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New old guy looking at KTMs

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Here's a little background.  I'm 44 years old and live in Michigan.   I'm 5'8" and 150 pounds.  I raced a little motocross as a young teen and sucked at it.  But I also did some trail riding with a friend in high school and loved it.  I stopped riding at 17 when I graduated and my dirt biking friend and I went to college.   I rode road bikes through my 20s and early 30s, the last being a CBR 900RR.  I current race mountain bikes.  

 

I recently was watching a TV show that spotlighted the riding opportunity we have here in Michigan.  It reminded me how much I loved trail riding as a kid.  It also made me realize how lucky I am to be in a state that offers so much riding opportunity.  Lastly it reminded me I'm not getting any younger and if I want to get back into it, now's probably the time.  I've spent the last 6 months really looking into all the bikes.  I think I'm getting close to pulling the trigger, but thought I would just finally join up here at Thumper Talk, and talk through my decision out loud and listen to some of the feedback.

 

I think I'm going to go for a KTM 350 XCF-W.  

 

I wanted something that was trail oriented but wasn't too soft.  I rode an XR as a kid and thought it sucked.  But on the other hand when I rode my motocross bike (RM125) on the trails the peaky power was up in the powerband and tall first gear also kind of sucked.  All my bad memories of trail riding on the motorcross bike revolve around trying to get that thing up steep slow speed washed up climbs and either bogging it out, or having it suddenly get on the pipe and looping it out.  So I am looking at bikes like the WR250F, KTM XC-W or XCF-W.

 

I really had a hard time between two stroke and four stroke.  I grew up on two strokes.  I raced 2 stroke karts.  I raced a 2 stroke Formula 500 car in the SCCA.  The things I love about two strokes are the simplicity and maintenance.  I've melted pistons and spark plugs in kart racing and have replaced the piston and jug in the pits with less than $250 in parts and been back racing it 35 minutes.  On the other hand, I really want to see what the 4 stroke revolution is all about.  I like the idea of the linear power and ease of riding.  I also remember when I was trail riding 2 strokes as a kid we'd have to go out and drop gas at strategic spots ahead of time which I didn't like.    So I think I'm going to give 4 strokes a try this time.

 

I know the first issue people are going to raise is that's a heck of a lot of bike for someone who hasn't ridden in 25 years.  My thought process here is that I really don't want to buy something smaller and then upgrade a year later.  I think I have enough maturity and previous experience with powerful bikes (CBR900RR) that I'm not going to kill myself getting over the learning curve.  Also coming from a peaky motocross 2 stoke background I feel that the linear power of the 4 stroke 350 is going to be a lot easier to manage.  I'm an active mountain bike rider and racer.  I put a couple thousand miles on my mountain bike in the summer.  I'm no stranger to riding over 4 foot tall log piles, down skinnies, steep switch backs, off drops, etc, etc.  I know it doesn't translate 100% but I think I'm much different than someone who hasn't been on two wheels in years.  Lastly again, all my negative memories about trail riding as a teen revolved around not having enough power and low-end grunt to make the hard slow technical climbs.  So if I was to get something smaller, I suspect I'd be unhappy in that aspect again.  But please give me your opinion.  If you think I'm crazy, let me know.

 

So here are my concerns with my decision.  I'd love to hear people's thoughts on these.

  • Locked ECU - My understanding is the the XCF-W's ECU is locked.   Also my understanding is because of EPA compliance it may have some lean spots, especially on the bottom end.  I'm struggling with the fact that I'll be shelling out some big money for a bike and it's going to have lean/flat spots that I can't tune out.  Am I just worrying too much about that or is it a real problem?
  • Stalling - Originally I was thinking the 4 strokes would be less stall prone but after doing a lot of reading, I was surprised to find out it's the opposite.  As a teen my old motocross bike (1988 RM125) was completely gutless on the bottom end and had a tall first gear.  Stalling out on steep, slow up hills is what I hated about it.  I suspect that I'm worrying about this too much as well.  I'm guessing that while a 350 XCF-W might stall more than a 300 XC-W that it's still going to be many, many times better than my old RM125.

 

How much do dealers haggle on price.  I believe the 2016 KTM 350 XCF-W MSRPs aroung $9,700.  But I think I've found a dealer that has a new 2015 model for$7,600.  I don't think much has changed in the 2016s so that to me seems like a pretty sweet deal.  But maybe I'm wrong?

 

Sorry for the long post, but I've put a ton of thought into this before making the decision to pull the trigger.  Thanks for reading!

 

Doc

Edited by Doc_d

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Hey Doc,

I am pretty much in the same boat as yourself except the being in shape part I am currently thinking about the YZ250FX or maybe the YZ250X. One of my biggest issues with all the 4T is the weight. When I was last riding I think my bike weighed in the 200-215 range some of the new bikes are like 250lbs + seems like quite a bit of weight. Damn hard choices out here

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Don't under estimate the new 2 strokes. Some of them have more bottom end than some 4 strokes. The KTM 300 XC/XC-W would be a very nice bike for what you want to do, but yes, it is a ton of motor to handle. The 350 XCF-W is also an excellent choice. It mostly comes down to personal preference.

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My buddy who is about your size and weight just traded his plated 2015 350SX-F set-up for the woods for 2016 150SX. I rode the 350 which was great but the 150SX was awesome. Just throwing this out there

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Why buy new if you are just wanting to find out about the 4 stroke revolution?  Buy a used enduro bike (KTM 350/400/450/501 XCW, Yamaha WR450F, Kawi KLX450R, Husaberg FE 390/450/570, Husqvarna FE350/450, Honda CRF450X).  That way you can see if you like it.  Or just go the 2 stroke route and get a KTM 250/300 XC-W, Husaberg TE 250/300 or Husky TE250/300, or Beta 250/300 or GasGas 250/300 (note they are in bankruptcy and likely to go through liquidation last i read so some concern about replacement parts in the future).

 

I have a friend who got back into offroad riding a couple years ago.  He rode my WR250F, Kawi KDX200, and Husaberg FE450.  It was enough to convince him a 250 four stroke was not enough power for him.  Is happy with his decision.  KTM 350 may be middle ground, but I havent ridden one since they are new in the last couple of years.

 

As an 'old guy', i can tell you that a 450 4 stroke is the ultimately lazy man's bike (and I mean that in a good way).  Just twist the throttle and it goes just about anywhere.  No constant thinking ahead (am I in the right gear, do I have enough speed, etc).  Just twist the throttle.  Is it heavier than a 2 stroke...sure, but when riding doesnt really feel that way to me.  It does when you drop it and have to pick it up.

 

I also recommend that whatever you buy, get the wide ratio transmission and lighting, elec start, etc.  Not required but nice to have.  From what I have read, you can plate your offroad  bikes in Michigan (similar to here in Colorado), which is very handy for connecting from trail to trail and not having to worry that you are on some road that requires plates.

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Never rode the 350, but as a mountain biker myself, the ktm 200 xc w is light and flickable. More power then I know what to do with as well.

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Wow!  Lots of feedback.  Thanks I appreciate it!

 

Hey Doc,

... One of my biggest issues with all the 4T is the weight....

 

I'm right there with you!  I'm not a huge guy so I am a bit concerned about the weight.  That's why if I decide to go the 4 stoke route it'll be the KTM 350 XCF-W.  It's relatively light.  It's within 2 Kg (4.4 pounds) of a KTM 250 XC-W two stroke.  Before you accuse me of being a KTM fan boy, it's not so much I care about the brand.  But they seem to be the only ones making 2 strokes with heavy fly wheels and wide range 6 speed gear boxes.  I definitely don't want a motocrosser because of the close ratio 5 speed with a tall first gear.

 

Don't under estimate the new 2 strokes. Some of them have more bottom end than some 4 strokes. The KTM 300 XC/XC-W would be a very nice bike for what you want to do, but yes, it is a ton of motor to handle. The 350 XCF-W is also an excellent choice. It mostly comes down to personal preference.

You're killing me!  I've gone back and forth between two-stroke and four-stroke 200 times over the last 6 months.  If I decide to go two stroke it would definitely be the KTM 300 XC-W.  I just love the fact that they are hard to stall, have a ton of bottom end and a wide power band.  That and with the adjustable power valve it seems like you can tame them down quite a bit to make the power relatively linear in terms of a 2-stroke.  Ultimately I think I'm going to really get into it and I'd maybe eventually pick up a second used bike.  I'm much more comfortable picking up something like an older used 300 because I'm completely comfortable rebuilding that motor on the cheap.  I'm not comfortable buying a used 4-stroke.

 

My buddy who is about your size and weight just traded his plated 2015 350SX-F set-up for the woods for 2016 150SX. I rode the 350 which was great but the 150SX was awesome. Just throwing this out there

I can already tell you I'd never be happy with a 150.  Just not enough grunt down low.  Especially the SX with it's tall first gear.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those guys that has to have a lot of displacement just for bragging rights.  I could almost care less about peak HP.  What I care about is the ability to get through the tough, slow, steep, technical stuff with good amounts of low and mid range power.  

 

Why buy new if you are just wanting to find out about the 4 stroke revolution?  

 

I'm actually with you there.  There's only one problem...  People are insane on what they want for their used bikes.  Even though I've only gotten serious about buying a bike in the last 6 months I've actually been watching craigslist for over a year.  My niece wanted to start riding with me but she blew up her old bike.  So I was going to get her something for her b-day.   Long story short, I'm like an expert on used bike prices now :)  I can't believe what people want for a 5+ year old used bike.  And forget anything newer than that.  For the 2 - 3 year old bikes I often find better deals at dealerships with new models from last year.  In the year I've been watching craigslist I've seen exactly 2 good deals.  One was an KTM 250 XCF-W that I called on and missed because it sold in less than a day and the other was a WR450 which I don't think is the right bike for me.  Everyone else is out of their mind asking what they are asking.  I even found several guys asking more than MSRP for used bikes.  To make matters worse, I'm extremely reluctant to buy a used 4 stroke because of the potential cost of rebuilding it.

 

Never rode the 350, but as a mountain biker myself, the ktm 200 xc w is light and flickable. More power then I know what to do with as well.

I think if I decided to go the 2 stroke route, I'd go with the 300.  I actually saw a race between a 300 XC-W and a 250 XC-W and it was dead even.  My understanding is that the 300 isn't so much faster as it just has more bottom end, more linear power and a wider power band.   I know initially, especially with a 2 stroke that going with that much of a bike would probably be a challenge though.  Maybe if I could find a really good deal on an older used 200 XC-W that would be a good stepping stone, but see my experience above with finding good used bikes.  People with a 5+ year old 200 XC-W want $5K which is just silly in my opinion.  Did a 200 XC-W even cost $5K 5 year ago?

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Doc

If the 15' xcfw 350 is still available for $7,600, that's a great deal! Look it up on kbb. I have a 14' and love it. Dealer used it as a demo and had 170 miles on it. New msrp was $9,600, I paid 7,900, I felt I couldn't pass it up.

Weather you decide 2t or 4t, research rekluse clutches, great for off-roading and trail riding, (woods).

Funny, Doc is my nickname.

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Looking at the specs the 350 XCF-W weighs 236 (without fuel).  250 XC-W weighs 225 lbs (without fuel).  So 11 lbs different in dry weight.  Tank capacity is lower for the 350 XCF-W at 8.5 litres or 2.25 gallons (14 lbs).  250 XC-W has 10 litre capacity or 2.64 gal (16 lbs).  Still relatively light though.  Add 14 lbs for fuel...puts the 350XCF-w at 250 lbs.  250 XC-W at 241 lbs with fuel or about 9 lbs different.

 

WR450F comes in about 270 lbs with fuel.

 

Agree about CL...good deals go fast when they are priced right andthey sell in 1-3 days, so if you buy used, have cash on hand and be ready to jump and look every day for new postings.  I see no reason that you cant get a good deal esp in Mich in winter time.  I picked up a low hour '07 WR450F, 2 years ago for $2950, with aftermarket muffler, high capacity fuel tank, handguards, skid plate etc along with all orig parts.  Looked like it had less than 40 hours.  Used 4 stroke MX bikes can be a problem and in need of rebuild.  Offroad bikes dont get abused as bad.  KTMs, Husabergs, Huskies, etc have OEM hour and mileage meters so you can tell if low mileage/hours (I consider anything below 50 hrs as low hours).   3 years ago, picked up a '10 Husaberg FE450 with 18 hrs for $5100.  Just traded it last May for a 2012 KTM 300 XC-W + $800.  Both bikes had similar hours when traded (approx 80).  Deals are out there. 

 

Of course, I have no issue with you buying new, but sometimes it is hard to tell what you want when getting back into the sport.  May take a couple tries to get it right.  Would hate to see you lose a bunch of money on depreciation that goes with new bikes.

 

Also KTM isnt the only ones making wide ratio two strokes (sort of).  There are others as I mentioned above:  Husaberg TE250/300 (yep purchased by KTM and made almost exclusively of KTM parts, Husqvarna TE125/250/300 (yep purchased by KTM and new ones made almost exclusively of KTM parts and is supplanting the Husaberg brand name), Beta 250/300, GasGas 250/300 (going through bankruptcy).

 

By the way, new this year are the YZ450FX, YZ250FX....and supposed to be a YZ250X (2t) with wide ratio transmissions, but without lighting.  In my mind these are equivalent to the KTM "XC" models...although they have wide ratios transmissions not the semi close ratio transmissions of the XC KTMs.  So, a few more choices out there.  Good luck with your decision.  I think you are right to focus on the wide ratio/enduro models.

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Doc

If the 15' xcfw 350 is still available for $7,600, that's a great deal! Look it up on kbb. I have a 14' and love it. Dealer used it as a demo and had 170 miles on it. New msrp was $9,600, I paid 7,900, I felt I couldn't pass it up.

Weather you decide 2t or 4t, research rekluse clutches, great for off-roading and trail riding, (woods).

Funny, Doc is my nickname.

I checked with that dealer today and the '15 is gone. They have a '16 which MSRPs at $9699. Tax is would be be around $586. They are claiming that prep is $400 and destination is $400. So that comes to $11,086. They said they'd get me out the door for $9800. So that is a discount but wow, that still a huge chunk of change for a dirt bike. I'm going to keep looking around for a dealer that might have a '15 they might offer a better deal on.

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I checked with that dealer today and the '15 is gone. They have a '16 which MSRPs at $9699. Tax is would be be around $586. They are claiming that prep is $400 and destination is $400. So that comes to $11,086. They said they'd get me out the door for $9800. So that is a discount but wow, that still a huge chunk of change for a dirt bike. I'm going to keep looking around for a dealer that might have a '15 they might offer a better deal on.

Well good luck, the only reason I got mine was the price and the chance to jump on it before it listed.

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'I rode an XR as a kid and thought it sucked'  how can you compare a bike from twenty years ago that you did not know how to ride? and a small bore Suzuki motocross being used as  trail bike? that bike was great on a motocross track if you had the skill to keep it on the boil. Guys having been winning the Baja on XR big bore 4 stroke bikes since the late 70s, so I dont see that recent 4 strokes are revolutionary for enduro riding/racing.  seems like you are confused about what defines a motocross bike and a wide ratio enduro bike. I recently bought a 2008 KX 250f for $1900.00, 203 lbs and lots of usable power however it is not an enduro bike and I am well aware that it is not optimal for anything other than MX racing. sure you can gear up a motocross bike but one would be hard pressed to expect it to be as good as a bike designed ground up for enduro or trail riding. 2 or 4 stroke? I want both :thumbsup: I do find  4 strokes to be less finicky but more expensive to repair.My personal preference would be a Honda CRF 250x, rock solid relability, reasonable power and handling.Have fun shopping :thumbsup:  

Edited by SPQR

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'I rode an XR as a kid and thought it sucked'  how can you compare a bike from twenty years ago that you did not know how to ride? 

Why don't you think I knew how to ride it?  I was riding quite a bit at that time.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm just saying I wouldn't be happy with any of the softer trail bikes like the Honda XR, CRF230L, Yamaha TT-R, etc.  I don't want the soft motor, drum brakes, weight penalty, etc.  I'm definitely in the market for at least something like a Yamaha WR, Honda CRF-X or KTM XC-W/XCF-W.

 

 

📎cr-500-r_1985_2.jpg📎0.jpgYes please don't under estimate two strokes!

I certainly don't underestimate them.  Again that's what I cut my teeth on.  Between racing motocross, karts and a formula 500 car (Rotax twin) in the SCCA I'd say I've got quite a bit of experience and admiration for two strokes.  That's half the reason I actually want to try out a four stroke so I can see for myself how far they've come.  I'll be honest, the fact they are supposedly easier to ride, more linear power and better range are also reasons I'm leaning that way.  But I'd still consider a two stroke if I could find a good deal on a new or used KTM 200/250/300 XC-W.  

Edited by Doc_d

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'I race a little bit of motocross as a young teen and sucked at it' your OP . What I am getting at is that I would not let your bad experience of using a motocross bikes as trail bike way back then influence your current dilemma? expecting a 125 motocross bike to be a great off road experience? but that was a long time ago...right? ;) back then I raced a Husky WR 250...what a bike! your on the right track of considering a wide ratio off road bike. Anyone know if parts and labor for EURO bikes are considerably more ducats?

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At 150lbs. the bike's weight is a consideration whenever you'll need to 'manhandle' it around,

situation where a lighter 2 strokes will be appreciated.

 

20-25lbs makes quite a difference in how a bike feels when riding, and even more when you have to pick it up on the trail

or loading it at the end of the day when exhausted.

 

Depending where you ride, fuel mileage could be a disadvantage versus a 4 stroke. (but larger aftermarket tanks are sometimes available)

 

If you insist on a KTM, a 300 seems pretty versatile in just about anything except motocross.

Edited by mlatour
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If I were you I'd stay away from ktms, they aren't bad bikes but they are finicky. Gas filter gets clogged causing the engine to starve of fuel. A buddy just got rid of his 350 sxf, it was a 2016! He hated it , said it felt heavy. And we had to help him push the damned thing off the trail! I'd go for a crf250x or wr250f. Something for off-road. With a start. Great power. And MUCH lower cost otd

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If I were you I'd stay away from ktms, they aren't bad bikes but they are finicky. Gas filter gets clogged causing the engine to starve of fuel. A buddy just got rid of his 350 sxf, it was a 2016! He hated it , said it felt heavy. And we had to help him push the damned thing off the trail! I'd go for a crf250x or wr250f. Something for off-road. With a start. Great power. And MUCH lower cost otd

Interesting, my gut feeling is not to trust KTM, pretty &%$#@!ing expensive too :jawdrop: . I have been riding since about 1970, somethings never change?.....I think :smirk: I may be wrong but Honda still tends to be the most reliable with the other Japanese offers not far behind. The part that bugs me about mountain bikes and off road motorcycles is the lack of objective testing. why is their not something available for bikes like Consumers Report? so much crap you have to sift through if you are looking for a good bike  :banghead:  I hope my KX 250f Kawasaki proves to be reliable, not so with the others I had back in the stone age, KS 125, KS 100. Horribly unreliable :( most difficult part about posting on any forum is to remain objective.

Edited by SPQR
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