We've always said KTMs run a hard line. Having "Ready to Race" as a company slogan tends to make that happen. And the SX series could be described (at least prior to 2009) as very aggressive and edgy. This different horse in a stable of cloned ponies has always polarized buyers and test riders alike. One guy will love it while another can't get used to it. It's the orange curse and it's one we're predicting has been lifted with the 2009s.The 250 SX-F is a perfect example of this. Like its big brother-the E-start 450 SX-F-the new 250 incorporates changes aimed at giving the bike more power sooner while cruising on a chassis and suspension package that should have even the strongest haters giving it props.Both areas of improvement (handling and power) stand out equally on this ride. The motor, with its valve-train diet program, is delivering that excellent KTM power sooner than ever. The Austrian company didn't redesign the engine, it simply lightened the parts in the cylinder head so it can rev more freely. And it worked. The KTM top-end-only character is gone. The bottom to mid is the sweetest we've seen on this bike. The best part: The top-end is still there, too.Power is nothing without control (I think a tire company told me that), and KTM's fork and shock updates are the very definition of control. Up front the inner tubes (the ones that slide up and down) are thinner and the outer tubes are reshaped to flex more. Yes, your fork flexes. Plus, there are new bushings in the outer tubes and all the sliding components are essentially sourced from a new supplier using improved processes to get everything moving better. These are simple changes KTM hopes will work.Oh, it worked. The fork is really great on the KTM 250 SX-F. And it's been great on every other '09 KTM we've tested so far. It combines amazing initial plushness-which you'll swear is an indicator of a setup that's too soft-with the bottoming resistance of a supercross-stiff set. It's a great combination of suspension feel and confidence. Faster pilots or riders close to 180 pounds will appreciate about one extra click on the compression adjuster (it's that sensitive). Leave everything else stock for most tracks (more settings to come in our MX shootout).The shock is improved as well. If you remember our '09 450 test (December '08) the PDS shock has been gutted and stuffed with new parts all around. New needle, stiffer spring, larger inlet passages, reshaped piston ports and other tweaks run amok in order to move more oil through the pistons of the PDS system on high-speed movements like acceleration bumps, all the while maintaining bottoming resistance.It worked on the 250 SX-F, too. The shock is supple and strong right out of the box and loves to be set at the right sag. We recommend experimenting between 105-115mm with the rider. If you experience headshake or strange turning behavior, twist the spring a turn or two.So its engine flat rips, and it has supple yet strong suspension performance. It must turn funny or do something else weird, right?No. It doesn't. It's probably the sweetest-turning 250F of the season. The front end gets insane traction, and you can control the corners like there's no tomorrow thanks to the direct delivery of consistent power.Do we really have to tell you, again, how awesome the controls are on this bike. Yes? OK. Well, they're even better this year on all SX-F models with better feeling levers (not the same as the 450 on this 250, though) and the best front brake in motocross.To sum it up: It finally seems the fleet of KTM motocross bikes are built to please the masses instead of those with a penchant for proper setup. In doing so, the Orange engineers have likely built their best MX bikes ever.