KTM’s 250cc motor has impressed in its many avatars, does the 250 Adventure continue the trend?
When I rode the KTM 250 Duke first, I felt its engine was the most un-KTM like motor from Team Orange. Instead of being frantic and keeping me on my toes, the 250cc mill was mild-mannered but deceptively quick. That’s a reason why we really liked it on the Bajaj Dominar 250. Let’s move away from that thought for a minute and look at the 390 Adventure. When we rode it, most of us journos came back feeling the bike made more sense as a tourer than it did as an adventure tourer, fairing way better on highways than on trails. And now, come back to the thought of the 250cc mill being better-suited to touring. Will it suit the touring nature of KTM’s Adventure family better? More so since the 250 is intended to offer better bang for the buck considering it gets most of the 390 Adventure’s hardware at a lower price point?
Of course, we know how well parts sharing has worked for KTM in India. So the 250 Adventure gets the exact same bodywork, fuel tank, seats, split trellis frame, WP Apex suspension and even the same MRF Meteor tyres on the same alloys as the 390. What it does not get is a full LED headlight, colour TFT instrument console, Bluetooth connectivity and 4-way toggle switch, traction control and quickshifter. We’re not complaining though. The 250’s halogen headlamp with LED daytime running lamp offers a bright and focussed beam, the LCD gets large readouts that are more legible. Thanks to the 250cc motor putting its power down in a more linear manner (besides the lower outputs as compared to the 390) you won’t even notice the lack of traction control or miss the quickshifter. What you do miss is the lack of Bluetooth connectivity, though KTM has offered provisions or a phone mount and a 12V charging socket here as well.
The fact that the 250 Adventure shares a lot with the 390 sounds good until you realise that both weigh nearly the same. KTM tried solving this conundrum by updating the final drive for better low-end grunt, though this just about compensates for the weight gain. You still have to work the gearbox a fair bit in the city, given that the 250cc motor makes most of its power higher up the rev range. Thankfully clutch action is light and the gearbox butter-smooth. The 250 Adventure also lets you sit close to triple-digit speeds comfortably on open roads but when it comes to overtaking is when it calls for a bit of planning. Highway manners are impressive overall including seat comfort, though the windscreen is not large enough to keep windblast at bay.
Off-road it’s all good as long as you are revving upwards of 5,000rpm. Anything below that and the bike bogs down. So like the 390, the lack of low down grunt means you have to work the motor to enjoy trails. Credit where due though – what I just said effectively also means the 250 Adventure is easier to ride, manoeuvre and control off tarmac because there’s lesser power going to the rear wheel. Simply put, unlike the 390 the 250 Adventure will not scare newbies. The long-travel forks have the same level of firmness here as the 390, so despite the travel you can feel sharp ruts and larger potholes. As speeds increase the suspension feels more reactive and soaks up things better, making the bike feel more planted on trails. On tarmac the wide handlebar offers excellent leverage and thanks to the firm suspension, it feels almost as confident as a Duke despite the 19-inch front wheel. You get dual-channel ABS with a switchable off-road mode that turns rear ABS off. However, we noticed that even in off-road mode the ABS cuts in at times, depending on speeds, when you try locking the rear to get the tail out.
So is the 250 Adventure a worthy option for someone wanting to cut his teeth in the world of adventure touring? Yes, given its solid engineering and everything that it packs in, not to forget the friendlier motor. The seat height could be a bit of a deterrent but is not a deal-breaker. I also wish the suspension setup was a wee bit softer. If you’re looking at lots of trail riding, something like the Hero XPulse 200 or Royal Enfield Himalayan will make more sense but if looking for something that can tread off tarmac while offering great touring ability, the 250 Adventure ticks quite a few boxes. Especially given the sticker price of Rs 2.52 lakh ex-showroom New Delhi.
KTM 250 Adventure
Engine: 248cc, single-cylinder, 4V DOHC Power: 30PS @ 9,000rpm
Torque: 24Nm @ 7,500rpm
Price: Rs 2.52 lakh ex-showroom, New Delhi