Paul Malin discusses the KTM SX Factory Edition Launch and AMA Supercross Team Introduction ahead of the new season.
With the Supercross season imminent, it’s still very much fresh in our minds the launch of the bikes that form the basis of the factory teams’ race bikes, the SX Factory Edition machines in California.
In previous years the bike was just sold in the USA, but for MY2016 the Factory Edition is going global. Not only do these bikes look super-sexy, they are built to perform and are strictly limited in availability. For this year there’s also another big change, not only will the KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition look awesome in livery similar to that of the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team machines, with the Troy Lee Designs Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team announced as the 250 factory team in the US, the KTM 250 SX-F Factory Edition was rolled out in the striking TLD colors.
These extra-special, limited KTM models feature the WP AER 48 fork system, anodized triple clamps and sprocket, uprated muffler – Akrapovič (450) FMF (250), an orange frame, uprated seat cover, D.I.D DirtStar wheel rims, hour meter, as well as other upgrades over the standard models.
We brought in MXGP commentator and former world number two Paul Malin to test the bikes and give his opinion on the experience of getting up close with both the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team and the Troy Lee Designs Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team, while also getting right up close to the test track that was floodlit for the occasion, plus whipping his way around Cahuilla Creek aboard the Factory Edition machines.
“Obviously we’ve already ridden the Model Year 2016 European bikes, and although the WP AER 48 front forks are a big story here as it’s new to the market and could be a game changer for the US with the benefits and gains, but for us we are already familiar with it. The bikes themselves look really great; orange frame, anodized parts, the 250 comes with an FMF pipe, the 450 comes with an Akrapovič pipe. The rims are D.I.D like the Red Bull and TLD teams use, so they look really nice. There’s slightly different suspension settings on the shock and the forks, slightly different power curve and gear ratios, to suit their tracks and their style of terrain.”
“As for the 250, the FMF pipe you can definitely hear the difference in how it sounds. It’s got a good bark to it for a 250 and it cackles and crackles on the over-revs at the end of straights, which gives it a bit more of a factory feel than the standard item. In terms of chassis, the KTM turns well, and I think the people buying them will really love riding them. In the terms of race teams in the US this is their starting point, as they are the bikes the factory teams start with to modify further, and it’s definitely a good place to start.”
“The 450 on the track we rode at, where there’s a big finish line jump followed by a straight and a sweeping right-hander, you can hold second gear down that straight instead of shifting to third, and it’s not asking for any more, so the gear ratios are really refined. If you want to hook third because you’re not a revver then you can use the torque of the bike, but you can try a lot of different things and use the power of second to feel like the bike is pulling. With the mapping there was standard and aggressive setting on our bikes; both do what they should do, and I think most people rode with the more punchy map, especially with it being a Factory Edition we felt that we should be riding with something a bit more on point. The bike’s balance was great between front and rear in both machines. The 450’s over the last few years have generally been quite aggressive, but the KTM this year has been surprising in its manageability and even though it was a Factory Edition, it was still rideable in a very smooth manor.”
“Overall the introduction has probably been one of the best presentations of a brand we’ve ever seen. It was unique to be in the US, with the TLD rig, two Red Bull rigs, the teams on stage, talking to the riders, Troy (Lee), Roger (De Coster) and it was very relaxed. There was a lot of joking around and a lot of respect between the riders. It was a great thing to be part of, especially as being someone very often in Europe we only usually see these guys through media and TV. Also they never normally light the test track, so for us to see that and get so close to that was really special. It was definitely a READY TO RACE introduction that we’ll never forget.”
Photos: Kevin Wing