2016.5 KTM 250 and 450 SX-F Factory Editions

Christmas has come early this year, as it does every year, if you are a KTM motocross fanatic. The Austrian brand has just unveiled the always exciting, limited run Factory Edition models – the 250 SX-F Factory Edition and 450 SX-F Factory Edition. Since the 2015.5 Factory Edition bikes were radically changed (new chassis, new engines, massive weight savings) and the production 2016 motocross models were based on those FE models, the list of new parts on the 2016.5 FE models is short, but very important.

At the very top of that list is WP’s AER 48 Fork (AER is Latin for air and 48 is the diameter in millimeters), which we will get into in a moment. The other changes include new exhausts for each model (FMF for the 250, Akrapovič on the 450), new orange anodized CNC-machined triple clamps with rubber damping system, Neken handlebars, and ODI lock-on grips. With the new fork and aftermarket exhausts, the already featherweight 250 and 450 machines drop another 4-plus pounds, according to KTM. That brings the claimed weight of the 250 SX-F FE to 217.2 pounds, and the 450 SX-F FE to 221.3 pounds!

Also new for this year is the fact that the 250 SX-F Factory Edition is a Troy Lee Designs team bike. This is because the TLD team is KTM’s factory racing effort for 2016. Meaning the Red Bull KTM Team is only feilding 450 riders (Ryan Dungey, Dean Wilson, and 450 rookie Marvin Musquin) and the TLD/KTM Team is handling all of the 250 riders. This also means that, other than the obvious differences between 250cc and 450cc machines, the Factory Editions have different graphics and exhaust systems. Other than the those changes and the new forks, clamps, bars, and grips, both Factory Edition bikes are pretty much the same as last years FEs and this year's production models.

Now let's talk about the WP AER 48 Fork. We’ve already had a chance to ride this fork earlier this year (dirtrider.com/2016-wp-aer-48-fork-cone-valve-fork-and-trax-shock-press-introduction), but that was on only two bikes and they weren’t the Factory Edition KTMs.

What really sets this air fork apart from the other types on the market is the claimed ease of operation. There is only one air chamber to adjust, meaning one air valve to fill, and, according to KTM, you don’t even have to do that every ride. The air spring is on the left and all the damping is handled by the right fork leg, which has 30 clicks of compression and rebound adjustment. The damping side also has a completely new damping cartridge to handle the single damping leg requirements and the compression adjustment is still on the top of the fork, with rebound now on the bottom.

WP claims quite a few advantages to the AER 48 Fork. The first is that it is 3.1 pounds lighter than the current 4CS fork on the ’16 KTM models. Also, the fact that, if you fall outside the preferred rider weight range of 165-175 pounds, you can change your spring rate without spending any money or time. The is also no worry of catastrophic failure since the air spring is in an internal chamber independent of the fork seal. Lastly, it should be simpler to dial in since it only has one chamber to adjust.

We can’t wait to get our hands on these new two very exciting bikes. We haven’t been that impressed by air forks in general but we will not let our previous experiences with other types sour our impression of WP’s version. At face value the weight savings, ease of use, and simple adjustment look promising but the proof is in the proverbial pudding and we won’t really know until we get some time in the saddle. Stay tuned for a first impression of both of the KTM Factory Edition bikes.

This 2016.5 250 SX-F Factory Edition is the second rendition of this model. Last year’s featured Red Bull KTM graphics while this year’s is has Red Bull/TLD designs. This is because the TLD team is KTM’s 250 class factory effort for 2016.Courtesy of KTM
Although mostly the same as last year’s Factory Edition, one huge difference is that this bike has WP’s all new AER 48 Fork, using air for the spring.Courtesy of KTM
Other than obvious differences between 250cc and 450cc bikes, the two Factory Editions have different seats, graphics, and pipes.Courtesy of KTM
The KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition also has the WP AER 48 Fork. Plus both bikes get new triple clamps, rubber mounted Nekken bars, and ODI grips.Courtesy of KTM
Without the spring in the fork and with the titanium Akrapovič exhaust system, the 450 SX-F FE claims to tip the scales at 221.3 pounds.Courtesy of KTM
Both the 2016 250 and 450 SX-Fs moved up in our shootouts and we are looking forward to see how the Factory Editions compare to the standard models.Courtesy of KTM
Air forks have had some mixed reviews in general, but it is our job to take an unbiased look at each version. The WP AER 48 looks good on paper and we’ve had some promising rides with it on other bikes. It will be interesting to see how the fork works with the rest of the Factory Edition package.Courtesy of KTM