Factory Off-Road Bikes—Maria Forsberg Hahn’s KTM 250 SX-F

Maria Forsberg Hahn’s KTM 250 SX-F in front of trees.
Although she now has a 2019, Maria Forsberg Hahn couldn’t get anything but a 2018 250 SX-F earlier this season. Though with some personalization, it’s proven to be a very capable off-road/EnduroCross racer.Mark Kariya

Sometimes, the bike you want isn't the bike that's available. That's the predicament Maria Forsberg Hahn found herself in when the FMF/Maxxis/RPM Racing team issued bikes to its riders earlier in the year. The 2019 KTM 250 XC-F happened to be in short supply, but a new 2018 250 SX-F was still available. Sold!

Husband Ted Hahn serves as Maria's mechanic (and is an excellent rider himself), so it was up to him to convert the machine into one suitable for her planned off-road exploits in local Washington state NMA and NORCS races as well as AMA EnduroCross and other select events like the Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles Regional Championship Series race in Bellingham, Washington, where we caught up with the couple.

Maria Forsberg Hahn’s KTM 250 SX-F brakes and wheels.
For the WHS in Bellingham, Maria’s husband, Ted Hahn, didn’t have any of the Kreft Moto-modified WP forks, so he pulled the WP Xplor unit off his 150 XC-W as it was close to Maria’s preferences. The brakes and wheels are standard, though for faster races like motocross, a larger DP Brakes rotor is installed.Mark Kariya

Maria admits she’s not a real gearhead and prefers to simply ride instead of worry about the nuances of setup, so she deferred to Ted when it came to providing information. (She lets her riding do the talking and made a bold statement by hammering the Pro Women win for the second year in a row in her sole foray into the series since it’s the only close one.) So we turned to Ted to fill us in.

“We have a couple [WP] Trax shocks and we have a couple [WP] Cone Valve forks that have her GNCC setup, but for this [race] we put on [the WP] Xplor fork that’s stock off my 150 XC-W just because it’s a little softer [feeling] and [the bumps at] Hannegan [Speedway] are a little bit bigger than she typically races,” he began. “We just went with the softer fork setting, which worked out a little bit better, I think, than the Cone Valve. The Cone Valve [fork] works really good when you’re going through real fast stuff because you can set it up kind of soft, but then it’s good for the real big hits. But there weren’t going to be any of those at Hannegan—we’ve raced there so many times we pretty much know what you’re going to get.”

Maria is unique in that she’s fast, but significantly lighter than what the bike was designed for. Thus, her settings reflect that, though as Ted shared, “Typically, we’re going to be running Kreft Moto suspension and they have a whole system setup designed for her skill set which is really high, but her weight which is really low for somebody that fast. Kreft Moto [in Bend, Oregon] takes care of us, but we didn’t have a set of that suspension for this weekend. That’s why we threw that 150 XC-W fork on—that Xplor fork is pretty soft off of my 150, so it works out fairly well for her for the really tight stuff.”

Maria Forsberg Hahn’s KTM 250 SX-F 18-inch rear wheel.
Naturally, an 18-inch rear wheel replaces the SX-F’s standard 19-inch assembly. Note the Fasstway suspension link, which retains the standard ride height and only gets exchanged for a lower one for EnduroCross.Mark Kariya

For race sag, he sets it between 106–110mm depending on the type of race.

Explaining further, he said, “One of our friends had [Kreft-modded] suspension on their 150 and [Maria] is not a two-stroke person, doesn’t really like riding two-strokes, but rode our friend’s setup on the 150 and she really liked it. She really doesn’t give me any feedback; she’s like the easiest rider to ever please and she’s like, ‘I really like this suspension!’ While riding a two-stroke? I was like, ‘Okay.’ So that’s when I reached out to Kreft and asked them to take care of her.”

Hahn noted that Maria’s suspension preferences have changed over the years: “She’s not picky about suspension, but she wants her suspension to be more progressive. When she was younger and before kids, she didn’t mind having her suspension a little bit more on the stiff side. I think that’s just getting older and wiser. She just knows how soft she can go [now] while it’s still forgiving enough, if that makes sense, or still holds up [in the stroke] enough.”

Naturally, he swapped the stock rear wheel for an 18-inch unit that comes on XCs. Maxxis Maxxcross SI intermediate-terrain tires with NitroMousse foam inserts replaced the OEM standards for Hannegan.

Maria Forsberg Hahn’s KTM 250 SX-F gripper cover on KTM saddle and FMF muffler.
A Seat Concepts gripper cover adorns the standard KTM saddle. Also visible is the FMF muffler which—along with running map 2—constitute the sole performance modifications.Mark Kariya

Seat Concepts provided one of its gripper covers for the standard KTM saddle. “For EnduroCross we’ll run a lower seat, but for any [other] off-road race or for motocross, we’ll just run the stock height,” Hahn noted. “She doesn’t mind having a tall bike; for EnduroCross we lower it a little bit with the seat and then we’ll run a Fasstway lowering link. They have four different heights on their lowering link and she runs it on the second-lowest for EnduroCross, but for off-road and moto she’ll run the standard, stock height.”

Maria Forsberg Hahn’s KTM 250 SX-F with Renthal 999-bend handlebar.
Although not fussy about most things, Maria has a definite preference when it comes to lever positioning and having the Renthal 999-bend handlebar straight.Mark Kariya

For the Renthal handlebar, Hahn prefers the 999 bend with ODI lock-on grips, and orange-anodized Flex clutch and brake levers out of the KTM PowerParts catalog as are the Progressive Handlebar Damping System (PHDS) handlebar clamps. Fasstway provides the footpegs, run in the standard locations.

Unlike many, Hahn runs a non-O-ring chain (D.I.D) for both motocross and most off-road races, the exception being EnduroCross. He’ll adjust wheelbase depending on the discipline as well—a shorter wheelbase for EnduroCross and longer for the faster going in motocross and off-road. For gearing, 14/50 is the norm and 14/51 or 52 for EX. “Usually, we’ll leave it in the 51 range. She’s not really that picky”—a recurring theme. The team is sponsored by DDC for sprockets, though Hahn didn’t have any on hand for the WHS.

Maria Forsberg Hahn’s KTM 250 SX-F with non-O-ring chain, Maxxis tires, and NitroMousse
Unlike many off-road racers, Hahn runs a non-O-ring chain and 14/50 gearing most of the time. The exception is EnduroCross where an O-ring chain and either 14/51 or 14/52 gearing is employed. Maxxis tires and NitroMousse inserts are used all the time.Mark Kariya

When racing motocross, Hahn opts for the larger DP Brakes front rotor; otherwise, the smaller stock-diameter rotor is used since it’s less prone to rock damage. Stock KTM brake pads suffice. TM Designworks provides several protective items like the skid plate, chain slider, and chain block. A Rekluse clutch cover adds a bit of durability as well as bling.

Aside from the FMF PowerBomb header and aluminum Factory 4.1 RCT muffler, the engine remains stock. As for EFI mapping, Hahn revealed, “She runs it on the second map with no traction control. Even for Hannegan because Hannegan’s pretty hard-packed and slick, she doesn’t even run the traction control. We just leave it on map 2. We’ve tried map 1 for EnduroCross, but she always ends up going back to map 2.”

Maintenance requirements are nothing out of the ordinary with regular oil/air filter/oil filter changes. “Other than that, Maria’s pretty easy on bikes, so it’s just replace stuff as it gets worn out,” he observed. “I check the valves every 25 hours or so, but they don’t really need it. I have yet to have one of these KTM motors go out of adjustment under about 120-ish hours.”

HBD graphics ties the aesthetics together and that’s it. Laughing, Hahn summed up: “She’s unbelievably not picky! It makes my job really easy. She’s not really picky on anything [but] lever height—I wouldn’t say picky, but she just knows where she wants them. As long as the levers are there, that’s pretty much it. And she can tell if her bars aren’t straight. As long as her bars and levers are good, she will ride the bike ’til the wheels fall off!”