The AMA has been breathing down KTM's neck, ready to take serious action and remove points earned in the 125cc Supercross Series if these 250 SXFs weren't in dealers showroom's real soon. And now they're here. At least the press fleet has arrived! Dirt Rider hit the US intro at Perris Raceway and came away impressed.The bike has some interesting and unique features that definitely show KTM wasn't following in the 250cc four-stroke game, they wanted to take the lead. In search of the highest possible power output, the Austrians took all the measures to get the biggest and longest power spread with the smallest engine size possible. And the chassis is a departure from the typical KTM mold, looking to the future, and more precise handling.Our test bike starts easy and has a pretty throaty roar. In fact the bike is downright loud—especially to the rider—but it makes some serious power. It barks right off the bottom and has some torque. The middle is there, not impressive but purposeful, then the cams unite and it rips way deep into the top end. How fast is it? We wouldn't bet against this motor on a start line, or over a power-yanking jump takeoff.
The chassis and suspension are the best KTM has produced for motocross use. At Perris' jumpy and rutted course, it worked without any reservations. The SXF is plush without bottoming, and turns like, dare we say, a Honda! It performed perfectly with riders from 160 to 190 lbs. aboard, needing zero adjustments for the most part.Our only concerns were with a fluttery crack of the throttle when riding to the track and in the pits, but not while riding the bike on the course. Some riders also felt the front end was climbing up on turn exits. Instead of rushing the bike into our July issue, we're putting the bike through its paces and dialing it in for the full test in the August Dirt Rider.