KTM 250 SX-F Review from Australia

2006 KTM 250 SX-F

Model year2006
Year of manufacture2006
First year of ownership2009
Most recent year of ownership2012
Acceleration marks 8 / 10
Roll-on Performance marks 9 / 10
Handling marks 8 / 10
Braking marks 6 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Dealer Service marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 8 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.1 / 10

Summary:

An Orange Rocketship

Faults:

Subframe cracked (due to a hefty fall mind you).

Cam chain tensioner ineffective until the bike is warmed (this is a common fault, though rarely a dangerous issue).

Rear brake master.

Various bolts and threads have seized/snapped.

General Comments:

Overall this has been an excellent bike.

In regards to the problems listed above, only the timing chain tensioner is a manufacturer fault. This is a known problem; basically it is the hydraulic and the O-rings in it leak, meaning that you can hear the timing chain slap and rattle until oil pressure builds up. Worst case, this has been known to result in the chain skipping a cog on the timing gears, destroying your top end. However if the bike is allowed to warm up, IE not redlined instantly after starting, I have never encountered/heard of an issue. A replacement is available from DirtTricks and claims to fix the issue; it's $150, I just haven't gotten round to purchasing it yet.

This is a race bike, and the subframe is relatively light duty Aluminium to save weight. That's fine, but if you (or a mate...) stack it trying to do a jump and cartwheel the bike, there is a strong chance you'll bend/crack the subframe. At $580 from the dealer, not cheap, but a far site cheaper than my mate's Honda CRF250 subframe at $785.

The Chrome-Moly frame on the other hand is excellent, providing good flex and feel for a well handling machine, while maintaining incredible strength. Also being stronger than Aluminium alloy means there is less of it, making the bike easier to work on as there is less frame in the way. Personally I used to have a grudge against steel frames, thinking them old tech, but KTM frames are definitely a winner in my book.

I have also found that dealer parts for my KTM are the same or cheaper than those of my mates Japanese bikes (read Yamaha and Honda). I know it's not what you normally hear, I'm just telling it how I've found it. Also I live in Perth, Western Australia, and we have a KTM warehouse, meaning I can get any parts within a day... bonus!

Motor has been flawless, really torquey and happy to rev. Was ported and polished, freshly rebuilt with a Wiseco 13.5:1 piston as I bought it, I've added a Akrapovich exhaust and re-jetted to suit since. It goes hard, though since adding the pipe, it lost some bottom end grunt and gained top end power.

The gearbox is a revelation! 6 speeds, and such a smooth and effortless shift compared to same year YZ250F and CRF250. Hydraulic clutch is also great, really cuts down on arm pump, and it's been nothing but reliable. Allows me to ride harder for longer.

Brakes. Nothing 'wrong' with them, they pull up fine and cop a beating without fading away. But they are very 'spongy'. Rear master went a few weeks ago, so I rebuilt it ($104 kit from KTM), still a little spongy as I need to bleed it some more. Before it went though, it was solid as a rock. Front brake is spongy no matter how many times I bleed it, I suspect that's as it is on the handlebars (higher than the caliper), the air is floating its way up and remaining trapped in the master cylinder, creating the spongy feel. All the reviews say this model has best brakes in class, so I figure there's just an issue with mine; my mate's YZ brakes are much more confidence inspiring though.

Main problems I've had, have been related to seized/stuck bolts. Needless to say I'm an expert with easy outs and helicoils now! I think the previous owner was a bit over zealous with a breaker bar, some bolts were literally seized in place, and I've had to drill them out. Others have snapped heads off when I tried to remove them. I have been told KTM have more fastener related issues than other manufacturers, but I personally do not place the blame with them. Do the bolts to factory torque specs and you'll be fine. Also, DO NOT replace Aluminium bolts with steel units; many of the threads on my bike are tapped directly into the Aluminium block, and WILL strip if you overtighten a steel bolt, the steel being harder than the alloy.

In summary a great bike. To be honest, if you want an MX bike, all the reputable manufacturers make a good dirtbike post 2006. I have ridden most, and like them all, but the Kato is my favourite, not to mention something a little different without the expensive allure of Husquervana or Husaberg.

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 18th March, 2012

Average review marks: 8.1 / 10, based on 1 review