The reason to expand the FREERIDE range by adding a super-agile two-stroke model is obvious: the all-new developed 250 R model bridges the gap between the racing-oriented EXC models and the non-competitive four-stroke FREERIDE 350. The combination of championship-tested Enduro know-how and the ultralight FREERIDE chassis consistently carries the FREERIDE concept that for the first time was presented two years ago to the extremes.
For those not wanting the focus of a competition-based Enduro machine (EXC), ‘Maximum off-road pleasure’ is the mission statement for the FREERIDE program and KTM technicians have taken the original and successful concept - launched in 2012 with the 350 and then followed by the electric ‘E’ - to the next level with this new machine.
KTM knows that many riders still enjoy the noise, smell and feel of a two-stroke and the already super-light FREERIDE chassis can be exploited easier and to greater extent with a lighter design of engine fitted, further ground clearance and more agility.
The engine of the FREERIDE 250 R began from the competition-based 250 EXC, but KTM engineers altered it not for outright power, but a pleasant torque response to make it easier to ride.
A new cylinder with ports and timings adjusted to the intended torque response is matched to a new piston and cylinder head. The engine is capable of 18.5kW in unrestricted off-road mode and can run with a fuel/oil mixture as low as 1:80, almost completely eliminating two-stroke smoke.
An amazing 2kg has been ‘lost’ over its EXC powerplant cousin, thanks to removing the power valve and kick start and featuring an intermediate clutch cover with a new water-pump shaft with a lightweight polymer sprocket. By not using the EXC’s complex exhaust control valve, the benefits help to achieve the engine’s required character and increase piston durability - essential for those not looking at competition use.
The bike is also fitted with a brand-new, low-noise exhaust system. Routed to the side of the bike but integrated perfectly into the vehicle, the design of the resonance chamber also contributes to the great torque character.
The two-stroke FREERIDE, like the EXC models, is homologated for public road use with a special power-restriction kit. So either from the back of a van, off the back of a motorhome or however the journey starts, the FREERIDE 250 R is ready to take you to places that only the freedom of a motorcycle can offer.
After two years in production, the four-stroke FREERIDE 350 also receives some updates. The main difference is the change of gearbox; creating shorter ratios in the first five gears but with a much taller sixth gear to create an overdrive, lowering revs on long back roads to help reduce fuel consumption.
Technical changes inside the four-stroke 350 engine are all based on the theme of a pleasant torque response, but increasing efficiency and reliability. A new crankshaft drives a geared intermediate shaft mounted on the side, which in turn drives both the camshafts and the coolant pump while doubling as a balancer shaft. A plain bearing replaces the big-end roller bearings, which has already proven its quality in the 2013 Motocross SX-F engines. This innovative solution guarantees better reliability and allows extended maintenance intervals.
Both machines have a wide variety of official KTM PowerParts available, allowing riders to individually tune the machines in terms of appearance, chassis and performance. These parts extend as far as an automatic clutch and left-hand brake kit.