KTM 350 XC-F First Ride – Motorcyclist Magazine

19 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on KTM 350 XC-F First Ride – Motorcyclist Magazine
KTM 350 XC-F

No man’s bike?

They say: Our 350 SX motocrosser with minimal off-road mods.

We say: Like the motocrosser, but better.

They say: Our 350 SX motocrosser with minimal off-road mods. We say: Like the moto

In the First World War, No Man’s Land was the contested space between enemy lines. In modern off-road riding, it is the performance and weight gap between the svelte but high-strung 250cc four-strokes and the heavier but fast-to-the-point-of-brutal 450s. The players in the middle have been limited to the Husqvarna 310, the shrinking field of 250cc two-strokes and the small but growing number of 300cc two-strokes.

Jumping from a 250F to a 450F is a minimum 15-lb. and 15-horsepower gain. On a dirtbike, that’s a leap that significantly impacts the handling and fun factor, but rewards with bug-catching grin factor when accelerating. Now, KTM is hammering No Man’s Land with its 350 SX-F motocross model, soon to be followed by the off-road-modified, closed-course 350 XC-F.

In essence, KTM has done what anyone would do to convert a motocross model for off-road use-but it did the job better. The SX and XC engines share the same state of tune and even the same EFI settings. Both use close-ratio transmissions, but the XC’s is a six-speed for longer legs. The main changes are the XC’s larger, 2.5-gallon gas tank, low-fuel indicator light, 18-inch rear wheel and sidestand.

Naturally, the XC has softer suspension settings as well. Even in the company of off-road-modified 350 SXs, the XC is a standout performer.

There are few bikes that gobble trail miles with as little fuss. Much of that is due to the mid-size engine’s power character and delivery. It has clean and slightly chuggy traits down low, a long and smooth pull through the middle and high-rpm pull oh-so-close to a full 450. In the lower middle part of the power spread there are some 250F motocrossers that feel a little more muscular, but the smooth 350 has long and effective power that is all about finding traction.

KTM 350 XC-F

You need to spool up the rpm to make serious trail pace, but even the best trail two-stroke isn’t as easily modulated on tight and technical trails. A two-stroke has more snap in the middle, but the power is far shorter in each gear.

KTM has a long line of odd-displacement, out-of-class engine sizes that have been incredibly successful. The new 350 XC-F is niche marketing at its finest.

KTM has a long line of odd-displacement, out-of-class engine sizes that have been incredib

Consider the 350’s suspension and handling a direct hit as well. You can seriously race off-road, mess around on less supercrossy motocross tracks or play ride on the trails and the suspension will carry you through in style. The settings are more get-it-on race level than get-through-it trail plush, but are a great compromise.

Steering effort is light, and the bike feels light as well; in fact, it feels lighter than it is. Everyone hoped for the 215-lb. dry weight of a 250F motocrosser, but that didn’t happen. The 350 weighs 242 lbs. with an empty tank-a single pound lighter than the Honda CRF250X off-roader.

If you have been in your personal No Man’s Land, KTM has you covered with one amazing, odd-sized off-roader.

KTM 350 XC-F
KTM 350 XC-F
KTM 350 XC-F

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