…err, orange. With a bit of black and white on it.
KTM come in for a bit of stick on the ‘net and motorcycle forums are full of people commenting on how they knew a man who once had a mate who knew a bloke who heard rumours about a guy who once had a problem with a KTM. Or a Honda, or a Kawasaki or a Ducati yada, yada, yada. Personally I prefer to take as I find and you only have to look at KTM’s impressive competition history to appreciate the Austrian company know a thing or two about dirt bikes and what makes them tick.
KTM stroker in the ’76 ISDT. Lovely things, those early KTMs.
So, what’s with the KTM thing then?
Well, as you know I’ve been riding an Ossa Explorer for the past six months and whilst it’s performance has been impressive I’m wondering if a slightly less trials biased machine might fit the bill better for me. Although my riding is more trials stylee than enduro I have to confess that on some of the faster AdventureRide trails I’d like to sit down a bit more, maybe it’s an age thing. The ultra short wheel base of the Explorer is always going to make for a choppy ride on the faster tracks and a longer wheelbase machine could be the answer. Quite often I’m up on the pegs whilst the customers are sat down luxuriating in the spongy expanse of seat foam and plush suspension fitted to the Pamperas. Enter the KTM Freeride.
I’d looked at a Freeride when I was in the market for an Explorer but I must confess the seat height put me off. I’m one of those unfortunate people whose waist measurement exceeds their inside leg dimension. It’s not a good look. I’d tried sitting on a 350 Freeride [the four stroke version] at a bike show in Birmingham and could hardly get my feet on the ground. That, and the small fuel tank persuaded me to look elsewhere. However, older, wiser men had advised me KTM’s 250 stroker version could be the way to go. With a dry weight of around 92kg the 250 was certainly in the ballpark of where I want to be with my own bike. OK it’s nowhere near to Ossa’s class leading 74kg Explorer but regular readers of this blog will know that all that glisters is not necessarily gold. I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion 90 odd kg is probably as more realistic aspiration for a tough reliable trail bike and that, plus KTM’s long experience of making effective and reliable two strokes should make the 250 Freeride a desirable package.
No doubt about it, it’s a Duesie…
A quick trawl of the web revealed the 250 had suffered from starter motor problems since it’s launch. Interestingly however , this was just about the only problem which came up on repeated searches and many owners were gushing in their praise for KTM’s interpretation of the hybrid trials /trail / enduro bike concept. Knowing the 2015 models will soon be hitting the showroom I decided to go and have a chat to a KTM dealer and get the lowdown .
There are three KTM dealers in the vicinity of AdventureRide, the closest being Colwyn Bay Motorcycles. Colwyn Bay MC have been around donkeys years and are one of those rare motorcycle dealers who regularly attract very positive reviews from their customers. No really, they do. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. I’ve got a couple of buddies who have bought stuff off them over the years and they have both given very positive feedback. If you knew the blokes I’m talking about you’d understand that this was praise indeed . Especially if the term high-maintenance , fussy OCD bastards mean anything to you. Consequently I dropped Colwyn Bay MC a line last Sunday afternoon asking if they had a 250 Freeride I could cock a leg over. I was surprised, nay astonished to get an email back no more than 15 minutes later saying yes they had. A follow up email received another rapid reply and a day later I was on my way to North Wales.
Upon arrival, Colwyn Bay MC looks like a proper dealership. A nicely stocked showroom backed up by an impressively clean and efficient looking workshop speaks volumes. After a quick introduction I was encouraged to take a 250 Freeride for a gentle pootle around some land at the rear of the premises and left to my own devices. What a refreshing attitude. A quick test ride was enough to tell me the Freeride feels right. Not only that but despite the quoted seat height of 915mm compared to the Ossa’s 840mm I could get both feet firmly on the ground. Must be the squishy suspension. It’s also light, nimble and beautifully screwed together . It started on the button everytime and ticked over with a mellow, purposeful growl from the exhaust but muted enough not to cause offence. Nice.
Tyedee… as they say in North Wales
Ian , the sales manager, obviously knew his stuff and dealt with my concerns about the well publicised starting issues in a straightforward , no nonsense manner. “The problems were down to the Bendix on the starter motor, it was a concern initially but once KTM got to grips with it we retro-modified the bikes which were affected and the latest models are equipped with the upgraded unit.” Fair enough.
I’ve was involved with vehicle manufacture and design for many years and I’m aware that you can’t get everything right first time. The important thing is to acknowledge the problems quickly and come up with a solution. To be honest, given KTM’s reputation, I’d have been surprised if they hadn’t solved the issue. They’re a big company nowadays with a reputation to protect. A quick ride around the block has convinced me a Freeride could well be the next company acquisition. I like the Freeride and I like Colwyn Bay Motorcycles. Watch this space, as they say.
Skips? Parked cars? washing on the line? If I submitted a pic like this to Classic Bike they’d crucify me.