Well after what seems an eternity we finally got the Global Reveal of the new Triumph TF250-X Motocross bike. I want to look at the fact that Ducati and Triumph have both decided to build a bike for the dirt from scratch.
Triumph are further along in the journey, but not as much as we might have expected. Being part of a corporate giant like VW Audi Group has definitely helped Ducati move faster.
Triumph’s focus does now seem more on the retail side of things as much as anything.
Are they jumping the gun?
Can they sell an unproven race bike?
Ducati seem content with teasers at the moment and have more of a focus on proving the bike in racing first, or so they say.
I have heard people say that what Triumph have done is taken the chassis ideas from one of the Japanese manufacturers and put more of a KTM style engine in it.
Will Ducati go the other way entirely and use a steel chassis?
Before I start, I think I may need to explain something, especially for some of my younger and overseas viewers. I use the term “Flannel” several times in this video. Then I realised not everyone would know what I meant. “Flannel” is a term I use to describe meaningless drivel that says nothing but tries to make whatever is being talked about sound fantastic.
So now you know.
First let us look at the Triumph, as it is theoretically ready now and they were the first out of the blocks.
I do think the Japanese Chassis KTM engine comment is a bit unfair, but there are similarities in the chassis, however many times they say its unique.
Triumph’s brand new 250cc four stroke competition motocross bike has been dubbed the TF 250-X
Being honest, I switched off for the first bit of the reveal because I got sick of listening to the backslapping. Its not the best of everything, or everything you could ever want. Its the best of everything you could ever want.
You can imagine the University graduate who thought of that, sat there with an inane grin on their face thinking they were the dogs gonads. While the rest of us just sit and shake our heads.
Don’t Believe The Hype
Believe them, and it is an incredible bike that is exactly what they set out to build. They talk about the chassis, the power-train and components all being the best.
Then they drop in the statement “whether you’re a professional rider or an amateur rider, you will not be disappointed”
Here is where I cut to a recent interview with Jorge Prado where he talks about the Gas Gas and KTM from the year before he won the championship.
Now here, he is talking about a company with more hours experience in the dirt than anyone. In KTM’s efforts to build a bike for a bigger market, they actually destroyed the advantage they had in racing.
You see, the motorcycle for a potential champion at the top of their game, needs to help them win the championship. It is not the same bike an amateur rider needs to make the most of gnarly trails.
Trying to be a jack of all trades usually doesn’t end well in the world of racing, and you can hear what Jorge Prado thought of the KTM in the interview.
Anyway, back to the Triumph.
We got the statement “Triumph is all in on absolutely every aspect of this project – nothing has been done by halves. This is not a rebadged version of another machine, this is a ground up new design from Triumph with a brand new racing powertrain and unique aluminium chassis”
It goes on “It will deliver a class leading power to weight ratio and the best of the best components fitted out of the crate. All coming together to deliver the perfect package”
I wont carry on because it all gets a bit embarrassing. We all know there is no such thing as the perfect bike for every situation.
Breaking The Announcements Down
Lets break the statement down. What does “Triumph is all in on absolutely every aspect of this project “ actually mean? Why do they feel they have to make such a thing out of the fact it isn’t a rebadged bike, that it is a new bike designed by Triumph?
Perhaps to deflect from the fact it will actually be built by Bajaj group? They were very careful not to say we built or manufactured the bikes I thought.
Is their aluminium chassis unique? Well looking at the pictures I can’t see anything particularly unique. They do seem to mention the Hydro-forming machine that Bajaj group own quite a lot though.
Perhaps that is it. Perhaps it is the bike with the most Hydro-formed chassis components ever built?
What do you think?
Do you see anything unique?
We get more flannel where they talk about Triumph’s world class engineers working alongside Ricky Carmichael and Iván Cervantes as well as unnamed stars from Supercross and MX2, but little in the form of facts or figures.
No power figures, no steering geometry, no ground clearance or suspension travel, nothing. All you get is Triumph telling you they’ve built a world beating bike that amateur riders can enjoy too.
Call me cynical but that smells a bit to me.
Triumph And Racing
They talk about their involvement with the Moto2 championship, but that wasn’t development and racing, they just built the engines for everyone else to use. All they had to do is make sure all the engines were the same.
They talk about their new MX specialist dealers who are set up to provide the services they know the MX world needs. So I looked, and low and behold, the dealers listed are the same Triumph dealers who cant keep stock for road bikes and charge a fortune for them to be sent on back order.
And that’s coming from someone who lives down the road from the Headquarters.
We did finally get some specs.
It reads that the engine is a 249.5cc four-stroke single with a 78 x 52.3mm bore and stroke. It has a single exit exhaust and five speed manual gearbox with a 13 tooth front and 48 tooth rear sprocket. Inside, you’ll find a forged aluminium piston and titanium valves, plus diamond-like carbon low friction coatings, and magnesium covers to help keep the weight down.
I’m not sure why the sprocket sizes are so significant to be included in the announcement, but they were.
Being a competition machine, Triumph say they aren’t sharing the power and torque figures. So with no track record at all, we are simply supposed to believe it has a better power to weight ratio.
A better power to weight ratio than what I’m not sure.
So I assume that it is 4 valve head because it looks like it, but we aren’t actually told if its a or not.
2 valves into one header isn’t unheard of, but separate headers for each valve has become recognised as the best way to do it.
It is a double overhead cam engine, although again, Triumph didn’t tell us that. I don’t know if it is a wet or dry sump either. All details are still very vague.
You can see some of those things in the pictures if you know what to look for, but surely they are details that should be in the presentation.
Or are these all racing secrets too?
We did get some details of a “Hole Shot” system whereby the front forks can be manually locked down before the start to keep the weight over the front wheel and the rpm can be monitored on a front mudguard mounted unit that displays the revs so you can keep it at the optimum point for the launch control to work. The lock on the forks releases on compression, but I don’t have any details about if or how the 2 systems are linked.
Suspension is described as “Leggy” but again we have no travel figures and no ground clearance figure. You just have to be reassured that the forks are KYB so they must be good.
Remember, brands are always better.
Seriously though, they have chosen to go with spring forks rather than an electronically controlled front end. The Kayaba tech is well developed and should be top notch.
On that note you do also get an Exedy clutch.
Then we come back to this wonderfully unique, brand new chassis, Which to me is actually a pretty standard looking single down-tube aluminium twin spar frame. It has machined triple clamps apparently too, and a piggyback rear shock, so they obviously ran out of budget before they could put a branded shock on the rear.
Forgive my ignorance here too, but aren’t all triple clamps machined to some extent or another? What does that actually tell us? Or is it just more flannel.
We did finally get a seat height of 960mm, with a bar width of 836mm. I have also seen a rumoured weight now of 104Kg which is around 229lbs, but I can’t confirm that is accurate, or if it was a wet or dry weight.
There is a multi mode electronics system on board with a horrendous, bulky looking switch and maybe more importantly if you are a racer, there is a sort of one way quickshifter system too, which gives you clutch-less up changes at full throttle from 2nd to 5th gears.
Am I convinced?
Remember, this has taken 4 years already.
Don’t worry though, they’ve already got a full catalogue of extras to thoroughly empty your wallet, add weight, and give you matching attire to make sure you look good at the races.
To start, in the UK they are saying they will be ready for delivery in April and they are taking pre orders now. Cost is to be £9795 but I cant confirm if that is plus taxes. I imagine it includes them, at least I hope it does. Even so this is an expensive piece of kit.
The Yamaha YZ250F is selling now for around £7500 and the Suzuki RMZ250 for around £7000. The Honda CRF250R is priced at £7600 and the KTM SX 250 comes in at a similar price of £9500, but the Triumph has no wins to its name, so can it really command such a price?
Next we come to Ducati.
The Bologna-based brand is diving head first into motocross after just two years of intense development behind closed doors. Ducati Announced plans to enter a prototype in the Italian Motocross Championship in 2024 to test and confirm the bike’s technical innovations in practice.
However, this is just the start. Ducati already have plans to develop a complete range of off-road engines and bikes. The motocross prototype will be the forerunner of a full range of Ducati off road motorcycles.
They win slightly on the name dropping with Tony Cairoli on board too. However, at present we don’t really know if they will release a 250 or 450 first.
Maddii Racing will be running the race team so Ducati do have a serious team of experienced, race ready engineers who can push the development forward. They do seem hell bent on knocking KTM off the top step in Motocross, in the same way KTM are trying to do to them in Moto GP and World Superbikes.
With a new project like this, even with the might of the VW/Audi Group behind them Ducati definitely have their work cut out. The threat of the challenge in Short Circuit Racing won’t help either.
There have been times I have wondered over the past few years whether it was KTM’s untouchable position in Motocross, or the redirection of funds to Moto GP that meant progress on the new bikes has been slower.
Somehow I don’t think VW/Audi Group will let funding become a problem.
A Focus On Weight
Ducati have said that their focus for this project will be on lightness, Then you get the same flannel as we are getting from Triumph about premium components.
We get very little about the engine other than that it will keep the Desmodromic valve actuation system that Ducati have become synonymous with, and that it will have a wide power band. So we don’t have much.
There have been masses of mock ups and artistic impressions but I’ve seen none that have convinced me they are genuine leaks from Ducati.
They will have had to start from scratch I think, as the engine block on the new 650 Superquadro engine is just too heavy. The whole Superquadro Mono package is.
Mounting the swingarm direct to the rear of the engine means the rear engine casings have to be built heavier, so the weight saved on frame rails is quickly replaced by the extra weight in the engine structure.
It doesn’t so much mean a weight saving, but it does mean the weight is lower and further to the rear. This centralisation of mass should equate to better manoeuvrability, but it makes engineering any flex into the chassis much more complex.
The bike is out there so someone must know, but they are keeping details of the chassis close to their chest as we say.
Will Ducati go with a steel chassis or just a top frame rail and direct mounted swingarm do you think?
A Streategic Decision
For the Bologna brand, this move into the off-road sector is a challenging but strategic decision. It is an expansion of the brand’s portfolio into uncharted territory, with the hope of attracting new and younger riders to the brand.
If they can crack it, it could give them a much bigger presence in the American market, that is for sure. However, real success will depend on many things, including price.
Will this be another niche product? Or will they try and make it more appealing to the mass market?
Despite never mentioning it before from my knowledge. This foray into Motocross has been powered, we are told, by the people at Ducati, who are avid off-road fans. That does all just sound like disingenuous corporate spiel to me, or more flannel, but it is exciting that yet another team will be entering the sport. especially such an illustrious one.
I am intrigued to see whether the Desmo valve system will work so well away from the tarmac. I can’t see any reason why not, but only time will tell.
An Exercise In Corporate Dominance.
I hope it is more than simply an exercise in corporate dominance.
It starts to sound like we are in for an interesting time and I know KTM and Gas Gas have made improvements, but when Jorge Prado talks about the KTM chassis being better for the average rider than it is for the professionals it could get very tight at the top.
Its interesting to see he has signed to do the first 4 Supercross races in the U.S. before the season starts over in Europe. It gives him more time to try and gel with the bike to get the best from it. Let us hope there are no injuries.
In the recent years of MX2 KTM have proved unstoppable. Other than one win for Yamaha 2021 and a single Honda win in 2015 they have come up top every year since 2008. They haven’t proven quite so dominant in MXGP, but they still hold more championship trophies than any other manufacturer in recent years, with 9 wins since 2010 if you include the Gas Gas that Jorge Prado rode to victory last year.
I think it does make sense for both Triumph and Ducati to start in MX2, but I think there is still a possibility that Ducati will field teams in both MXGP and MX2, by 2025 at the latest.
They will want the title in the blue riband event.
If we go back to talking about the prices, how much do you think the Ducati prices will start at?
As we said the Triumph is priced at £9795 for delivery next year. Right now the Sherco 250 SEF-R factory edition comes in at £8495 and even the limited edition Mario Romain SE300 is priced at £8800. The Beta RR 250 Racing is priced at £8895, although the RR 250 Enduro comes in at £8,000.
As I said before, the Yamaha YZ250F is selling now for £7500, the Suzuki RMZ250 for £7000, the Honda CRF250R for £7600 and the KTM SX 250 around £9500.
I am guessing The Ducati will break the £10,000 barrier even with the standard models, and for a top spec. race ready bike that may be closer to £15,000.
Putting all of that into perspective. If you aren’t racing, a Beta X Trainer 300 two-stroke comes in at just £6500. Yes I know it’s not a like for like comparison, but its a valid real world perspective. The X trainer is a serious off road bike that is far more capable than most riders, and will give you serious levels of performance, it’s just not a race bike.
So if you aren’t going racing, You can get a seriously capable bike for a lot less.
Will The Ducati be worth the price it will likely sell for? And where I wonder will it actually be made when we get beyond the prototype stage.
What do you think about the price of the Triumph too? Or the fact it will be being made in India by Bajaj Group?
Which would your choice from all the bikes above be?
Will you be one of the people dusting off the cobwebs from your wallet to be putting a deposit down with Triumph for the first production run?
Will you wait for the Ducati?
What are your expectations?
What is realistic in racing for both teams?