There still are more two-stroke fans around the world than you can poke a stick at so we sampled the wares of the four manufacturers still producing these bikes for the public, being KTM, Husqvarna, T
Comparo: 250cc Two Stroke MX
Joining me in the mounting yard was young gun 250cc two-stroke MX pilot Corey Lucas, ADB Tech Editor Mat Boyd and apprentice tester and full-time throttle twister Bailey Beehag. This was going to be a fun day in the saddle!
The stock motor was a big hit with all four riders. It had an abundance of horsepower right through the range. The KTM also had a nice, deep, throaty note to it. The jetting on the orange machine was spot on, with no lean or rich spots in the complete power range.
KTM has vastly improved the suspension and handling characteristics over the years. The 250 SX seems to be slightly more comfortable in the tight and twisting parts to a track rather than the rough, high-speed straights.
You sit right up on top of the bike and feel in complete control. The levers, ‘bars, footpegs and seat combine to create a very comfortable cockpit position for most riders. The rake can feel fairly steep in places which, as a general rule of thumb, will allow a bike to hold a very tight line in corners but sometimes not feel quite as stable railing around the outside!
The 2014 KTM 250SX is a very well rounded package to go racing with. The KTM is well suited to most people in the market for a 250cc two-stroke but, in particular, the slightly heavier rider who can really appreciate that extra horsepower and put it to good use. The KTM will excel in deep, sandy tracks but hold its own on the hard-pack surfaces.
The engine has no big hits that take you by surprise anywhere in the power curve and for the lighter riders out there it can really make life easy and help save energy. For the heavier riders you had to be in the right gear at the right time if you wanted the power to stay in the meaty part of the curve. If it could find a little more bottom-end power this would be an impressive engine for beginner to intermediate-level riders. The
jetting was spot on, which was not a given at such high elevation in the Blue Mountains.
A slightly firmer feel than the other bikes, both up front and rear, was a welcome feature for me on the jumpy Clarence circuit. The fork held up really well in all circumstances but was also quite plush on the braking bumps. The rear end I found would need a bit of attention to enable it to track nicely out of rough acceleration bumps. Some of the lighter riders did comment on the bike feeling quite rigid on most parts of the track.
Both the chassis and the ergos on this bike felt completely different to any of the other bikes. The front end felt very light and maneuverable over the jumps and this comes down to a combination of rake and frame geometry. High speed stability was slightly sacrificed for this reason but this was not massively noticeable. The cockpit was reasonably comfortable but the seat had a very flat and hard feel to it. One thing that was noticed by all of the riders was a small part of the engine housing that you can feel with your boot while riding.
The TM is a bike suited to a beginner through to intermediate-level rider who is on the lighter side. This type of rider will appreciate the smooth power characteristics but will still need to find a bit of extra bottom-end. Its strong point is its light, flickable feeling in the air and the fact that it already comes with some super trick, aftermarket products bolted on as stock.
The Husqvarna motor is supposed to be identical to the KTM except for the airboot. Both produce great power and have a nice note to them, but they are far from identical. The Husqvarna has a slightly smoother power curve, coming on equally as strong off the bottom but not quite having the same hit in the mid-range. Both bikes have a very similar top-end over-rev, while the note of the Husqvarna in stock trim is not quite as deep.
The gear on the Husqvarna worked extremely well for our lighter testers but was very much on the soft side for me and Mat Boyd. I played around quite a bit with the clickers but even being wound right the way in I still couldn’t get the bike to hold up on big hits. This bike seems to be set up for riders hovering around the low 60 to low 70kg mark.
Quite obviously, the bike felt very similar to a KTM. However the shape of the tank/sideplates/front fender did take quite a bit of getting used to. All of the chassis characteristics listed earlier for the KTM apply to the Husqvarna
The Husqvarna is a terrific bike that is a slightly smoothed out version of the KTM. The suspension has been set up for a lighter rider who may not be at pro level.
The Yamaha engine didn’t quite have the get up and go that the KTM did, nor the ultra-smooth power of the Husqvarna, but it did have an abundance of horsepower right through the mid-range and top-end In stock trim the jetting was a tad on the rich side right off the bottom but it was nothing that a tweak of the airscrew and one size leaner on the pilot jet couldn’t fix.
Stability and predictability are two words that come to mind with the Yamaha. While it didn’t quite stick an inside line as tight as the KTM or Husqvarna it made up for that with its high speed stability. The bike is set up well for a slightly heavier rider and I found that at no stage was I blowing through the stroke on the big G outs around the track.
Some of the riders felt that the Yamaha had a slightly dated feeling to the ergos. For me it almost felt like home – partly because I have raced YZ250s many times over the years and they still have a very similar feel and shape.
The blue machine is well suited to a wide range of riders. In stock trim it is absolutely perfect for that slightly heavier rider who hovers around the intermediate to expert range. With a few bolt-on parts here and there you can turn this bike into a pro-level race weapon or tame it down for a beginner clubman
Want to know which bike took line honours? Well you shoulda bought the August Issue of ADB (#419) to see which bike our testers preferred.