Comparison test of 250 cc sports enduro bikes
Less is more? Maybe with the motorized forest run. The new 250cc sport enduros not only convince amateur pilots with their controllable power and amazing capabilities.
Stephane grins. Sascha makes big cheeks, takes a deep breath. The 28-year-old was visibly impressed by the area in the French Auvergne. Sascha Eckert is used to a lot. Three-time German Enduro champion, ninth place in the World Championship in 2000 and test pilot for BMW’s current ambitious off-road projects, you won’t get away with drinking mint tea. By the way, neither enduro guest tester for MOTORRAD. Stephane Colas, who works for Enduro Magazine, a French sister paper of MOTORRAD, grew up in this area. He knows every climb, every gorge? and all residents who could be bothered by his two-wheeled earthworks.
Great prerequisites, because to challenge the current 250cc four-stroke enduros, you need very demanding terrain. While the smallest displacement class in enduro sport was until recently a playground for nervous youngsters on even more nervous 125cc two-stroke engines, the 250cc four-stroke engines, which are now also eligible to compete in this class, are focusing on the league. With their comparatively easy-to-dose performance and good controllability, quarter-liter four-stroke machines stress the staff far less than the two-stroke engines or the popular, powerful 450-cc four-stroke bikes.
Because the prospects are indeed positive, the manufacturers are also working hard. Husqvarna is the most reluctant to work. On the TE 250, whose dohc engine went into service three years ago
started, only the red and white color scheme testifies to the new model year. While KTM is going all out with the 250 EXC-F this season. The ultra-modern dohc four-stroke engine, which was successfully used in motocross last year, replaces the ohc unit, which is barely competitive. Modified camshafts, a quieter exhaust system and a wider six-speed gearbox adapt the Crosser to enduro needs. For safety there is ?? in contrast to the cross model? a kick starter in addition to the electric starter.
With a similar concept dedicated to Yamaha the enduro rider. The aluminum frame introduced in the 2006 season for the motocross edition of the 250 series now also adorns the WR models. Whereby the Yamsel also makes itself elaborately fit for the undergrowth with an electric starter, tamer control times, an intensely dampened exhaust system, modified gear ratios and the customary 18-inch rear wheel. It is understandable that with this commitment the air is getting thin for the rest of the manufacturers. Neither Beta, Gas Gas, HM-Honda, Sherco nor TM Racing wanted to face the confrontation with the established trio.
Back to the subject of undergrowth, the day is still young. Start, go into gear, open the bush, close the bush, nature has the enduros back. Stony paths end in creek beds, earthy driveways are furrowed by deep grooves. It goes without saying that enduro machines need their own set-up. On the scree paths, what counts is a gentle response of the spring elements, a precisely controlled motor is required, traction dominates over sheer power and feeling over riot.
Character traits that the Husqvarna was born with. The Italian climbs up the slopes like a tractor, still finding grip even on wet stones. No engine makes it so easy to bridge the latent discrepancy in enduro sports between maximum propulsion and marginal grip. As brawny as the engine looks outwardly compared to the petite competition, it uses its flywheel masses to shine under these conditions. No other in the test field allows you to rumble so relaxed over the most adverse terrain, especially at low and medium speeds. Whereby the suspension tuning also contributes its part to the successful whole. Both the Marzocchi’s up-side-down fork and the Husky’s Sachs shock absorber act delicately soft, and the wheels literally stick to the ground in the narrow track.
The Yamaha set-up is clearly in the same direction. In terms of suspension, even more comfortable than the Husqvarna, the WR floats through a little more controllable
Trial passages. Especially since the well-coordinated damping of the Kayaba fork is particularly impressive, which is superior to the fine, appealing, but ultimately marginally weakly damped Marzocchi. The downside of the soft overall set-up: With a good two centimeters less ground clearance, the Yamaha scrapes more than any other with its plastic engine protection over boulders.
Which is partly due to their engine. It is not easy for the unit, which looks a little tired at lower speeds, to lift the front wheel over obstacles with a brief throttle. One of the reasons why the blue conveys the typical Yamaha, somewhat front-wheel-heavy, but easily controllable driving experience. The Japanese fall well below the permitted noise limit, so to save the honor of the WR it should be noted: A retrofit silencer legal in enduro sport (see box on page 76) works wonders in this regard. Just like the prospect of less baggage, by the way. With full-fledged instruments, elaborate lighting, an expansion tank for cooling water or an antiquated mechanical speedometer drive, the WR burdens many unnecessary pounds or avoidable reasons for failure.
A topic that is not a topic for KTM. Or is it? Because the rich punch with which the Austrian is unmatched on cross-heavy terrain makes it difficult to control on enduresque terrain. Every turn of the throttle needs to be considered and well dosed. Otherwise the EXC-F will quickly muck on with the rear wheel flapping across or the front rising. That
we understand each other correctly: The small KTM comes into the area of the often borderline controllability of the 450cc four-stroke
of course not, but there is a striking difference to the good-natured duo Husky and Yamaha. Which also applies to the suspension setup. With a comparatively tight suspension, neither the directly hinged strut nor the upside-down fork swallow? both manufactured by the Group’s own Dutch supplier WP Suspension ?? the small stuff. The fork in particular lacks sensitive responsiveness.
But Enduro is not just about motorized trekking. What decides in the competition are fractions of a second? namely on the special stage. KTM feels in its element there. The unbelievably straightforward single-cylinder, which rotates up to 13,400 tours, the firm suspension, the excellent front brake, the smooth-running fittings and, above all, the impressive weight advantage of six or eight kilograms add up to the top quality corner wetter. The
Feather-light handling has to be paid for with a good dose of self-will and nervousness. Ultimately the reason why the KTM was unable to break away in the cross test (see times on page 78) despite these qualities.
What the Husqvarna driver thoroughly enjoys. If the power of the TE unit feels subjectively much tighter and apart from the lower revving? at 12500 rpm is the end? the enduro doesn’t have to hide from Lake Vares in Italy. Stephane and the Italian milled by far the fastest time in the meadow on a local motocross track requisitioned as a special test. Both the suspension, which tends to be too soft for cross rides, as well as the somewhat sluggish handling cannot slow down the French. On the contrary, with the TE, not only Stephane Colas, but also Sascha Eckert is clearly the most relaxed chasing after the best times.
Whereby even the Yamaha doesnt spoil itself. Despite the aforementioned clogged-looking engine, the Japanese does well in the extreme hunt, indicating her potential once again. Especially since the razor-sharp handling, the smooth-running engine and the successful tuning of the fork are convincing on a motocross excursion. Nevertheless: The shock absorber is tuned too soft, the front brake feels doughy.
And nowhere else does a successful, homogeneous whole count so much more than top values in individual ratings as in enduro sport. Stephane and Sascha know that ?? and so do the Husqvarna technicians, obviously.
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Comparison test of 250 cc sports enduro bikes
1st place: Husqvarna TE 250
Husqvarna TE 250 The TE proves that a homogeneous overall concept stands out, especially in enduro sports. Beefy engine characteristics, calm handling and practical suspension are convincing.
2nd place: KTM 250 EXC-F
KTM 250 EXC-F The KTM is aggressive and ultra-handy, more a crosser than an enduro. The explosive bike needs experienced pilots – and a fork that is more sensitive.
3rd place: Yamaha WR 250 F
Yamaha WR 250 F What if? The series exhaust blocks the WR’s path to success. Because the good chassis setup, the great handling and the fine workmanship could bring the blue to the fore.
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