy: This was the second bike I rode and I instantly loved it! It had a closer-to-moto feel that I guess I really like. Again, I was able to ride it a gear higher than I thought I should but it handled it very well. It was nimble and I felt it could be very competitive in either discipline — enduro or moto. KTM has managed to get these 250 2-stroke machines churning off the bottom like 4-strokes. The feel of this bike had me searching for berms to smash, but I was told that’s probably not the most efficient way through the woods. Oh well, I thought the fact that it made me want to corner hard was a good sign.
Thanks for a great day in the classroom and on the trails, KTM Canada! Every bike was a blast to ride. All you have to do is figure out your needs and you couldn’t go wrong with any of them.