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Long Term Relationship: 2014 KTM XC-W 250

Off the showroom floor the 2014 KTM XC-W 250 is an outstanding enduro bike It’s been about six months since our first review of the KTM XC-W 250, and in that time, my opinion of the XC-W has changed quite a bit.  It’s a classic case of the-more-I ride it, the more I like it.   I like it so much now that my KTM XC 250 hasn’t been started since November of 2013, and m

 ost of you know that I am a unabashed XC 250 fan-boy.  Why all the love for the XC-W?  A bunch of reasons. 

For starters I am riding the bike completely stock (save for the 51 rear sprocket) and have everything working well.  I have also been doing most of my training for my Red Bull Romaniacs on this bike as I will be riding a bone stock bike over there.  Everything I have thrown at this bike; big log crossings, steep hills, and the most technical and sloppy terrain I can find, has been handled with ease.   And with the yellow power valve spring inserted, the XC-W has such a smooth delivery of power that it makes lugging up those steep hills and riding through the gnarl and easy affair.  I’ve even grown to appreciate the lower first and second gear, which make crawling through the technical stuff even easier courtesy of less clutch work .  And with the red power valve spring installed, it has all the motor I need.    

Despite how much I like the motor, it’s the stock suspension that’s the real winner here.  I now have it working really well- better than some of the professionally revalved bikes I’ve had.     That wasn’t the case as recent as 2012 when the PDS shock was valved much (much) firmer than the forks.  Now both ends work as a cohesive unit.  The open cartridge forks

 are supple enough to absorb the rocks when crawling along yet offer enough resistance where I can carry decent speed.  The only time I get in trouble is when I hit logs and rocks at race pace causing the forks to blow through the travel.  I am also starting to once again appreciate the PDS over the linkage in the rocks. 

The 20 mm triple clamps offer decent flex and make the bike a quick turner.  We ran the forks flush in the triple clamps and then set the shock sag at about 115 mm.  This seems to the sweet spot for sharp cornering and keeping the front end working well in the rocks .    Aside from few adjustments we’ve mentioned, we’ve done nothing note worthy.  We did add a Enduro Engineering Spark Arrestor and skid plate.    

The only items that have been replaced are the rear brake pads and the clutch and brake levers that got broken off when looping out up some hills I shouldn’t have tried.  The truth is, I think 2014 is well on the way to being the year I return to the XC-W.  The only change I’ll make is having the forks valved a bit firmer for racing.