196-lb, 50+ hp flat tracker from George Pickering x Survivor Customs!
The KTM 250SX is the Austrian constructor’s largest-displacement two-stroke motocross bike, built for riders and racers who want the latest features of the flagship four-strokes without the cost and high-maintenance headaches of today’s new-gen valve-and-cam machines. The carb’d 250cc engine makes nearly 50 horsepower, but it’s tuned for midrange punch and torque — a hard-hitting weapon wrapped in an incredibly lithe 211-lb package.
“If we said it was too fast, would you think we were crazy? From the snap of the throttle to the midrange, the 250SX is blisteringly fast. It is fast, abrupt and hard-hitting enough to be hard to manage, especially for any rider making the transition from a four-stroke to the 250SX.” —MXA
Enter George Pickering, a Lincolnshire-based farmer and flat track racer who’s been working to grow the sport in the United Kingdom and beyond:
“I run our family farm and also Greenfield Dirt Track…when time allows we aim to help promote Flat Track in the UK by running race meetings, practise days and training schools.”
After his race team took the top 3 places in the UK Championship and won the Euro Championship last year, mainly competing on Kawasaki KX450F four-strokes, George was hungry for a new challenge — and a hard-hitting 250 two-stroke seemed just the ticket. At Dirt Quake last summer, racing on a tight speedway track, he managed to take home the win on the 250 SX tracker he’d put together.
One the way home from the meeting, he stopped for a few rounds of practice at another track, pitting next to Mike Hill of Survivor Customs — a welder, fabricator, and champion dirt track rider who was there riding his carb’d CRF450 framer. (In flat track parlance, a “framer” is a tracker with a custom-built dirt track frame.) The two swapped bikes for a few laps around the track…
“When we got back in the pits he said how good the two-stroke motor felt and we joked that we should stick my motor in his chassis!”
That joke became a reality when George picked up a KTM 250 SX engine and brought it up to Mike’s workshop in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Mike built a frame out of TIG-welded 16g BS4 T45 aerospace tubing, adding a set of adjustable-offset yokes and an adjustable-length swingarm, which allow the chassis geometry and wheelbase to be fine-tuned for each track. A rear shock length adjuster from BG Motorsport and extra-long Ohlins forks allow even more adjustability.
Upon picking up the bike, George and his buddy Steve Nicholls stripped down the bike, had the engine powder-coated, and added a 300cc kit! The exhaust is from John Riley in Redcar:
“It was important to me to have such a nice exhaust, because it’s always the main feature of a 2-stroke bike, and I wanted it to look special… I think you can all agree on how beautiful he’s made that front pipe, right?!” –George
The finished build weighs just 89 kg — 196 lbs! While George and company still have some fine-tuning to do in terms of rear brake and setup, he’s very pleased with the end result:
“There’s too many people to thank for their time helping me with this build but I think we’ve created a real head turner and I hope once we have it set up it’ll be a weapon on the track.”
Below, we get the full story from George — written from his tractor cab, no less! And the stunning photos are the work of Jon from Braking Point Images.
300cc KTM Flat Tracker: In the Builder’s Words
My name is George Pickering, I’m from Lincolnshire in the UK.
I run our family farm and also Greenfield Dirt Track, which when time allows we aim to help promote Flat Track in the UK by running race meetings, practise days and training schools.
Last year I ran a race team in the DTRA (Dirt Track Riders Association) UK and European Championships. The team of seven riders was made up of adults and juniors.
We managed to take the top 3 places in the UK Championship and also won the Euro Championship…. So I needed another challenge. We race with Kawasaki’s in our team, and although there is always more to learn, I feel we have done a good job of learning how to set up a Kawasaki KXF 450 for flat track racing, so I wanted another challenge.
In the summer of 2019 I bought a KTM SX250 off of a friend and thought it would be fun to set it up for Flat Track. I already had some suspension and wheels for a KTM set-up for flat track, so it wasn’t a very big task. I did a couple of practise days on it, and the two-stroke engine actually worked better than I thought it was going to…it was also a lot of fun! In June of that year, Sideburn Magazine was running Dirt Quake, and an open race meeting on the Friday night on the South Coast of England. I decided to enter, the track was a small, tight speedway track, and the 250 two-stroke loved it! I managed to win the meeting and the bike got a lot of attention.
The next day while driving back from the event, a few of us stopped off for a practise day at Rye House Speedway. Me and Mike Hill (Survivor Customs) pitted next to each other. He was there on his own custom-made CRF450 framer and asked if I wanted to have a go — obviously I did and to return the favour, I let him ride my 250 two-stroke.
The frame he had made handled very well but the punchy 450 carb’d engine took some hanging onto after I’d been used to the two stroke… When we got back in the pits he said how good the two-stroke motor felt and we joked that we should stick my motor in his chassis!
A couple of weeks passed and coincidentally a friend of mine was selling a KTM SX250 engine, carb and wiring loom! So I bought them straight away and I took it all up to the North of England to Mike’s workshop to start the build!
It wasn’t long before I was receiving photos from Mike with the engine in the chassis he had made using 16g BS4 T45 Aerospace Tubing which he fully TIG-welded.
It was looking beautiful.
We also fitted a set of Survivor Customs adjustable offset Flattrack yokes which can be changed from 40mm to 60mm in 5mm increments. Went with a head stock angle of 24.5degrees. We added another inch of wheel adjustment in the swingarm, so we could make the wheel base extra short or extra long. It can be adjusted between 52.5” and 55.5”.
Ben Fricker at BG Motorsport in Silverstone made a length adjuster for the rear shock, so the swing arm angle can be quickly adjusted from 5-9 degrees to suit different track conditions, and he supplied the Ohlins front forks, which we made a little too long so we’ve got extra adjustment each way in the yokes.
Once I went back up to pick the bike up, it was rideable. Mike had done far more than I expected; he’d done a lot of the little time consuming bits as well. That said, after I had picked it up, my friend Steve Nicholls and I totally stripped it and we sent all the engine components off to Factory Coating in Chesterfield to get powder coated.
We also bought a KTM PowerParts 300cc kit for it and renewed the whole bottom end. We then took the bike back up north to John Riley in Redcar who built the beautiful front pipe. It was important to me to have such a nice exhaust, because it’s always the main feature of a 2-stroke bike, and I wanted it to look special… I think you can all agree on how beautiful he’s made that front pipe, right?!
We opted to clear lacquer the frame to show off the craftsmanship that was involved with building the bike. We put a new set of SM Pro wheels on it, had some custom hoses made my JS Performance in Lincoln, and finished it all with the paint work which was done by Tommy who shares a garage with Survivor Customs.
It’s taken around 8 months to build the bike now and there’s still a lot of setting up to as we get more time on the track and Dyno.
Now the bike is finished the dry weight of it is only 89kg! We’re happy with that figure because the little Honda CRF125’s we play around on are 91kg!
This obviously has its pros and cons… The bike is very manoeuvrable and turns in very well and it has so much feel in the middle of the corner. It feels like it works really well on a loose track, but it’s a real handful on a grooved track with lots of grip — it’s all you can manage to keep the front end down.
We used a CRF450 front brake caliper for the rear brake, and this is possibly too sharp for the weight of the bike — it’s something we’re going to have to adjust and make changes to.
It was a bigger job than I realised when I first thought it was a good idea, but we’ve learnt a lot along the way and I’m very pleased with what we’ve built!
There’s too many people to thank for their time helping me with this build but I think we’ve created a real head turner and I hope once we have it set up it’ll be a weapon on the track.
Follow the Builders
- George Pickering, Greenfield Dirt Track: @greenfield_george | @greenfielddirttrack | greenfielddirttrack.bigcartel.com
- Mike Hill, Survivor Customs: @survivorcustoms | www.survivorcustoms.com