KTM 144SX – Review

When I first heard about KTM’s “New 144cc 2-stroke Motocross bike,” I didn’t think much of it, other than that it sounded really cool. I got my first taste of one at a local race, and I wasn’t even riding it! A local A rider had been riding it and was keeping up, and passing, 450 four strokes…. I knew the rider was well-experienced, but to keep up on a tight track with a small-bore 2-stroke is hard enough. After I saw the damage that this bike could do, I was determined to get my hands on one, even though they often cost more than the average Japanese bike…

2008 KTM 144SX

Let’s just say I was in love the day I bought my very own ’08 KTM 144SX. It was literally a dream come true, except for the fact that it pretty much destroyed my piggy bank. Oh well, it was worth it. If you think 2-stoke motocross bikes are dead, you better wake up and ride this bike.

Where do I start? It’s not a Japanese bike, which has thrown people off because they have a “distinct” feel and layout to their bikes, while KTM has a different set up. It really did not take long to adjust to this all-new bike, and in fact, it only took a couple rides for the 144SX to feel like home. That usually doesn’t happen on a big bike, considering I am only 5’6” (168cm). The ride height was a bit high for me, but I could easily adjust the sag settings. Overall it wasn’t too far off from the modern ‘Jap’ bikes that I’m used to.

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KTM’s suspension hasn’t been up to par in the past. After riding the 2008 144SX I can tell they put a lot of work into this department. It was a little on the stiff side for me, but I only weight 135-140lbs. I don’t think I ever bottomed out, even on the harshest landings, so that’s a plus! It didn’t do anything I didn’t want it to. Braking bumps were not a problem, and if you want to go through a rut, it’ll do that too without making you want to stand up. The only thing I really needed to do to make the suspension set-up for my racing is a few clicker adjustments and possibly softer springs, otherwise it worked great.


I couldn’t help but notice how light-weight this 144SX is when I lifted it up. This explains why it’s so easy to maneuver the bike in almost any situation. While riding this bike it reminded me of the CR125 I had because it handled so well. If you want to go somewhere, just point and it will do it. It can hit an inside rut, rail an outside berm, and scream down hills without hesitation. KTM knew what they were doing when they built this bike.


And now to the part that you’ve probably been waiting for….. No, I KNOW you’ve been waiting for. It’s no secret that KTM wins this category on almost every bike they make, and being a big bore from the factory, the KTM 144SX/150SX on the top of many two-stroke lovers lists.

Let’s just say that you shouldn’t need to modify the engine…… or anything that can give you more power. If you think you need a faster bike then you’re either a pro rider, or….. well….. you like looking at numbers. Now lets get to the point. Bottom-end power is nothing to brag about, but 125’s aren’t meant to be lugged around anyway. You’ll know when it hits the mid-range, because that’s when the 144SX starts to wake up. Whack that throttle wide open and hold on for the ride of your life. You’ll know when you get on the pipe because the power is unlike most 125’s.

It’s not unrideable like some 2 strokes, but it has enough power to do what ever you want, and plenty of it. The power-band is a little peaky combined with its tall gearing, and over-rev is great if you don’t want to shift into the next gear right away. I was simply amazed at the pure horsepower it made, and how much power it put to the ground. There was a dyno test with this bike and KTM 250F, and the 144SX took home the trophy for peak horsepower, as well as being very close to putting out the same amount of torque. All I can say is, if you keep this sucker on the pipe, get out of the way because there’s not much that can stop this bike.

2008 KTM 144SX

Additional Notes…

Aside from having the best engine in its class, excellent handling, and great suspension, it’s still not “THE BIKE” to get for everyone. It does have its drawbacks, but then again, what bike doesn’t? I knew going in that buying an Austrian bike would cost a little more. So, when it comes to rebuilding these KTM’s, especially a 144SX, parts aren’t always as easy and cheap to find as it would be for a YZ125.

There are other things about the KTM 144/150SX that make it unique; it’s really easy to work on some parts of the bike, but others you just ask yourself, “Why in the world did KTM do that?!?!”

All in all this is an excellent race bike, and can be used by a young rider coming up from 85’s that still wants a 2-stroke, an A class rider that likes a 2-stroke motocross bike to whip around on, or a vet rider that’s looking to re-live the glory days on a really fast and lightweight dirt bike.

-Tom Stark

Click Here To Sign The Petition To Allow 144cc 2-strokes To Run In The 250 Lites Class and 300cc 2-Strokes To Run In The 450 Class In AMA Professional Racing!!

The Free Dictionary: bike definition: ”’chiefly Scottish”’ a nest of wild bees, wasps, or hornets.

How I Built A YZ250F With A Box of Scraps

What do you get with a bin full of dirt bike parts and an eager mechanic looking for excitement and satisfaction? A great project rebuild! If you are a dirt bike grease monkey like me who not only likes riding their bikes but sometimes working on them too then this is for you. I enjoy project rebuilds and love the oh-so greatly anticipated finished product even more. Ever since I got into dirt biking I have gained more knowledge about how they work and how they are put together. So after doing many rebuilds myself I thought that I would share the experience with you fellow riders.


I bought this 2003 Yamaha YZ250F in pieces as a project bike thinking that I would have some fun and get some more experience putting another bike together over the next month after I bought it. It came needing a complete new top-end at the least. I managed to get one and put the engine together in a reasonable amount of time. I then slapped the engine in the frame and started the process of puzzling the rest of the bike back together; this is where the fun started. It only took a few short minutes of bolting parts on to find that there was stuff missing. The more I put together the more parts I found that were missing or broken, and they were not all at the same time. So one-by-one I had to buy parts that I needed to piece this thing back to its somewhat original form. These parts consisted of, including engine parts, clutch plates, radiator shrouds, timing chain, timing chain slider, a different piston, head pipe, a couple crank bearings, engine/frame mounts, air filter, cylinder head breather hose, chain, gas tank, clutch perch assembly, a shift lever, and maybe a couple other miscellaneous things. Figuring out that we had to find and buy these parts got a little frustrating because we were told that the bike was complete and that it just needed a new top end.

Well, after weeks of picking at my wallet this bike has finally been put together and is running. It just needs a couple things put on to be ride able. So once I get those together I’ll take it out for a spin. The process was long and somewhat miserable, but I think I learned a lesson and gained more experience and knowledge about these modern four strokes that basically took over the world. In the spring, if not sooner, I will be putting on some new bling to make this baby look new, but as of right now it’s a clean bike that runs. Thanks for checking out this rebuild process, and make sure to check back in the near future for another bike rebuild! (If you liked this article make sure to check out my other rebuild, “I Rebuilt My YZ125 In A Closet!?

-Tom Stark

P.S. I might update this article with some pictures and/or video once I get this bike looking good. Questions and comments are welcome.

When I got the bike (as you can see, I had my work cut out for me):



Pic of the damaged cylinder head:


After I cleaned it up and the engine was together in the bike:


Put the wheel and handlebars on:



The bike put together (added sub frame, carb, electronics, old plastics, seat, exhaust, cables, etc.):


The finished product…


The History of Motocross

Motocross is, in fact, a product of trials bike riding. However, motocross has almost certainly overtaken trials in terms of worldwide popularity, and has gone on to develop a number of distinct differences.

Motocross racing became known as ‘scrambles’ in the early 1900s. Off-road bikes were being modified in order to offer the best capabilities when racing across the particularly rough terrain where such races were usually help. Features such as the swinging fork rear suspensions were incorporated on these vehicles long before they were in common use. Instead, these bikes were modified almost exclusively for use within the motocross arena, giving the sport its own unique image.

BSA became the largest manufacturer of bikes used within motocross, and by 1952 the FIM, motorcyclist’s international governing body, were presiding over a number of races and tournaments. Although motocross had achieved much popularity throughout Europe, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the sport was introduced to the United States. The first stadium motocross event was held in America in 1972, at the Los Angeles Coliseum, although it was European riders who continued to dominate the sport in general.

By this time, Japanese companies had become the main manufacturers of motocross vehicles, although environmental laws in the US placed certain restrictions on the technology which was used.

Nowadays, motocross events are frequently held in large indoor arenas and outdoor courses all over the world. There are also a number of sub-disciplines which have developed, such as supercross, supermoto and freestyle motocross. Although bike technology has also come further than ever, there has been a certain resurgence in vintage motocross racing, where competitors use vehicles which pre-date 1975.

KTM SX 2008

New Bike

Just picked up a 2008 KTM 125 2-stroke dirt bike. I have to change the oil and get some more gas before I really test this thing out. It’s not actually new off the showroom floor. I bought it used, but it’s the newest bike I’ve had. The bike is all stock except for the FMF spark arrestor and has decently low hours. This will be my race bike for hopefully the next few years. Please comment if you would like me to make a review for it.