First Ride: 2011 KTM 350 SX-F

27 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on First Ride: 2011 KTM 350 SX-F
KTM 350 SX-F

First Ride: 2011 KTM 350 SX-F

Take a sneak peek at KTM’s all-new middleweight motocrosser for 2011, the 350 SX-F, after we attended the Aussie launch

KTM launched its 2011 model 350 SX-F at Appin this week. MotoOnline was there! Images: Ryan Marmont.

Every now and then there are bikes that create massive amounts of hype, and for 2011, that bike is KTM’s 350 SX-F – a model that’s broken all the rules in the world of open class racing.

Creating and entering a bike with 100cc less than its 450cc competition was a massive risk for the Austrian manufacturer in many ways, but as we reach the halfway point of this year the likes of Tony Cairoli, Mike Alessi and Aussie Tye Simmonds have proven that the 350 has what it takes to compete at the top of the sport.

MotoOnline was lucky enough to be invited out to the bike’s domestic model launch at Appin in New South Wales this week for our first test, spending Thursday and Friday pounding out the laps alongside none other than 10-time world champion Stefan Everts.

Railing turns on the 350 makes an open class bike almost feel like a 250F.

The Belgian rider has put his heart and soul into developing the new middleweight missile, not only working hard on the fuel injected, DOHC, four-valve, four-stroke engine, but also introducing linkage suspension on KTM for the first time.

Spend five minutes chatting to Everts and you realise the effort that’s gone into the new Katos, not only in the performance, but also in the presentation with various parts throughout the bike.

It’s got an all-new chassis that’s made up of a massively revised frame and swingarm, finally adopting a linkage rear suspension system after formerly using a PDS system, and further developing the WP shock absorber and forks to suit.

As noted, KTM has added fuel injection to both the 250 and 350, with the 450 remaining carburetted for the time being for a variety of reasons that we’ll cover in that particular test.

The good news for KTM fans though, is that both the 250 SX-F and 450 SX-F have also received the wide range of chassis upgrades.

In fact, we’ll cover the entire technical rundown and ride impression of all three models in our full Launch Test review to be uploaded in the coming weeks, however for today the plan is to give you guys a first insight as to how the groundbreaking 350 goes on Aussie soil.

First things first, the ergonomics are superb, designed to suit and fit a broad range of riders. How do you know that the ergos are so good? Simply because when you ride it for the first time, nothing stands out – it all just fits into place in a thin and compact package as if it were built custom for you.

Plus, the electric start button makes life super easy when firing it up.

You can push hard for a long time on the 350, conserving energy in the process.

What that does is inspire confidence once you hit the track, the bike featuring a balanced feel that invites you to gradually work up to speed, urging you to ride it quicker and quicker, answering pretty much everything that I could throw at it without a problem during the launch.

The Macarthur District Motorcycle Club’s new race track is a solid proving ground for a new model, featuring a good combination of fast and slow corners, tacky dirt, technical jumps, and a fair amount of ruts and bumps after we circulated for a couple of days in prime conditions.

This was where I truly enjoyed the 350, as no matter how hard I tried to push myself and the bike, it reacts accordingly – even in the case of a slight mistake that would have you very near a crash on previous models.

KTM 350 SX-F

It feels light and is light at 103.9kg for the 350 SX-F, compared with the 250 SX-F’s 99.9kg and 450 SX-F’s 106.9kg. You can feel the added weight over the 250, no doubt, however it’s just a small price to pay considering the overall performance increase.

By now you’re probably itching to know what the engine’s like, and we can confirm just what we expected, which is that it’s basically the perfect compromise between a 250F and a 450F.

If I had to compare it to one or the other I’d say its short-stroke (88.0 x 57.5mm bore and stroke) engine makes it feel very much like a 250F in the way the power comes on, especially when it sings at around 13,000rpm at a maximum!

Upon twisting the throttle as you work to get on the gas off the turns, the 350 SX-F comes on smoothly with its precisely responsive power curve, before building strongly soon after and revving like buggery as you shift up through the six-speed gearbox.

The fuel injection has worked wonders for the throttle application, also on the 250F, which effectively means that getting the rear tyre to hook up and gain traction is surprisingly easy.

The powerband is smooth thanks the the fuel injection, but has plenty of power on tap.

Revving the engine hard just like a 250F is the best way to make the most of it, and it really is a massive increase of power compared to the 250 SX-F that you’ll experience when on the gas on the 350.

That extra power makes the whole ride feel more relaxed, conserving energy and letting you stay smooth while still lapping quickly, without having to extract every last horsepower out of it by riding over your head.

There’s a lot to like about KTM’s 2011 model range, especially the new 350 SX-F, which effectively opens up a whole new ball game and has many excited at its prospects.

As they say, sometimes less is more, and I think KTM’s results around the world so far this year attests to that for the boys in orange, paving the way for yet another new era in open class motocross.

Check back for our full in-depth Launch Test of all the models in the coming weeks, as well as an exclusive ‘how to make the most of a 350’ article with Simmonds, action and technical films from the test, a video chat with Everts on his current role with KTM and his trip down under, plus an interview with KTM Australia general manager Jeff Leisk.

KTM 350 SX-F
KTM 350 SX-F
KTM 350 SX-F
KTM 350 SX-F

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