ktm freeride 250f test review enduro21 1200

Photo Credit: Chippy Wood

KTM’s fun Freeride model gets a mini EXC make-over with WP Xplor suspension, de-tuned 250 F engine and a new look...

Has KTM’s Freeride really been around for over half a decade? As the younger kid in the KTM off road range, it was always conceived to be novice-friendly, easy to live with and definitely fun for every man and woman.

The design remit for the 2018 Freeride (now simplified to just two models: the 250 F and E-XC electric) was clear.

KTM wanted to keep that novice-friendly appeal while reaching out to riders with more experience who want a fun trail bike that can hit a jump or go log-hopping in equal measure.

There’s a strong EXC influence to the new Freeride, which is making a difference. 

By simply bolting on the EXC headlight and cowl, handguards and front fender it gives the Freeride a more purposeful look. 

 

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Photo Credit: Chippy Wood

Handling its strengths

The main upgrade to the 2018 model becomes clear almost as soon as we started riding at the UK-based launch at KTM’s Enduro Experience School (adysmith.co.uk)

Handed down and softened slightly from the EXC range, the WP Xplor forks and shock make a real difference in improving the Freeride’s performance and handling over a wider mixture of terrain. 

I’m 180cm tall and the new suspension helps the 250 F sit taller and therefore fits me better too. 

The Freeride chassis is still deliberately soft by comparison to an EXC, but not as soft as the previous Freeride set-up. 

You can still tie it in knots if you ask too much from the chassis. 

But really it doesn’t set out to be master of any one trade except the obvious one — to make riding on the dirt an easier game to play. 

The steel trellis frame has the same dimensions as previous models, so it’s nothing more than a beefed-up headstock in tandem with the Xplor kit that helps the Freeride handle better. 

Overall the Xplor suspension amounts to the biggest real change to the 2018 Freeride and in that respect gets a big thumbs up from us.

 

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Photo Credit: Chippy Wood

250 thumper

The new 250F engine — a hand-me-down version of the 250 EXC-F — delivers docile and very linear power. 

It’s free-revving enough to handle a wide range of riding and noticeably coped well with the tough muddy hills on our test. 

The exhaust header pipe routes neatly downwards before splitting in two under the engine and then connecting up into two very quiet and trail-friendly tail pipes.

All told, the design makes this new model an incredibly respectful bike to ride on tracks and trails you might share with walkers, horse riders and mountain bikers. 

We had a few EXC enduro bikes buzzing about during our test and in comparison the Freeride is unquestionably quieter.

 

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Photo Credit: Chippy Wood
 

The DOHC, four-stroke engine is a restricted version of the 250 F you’ll find on the EXC model.

Its aim is to be accessible to learner riders on the road, Euro4 compliant and docile.  

A KTM Power Parts map switch is available to increase power from a stock 20.5HP and 18Nm (torque) to 26HP and 22.1Nm. 

That aftermarket map switch would perk the bike up and help more experienced riders enjoy the ride better. 

Fundamentally, the Freeride is still the novice-friendly bike it should be. 

Its low seat height (915mm), light weight (98.5kg), short wheel base (1418mm) plus precise and light controls means if you’re not so confident riding, then this bike is for you. 

Can-do attitude

Overall, the 2018 Freeride 250 F has become a much more of a ‘can do’ bike. 

Of course, don’t expect too much if you’re used to a ‘grown-up’ enduro bike because you might be disappointed. But treat it less seriously and the Freeride is a joy.

It’s become a bike that’s as eager to blast across a mountain top and hit a rock step as it is tackle a motocross track. 

Yes, for 2018 the Freeride has grown up.

 

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First Look: 2018 KTM Freeride 250 F

 

 

jon.pearson enduro21 april 2017

Jon Pearson
Enduro21 tester of things