KTM’s new four-stroke 250EXC Racing costs almost £5000. But you can find out if you’re prepared to fork out for it by trying it out in a weekend of off-road fun for just under £300.
That’s the deal with KTM Adventure Tours. For £299, they’ll kit you out with Alpinestars gear, plonk you on a 250EXC Racing and take you on a weekend of green-laning through Devon and Cornwall, including an afternoon of tuition on a closed motocross circuit and a full two days on the trails.
Which is how I got to be blasting out of a river and slithering down a muddy track, whooping maniacally.
The bike’s being much better-behaved than I am. For a start, there are no two-stroke fumes or ear-splitting racket, which is why two bobble-hatted ramblers actually smile at me as I pass, even though I’m going faster on the little road-legal thumper than I would have been on a more powerful two-stroke.
It’s this combination of novice-friendly performance and an air of respectability that typifies the Racing – the road-going version of the prototype on which Matteo Rubin won the 250 four-stroke world enduro title in 2000.
Thanks to an electric starter, smooth power delivery and a dry weight to rival your old Raleigh Grifter, this makes the ideal beginner’s trail bike. But it also has titanium valves, WP suspension and a standard spec that renders many add-on catalogues redundant.
The uncomfortable seat and the bicycle speedo with its indicated top speed of 75mph make it obvious this is no road bike. The lights, indicators and number plate are just to get you from one green lane to the next.
As soon as you leave the blacktop, the little KTM is in its element. With dry-stone walls rushing past only inches from your elbows, it’s amazing how quick it feels. Power delivery is revvy for a four-stroke and big throttle openings in high gears leave the bike gasping for breath, making it a tad reminiscent of the two-strokes it’s supposed to replace.
But with six speeds and a smooth hydraulic clutch, it’s easy to keep on the boil. When the pace slows down to a walk and the going gets wet and technical, the torque advantage and subtle engine braking are still readily apparent.
I only fall humiliatingly into the mud and grime a couple of times. It’s at moments like these that the electric starter comes in handy, while the light weight makes the bike easy to pick up with aching, jelly-like legs and the superb Austrian build quality ensures that, no matter how big the crash, you’re back on the trail in a couple of minutes.
And after a couple of days, that £4995 doesn’t seem so expensive after all. If you want a first-timer’s off-road machine or a trail bike that can take you from your first green lane to an enduro win, the diminutive KTM could be just the thing.
Details of KTM Adventure Tours: www.ktmadventuretours.co.uk