2013 KTM 250 SX-F – First Impression
Photos By Max Mandell
While the 2012 KTM 250 SX-F wasn’t the absolute favorite in our 250 four-stroke comparison earlier this year, some riders did appreciate how she operated. The motor on last year’s model was a bit tame and left the younger, more aggressive riders wanting more hit off bottom. For 2013 KTM stepped up to the plate with a handful of changes and updates that, together, give the orange squad’s new 250 four-stroke a very improved feel.
A completely new 2013 KTM 250 SX-F follows in the footsteps of the proven platform that Ryan Dungey has won many races on this year.
The engine on the 2013 KTM 250 SX-F was the biggest difference over last years model which was quite a relief. My personal riding style on 250 four-strokes involves lugging the motor in the meat of the power when I’m in lower gears exiting corners, but I have no problem ringing the neck out of one down the straights keeping it in high rpms. The new 250 SX-F had a lot more grunt than last year but it wouldn’t quite let you get away with 3rd gear out of tight corners.
In a way you kind of want to ride this motor like a two-stroke and keep your momentum up and ride in the revs where she makes a ton of power. The increased torque is very much appreciated and I think many more types of riders will enjoy the improved power. KTM claims that they gained around five horsepower over last year.
In short, some of the changes here include a shorter stroke, larger bore, a new cylinder head layout and a higher rpm range. The new 2013 also has larger ports, a bettered combustion chamber, larger intake valves and new camshafts. On the dyno, KTM claims a power increase of five horsepower.
Harnessing all of this extra power are completely new engine cases that are made in a high-pressure die cast instead of a sand cast. This process allows the cases to be of a thinner wall thickness saving tons of weight.
While KTM didn’t change spring rates front or rear, the settings were completely updated in the shock and the fork received new seals to reduce friction. New fork oil reduces friction and enhances durability.
A quirk that many testers had with last years KTM 250 SX-F was an unbalanced overall feel. The orange motorcycle had a low-feeling rear end and an overly harsh fork. We are happy to say that the completely stock ’13 rides a lot higher in the stroke of the shock and the fork didn’t transfer so much energy through the bars into the riders hands. When hard on the gas the rear stayed up in the stroke and didn’t squat to low.
I did have issues bottoming but at around 165 pounds and slamming into steep transitions it was a little to easy to blow through the stroke. By adding 10cc of fork oil we were able to give the front end a bit more resistance. After going a few clicks stiffer on the high speed in the shock we got it to work well with the slightly stiffer front end.
This slowed down the action and the fork and shock absorbed harsh hits with much more confidence allowing us to double and triple through Milestone’s spaced out, yet deep whoops.
If you ask me there was nothing wrong with how the KTMs looked in previous years but they spiced up their image with some completely redesigned bodywork. The side shrouds match that of the Factory Edition 450 SX-F that Dungey has been ripping on and the 250 SX-F also got the same, unique front fender that RD5 has been putting up front in the nationals.
The new front fender has a new mounting system and has 50% more stability. The previous version was a bit of a flopper, and if you are subconscious of your front fender flopping around and distracting you then you will be impressed with the rigid new design.
Some KTM owners couldn’t wrap their minds around the click and turn gas cap that the orange bikes had for a few years. Although that design was easy and prevented gas hose twisting, customer complaints shot the original gas cap design back into production.
If you have changed an air filter on a KTM, you will know how much easier the process of removing and installing your foam is. Because Austria loves you so much they gave the 250 SX-F a new air box design that gives more space for the air filter and provides better airflow.
To jump ahead of the curve for future noise restrictions, all orange four-strokes will meet the tough restrictions of the 2013 season while still gaining performance. All four-stokes receive new header pipes and the 250 and 350 have new tapered hydroformed sections and HRS (Header Resonator System). Basically KTM is reducing the noise level and giving you better performance in the process.
Check out the new black Renthal Fatbar and KTM branded grips. The bar is the 827 bend and is similar to the 996 Twin-Wall. The grips were a plus if you like no waffle and a knobby like grip all the way around.
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