Ranking The Best KTM Dirt Bikes Money Can Buy – HotCars
Aside from being the biggest motorcycle manufacturer in Europe, KTM is synonymous with extreme dirt bikes.
If you’re looking for a proper dirt bike, KTM is the most likely brand everyone in the industry will recommend to you. And here’s the plain reason why – their line of dirt bikes are the most hardcore, powerful, and passionately made bikes money can buy.
That reputation in the market is attested to by the tremendous success the company has had in the past few decades. Currently, KTM is the biggest motorcycle manufacturer in Europe. Their bikes have won championships in deserts, mountains, and mud, and that the company has decided to venture into road bikes—a segment where they are now performing quite well. They’ve even crossed the border into the four-wheel territory, manufacturing the menacing KTM X-Bow sports car.
But what’s the secret sauce to their bikes? It’s the two-stroke motor that’s wrapped inside the frame. Despite other big manufacturers abandoning this powerful engine, KTM has put in the money and time to develop more powerful and lesser-emitting two strokes that make their dirt bikes unique. And even if that’s not what’s under the frame for all these 10 dirt bikes listed below, you’ll be getting the best the Austrian firm has to offer.
The legendary KTM 250 SX has a great reputation in the industry because of two things. Firstly, it packs a wild two-stroke engine. Secondly, it’s one of the lightest and smallest KTM dirt bikes you can get on the market.
The combination of those two qualities gives the 250 SX an unmatched power to weight ratio. The tough yet lightweight chassis allows riders to tackle any rough terrain that can be thrown at them. The bike runs on KTM’s WP suspension with the two-wheeler also getting simple riding ergonomics and hardy brakes.
Any KTM dirt bike with the XC tag on it means it’s meant for cross-country. Add the W to it, and you’re looking at a bike with a wide-ratio transmission. What that means is that the six-speed gearbox put under this bike is designed to extract the most out of its 150cc two-stroke engine. The gear ratios are thus in perfect sync with the engine’s power band.
That’s the reason why 150cc feels too much in the KTM 150 XC-W. This trail bike can go toe-to-toe with a 250 four-stroke while remaining as light as a 125. It’s an ideal bike for beginners who feel a 125 might be too small for their first spin, while also serving amateurs who’re just graduating to the bigger boys.
The KTM 450 EXC-F Six Days is named after the International Six Days Enduro (ISDE). Taking that legendary name means that the bike has to be legendary itself. And it is.
Being a KTM endure cross country motorcycle, the EXC-F comes loaded with all the necessary road-legal features that won’t have you pulled over while packing a fierce 450cc four-stroke motor that can tackle any form of terrain thrown at it. Since this bike is built for competition, everything is top-class ranging from the adjustable WP “Xplor” suspension to the lightweight, high-quality, chrome-molybdenum steel central-tube frame.
The KTM 690 Enduro R might not be the most favorite bike to diehard dirt bikers. Some see this dual-bike delinquent as being bigger than your traditional bike, not a conventional dirt bike, and is tailored to cope solely with on-road action thrown at it. But that’s not entirely true.
The KTM 690 Enduro R is one of the most versatile KTM dirt bikes you can buy. It not being a typical dirt bike is the reason why it attracts buyers. Wrapped in the frame is a 690cc single-cylinder engine with 67 hp of grunt. That is fast enough for road riding, with the bike being light enough to make for a nimble off-roader.
This is the gasoline alternative to the electrically powered KTM Freeride E-XC. No model was launched for 2018, though plenty of 2017 examples can be found in the used motorcycle market.
The Freeride 250 R is powered by a 250cc two-stroke motor. Yes, it isn’t as powerful as other 250s you can get from KTM, but it’s got enough torque and power to get the job done. That makes it an ideal choice for those who are venturing into dirt biking. It’s also loaded with a supple suspension and a responsive gearbox.
This is one of two electric KTM dirt bikes that are to be sold in the US. The Freeride E-XC is already in the market, with the X-SX following it closely. The E-XC is thus the first electric KTM dirt bike to hit the US shores.
The performance is nothing short of KTM. The E-XC brags a powerful motor, fast charging times, and most importantly, an emissions-free riding experience. The wheels are turned by a permanent magnet synchronous electric motor that produces 21.5 hp and 31 lb-ft instantaneous torque. Just like every other vehicle electric, the E-XC comes with one gear, which might be a hard sell to traditional dirt bikers.
Sometimes to go faster, you don’t have to go bigger. And the KTM 250 EXC-F is a true testament to this. Built as an enduro cross-country motorcycle, this road-legal beast packs a ton of goodies in a very small package. The bike is built around a state-of-the-art chassis that’s blessed with a compact, class-leading, light engine. That allows it to deliver excellent power and torque, right when you need it.
The engine adds only 60lbs to the entire curb weight. The clever frame geometry, coupled with the light engine, gives the bike a great center of gravity that boosts the confidence of the rider.
The KTM 300 XC-W Six Days is part of KTM’s cool Six Days lineup of dirt bikes. However, this one comes as a two-stroke. Other than that, compared to its close cousin that runs a four-stroke, nothing else is fundamentally different.
However, the 300 XC-W stands out more like a thoroughbred dirt bike with excellent performance across all terrains. That is attributed greatly to the two-stroke motor that has been optimized not only for raw performance but also for better weight distribution and less engine vibration thanks to a new balancer shaft.
This humble bike sits fondly at the top of most KTM owners. That’s because, for most people who’ve gotten into dirt biking, the humble 125 SX is what got them started and produced champions in them.
Yet, the 125 SX is not the most powerful KTM model out there. It’s even not as technologically advanced as most offerings. What works well for it is its simplicity, effectiveness, and petite size. But as far as 125ccs go, the 125 SX is the most powerful 125cc two-stroke KTM you can lay your hands on. It gets an even bigger advantage thanks to its impressive power-to-weight ratio.
This is not a road-legal KTM bike. The 450 SX-F Factory Edition is a proper race bike. The SX in its name stands for Super Cross, meaning only hardcore off-road riders can get the most out of it. That explains why it is a championship-winning bike.
The magic is made possible by the potent 450cc power unit wrapped in a lightweight and slim chassis. That four-stroke single overhead cam engine delivers a ton of power but in a rather controllable way. To make it even sportier, KTM added a floating front brake disc, billet parts, and a factory-installed holeshot device.
Charles Bravins is a car aficionado who loves anything on four wheels and a big engine (of course). He loves the petrolhead, cultural, Top Gear, The Grand Tour, and most recently farming thanks to Clarkson