Exactly one year ago I was at Pearson Airport in Toronto getting ready to board a flight to Austria. The reason for this exciting trip was to take the first ride on the all-new Fuel Injected KTM 250 XC-W TPI. This incredible day of riding took place at famous Erzberg Mine, the site of the annual Red Bull Erzberg Rodeo. As you will read, this was one of the most interesting riding days I have ever had in my career, and it was very cool to do it on the first ever Fuel Injected two-stroke off-road KTM. This experience was just so awesome, that I decided to post it one more time.
After spending about four decades riding dirt bikes, you could assume that I’ve seen it all and ridden just about anywhere and everywhere. Up until last week I was under the assumption that this was true until I flew to Austria for the media launch of the new 2018 KTM250 XC-W TPI. This revolutionary off-road motorcycle is KTM’s latest masterpiece and it has the one feature that everyone in the riding community has been waiting for, fuel injection! The TPI stands for ‘transfer port injection’ and it’s the new technology that is the centre piece of this ready to race motorcycle. Actually, during the opening presentation of this new bike in Austria, here is exactly what KTM had to say. “In short, TPI means a new dimension of READY TO RACE DNA in every detail. And more than that, TPI is the living proof that KTM’s ongoing commitment to off-road racing in general will never stop, and its dedication to two-stroke technology in particular is alive and well. In fact, the state of the art R&D Department in Mattighofen is expanding, while the new motorsport division demonstrates KTM’s growth and continuing investment.” With the incredible gains that KTM has made in the past five years with their new motocross and off-road line up, it comes as no surprise that they are the first to produce a fuel injected off-road machine.
After a good night’s sleep, all of the journalists were loaded on to a bus to make the 45-minute drive to the famous Erzberg Iron Mine. I feel that before I get into how incredible this new KTM motorcycle is, I should talk about the very extreme playground that we would be riding on that day. A once a year off-road race track, also known in the Enduro world as simply “Erzberg,” the Red Bull Erzberg Rodeo takes place in mid-June with over 500 entries, consisting of all levels of riders. Each class has different sections that everyone must traverse during the race, with the most challenging sections saved for the pro riders. This event is so gruelling that only a small percentage of riders actually make it to the finish. For the riders that do complete this race, they’re either very skilled or extremely lucky. With all of this history in mind, Erzberg appeared to be the perfect place to test out this new bike. As our bus made our way up to the Erzberg Mine, the bus was dead quiet as we all just sat there in awe!
After taking the time to get suited up, we then received a last-minute safety briefing on what to do in case of an accident. With our trail guide, factory Red Bull KTM Enduro star and 19-yearold Manuel Lettenbichler leading the way, we headed out into the Erzberg wilderness. Over the past few years, Manuel has been an Erzberg event regular, so he knew the landscape like the back of his hand. Within two minutes of starting our bikes we were on a single track, rocky trail, and on the side of a forty-foot cliff. Needless to say, my heart rate was quickly rising. These first moments on the new 2018 KTM250 XC-W TPI encapsulated the rest of the day as we spent the next six hours traversing the most extreme terrain I have ever witnessed.
I must admit that I’m not exactly a seasoned off-road rider, but as I made my way around the Erzberg facility, I felt completely comfortable on this new fuel injected KTM. With the obvious absence of a carburetor and the presence of a new throttle body, a programmable ECU, and injection ports attached to the side of the cylinder, the new 250 XC-W TPI ran as smooth as can be. Whether we were accelerating up the steep Erzberg hills or descending down them, the throttle response was smooth, predictable and precise Gone was the need to clear the engine out while worrying that when you did turn the throttle there might be a costly hesitation. Let’s face it, this is really what fuel injection brought to the four-strokes years ago, and now with this KTM, a rider can have the same attributes on a two-stoke. As we came across one difficult section after another, the 2018 KTM250 XC-W TPI was a joy to ride, and even though we were riding on jagged rocks with extreme elevation changes, there wasn’t a moment that this new bike didn’t shine. With a separate oil canister, there is no need for premixing your fuel any longer. Also reduced is gas consumption, oil consumption and of course emissions. Yes, the outside of the new KTM is of course orange but the inside is very green.
With the new TPI System grabbing all of the main headlines on this new bike, we can’t forget about some of the other features that help make this motorcycle the most technologically advanced off-road bike on the planet. Here is a list of some of the new features that compliment the new TPI system:
• NEW Cylinder with two injectors placed in the rear transfer ports for excellent downstream atomization of fuel.
• NEW EMS featuring a new ECU controlled ignition timing and fuel quantities based on information from five sensors reading intake and ambient air pressure, throttle position, and oil and water temperature for optimized engine response.
• NEW 39mm throttle body by Dell’Orto features a butterfly valve controlled by a twin cable throttle.
• NEW electronic oil pump feeds oil from the 700cc oil tank to ensure a perfect fuel-oil mix under any condition while reducing smoking by 50% for up to five tanks of fuel.
• UPDATED WP Xplor 48mm upside-down split front fork with new outer tubes for more sensitivity, less stiction and reduced weight. Revised settings are stiffer as well.
• UPDATED WP Xplor PDS rear suspension features stiffer settings while still offering the progressive feel and excellent bottoming resistance only PDS can provide.
• NEW radiator guards provide better airflow in muddy conditions as well as added strength.
• Engine cases feature a compact shaft arrangement for better mass centralization.
• NEW cylinder with twin-valve controlled power valve for smooth power that can be adjusted within seconds for different track conditions.
• Revolutionary lateral counter balancer reduces engine vibrations for less rider fatigue at the end of the moto.
• 6-speed, wide ratio transmission is perfectly suited for off-road duty.
• Hydraulically operated DDS clutch features a damping system for better traction and durability.
• Lightweight chromoly steel frame provides high torsional rigidity with less longitudinal stiffness resulting in excellent handling and energy absorption.
This new technology will be available in two models, the 250cc and the 300cc. However, Canada and the USA will only be getting the 250 XC-W TPI later this fall. There is talk of the 300cc model coming to North America for 2019, but consumers will have to wait and see. I would also suspect that in the near future KTM will be introducing fuel injection on their 250cc motocross model.
As I was riding around Erzberg, I couldn’t help but think how cool this technology would be on a full motocross bike. With the smooth and precise power delivery that this 250cc fuel injected power plant has to offer, I think it’s just what two-stroke-loving motocross riders are looking for. Until then, this new 2018 KTM250 XC-W TPI will have to be enjoyed by our talented offroad community. This was a community that I was happy to be a part of, even if it was for just one incredible day in Austria.