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Trail bike - Honda CRF450x or KTM 350XCF-W ?

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I used to trail ride a lot when I was younger and have recently ridden a CRF230 and definitely want to get my own bike.

 

I would really like to get the bike fairly soon and am looking to buy new. I'd like to get a bit or riding in before the season is over up here in Canada. 

 

When I stopped riding I always felt a 350 would be perfect. Back then I was on a Honda XR250. 

 

I've had my eye on the KTM 350 XCF-W but I can't seem to find it anywhere in town. I've found an EXC-F 350 which is the street legal version. Something akin to the old XL hondas back in my day (ya it's been awhile). I'm not sure how much of a difference I'd find the two and if I'd be disappointed I didn't get the XCF-W. I don't need to ride it on the road at all.

 

That brings me to the Honda. It seems they don't make a 350 so it looks like I would probably go with the CRF450x. I've been told that you can "over-ride a 250" but you'll always "under-ride a 450". I'm not entirely sure how true this is. I'm a hill climber and love the trails and never been into jumping things or a track at all. So I do worry if the 450 may be a bit much for me or not? 

 

I also grew up on Hondas and a major selling point is how bullet proof they were. With them now having all this water cooling etc, are they a bit more of a pain to maintain. I want something as maintenance free as can be these days. I understand there's likely year-end maintenance. Just nothing that needs to be done before each ride either than checking the oil level and gas.

 

The other reason I'm considering the Honda is that it's in stock at the dealer. I'm going to go look at them tomorrow. 

 

So the question is, I can afford a brand new KTM. Will I be disappointed that I didn't wait until next year and get it and went with the Honda instead and got out riding this weekend?

 

Regards,

 

Pete

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I'm not a trail rider but at the track the Hondas are wayyy more durable than the ktms and its always nice to have the extra power for that one really steep hillclimb that no one wants to try so I'd say 450x plus you can go riding as you said this weekend!

Edited by kawi rider 13
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I have a 2009 CRF450X and it has been great for me. Very little maintenance. It has lots of power, although I want even more sometimes. It handles great in corners and everywhere off road. It jumps great too and it climbs even better. It has the low end I need for climbing hills and still the high end for going fast on tracks and trails. It has been very durable so far, whereas I have heard from many that the ktms are always breaking and they cost an arm and a leg to get the parts. So I would recommend the crf450x.

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Seems from your OP that you're looking for something with the weight of a 250, power of a 450, low maintenance and low cost to maintain. If you're okay with mixing fuel and oil, I'd personally recommend a new 300 XC-W or XC.

Edited by W-KRiders
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The bike you are considering like an XR. These are not the bullet proof four strokes of the past. If you want an upgraded XR 250. Get a current 250. They have a lot more power than an XR and the suspension is, well, from the future. The XR never had super suspension in the first place. 

 

The Yamaha is "more durable" simply because the five valve head stays in adjustment much better. There is a huge difference between checking and adjusting the valves on those things. So it's nice to have one that checks more often than it adjusts.

 

That KTMs break is a myth. The parts are however expensive. I always thought that a 350 four stroke was about the right size myself. KTM did tune their 350 to compete with 450s. So it is a bit less of a grunter and a bit more of a screamer than what a lot of off road types really want from a 350. But if I was sentenced to ride a four stroke. A 350 is probably where I would start. I'm a two stroke guy. But I buy the occasional four stroke to see what all the fuss is about. I ride them enough too understand them. Then I understand that I that I would rather not ride them. :)

 

W-KRiders has a point in that a 300 two stroke, provided you learn to feed and care for a two stroke, is a good choice for a re-entry rider. KTM has a signature power band IMO. All of their off road bike, both two stroke and four, have a section to the power band that allows you to ride them like an XR200 and never know that they have teeth. And they have teeth. Some guys love that so much that they buy orange condoms. It is not a feature that I particularly care for. But I can totally understand the appeal. If a man were to fall from space and wanted an off the rack bike to go woods riding on. I would probably give him a KTM 300. Though I would not pick one for myself.

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KTM is the way to go.

KTM 350 is probably the perfect fit for most riding.

Don't be fooled by the street legal version. Its just as worthy Offroad as any non street legal ktm except it has lights.

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I'm not a trail rider but at the track the Hondas are wayyy more durable than the ktms and its always nice to have the extra power for that one really steep hillclimb that no one wants to try so I'd say 450x plus you can go riding as you said this weekend!

Yeah

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Not sure about Alberta, but having a plated dirt bike is the way to go here in Colorado....just so you can connect from trail to trail and never have to worry about whether you are allowed to ride there or not.  A plated bike can go anywhere.

 

Another commenter stated the EXC is just as capable of a dirt bike as the XCF-W.  My only comment about that is it is probably true, IF you upgrade or remap the ECM to the "competition" map (and I dont mean the ignition timing map switch).  Plenty of stories about the 500EXC, 350 EXC being real lean out of factory due to emission requirements that are simply awesome after the remap.  In addition to the competition map, JD Jetting and others offer fuel injection tuning devices that might give you more control/adjustment.

 

If you are buying new, I would get exactly what you want and I would wait to get it if necessary (not sure it is necessary if you truly want the 350 KTM....the EXC can be even better than the XCF-W since you can plate it.  I plated my bikes here in Colorado and it gives me a lot more flexibility on my riding plans (or even unplanned road usage).

 

If you are buying used, CRF450X, WR450F and KTM350/450 are all good choices for majority trail riding and let price/year/condition dictate which one you purchase.

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Thanks for all the replies. Very much appreciated!

 

I went and looked at the CRF250x and CRF450x today at the Honda showroom. Both seemed really good. However one thing that worried me is that at first the sales guy said they only need to have the valves checked and adjusted once a year or even every two years. He then went and checked with the service department and they said they should be done every 20 hours of riding. That seems like an awful lot and a pain in the ass to be honest.

 

Is that the same for the KTM does anyone know?

 

Seems the new bikes these days need a lot more care and maintenance? Even the four strokes which I hear are the new two strokes of years past (I'm talking 20 years ago). Always fiddling with them.

 

Or is this exaggerated?

 

Also as for the plating, I'm not worried. Alberta I just need headlight and a tail reflector for the trails and no need to go over any highways etc. The EXC-F does sound like it could be an option especially after the adjustments you mentioned SilvFx.

 

Pete

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Just an observation and opinion here. I owned a 04' CRF450R it was a great bike. Bullet proof, just not exactly what I wanted (hated the weight) for the trails I ride in Alaska. As for the valve adjustment intervals, it really matters more how hard you ride and making sure you keep the intake clean. The harder (ie: higher revs) you ride the more maintenance you'll have to do. I'd opt for the CRF as they are still running a carb. Dirt and fuel injection don't work, although on the other hand if you suffer from OCD and are okay with keeping an eye on the fuel filter. The injected models deliver better fuel mileage and a smoother power delivery. I have no experience owning an injected model but when I'm 60 miles from the truck I'll rely on the tried and true carb. Both models have the magic button. I'd check the make/model specific forums for the bikes you're considering to see what people like and dislike about them. Honda has been winning the Baja for years now so they've done something right and they recently setup an X for the Dakar Rally. Try to get a test ride if you can. I'm still going to insert my shameless plug for the 300 XC-W, XC models here.

Edited by W-KRiders

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350 if riding is tight trail, more enduro conditions,  450x if the riding is more open and flowing

 

the 350 rides more like a powerful 250 than a 450,  the 450x ride like a neutered 450r till you uncork it.

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A street legal KTM is a woods bike with a light kit. Worthy offroad bike. Get the plated version.

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I'm not a trail rider but at the track the Hondas are wayyy more durable than the ktms and its always nice to have the extra power for that one really steep hillclimb that no one wants to try so I'd say 450x plus you can go riding as you said this weekend!

Seriously? Honda being more durable than ktm? To the op, another thing that you might want to take into consideration is that the ktm holds it's value longer than a 450x. Not saying that a x is a bad bike, but it is damn near the same bike from 2005. The street legal ktm will also retain value even more than the xcf and the xcf-w. I have around 100 hours on my 350 and the valvetrain has been nothing but bulletproof, I keep up on valve inspections, which aren't that hard to do. On the 350, I can get the valves checked and oil changed in about a half hour to fourty minutes. I haven't ever had to shim the valves on mine. I say go for the ktm.

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Just an observation and opinion here. I owned a 04' CRF450R it was a great bike. Bullet proof, just not exactly what I wanted (hated the weight) for the trails I ride in Alaska. 

 

 

While the CRF450R MX bike is not usually chosen as a trail bike it is still nevertheless a reasonably light bike.  For instance, it is lighter than any of the KTM 350 bikes.

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