There was a time when the concept of adventure tourers was quite alien. Most of your regular bikes like the Hero Splendor or Kawasaki Bajaj Caliber used to handle the commuting, touring and what not. In rural areas, these bikes were used to tackle the rough as well. However, times have changed and today you get adventure tourer bikes that are pretty much the standard when it comes to do-it-all. In the sub-500cc segment, today, we only have KTM that has got two bikes for the discerning customer. There is the 390 ADV and now the 250 ADV. I happened to swing a leg over the latter and while the specs suggest that it is sparsely-equipped by KTM standards, how is it on the road? Or better still, off-road. Can you tour on it comfortably? With a pillion? All these questions have been answered in this KTM 250 Adventure review.
The KTM 250 Adventure design is very much inspired from the 390’s. At first, I was hard-pressed to notice the changes. This being said, look closely and you will find the headlamp is no longer a full LED unit but instead has a halogen lamp (quite bright in night). There are LED DRLs though. The tyres are of the same size as the 390’s but here you get the affordable MRF Meteor units. On the flanks, you will notice the 250 badging whereas the colour schemes too are different. A LCD instrument console has been added and it misses out on those fancy TFT colour schemes of the 390, as well as Bluetooth connectivity. The meters though are easy to understand and can be read under bright sunlight. There is also a 12V charging socket right below the instrument binnacle.
You get various functions on the go like the twin tripmeters, and other bits you will be familiar with other 2013-14 KTM bikes. An off-road ABS mode is available and it disengages ABS to the rear wheel. Whether you like it or not, the mode stays on even if the bike is switched off and the next time you thumb the starter, ABS on the rear wheel will still be off. You got to manually switch it back on.
Let’s start off with the brakes. There are discs at both ends but then the feel from the front lever isn’t that good. You need to squeeze the lever more to stop the motorcycle. I think its those organic brake pads at work. Order the sintered units from aftermarket and you will be a happy customer. The handling is pretty good and befitting the KTM logo. Even though you’re seated quite high (855mm seat height and all), the 250 Adventure will easily lean in corners and give you confidence. The ride quality has been criticised by one and all saying that it could have been a tad supple. However, I will urge you to go ahead and ride the bike yourself before buying it. I quite liked the ride quality wherein I didn’t have to stop for speed breakers or even potholes.
Speaking of speed breakers, two-up, you got to watch the nastiest ones as the catcon might get hit. The pillion as well as rider seat is nice and accommodating. Long stretches on this motorcycle aren’t a punishment either. Ride quality two up is also decent though if you encounter a rut at anything more than 70kmph, you got to slow down. At 177kg, the bike, on paper isn’t light. However get moving and the bike feels quite nimble. Even with the rear-wheel ABS off, it is quite easy to get the rear sideways and manage that weight. Windblast at higher speeds is taken care of by the non-adjustable windscreen though the taller riders might want to opt for a slightly bigger unit. Speaking of taller riders, riding while standing on the pegs will require handlebar risers.
This KTM runs the same engine as the 250 Duke. The sprocketing has been altered to make the 30hp/24Nm, 250cc engine to give more mid as well as bottom-end punch. This being said, the bike isn’t quite happy at a higher gear and lower speed combination. You need to twist the throttle a bit more than you will, at all times. Third gear at 35kmph is something the bike is happy at whereas for speeds as low as 15kmph, first gear works. There is a slipper clutch provided for the 6-speed gearbox that minimises rear wheel hopping during aggressive downshifts. The clutch pull is quite light, however there is no adjustment here and neither is there any for the brake lever.
I found the 250 Adventure’s engine to be on the smoother side, devoid of vibrations for the major part of the operation. There are some vibes post 7,000rpm and then closer to the redline. However, these won’t irk you. The exhaust note is also nothing to talk about. One can easily do 100kmph at 6,000rpm in top gear while anything more than that will feel like an effort from the engine.
Mileage-wise, I am happy to report that with its 14.5-litre fuel tank, a rider can easily do 500km. This translates to an economy closer to 38kmpl.
The KTM 250 Duke is a motorcycle that plugged the gap between the 200 and 390. The 250 Adventure on the other hand tries to be the entry-level KTM adventure bike, alloy wheels notwithstanding. KTM bikes have always been value-for-money for the performance they offer. I am excluding the 125 series from here because they are grossly overpriced. However, at the Rs 2.48 price tag, the KTM 250 Adventure feels like it is closer to the 125s. The performance is okay at best and this is one KTM that enjoys being ridden sedately. If this is your kind of riding, the KTM fits it to the T. If you buy this thinking it will be a rev-happy frantic motorcycle, it isn’t. Buy the 390 ADV straight away paying some extra monies. The 250 ADV is for only those upgrading from the 150/200cc Bajaj AS series or from other naked/faired bikes of the same cubic capacity.
I have a hunch. KTM India might have a price revision for the 250 Adventure soon. Or, they might add features like adjustable levers, and that much-needed Bluetooth navigation. I will rather wait for this version to come out than go for the current model.
Photography: Donald Dsouza
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