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CRF250X vs KTM 250 XCF-W

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Is the Honda that far off from the KTM? The magazines act like the KTM is a race bike and the Honda a play bike. Looking at the specs they are almost identical. The bore and strokes are both 78x52 and the weights are within 8 pounds. Other than the KTM being fuel injected I don't see why the Honda should not be capable of the same torque/HP.

 

I don't need six speeds where I ride so that's not a deal breaker.

 

The mags have me psyched out that the KTM is so much more motorcycle than the Honda.

 

Opinions?

 

 

 

 

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I've owned an '06 250x for a few years now.  I really enjoy it but often wonder if Orange is better.  I've always had a few gripes about the 250x....valves, touchy throttle when trying to give it just a little in tight conditions, etc  I would appreciate a little the KTM's 6spd and lack on linkage going over logs.  So, I test rode several KTM 4T trail bikes including the 250XCF-W at a demo event last summer.  The suspension felt very plush on all theKTMs vs. the 250X.  I felt the 250XCF-w lacked power versus the Honda.  Maybe it can be tuned for more power, but they are supposed to be "race ready".  All the other KTMs, 350F up to 500's, really ripped.  So, I was disapointed in the 250XCF-W.  If I were to get a KTM, it would buy the 350XCF-W because it seemed to have significantly more power and doesn't weight that much more.  Still, none of the KTMs impressed me enough to switch from the 250x, even thought it's now a 10 year old design.  I would recommend seeking out a demo event if you are thinking seriously about a KTM.

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There is an "aura" around the KTMs that I feel is unjustified. I have had several and always come back to a red bike.

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It would be interesting to see what responses you'd get in the KTM forum.

I really like the build quality of the 250X, the handling, suspension, and the power characteristics. Coming off a WR450 and various 250 two-strokes, I notice that there is less power, but there's still enough to go pretty fast. But from what I could tell trail riding with one of my friend's who has a 2014 250 XCF-W, the usable power on the trail may not be that much different.

I think the key is how much you are able to keep your momentum up and twist the throttle.

Another one of my friends was thinking a 250 or 300 two-stroke XCW, but decided to go for a 250X instead and loves it.

Like one of the other posters offered up, try to ride them and see which one talks to you.

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I rode all the XC-W's at a demo day and was disapointed in both the 250 XCF-W and 350 XCF-W. They had the tightest and roughest single track for us to try them out on. No more than second gear bursts.

 

KTM tunes their 250 and 350 motors for top end HP which works if your riding out in the open. The 350 had nothing down low almost like a two stroke. The 250 was real slow. The suspension on all models but one was harsh and deflected. I've owned a PDS shocked KTM and didn't care for it.

 

I was never let so down as I was with the 350. (for tight rough single track).

 

I guess the difference is that the mags are all out west and are always testing in the desert.

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Same feelings about the 350 here. Not near enough and then in the blink of the eye there is way too much power. Never a happy medium, extremely tiring to ride.

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About magazines...keep in mind how magazines make their money when you read articles.  Much of their revenue comes from those ads you see on every other page.  So, they probably aren't going to trash talk an advertisers product.

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About magazines...keep in mind how magazines make their money when you read articles.  Much of their revenue comes from those ads you see on every other page.  So, they probably aren't going to trash talk an advertisers product.

 

 There's probably some truth to that, but the bike Mfg's don't advertise directly all that much.   Most do it through their racing programs and dealer network.

 

 Most of the ad's I see in mags are for 3rd party products.

 

 But there is no doubt that out west is a totally different style of riding.   I know someone who rode a lot in CA, moved to TN and said it was some of the nastiest ridding he had ever done because it was just different. 

 

 Likewise, I got a shot at Pismo dunes.  Never had ridden in sand like that before and man what a difference.   I kept trying to roll it back, and I was told that I need to crank it up in the sand.   Totally different style of riding.

 

Jim.

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I think a lot of the "KTM status" is because they've dumped a lot of resources into their racing program, causing an artificial "KTM's are faster" image. Every manufacturer does it to some degree or another.

Ignore the image, and you have a bike that either DOES or DOES NOT turn your crank. Regardless of the color of the plastics.

Side note: compare the maintenance schedules. My cousin loves his KTM but it needs constant upkeep and a steady diet of new parts.

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I own a 250x and have ridden a friend's 250XCF-w.  Either bike is a great choice for quick single track riding, but they have very different personalities.  I found the Honda much easier to ride, while the KTM was fun when ridden aggressively.  By that, I mean the KTM engine worked better when reved more, similar to the way one would ride a 125 two stroke but not quite that "pipey."  I liked the KTM and actually enjoyed it's spirited nature.   Which would be better would depend on what type of rider is on board.

 

Comparing each in stock form would probably give the edge to the KTM.  However, once the normal (I'd say mandatory) tweaks are made to the 250x, I prefer my Honda.  Open the air box, jet it correctly, and get the suspension redone.  That's what I did and I now really love my 250x.  I could never say that about the stock setup.  Dirt bikes are very personal, and I think it would be blind luck to find a stock machine perfectly suited to a particular rider's taste.  Living in California, the Green Sticker issue is real for me, so I went for the 250x knowing it would require "ucorking" and thank Honda for providing a bike designed to be so easily fixed.

 

The biggest improvements in my 250x over stock are the suspension modifications.  Stock, the KTM was much more plush (I ride trails and single track mostly) and turned very quickly.  The Honda also turns great, but the suspension was harsh (170 lb. rider).  I discussed it with John Hlebo, and he explained that the stock setup was undersprung with too much preload in the forks (X fork springs are 5mm longer than R springs) and over dampened.  Same for the rear.  I had him revalve the shock and went up on the spring rate.  The fork only has been resprung with R length heavier springs and new 5 wt. oil which seems much lighter in viscosity than the stock gunk.  The suspension is now excellent for me.  Much plusher than stock and I can ride it much faster now while it soaks up harsh square edge bumps and is very balanced on single track.  It also has great, progressive bottoming resistance.  Huge improvement over stock.

 

So, a slightly modified CRF 250x is a much different machine than a stock model.  The engine/airbox mods are simple, and I consider suspension tuning to be nearly mandatory on any new dirt bike to suit the rider.  I strongly recommend John Hlebo for the revalving/respringing.  He's a smart guy and has ton's of experience.  My friend's KTM was carbureted so he also installed a JD jet kit to get it running right.  He ended up buying a fuel injected 250 XCF-w to get more torque.  I still preferred my X engine to his and find my bike really easy to ride quickly.  Fuel injection may be the latest/greatest, but my bike runs cleanly (JD jet kit) and I can fix a carburetor.  The bottom line is that both bikes are good, they both need tweaking to more optimally suit riding style, but the Honda improved more dramatically after these simple mods.  I love how the X handles and turns and I find it's engine (unmolested powerband) really fun to ride quickly with it's smooth, torquey power delivery.

 

Oh yeah, the 250x was much less expensive (new) which enables the buyer to make these simple improvements and have a nicely personalized "ready to race" machine for less than a stock KTM. 

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Side note: compare the maintenance schedules. My cousin loves his KTM but it needs constant upkeep and a steady diet of new parts.

 

 I'm waiting to see the result from the local group who have all gone KTM.   I've heard many times over the years that KTM's required constant up keep.  Wondering with the current stable of bikes if that is really true or not.

 

Jim.

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I wanted to add that I'm really enjoying the conversation about the different aspects of these bikes. 

 

All too often, things are said that are simply not based in fact, over looked, or just said just because.

 

Very nice and refreshing to have an intelligent conversation for once.

 

Kudo's to all. :thumbsup:

 

Jim.

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I realize we're talking XCF-W here, but I've kinda thought if I were to go KTM 250F buying, I'd consider the XC-F because of what looks to me a bit more moto feel. It'd be fun to try one, but I don't know anyone that has one. Most of the trails I ride now are pretty whooped, but my X seems to work pretty well.

The places where I really notice I'm on a 250F versus a 250 2T or a 450 are tight corners in which I'm unable to keep my momentum up, or those long, steep up the spine of ridge trails that I'd be able to pull another gear on the others.

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Jim:

Likewise...I was reading a couple similar threads this weekend, and although the posters all liked motorcycles they certainly didn't like each other!

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KTM is much like the Apple of the motorcycle industry.

 

On paper if you want to compare technology - the CRF-X has an alloy frame, split sump, linkage with offroad specific rising rate for compliancy, proven closed chamber showa fork and is a similar weight to the KTM.

 

The KTM has a steel frame, single sump, open chamber forks, a PDS with a lower rising rate than a DT175.  It doesn't even have a pipe gaurd or a radiator catch tank, even though it's much more susceptible to overheating than the honda.   The main thing is does have is FI... which in the 250F world tends to make an already low power motor even more boring.

 

The KTM's are generally designed for peak hp.  RPM's being the horsepower multiplier, the higher the peak torque is made, the more hp you will make, so often they need to be clutched where as the 250x will torque like a 450, but it will be down a few ponies up near the limiter.  Hotcams alone make 9 different cams for the CRF, so really, it's a case of build your own bike.

 

KTM's new frames have better flex characteristics than they did pre '12, but they still lack good feel and are often described as harsh and deflective on sharp edges like tree roots (depends where you ride).  They also have trouble figuring out the basics like seat foam.

 

The 2014+ xcfw sound better in the engine department with their new oversqaure motor... and the 2012 250XCF (not W)  wasn't a bad bike in that it came standard with the good CC WP's before they swapped to the not so well received 4CS in 2013.

 

Alot of the Kato 250F's have oil burning issues. It's a bit hit and miss to this day.  On the upside though they come standard with Del West Ti Valves which are much better than the Honda's.  They're only about $220 for a set of intakes though. (Although much more expensive if you buy the rebadged Pro Circuit version).

 

KTM generally have much better warranty support and often use more quality components in terms of things like their hydro clutches and stronger clutch baskets... but in the case of a major engine failure you'll be looking at more like $800 for a cylinder on the kato versus $250 on the Honda.

 

I've ridden the latest XCF's back to back with 1996 CR500's and I still think the old Honda's are still a better bike frame and suspension wise than the latest KTM's.

 

But change is what sells bikes.  That's where KTM is smart.  

 

You'll still like an XCFW though.  Anything's better than a husky :D

Edited by andrewdisco
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I own a 250x and have ridden a friend's 250XCF-w.  Either bike is a great choice for quick single track riding, but they have very different personalities.  I found the Honda much easier to ride, while the KTM was fun when ridden aggressively.  By that, I mean the KTM engine worked better when reved more, similar to the way one would ride a 125 two stroke but not quite that "pipey."  I liked the KTM and actually enjoyed it's spirited nature.   Which would be better would depend on what type of rider is on board.

 

Comparing each in stock form would probably give the edge to the KTM.  However, once the normal (I'd say mandatory) tweaks are made to the 250x, I prefer my Honda.  Open the air box, jet it correctly, and get the suspension redone.  That's what I did and I now really love my 250x.  I could never say that about the stock setup.  Dirt bikes are very personal, and I think it would be blind luck to find a stock machine perfectly suited to a particular rider's taste.  Living in California, the Green Sticker issue is real for me, so I went for the 250x knowing it would require "ucorking" and thank Honda for providing a bike designed to be so easily fixed.

 

The biggest improvements in my 250x over stock are the suspension modifications.  Stock, the KTM was much more plush (I ride trails and single track mostly) and turned very quickly.  The Honda also turns great, but the suspension was harsh (170 lb. rider).  I discussed it with John Hlebo, and he explained that the stock setup was undersprung with too much preload in the forks (X fork springs are 5mm longer than R springs) and over dampened.  Same for the rear.  I had him revalve the shock and went up on the spring rate.  The fork only has been resprung with R length heavier springs and new 5 wt. oil which seems much lighter in viscosity than the stock gunk.  The suspension is now excellent for me.  Much plusher than stock and I can ride it much faster now while it soaks up harsh square edge bumps and is very balanced on single track.  It also has great, progressive bottoming resistance.  Huge improvement over stock.

 

So, a slightly modified CRF 250x is a much different machine than a stock model.  The engine/airbox mods are simple, and I consider suspension tuning to be nearly mandatory on any new dirt bike to suit the rider.  I strongly recommend John Hlebo for the revalving/respringing.  He's a smart guy and has ton's of experience.  My friend's KTM was carbureted so he also installed a JD jet kit to get it running right.  He ended up buying a fuel injected 250 XCF-w to get more torque.  I still preferred my X engine to his and find my bike really easy to ride quickly.  Fuel injection may be the latest/greatest, but my bike runs cleanly (JD jet kit) and I can fix a carburetor.  The bottom line is that both bikes are good, they both need tweaking to more optimally suit riding style, but the Honda improved more dramatically after these simple mods.  I love how the X handles and turns and I find it's engine (unmolested powerband) really fun to ride quickly with it's smooth, torquey power delivery.

 

Oh yeah, the 250x was much less expensive (new) which enables the buyer to make these simple improvements and have a nicely personalized "ready to race" machine for less than a stock KTM. 

Very excellent post. I spent Memorial day riding with some new fellas on a couple X's and a KTM300. I was on my CR250. We weren't racing(woods) but did some spirited riding. At the end of the day I asked one of the X guys about his 450X,,,, he then told me both X's were 250's. Both stock except for pipes. In our woods they had more than enough power and were very easy to ride. Very impressive. 

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I've been riding dirt bikes for more than 40 years so during those years I have owned, raced, and maintained a lot of bikes, from a lot of different countries. Today I'm just a trail rider but can still be critical of a bike's performance relative to my riding needs (a lot of technical single track). And while technology marches on with better bikes some corporate and country  culture seem to remain in all of the products.

As a result, in spite of the CRF valve rep, most of my current stable is red;  very good performance for the intended use, easier to maintain, easier to modify for riding conditions, and well engineered.

Edited by Chuck.

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I think the KTM markets to a narrower segment of the riding population so they can make it more "race ready" out of the box.  If you spend much time on here, you see that Honda sells the CRF250X to the "expert" as well as the guy who thinks he is now ready to move up from his XR100 to a larger bike (in reality, his move should probably be to an XR250).  Like others have said, if you "unkork" the Honda, it becomes a whole different bike and much nearer to the KTM in usage/performance.

 

A second factor that I do not think anyone has mentioned is the availability of parts.  Unless you are perfect, you are going to need some stuff over the lifespan of the bike.  With as many 250x's as there are out there, parts are readily available.

Here are some things to think about replacing.

 

Starter motor-----------Honda---Ebay or Thumpertalk classifieds

Starter motor-----------KTM------KTM Dealership

 

Tweaked subframe---Honda----Ebay or Thumpertalk classifieds

Tweaked subframe-- KTM-------KTM Dealership

 

Bent Forks------------Honda----Ebay or Thumpertalk classifieds

Bent Forks------------KTM------KTM Dealership

 

I could keep this up all day but you probably can get the picture......

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