by Charles Owens on 08/27/2013
The decision to add, of all things, a completely new two-stroke model to the brand new Freeride segment may seem strange Ė but only at first glance. And mostly to those who have not yet had the chance to enjoy the punch of a burly two-stroke within a light and agile off-road chassis. However, those who have had that pleasure know: Such an engine epitomizes the kind of response you want from a FREERIDE, because after all, the hot, burning gases hit the piston twice as often. This means that even KTMís two-stroke enduros, designed for maximum power, churn out gut-wrenching torque from the low rev range in an absolutely glorious manner. And as the FREERIDE 250 Rís engine, true to the Freeriding ideal, is designed not for maximum power, but for a pleasant torque response and optimum rideability, this is where the concept of enjoyable off-roading comes to full fruition.
With the FREERIDE 250 R frame, the KTM developers pulled all the stops to utilise the advantages of the more compact two-stroke engine to the fullest. As with the FREERIDE 350, the frame is a composite design made of top quality stainless steel sections and bolt-on forged aluminium components. Compared to the FREERIDE 350?s frame though, the engineers managed to raise the lower cradle by 60mm thanks to the two-stroke engine with the side exhaust. This ensures a lot more ground clearance Ė an advantage all the more beneficial the more difficult the terrain becomes, especially combined with the large amount of steering lock. In trial sections, the FREERIDE 250 R will beach itself even later.
Made of highly resilient polymer, the bolt-on rear subframe is distinguished by high dimensional stability, contributing significantly to the lightweight FREERIDE 250 R concept. Well protected from dirt, recessed grips integrated into the plastic subframe provide an effective hold should the rear wheel ever become stuck in the mud.
Developed specially for the FREERIDE models, the new 6-speed gear box has shorter gear ratios than that of the 250 EXC in the lower five gears, while the extra-tall sixth gear basically works as an overdrive. A short final gearing of 46:12 (FREERIDE 350: 48:12) ensures powerful traction especially in difficult terrain, as well as a holeshot acceleration.
The engineís excess heat is dissipated by a single-piece radiator integrated deeply behind the frame spars for protection. A fan with a newly developed thermostat ensures stable operating temperatures even at the slowest pace in the most difficult terrain.
The FREERIDE 250 R employs a brand new, low-noise exhaust system with an aluminium silencer and a sleek resonance chamber that contributes to the engineís great torque response. Compared to the FREERIDE 350?s downpipe routed below the engine, the KTM engineers managed to route the FREERIDE 250 Rís resonance chamber to the side of the engine and integrate it perfectly into the vehicle. Similar to the competition enduros, the two-stroke FREERIDE is homologated with a special power restriction kit and is even streetlegal on public roads in this version.
As a powerplant for the FREERIDE 250 R, the KTM engineers started out from the two-stroke engine of the competition enduro 250 EXC, developing it comprehensively further, lowering its weight by another two kilograms despite using an electric starter, and tuning it for optimum rideability. The FREERIDE 250 Rís engine has a brand new cylinder with ports and timings adjusted to the intended torque response, as well as a matching new piston. Similar to trials bikes, the 250 EXCís complex exhaust control valve is dropped, which benefits not only the response characteristics but also piston durability. This makes the engine even less complex and even more rugged.
Both the FREERIDE 250 R and the FREERIDE 350 use a new, undampened CSS clutch (coil spring steel) with a wear-free steel basket and a clutch package specially tuned to the FREERIDE models with seven plates on steel carriers in model year 2014. Not the least thanks to the newly developed plates and softer clutch springs, the new clutch is distinguished by enhanced separation, while a revised master cylinder by Formula ensures a consistently light and precise action.
The long, slender seat ensures unrestricted freedom of movement and a very good level of seating comfort. It can be tipped up easily via the intelligent seat locking system for easy access to the fuel tank filler, air filter and wiring. Compared to a competition enduro bike, seat height is moderate at only 915mm. Those who like to sit even lower find a reduced-height accessory seat in the KTM PowerParts range.
Like the new callipers, the brake and clutch levers and their master cylinders have sand blasted outer surfaces and black covers. Inside, they feature revised piston systems for an optimised lever feel and consistent brake and clutch action even under the heaviest duty.
The FREERIDE models of model year 2014 are the first to use a new, digital combination instrument made by Trail Tech with integral control lights. It is distinguished by a multitude of functions as well as an especially intuitive operation.
Due to the extremely slim seat and spoiler lines, the FREERIDE 250 R bodywork offers the rider unrestricted mobility and especially ergonomic contact patches. Most of the new R-Type graphics are directly integrated into the polymer parts as inmould graphics, a contemporary, very rugged and lightweight solution.
The air filter is located well protected and easily accessible at the rear of the fuel tank. A lot larger than that of the four-stroke version, the air filter cartridge is less susceptible to clogging due to its larger filtration area while providing a higher flow rate.
The Formula braking system is fully up to the demanding KTM spec and has been developed significantly further yet again for the latest generation. A revised piston system in the front master cylinder ensures a consistent action and even greater durability. The radial callipers with four pistons front and two pistons rear work perfectly with the lightweight wave brake discs (260/210mm), ensuring optimum braking performance combined with an outstanding brake feel. Matching the hand controls, the new callipers now also have sand blasted surfaces.
Weighing in at only 3.2kg, the cast aluminium swing arm has been designed to support the suspension system of frame and suspension components with a well-defined flexibility in the direction of swing. At the same time, it contributes significantly to the FREERIDE 250 Rís stability with its high torsional rigidity. The progressive rear PDS monoshock is linked directly to the swing arm.
Combined with top quality, CNC machined triple clamps, the beefy upside-down front forks by WP Suspension with 43mm down tubes ensure a great response and damping, as well as providing the FREERIDE 250 R with outstanding stability. Their stiffer basic set-up perfectly matches the re-tuned rear WP monoshock which receives a new, progressive spring. While preserving the excellent ride comfort, front and rear suspension of the FREERIDE 250 R are markedly well balanced and very well protected from bottoming out Ė an advantage especially in quicker sections in demanding terrain. Damping is separately adjustable for compression and rebound, while the monoshock even has separate low and high speed controls for the compression stage. For those who would like a still lower seat height than the FREERIDE 250 Rís comparatively low 915mm, the KTM PowerParts range offers a lowering kit, reducing suspension travel by 25mm.
Lightweight, extra wide, precision cast foot pegs ensure a safe contact to the bike and a secure stand. Thanks to their eccentric brackets, their position can be moved by 8mm to the rear simply by reversing them. Besides the ergonomic fine-tuning, this allows the rider to significantly influence the traction and cornering behaviour of the bike with a corresponding riding technique.
The FREERIDE 250 R rides on extremely lightweight newly developed laced wheels with anodized aluminium rims by GIANT, CNC machined hubs and aluminium spoke nipples. Derived from motorcycle trials, the Trial-Maxx tires in the dimensions 2.75-21 and 4.00-18 are also new and have been specially developed by Maxxis for the KTM FREERIDE. They are distinguished by a soft, high-traction rubber compound and a greatly increased void ratio, compared to pure trials tires. This increases the treadís self-cleaning in muddy terrain without the tires breaking up the ground too much. In addition, the new Maxxis tires noticeably increase the FREERIDE 250 Rís agility and last much longer than pure trials tires.
Made of light weight polythene, the engineers managed to increase the fuel tank volume to 7 litres thanks to the more compact twostroke engine. The tank is well protected between the upper frame sections beneath the seat, which is opened for refuelling. Thanks to the translucent polymer, the rider can see at a glance how much fuel is left.