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KTM300, kind of terrifying

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Hey all. 

I bought an 05 300EXC this spring after coming from a KLX250s with a 350 kit in it.  That bike was heavy but very, very easy to ride.  I rode dirt bikes as a kid from middle to high school and then left them for a long, long time. I came back to them about 5 years ago and am now 50. In the interim I rode mountain bikes a lot. So, I am not a total newbie but I am also not a racer.  My principal complaint on the KLX was the weight. I got seduced by the light weight of 2 strokes and thought I'd try one out.  The 300 KTMs seemed a good bet. 

I rode mine enough to gel with it somewhat. I got to the point where I was as fast on the EXC as the KLX but I was less tired at the end of the day due to the low weight.  I ride in New England woods, which means lots of roots and rocks. It's pretty much all technical all the time.  My problem is that I need to loft the front wheel a bit often from low speeds.  I tried this 3 weeks ago and wound up looping it out, but before I looped it I got going pretty fast.  I landed on rocks and wound up with a massive hematoma on my lower back/butt.  17 days after looping it they took a pint of blood out of my Kardashian sized ass.

Now, I am not sure what to do.  I don't know if I should stick it out with the 300 or just go back to four strokes. It's too unpredictable.   Someone suggested I take the bike to a long, flat dirt road and accelerate hard to get the measure of the engine and become more comfortable with it.  

The bike is now set up nice with a Rekluse and suspension from my local tuner who has done more than one bike for me. It's also plated in Massachusetts.  This is no easy feat with a 2 stroke. 

 

Suggestions?

Edited by Adam N.

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carb tuning makes it a lot more predictable and power valve spring setting

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I own a 2006 KTM 300 xc-w which is pretty much the same bike.  Electrical, Flywheel and gearing might be different.  I've found that this bike's engine and chassis very tunable.  I would suggest for woods riding like you describe, to start with the green spring in the power valve and set the adjustment screw to flush.  That should give you the most progressive power, opposed to a powerband that comes on like a light switch.

You might try the Tubliss system with Trials tires.  That combination works great in the roots and rocks.  I have no affiliation with Tubliss.

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Have you checked if there is a G2 Ergonomics throttle tube available?  They will slow down the throttle opening with the same rotation early in the twist.

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I'm going to "wuss out" and go to the green spring. 

I think I need to spend a day tuning it on a dirt road with all the springs and stuff.  I already put a Lectron on it and am pretty happy with it.  It starts so easy and runs nice.  I'm still jealous of my friends on 450s just picking up their front ends like they do.  Braap, up and over. 

I think I may still be in a four stroke state of mind and should be riding a gear lower, but it's hard to get my head around. 

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I just bought a14 300xcw with just about every mod to make more power and I find it quite subdued compared to my yz250 I just sold. I was actually a bit disappointed. 

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50 minutes ago, zeddy said:

I find it quite subdued compared to my yz250 I just sold. I was actually a bit disappointed. 

Coming from a 2 stroke and going to another means you have experience with 2 strokes.  

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I too am an old rider with a 300XCW. I am not a great rider, but I used to ride/race two strokes when I was young.
I found that it took me at least 10 hours to get used to the 300XCW when I got it, it was a big change from my 250XCF. I was not sure that I had made the right choice.


By the time I had 20 hours, I was in love.

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It takes time to really get to know the 300. It's one of those bikes that can and will work extremely well for almost everyone, but at the same time if not respected.. well you know what happens.

Thing is, the bike can be tuned to run however you want it. It's all in the jetting. It can be jetted to have insane snap off idle for hopping logs and shit, and it can also be jetted to be slower than a 125, but with enough torque to chug up anything. 

Take the time to set the bike up for how you like to ride. Experiment with the PV springs and preload, experiment with the jetting and you will eventually fall on a setting that works great for you.

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56 minutes ago, pat22043 said:

I too am an old rider with a 300XCW. I am not a great rider, but I used to ride/race two strokes when I was young.
I found that it took me at least 10 hours to get used to the 300XCW when I got it, it was a big change from my 250XCF. I was not sure that I had made the right choice.


By the time I had 20 hours, I was in love.

Can I ask how that change took place?  What won you over.  

 

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50 minutes ago, sixOHfour said:

It takes time to really get to know the 300. It's one of those bikes that can and will work extremely well for almost everyone, but at the same time if not respected.. well you know what happens.

Thing is, the bike can be tuned to run however you want it. It's all in the jetting. It can be jetted to have insane snap off idle for hopping logs and shit, and it can also be jetted to be slower than a 125, but with enough torque to chug up anything. 

Take the time to set the bike up for how you like to ride. Experiment with the PV springs and preload, experiment with the jetting and you will eventually fall on a setting that works great for you.

I'd like to see some of that snap off the bottom.  I guess this warrants a day on the trail with the power valve springs. Hopefully I can make the 2T work for me.   I should be getting another round of blood drained out of my back on Wednesday.  Let me tell you, that's weird and spooky.  I went right out and bought much more serious armor. 

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Lots of little things, like I got used to the complete lack of engine braking, which I intellectually expected, but still was unsettling. I never had a full whiskey throttle, but there were a couple of times when it got on the pipe a lot faster than I wanted. I needed to learn how it responded, how much to twist, etc.

It just took time to get used to the huge torque from idle on up. But once I got used to it, I can climb rocky, rooted twisty trails like magic. The bike makes me look like a much better rider.

For your case, I'd change to the wimpy power valve spring even as you recover.

 

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1 hour ago, Adam N. said:

Coming from a 2 stroke and going to another means you have experience with 2 strokes.  

I had my YZ for almost 14 hours of riding. Had a Husky 450 before that. Everyone brags about how gnarly the 300 is, it tons more power than the OP is used to but way easier to tame than an MX 250 2T.

 

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I went from a 450 to a 300 and love it. I haven't seen it mentioned yet but work that awesome hydraulic clutch like crazy. I try and hold throttle mostly steady on the gnarly stuff and use the clutch to modulate.

I'm a second year dirt rider with a mtb background too. Good luck and don't give up on the 300

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10 hours ago, The Anvil said:

If you ride once a month or less, buy another four stroke.

I rode a couple of hours at a time, two or three times a week. Not sure I completely agree with @TheAnvil but I can see forgetting all you learn if you only ride once a month

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30 minutes ago, Kidrman said:

I went from a 450 to a 300 and love it. I haven't seen it mentioned yet but work that awesome hydraulic clutch like crazy. I try and hold throttle mostly steady on the gnarly stuff and use the clutch to modulate.

I'm a second year dirt rider with a mtb background too. Good luck and don't give up on the 300

Interesting.  That seems constructive. I'll try that.

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4 minutes ago, pat22043 said:

I rode a couple of hours at a time, two or three times a week. Not sure I completely agree with @TheAnvil but I can see forgetting all you learn if you only ride once a month

I had been riding after work on Wednesdays pretty consistently until the accident with longer all day rides roughly one or two times a month.  So, I was getting decent seat time or, more accurately, peg time.

I feel like I am missing something, like there is something really basic and essential that I don't understand about 2 stroke riding.

 

Edited by Adam N.

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2 hours ago, Adam N. said:
I had been riding after work on Wednesdays pretty consistently until the accident with longer all day rides roughly one or two times a month.  So, I was getting decent seat time or, more accurately, peg time.
I feel like I am missing something, like there is something really basic and essential that I don't understand about 2 stroke riding.
 

 


There is no doubt a 2 stroke is harder to ride and demands more respect. However, once it clicks you get spoiled in anything remotely technical. Soon your 450 buddies will be wishing they were on a 300 :). That bike makes every bit of torque the 450 does and will loft logs with no effort from a stand still , even in second gear. I was primarily a thumper rider and similar to Pat, I thought I had made a big mistake when I sold my yz250fx and got a Beta 250rr. The power was a huge increase, unpredictable and I found myself hanging on for dear life at times haha. This was my first 2 stroke. Most of my buddies have them so I had ridden them, but not owned one. After about 10 hours of riding the 250rr it started making sense and everything began getting easier and easier. The key was getting it set up for comfort. Power valve setting was a big part of this. For me, I set it flush despite people telling me to turn it in to further the delay of the hit. Flush made the bike super linear like a big bore thumper. Delaying the hit just made it that more noticeable when I got on the pipe and didn't like that for woods riding.

Hopefully you heal up soon and can get some more hours on it before making a decision. I literally felt exactly like you and in my head I couldn't believe I had just spent 10k on a 2 stroke. Everything was telling me maybe I'm just a thumper guy. But I didn't give up and now I really couldn't imagine going back to one for technical woods riding. Moral of the story is transitioning from a 4 to a 2 is not easy when you don't really have experience with 2's. Much harder than going from 2 to 4. Give it a little more time and report back.

Also keep in mind maintenance is much less and easier on the 2 stroke. I have come to really appreciate that.

 

Edited by NW_drZ
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I went from a 450xcf (09) to a 250xc (16) and I felt the 2 stroke was 500 times easier to ride and survive on top of. The 450 was always on, the 250 is manageable down low and still an animal up top when I need to give 'er the berries and keep up with my 4 stroke buddies on the wide open stuff. In the tight stuff I can't ever imagine going back to a 4 stroke.

 

As was mentioned, learn to , or start to use the clutch to control things in the technical stuff. Ride a gear taller than you would have if you were on a 4 stroke and slip that clutch. 

Good luck and have fun. 

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