The 2019 KTM 250 XC-F is the Austrian manufacturer's 250 four-stroke cross-country competition bike. It shares many features with the 250 SX-F motocrosser, but has a number of off-road-specific components including a six-speed transmission, 2.25-gallon fuel tank, softer suspension settings, an 18-inch rear wheel, kickstand, hand guards, and Dunlop AT81 tires. One additional part our test bike wore that does not come stock was the skid plate, which is available through KTM PowerParts. We rode the 250 XC-F on everything from tight trails to vet motocross tracks to see how the orange off-road bike performed in both moto and off-road terrain.


Right side of the 2019 KTM 250 XC-F.
The 2019 KTM 250 XC-F is based on the 250 SX-F motocross bike, but comes with several off-road-specific features including a six-speed semi-close-ratio transmission.Mark Kariya

The 250 XC-F’s power delivery is smooth from bottom to top. It has a fair amount of low-end, a strong midrange, and a seemingly endless amount of top-end and over-rev. The orange machine could benefit from a little more bottom-end grunt, especially for tight off-road sections. The meat of the powerband is the top-end, and the Brembo hydraulic clutch helps keep the rpm there with its smooth and easy pull. On higher-speed trails and on the motocross track, the 250 XC-F’s powerband is exceptional as it continues to pull all the way to the rev limiter in a very predictable manner.

Left side of 2019 KTM 250 XC-F
In addition to having a different transmission than the 250 SX-F, the 250 XC-F has a 0.4-gallon-larger fuel tank and softer suspension settings. It also comes with an 18-inch rear wheel, kickstand, hand guards, and Dunlop AT81 tires.Mark Kariya

The six-speed semi-close-ratio transmission is produced by Pankl Racing Systems. It shifts remarkably smoothly, and is versatile and works well on the trails and the track. First gear handled tight off-road sections well, while we mostly found ourselves using second and third gear on average-speed trails and on most sections of the motocross track. We found ourselves using up to fourth gear on long straightaways on the track, while fifth and sixth gear worked as “overdrive” gears for high-speed, wide-open, fire-road-type sections.


Biker riding up a boulder on the 2019 KTM 250 XC-F.
The 250 XC-F offers a smooth power delivery, and the meat of the powerband is on the top-end.Mark Kariya

The 250 XC-F’s suspension lean more toward comfort rather than performance, and the softer settings in the WP AER 48 fork and WP shock in comparison to the 250 SX-F model are noticeable right away. With the stock 9.6-bar air pressure setting, the fork has good bump absorption, gobbling up small trail irregularities and braking bumps with ease. It also maintains a plush feel on larger impacts such as drop-offs and slap-down landings. The fork’s softer setting is most noticeable on the motocross track when overshooting or coming up short on a jump. In which case, the fork can occasionally bottom out. To combat this, we found good results with going two to three clicks stiffer on the compression. In the rear, the shock absorbs trail obstacles, acceleration chop, and braking bumps well. When riding over obstacles, the shock helps the rear of the bike stay planted and driving up the obstacle.


Biker jumping on the 2019 KTM 250 XC-F.
The 250 XC-F’s softer suspension settings absorb braking bumps and small trail obstacles very well.Mark Kariya

The 250 XC-F handles precisely and intuitively. It has impressive straight-line stability and, with its more rigid frame for 2019, corners better than ever. On single-track trails, the orange machine responds quickly, yet predictably to rider input. The chassis is well-balanced with the sag set at 105mm. The Brembo brakes are remarkably powerful, yet progressive enough to easily be modulated. The ergonomics on the 250 XC-F are improved for 2019 with the slimmer radiator shroud area. The seat is plenty grippy, yet comfortably soft and easy to move around on. The Neken handlebar has an average rise and is a comfortable bend for most riders. The ODI lock-on grips are nice, high-quality items. The 250 XC-F comes with hand guards, which is always a plus for an off-road bike. We would like to see it come stock with a skid plate too, especially being that the frame already has three brackets for it.


Biker riding down dirt path on the 2019 KTM 250 XC-F.
KTM’s stiffer frame for 2019 enables the bike to corner better than the prior year model.Mark Kariya

The KTM 250 XC-F is a great all-around dirt bike. It handles faster-paced trails well and feels right at home on a vet-level motocross track. For a rider who is in the market for a 250F that splits his time between the trail and track, the 250 XC-F is an excellent option, especially with the versatility the six-speed transmission offers for off-road. The larger fuel tank, softer suspension settings, 18-inch rear wheel, kickstand, hand guards, and Dunlop AT81 tires complete it as a very capable bike both on the trail and the track.

Biker riding the 2019 KTM 250 XC-F on a boulder.
With a 237-pound wet weight and good all-around handling, the 250 XC-F is easy to put where you want it.Mark Kariya


PRICE $9,499
ENGINE 249.9cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke
FRAME Steel central tube
FRONT SUSPENSION WP AER 48mm fork adjustable for air pressure, compression and rebound damping; 12.2-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION WP shock adjustable for spring preload, high/low-speed compression damping, and rebound damping; 11.8-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE Brembo 2-piston caliper, 260mm disc
REAR BRAKE Brembo 1-piston caliper, 220mm disc
WHEELBASE 58.5 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 37.4 in.
Riding the 2019 KTM 250 XC-F on a dirt track.
The 250 XC-F can easily take on vet motocross tracks. Stiffening the AER 48 fork’s compression by two to three clicks helps prevent bottoming on hard landings such as when over-jumping or coming up short.Mark Kariya