Could this entry-level adventure motorcycle from KTM be the more sensible offering?
KTM has made its adventure lineup more accessible with the 250 Adventure. The quarter-litre adventure motorcycle undercuts its 390 sibling by over Rs 50,000, making it one of the more affordable options in the segment. It shares the same heart with the 250 Duke and the foundations with the 390 Adventure. So, is this combination the perfect balance we need in a baby adventure-tourer?
- Light to steer through traffic.
- Smooth and refined engine.
- Lack of electronics doesn’t hamper off-roading.
- Suspension doesn’t have the plushness required for off-roading.
- Highway overtaking requires you to constantly work the gearbox.
- Wind deflection could have been better.
- No LED headlight unlike the Duke.
- New LCD dash has a crisp display with large readouts.
It might be the smaller (engine-wise) of the two KTM adventure bikes in India but the 250 Adventure still looks properly big. The design has been carried forward from the 390 Adventure with no changes to the body panels whatsoever. The only visual cue helping you differentiate the two siblings is the halogen headlamp on the 250. It doesn’t get the LEDs from the 390 in order to save costs.
We are particularly impressed with the matte finish on the large 14.5-litre fuel tank. The metal tank has this lovely sort of smooth plastic coating on it, making it one of the few premium touches that you can find on this bike.
Since there is no connectivity system here, it doesn’t get the switch cubes from the 390, which are better in feel and to operate, but rather the same switches from the 250 Duke.
Since the 250 Adventure shares the same mechanicals as the 390 Adventure, the seat height remains an alarmingly high 855mm. For riders shorter than 5 feet 6 inches, it will force them to tip toe at standstill or in crawling traffic. The seat section, though, is slim and fairly accommodating for riders of all sizes. The high-rise seat is complemented with a wide handlebar and mid-set footpegs. In this regard, it is certainly quite like the 250 Duke, except a lot more spacious.
The natural riding posture on the 250 Adventure gives you a feeling of sitting on the bike and not in the saddle. This naked-esque posture helps you flick the bike when zipping through traffic without, much effort. On the highway though, this stance does cause some discomfort. You are more exposed to the elements, and even wind deflection isn’t that great either.
Also, when you have to stand up and ride the gnarly sections, the handlebars feel too low, especially for taller riders. Shorter riders will not find this to be much of an issue, but for most, the aggressive bent-forward stance while standing will be quite taxing, causing neck strains and lower back aches. A pair of aftermarket handlebar risers would solve the problem to a great extent.
TECHNOLOGY & FEATURES
The 250 Adventure is a simpler motorcycle than the 390. There is no LED headlight here, no colour TFT screen, no Bluetooth connectivity and no electronic rider aids like traction control and quickshifter. The halogen headlight is what was there on the previous 250 Duke and now is found on the 200 Duke and 125 Duke. The LED DRLs flank the halogen headlamp with a nice thick black bezel around it.
The LCD console has the same shape as the 390’s TFT display. The readouts are laid in a similar fashion with a circular bar type tachometer surrounding the digital speedo. You get trip and fuel consumption related data as well as a clock, engine temperature gauge and fuel gauge. While Bluetooth connectivity is a miss, the 250 Adventure has a provision for a GPS/phone mount. A 12V charging socket is also present.
We aren’t going to moan about the absence of traction control and quickshifter here as the 250 is clearly meant to be the more affordable KTM adventure motorcycle. Plus, the traction control system didn’t really enhance the riding experience on the 390, and was somewhat of a deterrent to off-roading rather than a useful feature. So, we are glad they didn’t include it here.
ENGINE & PERFORMANCE
We were hoping that the same sensibilities of the 250 Duke would carry forward on the ADV, which to a certain extent are evident. The motor is free revving, zippy and fairly tractable. Plus, the clutch action is very light and gear shifts are slick. But the 250 Adventure is not really a quick motorcycle. Considering the performance on tap, it is just a second quicker than the Royal Enfield Himalayan to 100kmph. That’s a motorcycle that makes 6PS less and weighs 22kg more. It is neck and neck with the Himalayan in roll-on acceleration too, which is quite a surprise.
Out on the highway, the engine is quite happy thrumming along at 100-110kmph, with a light buzz felt at the pegs. What is a bit of an issue is the lack of drive present below 6,000rpm. If you have to slow down to get past highway traffic, you will have to work the gearbox to make up for lost momentum. It is something that you could live with but considering that this was not as much of an issue on its Duke counterpart, here it feels a bit disappointing.
The 250 motor remains one of the more frugal options in the Austrian bikemaker’s stable. It delivers great fuel efficiency in the city, and its highway score isn’t too bad either. The extra litre of fuel carrying capacity over the Duke will definitely allow you to extend your highway stint.
The motor’s friendly mannerisms also make it better suited for fast rough road usage than the 390. The power is delivered in a linear manner, allowing the rider to remain in firm control of the bike. Of course, it’s far from a trail bike, with the lack of low-end torque being one of the crucial factors limiting its off-roading potential.
RIDE & HANDLING
Like we mentioned earlier, the 250 Adventure isn’t a trail bike which can tackle slow technical terrain with ease. But show it a fast rally stage and it’s in its element. This is thanks to the stiff suspension it borrows from the 390 Adventure, with no change in tune either. So to get the best out of this suspension setup, you have to ride the bike fast. And when coupled with the friendly power delivery of the motor, it is actually possible to do so, making it a better toy than the 390 to tackle rough roads with.
This same harsh suspension setup is a bother on highways though. You have to be vigilant all the time, being on the lookout for any possible road imperfections. However small they may be, you have to avoid potholes or bumps on this bike. Otherwise, you will get a mighty jolt up your backside. This in our opinion just beats the purpose of buying an adventure tourer.
Stopping distances are good, despite the 250 Adventure running without sintered brake pads. We would have liked more feel from the system, especially when initiating the braking procedure. Braking progression is good with no signs of squirminess from the specially-developed dual-purpose MRF Meteor tyres. ABS intervention is pretty controlled with switchable ABS, or Off Road ABS mode as KTM calls it, providing extra braking confidence for off-road riding.
The KTM 250 Adventure is available in just a single variant at Rs 2,48,256 (ex-showroom Delhi). There are two colours to choose from: orange and black.
In this growing segment of sub-400cc adventure tourers, the KTM 250 Adventure is one of the more affordable options. Sadly, the price tag is very hard to justify when it does not live up to the 'adventure tourer' tag. You could live with the motor’s shortcomings and the tall saddle height but the harshness of the suspension is something that might detract buyers, especially those looking to spend time soaking in the countryside.
The price tag becomes even harder to justify when you consider bikes like the Royal Enfield Himalayan, the BMW G 310 GS or even the KTM 250 Duke. In terms of ability, the 250 Adventure doesn’t offer that much more over the Himalayan or the baby GS. And if you are going to be sticking primarily to tarmac, you could save up to Rs 50,000 and buy the 250 Duke, which has a better suspension setup, an LED headlight and more accessible ergonomics.