During one of our training days I had chance to ride one of the club members 2018 KTM 250 EXC TPI. I was pleasantly surprised on how good it felt going quick around the club track. Through the tight but flowing corners the bike turned and handled lovely with plenty of grip both ends. The suspension seemed to work very well through the corners and on the flat grass fields, however I didn't feel confident to hit the bigger jumps on the track. The xplor suspension on the newer KTM's seems to work well on ground where a quick short compression and rebound of the fork is required. Bigger hits or hard edge braking/accelerating bumps being hit with speed seem to make the suspension progress through its stroke too quickly (at least in its standard trim/valving). The motor seemed to make the right amount of power allowing you to be where you wanted to be in the rev range through, and to the exit of the corners. The bike however did seem to run lean as if it needed fuel right at the end of the rev range, it'd also pink a bit into corners. The brakes were as always with Brembos very strong, the clutch pull considerably light and the ergonomics of the bike didn't feel alien. All in all I was happy in the overall package that the 250 TPI presented.
Ok well what a difference we have here to the KTM 250 TPI that I rode. Even though both bikes were in stock trim in suspension terms the big bore husky seemed a whole lot stiffer than the KTM. The Husky seemed to stand up more in the stroke however didn't have the initial supple feel the KTM had. The Husky seemed to handle the bigger bumps better but would lose out on corner grip through the lack of give in the initial part of the suspension stroke. The bike seemed to have a much better fuel mixture going on than the KTM. It didn't pink at all and came across less raspy during high revs. The bike did have a full FMF system fitted so that might have altered the TPI's fuelling somehow. The husky did feel a lot more bike, power wise than the KTM 250 TPI however this was to its detriment. I think that it was the equation of the lack in suppleness the suspension provided and the strong power that made the bike feel very clumsy in the corners. The bike wanted to stand up as your started to ease on the power, you'd be fighting against the bike rather than flowing with it. If I were riding more technical rocky going with a lot of climbs, where you'd use a lot of the low end torque I'd probably have felt more at home on the better fuelled husky. But for the hare and hound/enduro style course's we have, it felt too much when you wound the power into the meat of the power curve.
To me my first bike being a 125 the KTM was always the holy grail. To jump back on a 125 after 10 years really made me wish I was 2 stone lighter. If I were 13 stone in weight or below, there wouldn't be a question of what cubic capacity bike I'd ride it would just be what colour it was. The 125 is the ultimate fun bike that makes nearly everyone feel as if they're a GP Jonny. The KTM felt no slower when it was in the main part of its power than the other 250fs I've ridden this year. The only problem being with any 125 is that you have to keep the rpms within that 10% of the range to keep making that power. The weight of the bike is almost negligible compared to a 300 trials bike, the thing lives for tight flat or downhill going. It isn't totally incapable of going up either, even carrying my 15 stone, it made it up some pretty technical climbs. The suspension did feel relatively soft but I suppose being a 125, KTM would probably aim to set it up for 11-12 stone which would be the average 125 rider weight. The bike I rode was totally stock and the carburettor had been leaned out by going one smaller on the pilot and main and dropping the needle down one. The fuelling would probably be spot on for the sand however I'd probably drop the needle down another clip for enduro riding to make it a bit sharper.
Well straight from the get go, for me personally the carb still works better than a TPI (for now at least). Jarvis, Walker, Bolt and Co maybe riding them and showing that they can ride them on some pretty tough going, but they're probably not the same TPI settings. To be honest every TPI I've ridden has felt as if its fuelled differently. So back to the XC and its carb only diet, it pulls from nothing and has no want for you to feather the clutch to stop its hiccups at low rpm's. The motor is very strong and if I'm honest, probably a bit to aggressive to be my cup of tea. The bike pulls well and smooth off the bottom until you get into the mid-range where it tears a hole through time. The old saying goes you only open the throttle as much as you want, which is true however you want to go quicker but hooking another gear is to slow on the wide ratio box and holding it open is too violent. The motor seems to be hard to modulate once you get into it's crazy power curve, it just wants to keep pulling like being out on a walk with a Great Dane on cocaine. The first time I rode this bike I felt that it handled well and the suspension didn't really put a foot wrong. It didn't dive through the stroke had a decent amount of initial give over the roots and loose rocks. Only when I stopped for a break was I told that it had air forks, after the horror stories I'd heard I thought they had a pretty good action. The bike turned well and held its line nicely, my only real gripe would be of the aggressiveness of the power from the mid-range on.
Well there may be a little bias here as I've always had a soft spot for the Gas Gas. However as much as I've loved to ride them it was always reliability that let the relationship down. Not that there'd ever be anything major go wrong with one I'd owned, there would just be the odd little niggle that would mean you couldn't put it in the shed from one week to the next without have to have at least a little tinker with it once. However looking at the bike now with it's new frame, KYB suspension, FMF Exhaust, Excel rims and being owned by an American company with a Director with a background in AeroSpace, I should hope these problems are now over. After first swinging my leg over the bike I instantly feel at home, like the Yamaha the Gas Gas is longer and taller than most and suits a larger rider. The power delivery is like that of watching Rodger Federa butter a piece of bread. Its unbelievable smooth and the grip is phenomenal. The bike I rode had nigh on racing slicks and although it was dry I couldn't believe how well the bike put the power down. It turned very well maybe not as sharply as the KTM's but certainly held its line better once set. The brakes were good, maybe not quite as sharp as the brembos but definitely close enough to them. Then there's the suspension, Gas Gas have made the right move and it seems as if others have noticed this such as Sherco who have now followed suit. The KYB suspension is without doubt the best stock suspension out there and with a bit of tuning and setting up will give you the performance of something like a six grand Trax/Cone Valve set up. It has the supple initial action and can also take the bigger hits. The KYB just seems to have a wider range of actions and progressiveness throughout its' stroke. All in all bang for your buck at just over seven grand new rrp its probably the best bike out there from the crate per pound sterling.
Well this is the first Sherco that I've ever ridden and after the amount of slagging off that people have done I wasn't holding out too much hope. All I can say is I'm not sure what one's like to live with but nobody can call this a bad bike to ride. The motor its blessed with is super strong for a 300 hundred four stroke, it also makes that power very nicely. The motor isn't vibey and feels very refined and smooth. The bike feels very narrow and light between the legs and the specs back that up with it weighing in at around the same weight as its 2 stroke cousins. The bike doesn't feel that much different to turn than the KTMs that I've ridden, very quick action and the ergos allow you to get up the front and point the wheel in where you want it. It does however feel more planted than the KTMs maybe not quite as much as the Gas Gas. The suspension on this bike was the WP and it had been tuned by Steve Plain so I can't really say what it was like standard but would hazard a guess that it would feel a bit like the Husqvarna enduro models. Overall I thought it was a very nice bike they are expensive but then you do get a lot of aftermarket expensive parts too. I definitely wouldn't turn one down based on how it rides and with them going to KYB I'd stick my neck out and say it'll be the best in its class (300/350 four strokes).
Big blue does need a diet from stock trim I won't lie. If your going to ride one as a trail bike just remove the silly 3kg number plate holder. If your taking it to enduros you may want to think about a new exhaust system and removal of the road bike display. The bike this review is based on was fitted with a full Akropovic system and the mapping to suit. First of all it has to be noted that there's an elephant in the room and jokes aside yes the WR is a bit heavy. Now for the weight that they specify it being you wouldn't think that its that much heavier than its competition whilst riding it and this must be because of the engine and weight configuration. As most know the fuel tank is in the centre along with the engines centre of gravity. This makes the big blue feel light when its dry and where front end grip is in abundance the problem comes when the going is slow and sloppy and where you have to physically hold the bike. That's when the weight becomes noticeable or when your moving it around off the stand or into the back of the van. But what a motor though, the grip that this thing gets for a big motocross based 450 is unequivocal. The way they've altered the power to suit enduro for the WR is also a masterclass, the bike doesn't feel as if its too much even though if you wanted to, you could make it haul with a sharp twist of the wrist. The motor is so easy to modulate and manage, it seems as if there's no real power curve, just power wherever you need it, but only if you want it. The grip must come from its thumping gravelly feeling motor too that seems to give the impression of an impact driver mechanically gripping into the terrain. The ergonomics of the bike do suit the bigger guys and the bike is considerably wider than most to allow for its air intake for the air filter that's behind the steering head. The air filter being up there means its brilliant at water crossings and doesn't collect the dust and muck around the back wheel area. The downside is you find yourself sitting a bit further back on the seat than you should be. A common thing that people say is that the front end feels a bit light and pushes on the Yamaha's, and although I agree I think that this maybe why? Here it comes again its suspension and a bike that has always done so well in this area is still doing so. The KYB suspension as said before is second to none, the WR has its own settings for the rear shock that work incredibly well. In conclusion the WR has one fine motor, handles decent has first class suspension but is just a tad fat. But nobody used to complain about Wayne Rooney when he was scoring goals.