Austrian Two-Stroke – 1990 KTM 250 MX

In Austria, Less than 5k, Off-Road by Tim HuberLeave a Comment

In the 1990’s, KTM’s MX machines were routinely winning magazine shootouts, and though they weren’t without flaws the Austrian brappers were thought of as solid bikes. The dawn of the ’90’s would see the “Ready To Race” brand release a highly updated version of its quarter-liter MXer. The 1990 KTM 250 MX boasted ample smooth and tractable low-to-mid range power, making it a versatile and popular two-wheeler. Upon its release, the KTM was the best and most competitively priced Euro 250 available in the US market.

The KTM 250 reportedly had good suspension at lower speeds, though it wasn’t the best equipped for dealing with high-speed riding and was known to bottom out on big pumps or jumps. Still its handling was said to be pretty solid, as was its stability. The early models apparently had faulty ignitions and bad pistons, but otherwise the 250 was said to be a reliable bike. Dirt Bike Magazine pointed out that KTM’s 250 had some strange gear ratios that made them a bit awkward to ride, though this could be remedied with the installation of a larger rear-sprocket.

Roger DeCoster is one of the biggest names in motocross of all time, dominating in the sport and winning five 500cc Motocross World Championships, a record 36 500cc Motocross Grand Prix victories, four Trans-AMA Motocross Championships, a Gold Medal in the International Six Day Trial, and numerous national championships in his native Belgium, including a national Trials title. After his final season in 1980, DeCoster retired from the sport on top before receiving an offer from Honda to come to the US and work as an advisor for its factory race team.

DeCoster – who is now an AMA Hall of Famer – would help guide Honda to its first win in the prestigious Trophy and Motocross des Nations. Following this, the Belgian would further assist the Japanese brand in winning dozens of other elite events. Eventually DeCoster would start working with Honda’s R&D team, helping to refine and develop its off-roaders. But what does DeCoster have to do with KTM, you ask?

Back in 1990, Dirt Bike Magazine got its hands on a pre-production Broc Glover Replica 1990 KTM 250. When the KTM was shown to DeCoster, he couldn’t help but notice how similar it was in many ways to the exact machine he’d been developing with Honda. Other than a different power-valve system, the KTM was strikingly similar to the CR250R. The exhaust on the Austrian single also looked a lot like Honda’s, only its “belly” protruded a little further forward. The KTM’s Katoom silencer looked pretty much identical to the CR’s too.

After doing a few laps on the KTM, DeCoster remarked, “It’s very much like our 250, except there’s not as much bottom or top, and the suspension is way too soft for me. Other than that, it is a very good bike.” The guys at Dirt Bike Magazine would relay this to the folks over at KTM, and over time it became increasingly clear that KTM had in fact shamelessly copied Honda. “We can’t believe that KTM would copy Honda’s engine and suspension theories, since we’ve been sniveling about Honda’s settings for years, but they did!” said a writer at Dirt Bike Mag.

The KTM would be further refined before the production version was released but the final product was still quite comparable to the CR. The KTM did however have a lot of potential if upgraded. This particular example was restored half-a-decade-ago, and received various upgrades throughout that process. The current owner installed an Ohlins rear shock and a Dyno port cone pipe. Wider footpegs and upgraded handle-bars were also added to the Austrian MXer. It also underwent a top-end rebuild and has since only had 3-4 hours put on it. The owner has been utilizing this example as a “Revolution Racer” (1990 or earlier).

The plastics on this example are in remarkably good condition considering this bike’s use. I know the bike is wearing the 250’s stock graphics package, however I’m unaware as to whether or not it’s the factory set or replacement plastics. Either way this is a solid machine that hugely benefits from its various upgrades and according to Dirt Bike Mag, the 1990 KTM 250 MX is still fairly competitive, even by today’s standards. The price is pretty reasonable, too.

You can find this 1990 KTM 250 MX for sale here on Craigslist in Fernley, Nevada with a price of $1,700.