10 Of The Best KTM Dirt Bikes You Can Buy Right Now
KTM Dirt Bikes Are Widely Considered To Be The Best In The World – But Which One Should You Buy?
Updated August 25, 2018
Over the last twenty years, KTM dirt bikes have consistently set the industry standard, and their motorcycles have been praised and lauded by pretty much anyone who has ever taken one for a ride. While KTM’s road line-up is worthy of a list in its own right, we’re here to talk about KTM dirt bikes – the championship-winning two-wheeled machines that have taken riders to victory across deserts, through jungles, on top of mountains, and over unbelievable jumps. In the dirt bike industry, KTM are a very difficult brand to beat. And it’s not hard to see why.
In more recent years, KTM have managed to earn the title as the fastest growing motorcycle manufacturer globally, and the largest motorcycle manufacturer in Europe. KTM dirt bikes are known the world over, but thanks to the firm’s success the Austrian company have developed some sensational road bikes, and have even taken an unprecedentedly bold move by entering in the MotoGP. If that wasn’t enough, the company are also manufacturing their own brand of sports cars in the form of the X-Bow. But the firm wouldn’t be where they are today without the success of their own KTM dirt bikes.
One thing that separates KTM from the competition is the fact that they’re incredibly passionate about the dirt bike scene and have continually produced two-stroke dirt bikes while other manufacturers have turned their backs on the humble two-stroke engine. Other manufacturers like Honda and Kawasaki have pretty much abandoned the raw power of two-stroke motors in favor of cleaner but less powerful four-stroke engines thanks to emissions rulings and development costs. KTM, on the other hand, manufacture both but have put the hours and money into developing a new generation of two-stroke engines that pass strict emissions rules without sacrificing power.
To do this, KTM have come up with a revolutionary direct fuel injection two-stroke engine that pressure injects an electronically controlled amount of fuel into the cylinder’s transfer port – allowing for a cleaner burning and more fuel efficient engine. And it’s little things like this that make KTM dirt bikes the best in the world. But what model do you choose? Many KTM dirt bikes are given cryptic names that make it hard for the newbie to decipher. Here, we’re going to take a look at some of the best KTM dirt bikes currently on the market, and a few of their gems that you can find second hand too. Shall we take a look?
The Best KTM Dirt Bikes Currently On The Market
#10. The KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
This is not a road-legal KTM dirt bike, in case you were wondering. This is the KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition, and it’s a proper race bike. The SX designation refers to “Super Cross” and it is designed for hardcore off-road riders. It’s a championship winning bike, if you were in any doubt. It’s a successful competition bike thanks to its powerful 450cc four-stroke, single overhead camshaft engine that delivers massive power but in a controllable way. With the powerful engine wrapped in a slim, lightweight chassis, you’re looking at a lot of power in a little package. To make things even sportier, KTM also added billet parts, a floating front brake disc, and a factory installed holeshot device. As you can see, it’s no wonder that this very model was responsible for no less than three consecutive AMA Supercross Championship wins…making it one of the most formidable KTM dirt bikes ever made. It’s not for a beginner though, and with an MSRP of $10,599 it should deter those who don’t know what they’re doing.
#09. The KTM 250 SX
If you like the sound of the 450 SX-F but want something with a two-stroke engine that’s big on power but smaller in size then you should consider the legendary 250 SX, one of the most popular KTM dirt bikes available. Offering an outstanding power to weight ratio, this little two-stroke offers bucket loads of power in a tough but lightweight chassis that allows riders of all skill levels to traverse rough conditions without breaking a sweat. Combined with KTM’s own WP suspension, hardy brakes, and simple riding ergonomics the KTM 250 SX is a great bike for those who want class leading performance but also want something manageable. Ideally, this would be a dirt bike that we’d recommend to those of intermediate to experienced skill levels rather than for beginners, but if you think you’ve got what it takes to put the 250 SX through its paces, who are we to stop you? You’ll have fun either way. And for an MSRP of $7,899, you get a lot of bike for your buck. It’s not road legal though – just a reminder!
#08. The KTM 450 EXC-F Six Days
Named the “Six Days” after the legendary International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) you can be sure that the 450 EXC-F is one of the best KTM dirt bikes out there. As an enduro cross country (EXC) motorcycle, it comes with all of the necessary road legal accoutrements to keep you on the right side of the law, but also comes with some fierce 450cc four-stroke grunt to help you tackle any terrain that’s thrown at you. Since this particular model has been built as a competition-class motorcycle, everything is top of the range, from the adjustable WP “Xplor” suspension to the high-quality, lightweight chrome-molybdenum steel central-tube frame. According to KTM, the “KTM 450 EXC-F SIX DAYS is the strongest, most competitive dual-sport in its class,” and that’s probably true. It’s lightweight, it’s powerful, it boasts some of the best riding ergonomics in the segment, and has a strikingly cool look. All that with an MSRP of $11,699 – you can bet that this one isn’t for beginners.
#07. The KTM 300 XC-W Six Days
Like the four-stroke version above, this cool 300 is part of the KTM Six Days dirt bike line up, but this one comes in two-stroke flavor. There aren’t too many differences between the two machines save for the very different engines that they both wear. The KTM 300 XC-W Six Days is a thoroughbred dirt bike, and as such it performs excellently in all kinds of terrain, this is down to the bike’s incredible two-stroke engine which has been optimized for better weight distribution, boasts a twin-valve controlled power-valve and less engine vibration thanks to a new balancer shaft. The engine itself is mated to a six speed transmission operated by a hydraulic DDS clutch. Overall, the little two-stroke engine is the pinnacle of modern two-stroke technology, offering outstanding power and torque, in a low maintenance and reliable package. This kind of performance doesn’t come cheap though, and is only marginally cheaper than its bigger four-stroke brother, with an MSRP of $10,199. But is a two-stroke though, and that’s what makes it awesome.
#06. The KTM Freeride E-XC
This is one of two electric KTM dirt bikes that are planned to come to the USA. The Freeride E-XC is already here, and we’re expecting the X-SX to come in the near future so for now we’re going to focus on the former: the Freeride E-XC. This is KTM’s first electric motorcycle to hit the USA, and it boasts a powerful output, fast charging times, and an emissions-free riding experience. Powered by a permanent magnet synchronous electric motor that’s capable of producing 21.5 hp and 31 lb-ft of torque, the Freeride packs some interesting performance. Coming with only one gear though, it might be a hard sell to traditionalist off-roaders, but clutch or no clutch, it’s definitely worth taking for a test. In terms of batter life, the Freeride E-XC is powered by a removable and swappable 260V, 2.6 kWh lithium ion battery pack that can charge to a genuine full-charge in 80 minutes – however, the actual riding time you get per charge is probably only around an hour if you’re giving it some. That being said, short sessions with charging breaks sounds quite appealing. If you’re interesting in electric KTM dirt bikes, then check this one out. With a retail price of $8,299 it’s on the expensive side, but it’s definitely worth your interest.
#05. The KTM Freeride 250 R
If electric isn’t your thing, then you can always opt for the gasoline powered alternative to the Freeride E-XC, the Freeride 250 R. This model didn’t make the 2018 cut, but you can still find 2017 models all over the place. Powered with a cool two-stroke 250cc single cylinder engine, this 250 isn’t a powerful as other 250s in the KTM dirt bikes stable, but it’s got enough power and torque to get the job done – which makes it an ideal choice for those getting into dirt biking. It feels a lot like a real trials bike to ride, and it really can handle whatever you throw at it. If you’re looking for a KTM that’s small and lightweight, with a torquey motor, plush suspensions and a gearbox that features bolt action reliability that can get you scrambling up dry riverbeds and over tough terrain, then the Freeride 250 R is should be your ideal weapon of choice. Since there’s no 2018 model, the 2017 MSRP was $7,999 – although if you’re willing to search for an older model, you can get that price down to a far more wallet friendly price.
#04. The KTM 690 Enduro R
A couple of diehard dirt bikers might object to the inclusion of this dual-sport delinquent: the KTM 690 Enduro R. It’s bigger than your traditional dirt bike, it’s tailored to cope with plenty of on-road action, and it’s not really a conventional dirt bike, are arguments you might hear, but we disagree. You see, the 690 Enduro R is easily the most versatile of the KTM dirt bikes line-up, and it’s precisely because it’s not a typical dirt bike that makes it an attractive purchase. Equipped with a compact 690cc single cylinder engine that’s good for 67 hp, which is more than enough for fast road riding but light enough to make it a nimble off-roader, the Enduro R can handle asphalt and gravel in equal measure. In terms of the chassis, it’s a typical enduro machine with a sports-focused riding position but with enough of a seat for actual sit-down riding. And because it’s also a road-oriented motorcycle, KTM offer the 690 Enduro R with ABS. Sharp, cool, and incredibly versatile, it’s one of the best KTM dirt bikes out there that offers real world practicality. The price? It comes with an MSRP of $10,899.
#03. The KTM 250 EXC-F
Bigger isn’t always better, and the KTM 250 EXC-F is the perfect example of this. As an enduro cross country motorcycle, this road legal machine proves that good things come in small packages. Thanks to a state-of-the-art chassis twinned with a light and compact class-leading engine, the 250 EXC-F offers excellent power and torque exactly where you need it. The engine itself is a very svelte unit weighing in at a paltry 60 lbs, and thanks to the lightweight engine and clever frame geometry, the bike has a great center of gravity that will help boost the confidence of riders of all abilities. In fact, we score this one higher than other KTM dirt bikes because it’s such a well-rounded motorcycle that will suit amateurs and pros alike, and makes no compromises in the process. KTM give the 250 EXC-F an appropriate MSRP of $9,599.
#02. The KTM 150 XC-W
Talking about KTM dirt bikes, we already know what the XC stands for: cross country, but what about the “W” at the end? For the KTM 150 XC-W is stands for wide-ratio transmission which essentially means that the six-speed gearbox was built to make the absolute most of this little 150cc two-stroke engine, with gear ratios that are perfectly synchronized with the bike’s power band for ultimate performance. And you’re going to get superb performance out of this little number, because it’s a motorcycle that has been specifically designed for closed-course enduro racing. Road legal it isn’t! However, if you want a KTM trail bike that can go toe to toe with a 250 four-stroke but remain as light and nimble as a 125 then this 150 arrangement is the perfect compromise. It’s an ideal dirt bike for beginners who are worried that a 125 might not have enough grunt to haul them around, or for riders ready to graduate to the next size up. KTM list the 150 XC-W with an MSRP of $8,199.
#01. The KTM 125 SX
And it’s the humble 125 that gets the top spot, and you know why? It’s because the classic two-stroke KTM 125 SX has been getting riders into dirt biking for years, and has been consistently producing champions. It’s not the most powerful of the KTM dirt bike models out there, and it’s not the most technologically advanced. It’s small, simple, and effective. As far as 125cc two-strokes go, the KTM is the most powerful in its class, and it achieves this by championing an impressive power-to-weight ratio. The engine itself weighs in at a tiny 39.5 lbs and produces fantastic power right across the rev range. The chassis is slim and compact, and the results speak for themselves. Apart from the impressive performance, this little 125 also boasts impressive suspension, with a WP AER 48 front fork and a matching WP rear shock that delivers a cushy ride – unlike a lot of 125s out there that usually rely on cheaper parts. It’s simple, it’s reliable, and it requires very little maintenance – and that’s why we like this one above the other KTM dirt bikes listed. And it comes with a very nice MSRP of $6,999 if you want a new one.