2023 KTM 250 SX-F Bike

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Is it really as bad as they say?
The Good
Good crack of throttle response
I can make 3rd gear work on a lot of the track
Chassis is more predictable
Body work easy to lock legs into
More open rider triangle
The Bad
Slightly more rigid feel
Air forks make me nervous on lean angle
Stock seat is hard
Rear shock is annoying to remove
Spokes can get loose (rim lock area)
Soft rims
White plastics not my thing
Overall Review:

My review on my 2023 KTM 250 SXF after 40hrs

I have had a lot of experience on the Austrian bikes.

A brief resume:

2014 250sx, 2017 250sxf, 2018 450sxf, 2020 fc450, 2022 mc250f, 2022 mc450f

I've always loved the power delivery, reliability, and ease of maintenance on their bikes. Per usual, I went into Mt. Baker Moto-sports in Bellingham, WA and walked out with a freshy 2023 KTM 250 SXF. After all the negative reviews of the rigid feel and hate for the new chassis I'll admit I was a little nervous.

Chassis: Stiffer or less mushy? A lot of complaints about the harsh feeling in the chassis from other people. I however, didn't notice that as much as I noticed how much more stable and predictable this bike was. I'd say the old frame was a mushy wet noodle and this one is precise like a knife. Sure the old frame will handle some of that small chop and chatter for you, but once your bike gets upset or you hit some big bumps you'll suddenly be seeing your side number plates. The 23 chassis seems to let me get away with really throwing the bike into some bumps or an awkward shaped rut. The 22 might barley edge out the 23 on flat, hard packed tracks with little bumps, but the 23 blows the 22 out of the water on track with big bumps and sharper deep ruts. For me the 23 chassis has less surprises, and allows me to charge into bigger bumps and obstacles without the "snap back" of a flexing frame.

Suspension wise there does seem to be some improvement in the air fork, and the rear seems to squat less under acceleration. Me being a bigger 250 rider (6'1" 185lbs) I struggled with the 22 squatting coming out of corners. My back paid for it with any acceleration chop and I'd find myself "G'ing out" if I had to sit into jumps out of corners. The 23 has much more hold up and seems to ride higher in the rear. I'm less nervous to lean this bike over while turning on acceleration on flat bumpy corners as well which could be do to this rear end or the new chassis set up. Air forks... I have tried many times over the years to get happy on these things. Mark Johnson at REP has amazing settings for air, but for the first time I did a spring conversion and wow. Going back and forth from spring to air and back I learned a lot. These stock air forks perform ok to start. Straight line doesn't seem to bother me and as long as you're in the stroke they do well. My biggest complaint is that initial crust of the air fork. Whether it's slap down landings, or heading into some sharp chatter before you've loaded the front end, it is just harsh. This could also be the cause for the lack of trust leaning the bike over. Drop in the springs and all these problems seem to go away or at the least improve. I do give props for the tunable by handle adjusters on the front and rear of the stock set up.

This engine is great, It's the reason I always go back to/stay with the Austrian brands. First and foremost dependability. I've put HOURS on these bikes and I've never had any motor or clutch issues. I've taken 250s to 50 hrs and the piston looked great. I have friends at a respectable pace that have put 100hrs on their 450 clutches as well. The bike is just made well. Power wise the 23s definitely improved the crack of the throttle. I personally would say there feels to be a tad less mid than previous years, but that could be from the fact the bottom has already picked up so much the mid doesn't feel as crazy as 22 and prior. I'm a guy that likes to try and make 3rd gear work in corners and I'm able to get away with that with the occasional love of that clutch. Shoot, when I get tired I'll keep this thing in 3rd dang near around a whole track. It is very long yet usable. The bike just pulls. I've never felt underpowered on the straights. Only thing I'd modify is a little more low rpm grunt, but 250s these days are just built to rev out. I never tried the quick shift or traction control. Map 1 is smooth and 2 has some more hit which I preferred.

The body of the bike has improved. Rider triangle is better in my opinion. I feel like I can lock into this bike better with my legs and squeeze the bike. The 22 made me feel like I was too far forward and for some reason I just had a hard time gripping the body of the bike. The 23 is more open and even the shrouds I feel allow me to swing my leg straight forward vs out. I typically throw a 30mm taller seat on my 22s and a tall seat on this 23 I feel like was almost too tall. The foot pegs are awesome, feel very planted and they never seem to get stuck up which is an underrated feature. I'd definitely grease the wheel bearings, linkage, steering stem, etc once you bring it home. Factory grease job was not great. The spokes still come loose especially by the rim lock. I use my Faast Company spoke torque wrench ever 2-3 motos just to check and have not had any issues. The rims are soft and cheap. I warped and dented mine quickly. Sadly the days of just rotating your air filter on the 22s for another ride is over. The new 23 air filters are not symetrical. KTM not allowing other companies to make plastics is lame. I hated the white look, but orange plastics were so back ordered I had to just roll with it. If you're going to isolate the production of an entire product to be in house maybe make sure the "house" can handle the demand smh.

Things I did that helped the bike

6500 WP spring conversion set up by Mark Johnson at REP - Much more comfort overall and trust front end traction in corners

ECU remap by Twisted Development - Gave me more of that bottom I was looking for and took away some engine braking

Final say? I love this bike and it's a big improvement in my eyes. A lot of hate could've came from riding on hard pack tracks with little chop, but I'd say this bike beats out the previous. Now if they'd just put some SPRING FORKS in this bad boy.


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KTM 250 SX-F Bike
Model Year
Engine Size
Engine Type
Engine Displacement
Bore x Stroke
81 mm x 48.5 mm
Compression Ratio
Fuel System
Keihin EFI, 44 mm throttle body
Keihin EMS; electric starter, 12.8V 2 Ah lithium-ion battery under seat
5-speed; wet multi-disc DS clutch with Brembo hydraulics
Final Drive
Chain, 520, non-sealed, 5/8 x 1/4"; 14:51
Suspension Front
WP XACT-USD, air spring, tool-free setup, split damping function, air pressure preload valve, compression adjust, rebound adjust, 48 mm diameter, 310 mm (12.2") travel
Suspension Rear
WP XACT Monoshock with linkage, coil spring, tool-free setup, high/low-speed compression adjust, 300 mm (11.81") travel
Brakes Front
Brembo disc, 260 mm lightweight wave rotor
Brakes Rear
Brembo disc, 220 mm lightweight wave rotor
Tires Front
Dunlop MX33, 80/100-21”
Tires Rear
Dunlop MX33, 110/90-19”
Overall Length
Overall Width
Overall Height
Seat Height
958 mm (37.7")
1493 mm ± 10 mm (58.7" ± 0.4")
Ground Clearance
343 mm (13.5")
Fuel Capacity
7.2 liters (1.9 gallons)
Curb Weight
101 kg (222.6 lbs) without fuel
• All-new generation model with new chassis and engine wrapped in new bodywork
• Redesigned engine is tilted 2° back, 8 mm shorter and features increased bore and compression for better mid-range performance
• New frame design with forged shock mount and reworked rigidity to better manage rider comfort
• New topology optimized subframe with hybrid polyamide and aluminum construction for improved durability
• New hollow, die-cast swingarm offers reduced unsprung weight and increased rigidity
• New Quickshifter function allows clutchless upshifts from 2nd to 5th gear
• Updated WP XACT fork with new settings and new hydrostop to improve bottoming resistance
• New, completely redesigned WP XACT rear shock has a lighter and shorter body and all new internals
• New topology optimized handlebar mounts increase grip surface for reduced bar twist
• Launch Control is easily engaged by pressing the traction control and Quickshifter buttons simultaneously and works by limiting the amount of power to the rear wheel, improving traction, and preventing loss of control under hard acceleration
• New air filter box designed with precisely positioned inlet ducts aimed at preventing air deformation and maintaining filter protection; Twin Air filter and air filter support design feature a simple fail-proof mounting system for safe and accurate filter installation, ensuring the air filter is easily accessed, without tools, by removing the left side panel, for easy track-side maintenance
• New map select switch changes engine character depending on track conditions and rider preference:
— Map 1 - linear, predictable power delivery
— Map 2 - crisp, explosive power output
— Traction Control is easily toggled to an on or off position from the same switch, ensuring maximum traction and a distinct advantage in wet or muddy conditions
• Cooling: liquid
• Engine type: single cylinder, 4-stroke
• Frame: central double-cradle-type 25CrMo4 steel, forged steering head connection, CNC-milled triple clamps
• Handlebar: Neken, aluminum, 28/22 mm diameter
• Hubs: CNC machined
• Lubrication: pressure lubrication with 2 oil pumps
• Overall engine weight: 57.5 lbs
• Primary ratio: 24:72
• Rims: Excel, 1.60 x 21” front, 2.15 x 19” rear
• Silencer: aluminum
• Sub frame: reinforced aluminum/Polyamide
• Triple clamp offset: 22 mm
• Includes fork air pump
What do you think?

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