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What Went Wrong With The KTM 250 Race Effort?

KTM finally entered 250-class racing here in the United States at the factory level this year. All the pieces were in place for KTM to make a big splash, including riders Jeremy McGrath (who needs no introduction) and Grant Langston (former World champion). By all accounts, both the stock and the modified KTM 250SX had plenty of horsepower . . . perhaps, more than the competition. What happened?

Jeremy McGrath proceeded to injure himself while learning to ride the machine, and ultimately retired before the first AMA Supercross event at Anaheim, California earlier this year. Grant Langston raced the 250SX, but crashed repeatedly and injured himself during the supercross series. Langston then rehabilitated himself physically, but had difficulty coming to grips with the 250SX, and decided to abandon his efforts to race the 250SX outdoors. Instead, he moved back to the 125 class.

Langston indicated that the 250SX needed more development. Anyway you look at it, KTM’s foray into the 250 class has been a disaster, both for its riders and the team. To top it off, there are now rumors that Jeremy McGrath may race supermotard on a Honda; and that Langston may make his outdoor motocross debut in 2004 . . . on a Suzuki.

Some observers point to KTM’s rear suspension system, which is relatively unique in the industry. It lacks a rising rate linkage system . . . something all of the Japanese motocross bikes have. This could be to blame for the handling ills experienced by Langston and McGrath. KTM has invested a great deal of time and money in their rear suspension system, however, and it would be hard to justify going in a new direction, now. Nevertheless, if Jeremy McGrath and Grant Langston can’t seem to get around a race track quickly, and consistently, on the current version of the 250SX, some redesign may be necessary.