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2018 KTM 250 XC-W TPI First Impression

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What all you two-stroke guys have been waiting for is finally here - the new 2018 KTM 250 XC-W TPI has finally been unveiled and I just finished a full day of riding one at one of the most spectacular riding spots in the world, Erzberg. KTM has been working on their EFI two-stroke for over ten years and has released their patented design “Transfer Port Injection” (TPI).

KTM has spent over ten years developing this two-stroke EFI technology for the off-road market because they knew the importance of its need to work perfectly before it was released into the consumers’ hands. Well, I can tell you they did it; this bike is awesome. KTM plans to have this bike available to the US dealers in Fall 2017, so if you are looking for the best thing to come to two-strokes since power valves you better get your deposits in, because they are going to sell quickly.

As always this KTM comes with all the high grade components you would expect from KTM’s “Ready To Race” package - good brakes, good off-road suspension, hydraulic self adjusting clutch, and all the other great features you have come to know and love. New to the 2018 is a light weight lithium ion battery, as KTM prides itself in having the lightest bike in the class.

Okay, okay, I know - what about the fuel injection? How does it work? In one word, flawlessly. We all know a two-stroke bike’s Achilles’ heel has been jetting, and fouling spark plugs on the trail. Well, those days are gone with this engine. Oh, and forget about mixing gas, this bike also has oil injection that is also controlled electronically. It meters the oil from a 60:1 ratio all the way to 100:1 depending on what the engine needs. This means you can go four, maybe five, tanks of gas without ever needing to add oil to the bike’s oil reservoir. Want to go on a long weekend ride and stop at gas stations to fill up? You are all set; no more need to carry oil.

So we started our ride day at just above where the pits and hospitality area would for the Erzberg Rodeo at 2700 feet above sea level. Normally this is just about where a two-stroke bike’s jetting would start to show some weakness (assuming you normally rode at, and jetted for, a much lower elevation). The group of journalists I was with jumped on the bikes and went straight out with minimal warm up time and the bike ran great. Our guide took us straight into some tight woods with several steep uphill switchbacks. As we were a group of about seven riders, you can understand there was some waiting time in the trails. Normally this would cause a lot of stopping the engine and restarting, as carbureted two-stroke bikes don’t really like to idle. With the KTM 250 XC-W TPI system, this bike idles perfectly, and incredibly low so it does not overheat. Then, when it was my turn to go, I just dropped the bike in gear and pinned it; there is no the need to clean it out and fill your buddy’s face with smoke behind you with this FI bike.

KTM tells us its new Engine Management System (EMS) is the most modern two-stroke engine control system on the market. The EMS uses five basic EFI sensors - throttle position, coolant temperature, air intake temperature, and ambient air and crank case pressures. For safety there is also a tip over switch that will kill the engine if the bike is laid on its side for too long. The EMS is also what controls the oil injection, using the information it already receives for the fuel injection. With the EMS and TPI’s five sensors you no longer have to re-jet your bike for temperature or altitude changes.

As we continued up the mountain we encountered several long, steep hill climbs that really tested what kind of power this bike could make. With the TPI’s perfect throttle response you could hit hills with much more confidence of not having the bike get too lean during long, wide open throttle pulls. The power delivery was a little smoother than a carbureted bike, which does not mean it was slower. At no point did I feel like I could not climb a hill because the bike was not powerful enough.

We made it to the summit of the mountain at about 4700 feet with no change in how the bike ran. I felt like this was the single biggest feature of the TPI system. Had we been on carbureted bikes there is no doubt in my mind someone would have fouled a plug at some time in the tight woods with all the starting and stopping, and surely the bikes would not have run as cleanly the whole way up.

Erzberg was everything it promised to be and then some. I have even more respect for any rider who is able to complete the Erzberg Rodeo; that place is no joke. I am really looking forward to getting this 250 XC-W TPI back over to the USA for more long term testing on terrain I am familiar with. Be sure to keep watching dirtrider.com for more on this bike, and and be sure to check out Dirt Rider magazine for the full test on the 2018 KTM 250 XC-W TPI.