Is the KTM 250 Adventure the perfect package to start adventure riding? That's the question I had in mind before I swung a leg over the newest entry-level adventure bike from KTM. The bigger KTM 390 Adventure may have kick-started KTM India's adventure innings, but Bajaj Auto, (which owns 48 per cent of KTM, and manufactures all KTM 125-390 bikes in India), feels there's a market for a more accessible and 'affordable' adventure bike. So, enter the new KTM 250 Adventure, with the engine shared with the KTM 250 Duke, but with the frame and cycle parts borrowed from the KTM 390 Adventure. Does the new entry-level KTM Adventure have what it takes to be a successful and compelling buy for the newbie adventure rider? We spend some time hustling it in traffic, on the highway and on some trails to see what it's capable of.
Also Read: KTM 390 Adventure First Ride Review
The entry-level adventure motorcycle segment has been showing a lot of promise and action lately. Bikes like the Hero XPulse 200 and the Royal Enfield Himalayan have established that all-purpose, do-it-all bikes have a market, and they need to be easy to ride, and easy on the pocket to quench the thirst for wannabe adventurers, seeking to gather some miles and some two-wheeled off-road experience to have some bragging rights on the weekend trail outings. But then, these bikes need to be versatile, which can do the daily commute, the occasional long distance ride and also have respectable off-road capability. That's the basic premise of the KTM 250 Adventure. If the 390 Adventure offers a slightly daunting performance and price package, the 250 Adventure should make the cut as acceptable to a wider set of buyers. But does it?
Also Read: 2020 KTM 390 Duke First Ride Review
The KTM 250 Adventure looks almost identical to its bigger sibling. That's because the KTM 250 Adventure shares its bodywork, chassis, cycle parts and wheels with the 390 Adventure. That could be a good thing to prospective buyers, but 390 Adventure owners may not quite be happy about it. The only differences visually, are the slightly different colours and decals, and the '250' on the fuel tank, but only eagle-eyed observers can spot the differences. On the road, the 250 looks more or less exactly like the 390. There are other differences though, in the details; like the steel handlebar, the halogen headlight and the LCD console. (The 390 gets a full-colour TFT screen, full-LED headlight and an aluminium handlebar).
Also Read: Husqvarna Svartpilen 250 Review
Performance & Dynamics
Right from the get-go, the KTM 250 Adventure feels like a friendly companion. It may weigh as much as its bigger sibling with 177 kg kerb weight, but it's not lethargic. But it needs a little prod from your right hand, and things begin to get interesting only after the revs start climbing. But the engine loves being revved, and the tachometer indicator climbs and climbs, right up to over 9,500 rpm, and the gears work precise and slick, even if you do need to use the rev range to get the 250 to do some urgent work. The clutch is light and it's easy to shift through the slick-shifting, six-speed transmission. The KTM 250 Adventure's 248.8 cc engine is the same unit from the KTM 250 Duke and the Husqvarna 250s, with 29.5 bhp at 9,000 rpm and 24 Nm of torque peaking at 7,500 rpm.
Also Read: Bajaj Dominar 250 Review
Hundred kilometres per hour is achieved without any apparent effort, and the lively engine offers enough and more performance within the city. After all, most 250 owners will use it on tarmac, and in the city, and stop light to stop light dashes are quite entertaining. The steering is light and direct, and manoeuvring through traffic is effortless and comes intuitive; all traits, which will be welcomed by the rider upgrading from a 160-200 cc motorcycle. The top end has a nice surge of power from upwards of 7,000 rpm, and it's a delight to keep the engine spinning and working the gearshifts. But there are also some vibrations which creep in, from the footpegs, and some buzz from the handlebar. It's not really a problem, but maintaining triple digit speeds out on the highway could become a sore point after sometime, although the engine can achieve 135 kmph top speed.
The lightweight steel trellis frame, the 43 mm WP upside down forks, adjustable WP monoshock, radial brake calipers from ByBre (Brembo's Indian-made brand) and standard dual-channel ABS all work seamlessly. The suspension is on the firmer side, but together with the chassis, it works brilliantly and offers superb handling. The 250 Adventure loves to be hustled around corners, and the dual-sport rubber from MRF offers confident grip, under all conditions. The 855 mm seat height may be a tad tall for riders of average height, but anyone above 5'8" or so shouldn't have an issue. The tall seat height though offers a clear view of the traffic ahead, and the scenery when out on a highway.
And when you do venture off the road, the dual-sport rubber, the 200 mm ground clearance and the 19-inch front and 18-inch rear wheel combination offer a competent and effective package as far as off-road capability is concerned. The lack of low-end grunt though takes away some of that capability which one expects from an ADV, and for some 'sliding around the dirt' shenanigans, you need to keep the engine on the boil, to get the rear to step out.
But make no mistake; the 250 Adventure does have some KTM genes after all, and for off-road enthusiasts, it has more than enough capability to keep things interesting and entertaining. In fact, in the right hands, the KTM 250 Adventure can do a lot more than the "soft-roading" it will be introduced to by most of its owners. Yes, the firm suspension which makes the 250 Adventure stick to tarmac around a twisty road, though makes things bouncy over rocky and gravelly roads. Even the regular potholes and bumpy road surfaces make things slightly uncomfortable. And for the serious tourers, who will be looking to explore different terrain and road surfaces, the stiff suspension could be a sore point, but not really a deal-breaker as such.
Tech & Ergonomics
The KTM 250 Duke doesn't get much in terms of technology. But the LCD display is easy to read, and in fact one of the best we've seen, and is readable from all angles. It gives all the required info, including the standard speedometer, odometer, rev-counter and fuel range, as well as average fuel consumption, a clock, twin trip meters with average speed and side stand indicator. From an ergonomics point of view, the 250 Adventure offers a comfortable and high perch with excellent visibility. The seating position works great, both for city use, highway duties, and the gravel or dirt road. But for standing up and riding off-road, the handlebars feel slightly low; something which a pair of aftermarket handlebar risers can't solve. But in stock form, we felt the need for slightly taller handlebars, when standing up on the pegs and tackling the dirt.
The KTM 250 Duke gets standard dual-channel anti-lock braking system (ABS). The brakes offer decent grip, and the ABS works seamlessly, offering adequate bite and progression to keep things in check, and under control, even under hard, emergency braking. For those looking to venture off-tarmac, the Off-Road ABS mode allows you to keep ABS active only on the front wheel, allowing the rider to lock the rear wheel if required. And the rear brake is calibrated nicely, so you can lock the wheel and still skid it as much as you want to, without things getting out of hand. What the KTM 250 Adventure misses out are the more advanced electronics of the KTM 390 Adventure, including the IMU-powered cornering ABS, traction control as well as the bi-directional quickshifter. For the kind of performance the 250 offers, just dual-channel ABS is adequate, in my book.
The KTM 250 Adventure is available in just one variant, and is priced at ₹ 2.48 lakh (Ex-showroom). At that price, it's around ₹ 40,000 more expensive than the KTM 250 Duke ( ₹ 2.09 lakh)it's based on, and ₹ 56,000 less expensive than its bigger sibling, the KTM 390 Adventure, which is priced at ₹ 3.04 lakh (Ex-showroom). But the problem is the 250 Adventure is priced closer to the KTM 390 Duke, with just a ₹ 10,000 difference in the Ex-showroom price. While a 250 cc adventure bike may sound like the ideal companion for new adventure riders, the added performance and feature list on the KTM 390 Duke may be far too tempting; after all, it's also about bragging rights with the better specs and features.
The KTM 250 Adventure is quite a likeable motorcycle. In fact, our time with it was brief, and I still can't stop thinking about it, to spend some more time, to see how it fares over a longer ride, and over different terrain and conditions. It offers an unintimidating package, and experienced riders may feel the lack of performance, but it still manages to be enjoyable, and entertaining even. But with tis ₹ 2.48 lakh price tag, it's still a slightly expensive proposition, although it ticks off all the boxes to be a versatile entry-level adventure bike. It may not be perfect, but it still offers a very good blend of easy-going performance and all-round capability for the newbie adventure rider.
(Photography: Prashant Chaudhary)