First Look – 2014 KTM Freeride 250 R
Just one year after launching their radical Freeride, KTM have added another model to the Freeride range – the KTM Freeride 250 R.
Lining up alongside its 350 brother, Freeride fans now have the option of choosing a two-stroke or four-stroke model.
The decision to add, of all things, a completely new two-stroke model to the brand new Freeride segment may seem strange – but only at first glance. KTM have worked hard to develop a bike that is geared more towards extreme riding that just a ‘go anywhere’ trail bike.
The engine for the Freeride 250 R is based on the KTM 250 EXC. The Freeride 250 R’s 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 EXC’s 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.
The new cylinder head has a combustion chamber tailored to the Freeride 250 R and a compression ratio optimised to the new cylinder. Losing the power valve and kick starter, but with a matching intermediate clutch cover and a new water pump shaft with a lightweight polymer sprocket, the new crank case alone saves about 1kg of weight over the EXC engine. Still, this engine puts out significant power of more than 25hp in the unrestricted off-road tuning.
In all this, the advanced two-stroke engine makes do with lean fuel-oil mixture ratios that can be lowered down to 1:80, almost completely eliminating the typical two-stroke smoke. Fuel mixture is generated by a 28mm Keihin PWK flat slide carburettor. Besides the standard ignition timing, the CDI offers a softer ignition curve for even better traction on extremely slippery surfaces, which can be dialled in by opening a connector or using the optional map select switch.
Developed especially 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.
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. Seat height is 915mm.
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.
A brand new, low-noise exhaust system with an aluminium silencer and a sleek resonance chamber contribute to the engine’s great torque response. Compared to the Freeride 350’s downpipe routed below the engine, the KTM engineers managed to route the Freeride 250 R’s resonance chamber to the side of the engine and integrate it into the vehicle.
The seven-litre fuel 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.
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.
The KTM Freeride 250 R is available from mid-September priced at £5999.