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Planning First New Bike After A Long Time

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Hello,

New member here and looking to buy a new bike and start riding again after a 15+ year break. A lot has changed since I last owned a bike! A little background, I got my first dirt bike back when I was 6 years old and rode daily during the non snow months until I was 20 years old. I raced local hair scrambles and enduro races at the intermediate level in my late teens back in B.C. My last bikes were a modified 1988 XR 250R (bored to 275cc) also had a 1990 KDX 200. I rode the heck out of those bikes. I also have a fair bit of time on early 1990's 250cc 2-stroke motocross bikes as well as a little time on CR 500R or two along the way. I was an athlete in college and gave up riding at the time as sports and school took me a long way from home and my bikes. After college I focused on other things and riding and work together didn't fit at the time. Now I am 41 years old and have the time and means to get back into riding! I am an athletic 6'3" 245lbs. A guy I know here in Colorado rides and races on a regular basis and has both a KTM 450 and this season switched to a 2017 KTM 350 EXC-F. He swears by the 350! I understand they are a little more high strung than the 450's and need to be rung out to really maximize the HP? Another friend of mine rides a 2008 KTM 400 EXC and I like that bike as well. Little heavy though.. I feel like I want to go the 450 route with my height and weight and riding past. Most riding with be open country, hills, fire roads, single track ect. Not much of a motocross guy. The two bikes that have really caught my eye are the Husqvarna FX 350 and FX 450. I was tried and true Honda in years past but feel like KTM and Husqvarna have really lead the way in recent years. Thoughts, advice and recommendations are welcome. 

Edited by JW74

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Sounds like you don't need anyone's help.  Realizing you don't want an MX bike puts you on the right track.  KTM and Husky (same company) make some great enduro bikes.  Yamaha has made some strides as well.

First you should decide on 2-stroke versus 4-stroke.  The KTM/Husky 300s are some pretty great bikes.  The 4 strokes are really good bikes too but don't have quite the legendary status the 2 strokes do.  There are some pros and cons to both.  The 2-strokes are super luggable, stall proof and love to tractor through the slowest most technical stuff.  The 4 strokes are smooth, linear, fuel injected and have great fuel range.  So do a little research and pick your poison.

Next you have to decide on displacement.  You've got a lot of previous riding experience, you're a big guy and you're riding at high altitude where the bikes are going to be down in power.  If you go with the 2-stroke I'd go right for the 300.  In the 4-strokes it's a tougher call.  I ride a 350 and it's fast, but it does like to rev.  I'm also 160 pounds and ride at basically sea level.  It's a tough call.  Perhaps you can ride your buddy's bikes and decide?

Once you decide on that we have to wade through KTM / Husky's alphabet soup of model nomenclature.  Basically of the bikes you'd be interested in there are 2-strokes and 4-strokes.  Within each of those groups there is an Enduro line of bikes and a cross country line of bikes.  I'd steer you towards the Enduro line of bikes.

In the four strokes the Enduro line of bikes use a different motor than the cross country line of bikes.  The Enduro bikes use a motor that has less peak horsepower but more low end and more flywheel weight to make them more tractable and luggable.  The Enduro bikes have a low first gear to make it easy to pick your way through the tough slow sections.  The Enduro bikes come with a radiator fan (at least they did in 2016 when I got mine) to keep cool when the going gets slow and technical.  They have suspension tuned to eat up rocks, roots and trail trash without deflecting but it's too soft for motocross style jumps and high speed whoops.  They come with some creature comforts like headlights, computer (speedo, trip, hour meter, etc), etc.. The cross country bikes basically have the motor out of the motocross bikes which has more top end, less flywheel mass, revs faster but won't tractor and will be more stall prone.  They also have a taller first gear but not as tall as a motocross bike.  They have a stiffer suspension for more aggressive riding like big jumps and high speed whoops but it will deflect more off rocks, roots, etc.. The KTM 4-stroke Enduro line are the EXC models and the Husky 4-stroke Enduro line are the FE models.  The KTM 4-stroke cross country line are the XC-F models and the Husky 4-stroke cross country line are the FX models.

I'm less familiar with the two strokes.  I believe most of the difference between the Enduro line and the cross country line are the same as the four strokes except for the motor.  I believe the motor is the same between the lines.  The rest of the differences apply I believe (gearing, suspension, headlight, computer, etc).  The KTM 2-stroke Enduro line are the XC-W models.  The Husky 2-stroke Enduro line are the TE models.  The KTM 2-stroke cross country line are the XC models.  The Husky 2-stroke cross county line are the TX models.

Phew!  Simple, eh? Hopefully I didn't make the decision more confusing than it already is.  Good luck and let us know what you decide.

 

Doc

Edited by Doc_d

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Doc_d gave you a great explanation.  Unless you are going to do MX track riding (which I dont recommend for someone your age), I would go with the XCF-W or XCW (now changed to EXC) models in KTM and FE/TE models in Husky.  These bikes come with lights already.  While I dont particularly think you need lights in Colorado, you will find that to be able to ride loops and connect between some trails and riding areas it is WAY easier to convert/plate your bike.  And the W models or E models come with lights.  Basically need to add a brake light switch, horn, mirror and DOT tires (at least for inspection) and you are good to go.  Also can come in handy have headlights and brake lights on trails....might help someone see you coming and avoid a headon and it certainly helps your riding buddies to know that you are braking.

At our altitude, I think you will use and need 450cc  above treeline (and need 300cc 2 stroke).  Everything is down on power from sea level by about 30% at 11K+.  Had a buddy get a chance to ride a '17 KTM 350 XC-F while we were in Moab and he was pretty impressed with the power and weight.  Said it felt as quick as his WR450, but at higher rpms. This was just a five minute ride, so not a true test.  And...Moab is like 4600-5200' in elevation...about like Denver or lower so its not like he tried it in Colorado where everything we ride is usually 8K+.

Not sure if your friend or acquaintance is close enough that you would feel comfortable asking to ride his EXC-F, but would be great to be able to do something like that.  Maybe rent a bike for a day that you can ride and switch off here and there with this person.  Or maybe get him to bring both is 450 and 350 and you try both of his bikes and decide for yourself.

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Doc, thanks for the reply and all of the info! I am leaning towards the 4-stroke side so that will eliminate the 300, although that is an awesome bike too! I was looking at bikes today at the shop and man are their some great bikes out there. The KTM and Husky 350's are putting up the same HP as the Japanese 450's! At this juncture I am leaning towards Either the KTM 350 or the Husky FX 350. I feel like the 450 in either bike would be overkill for me right now and probably wear me out faster than the 350 would? I will keep you updated on what I decide. Thanks again!

 

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SilvrFx and Doc thanks for the replies and the info! I ended up pulling the trigger today and went with an 18' Huskvarna FX350. So far the power is much stronger than anything I have had in the past and that was just a quick ride up a road when I got home with Map 1 and TC selected. In the end the FX350 has the same HP (58HP) as the Japanese 450's and I liked the 6 speed transmission over the 5 speed. I cant wait to get out and start riding again!

FullSizeR.jpg

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Congrats,that's a sharp looking bike,. Be sure to post up a first ride report and let us know how you like it.

 

Doc

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you move quickly.  Great looking bike.  One thing I would be interested in verifying from the Service Manual/owner's manual that they provide is the actual gear ratios on the XC or FX bikes and the primary drive ratio and the front/rear sprocket size.  I have read for years that the XC has a semi close ratio transmission which meant that 1-4 were similar to MX bike (close ratio) and 5-6 were like the the XCW/EXC bikes.  Then I saw someone comment that no the XC bikes first gear was as low as the XCW.  Frankly not sure which to believe, but it would be great if you could look in the specifications section of the detailed owners manual all the gear ratios and primary and secondary ratios.

I have tried to research it many times and havent found any clarity.  I can post up what my 2012 XC-W ratios are in the hopes that those really havent changed between the years (but they may have).

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I always heard that the XC's first is taller than the XC-W but still shorter than the SX.  But I've never seen the specs so who knows.

 

Doc

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38 minutes ago, Doc_d said:

I always heard that the XC's first is taller than the XC-W but still shorter than the SX.  But I've never seen the specs so who knows.

 

Doc

yep exactly....the stories seem to vary.  Would be nice to compare a 2017 KTM 350 XCF-W to a 2017 350 XC-F (aka FX).  Would like to have a definitive answer at some point because IMO that shorter (higher numberical ratio) first gear can make a lot of difference on tough single track and the spacing between gears makes a lot of difference (maybe less so on a 5 spd vs. 6 speed).

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2 hours ago, SilvFx said:

you move quickly.  Great looking bike.  One thing I would be interested in verifying from the Service Manual/owner's manual that they provide is the actual gear ratios on the XC or FX bikes and the primary drive ratio and the front/rear sprocket size.  I have read for years that the XC has a semi close ratio transmission which meant that 1-4 were similar to MX bike (close ratio) and 5-6 were like the the XCW/EXC bikes.  Then I saw someone comment that no the XC bikes first gear was as low as the XCW.  Frankly not sure which to believe, but it would be great if you could look in the specifications section of the detailed owners manual all the gear ratios and primary and secondary ratios.

I have tried to research it many times and havent found any clarity.  I can post up what my 2012 XC-W ratios are in the hopes that those really havent changed between the years (but they may have).

SilvFx, here are the transmission ratios from the manual for the 2018 FX 350:

1st: 15:31

2nd: 16:25

3rd: 20:25

4th: 22:23

5th: 25:22

6th: 26:20

The FC 350 were also listed:

1st: 14:28

2nd: 16:26

3rd: 18:24

4th: 21:24

5th: 22:21

 

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Thanks OP.  To summarize:

FX350 (Husky version of KTM XC-F cross country bike) :

1st  2.0667

2nd  1.5625

3rd  1.2500

4th  1.0455

5th  0.8800

6th  0.7692

FC350  (Husky version of KTM SX-F motorcross bike):

1st  2.0000

2nd  1.6250

3rd  1.3333

4th  1.1429

5th  .9545

6th  NA

And both bikes have a primary ratio of 3.0417

JW74....what are the stock countershaft sprocket sizes on the FX350? This is the secondary ratio.  From what I can find on the internet, for the FC the stock sprockets are 14:50 which is a 3.5714 for the secondary ratio and for the FX the stock sprockets are 13:52 which is 4.000 secondary ratio.

So to figure out the number of engine rotations per rear wheel rotation, the math is (assuming no clutch slippage):

gear ratio x primary drive ratio x secondary drive ratio.  

So to translate this to reality, for the FX (stock everything) and running in first gear, we have

2.0667 x 3.0417 x 4.000 = 25.145 engine RPM for every rear wheel rotation or in other words at 2000 engine rpm the rear wheel will be rotating 79.5 times per minute.

for the FC using stock everything and running in first gear we have

2.0000 x 3.0417 x 3.5714 = 21.726 engine rpm for every rear wheel rotation or in other words at 2000 engine rpm the rear wheel will be rotating 92.0 times per minute.  This means with the same size rear wheel tire, the FC will be traveling 15% faster speed than the FX.

 

Doc_d if you would be so kind as to post up your 350 XCF-W gear ratios, primary ratios and secondary ratios we can compare those to the 350 XC-F (aka FX) that JW74  has provided.

 

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SilvFx,

I have a 14 on the front and a 50 on the rear, looks to be the same as the FC.

Joe

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14 hours ago, JW74 said:

SilvFx,

I have a 14 on the front and a 50 on the rear, looks to be the same as the FC.

Joe

 

you'll have to decide for yourself, but I would run a 13 tooth on the front...and could even go up to a 51 or 52 on the rear sprocket depending on how much chain slack you have.

You can go to www.gearingcommander.com and use their tools to figure out the speed in each gear at various rpms in stock vs. modified configuration.  Very handy tool and will likely need to to get your bike set up for Colorado trail riding (at least IMO).

Hopefully Doc_d will post up his XCF-W gearing ratios, etc and we can compare to your XC-F (FX) to the XCF-W (FE).  I am a big believer in the wide ratio bikes but i am interested in the spread between gears for the XC-F and XCF-W.

 

 

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I'm on vacation with the wife in Colorado.  I'll try to remember to look the gear ratios up when I get back.

 

Doc

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I took my bike out for the first time today. Rode for about 3.5 hours and put on about 25+ miles up at Rampart here in Colorado. The bike felt awesome and had much more power than I anticipated. I wasn't riding it really hard as I wanted to break the engine in as the owners manual stated. Kept it in Map 1 with TC on for most of the day. Power and handling were awesome! I rode my buddies 12' RM 450 as well and it had strong low end torque but I feel like my FX 350 pulled as hard even in Map 1. Both great bikes. I am looking forward to spending a lot more time on my bike and getting a better feel for it!

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Finally back from Colorado.  Here are the gear ratios for my '16 350 XCF-W...

 

1st....  14:32

2nd... 16:26

3rd... 20:25

4th... 22:23

5th... 25:22

6th... 26:20

 

Primary... 24:73

Secondary 13:52

 

Doc

Edited by Doc_d

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Doc_d  welcome back from Colorado.  Did you get to ride when you were out here?

thanks for the information on the 2016 KTM 350 XCF-W.  Here is all the info condensed together in one post.

350 XCF-W (KTM version of Husky FE350)

1st  2.2857

2nd  1.6250

3rd  1.2500

4th  1.0455

5th  0.8800

6th  0.7692

Primary Ratio = 3.0417

Secondary Ratio (52/13) = 4.000

FX350 (Husky version of KTM XC-F cross country bike) :

1st  2.0667

2nd  1.5625

3rd  1.2500

4th  1.0455

5th  0.8800

6th  0.7692

Primary Ratio = 3.0417

Secondary Ratio (50/14)  = 3.5714

FC350  (Husky version of KTM SX-F motorcross bike):

1st  2.0000

2nd  1.6250

3rd  1.3333

4th  1.1429

5th  .9545

6th  NA

Primary Ratio = 3.0417

Secondary Ratio (50/14) = 3.5714

 

So to figure out the number of engine rotations per rear wheel rotation, the math is (assuming no clutch slippage) gear ratio x primary drive ratio x secondary drive ratio.  Here is what that means in 1st gear:

FE 350 (350 XCF-W)

2.2857 x 3.0417 x 4.000 = 27.809 engine RPM for every rear wheel rotation or in other words at 2000 engine rpm the rear wheel will be rotating 71.9 times per minute.

FX 350 (350 XC-F)

2.0667 x 3.0417 x 3.5714 = 22.485 engine RPM for every rear wheel rotation or in other words at 2000 engine rpm the rear wheel will be rotating 89.1 times per minute.  This means with same size rear wheel/tire, the FX will be traveling 24% faster than the FE or the FE is gear 24% lower than the FX (at least in stock configuration).

FC 350 (350 SX-F)

2.0000 x 3.0417 x 3.5714 = 21.726 engine rpm for every rear wheel rotation or in other words at 2000 engine rpm the rear wheel will be rotating 92.0 times per minute.  This means with the same size rear wheel/tire, the FC will be traveling 28% faster speed than the FE or the FE is geared 28% lower (in stock configuration).

My conclusions:

  • No difference in primary reduction ratio is all models FE/FX/FC (XCF-W/XC-F/SX).
  • Secondary reduction ratios on FC (SX-F) and FX (XC-F) are exactly the same since they both use a 50 tooth rear sprocket and 14 tooth front sprocket (3.5714). 
  • 1st and 2nd gear of the FE (XCF-W) are higher ratios / "lower geared" than the FX (XC-F). 
  • 3rd through 6th gear are exactly than the same between the FE (XCF-W) and the FX (XC-F) models.  They would "ride" exactly the same if someone were to use the same size front/rear sprockets (secondary reduction ratios).  FE uses 13/52 (4.000) and FX uses 14/50 sprockets (3.5714).
  • FC (SX-F) 1st gear is lower ratio / "higher geared" than both FE (XCF-W) and FX (XC-F).
  • FC (SX-F) 2nd gear is the exact same ratio as FE and is higher ratio / "lower geared" than the FX model. That is somewhat surprising to me.
  • FC (SX-F) 3rd through 5th gear is higher ratio / "lower geared" than both FE (XCF-W) and FX (XC-F). Makes perfect sense as there is less spread and less RPM drop between a close ratio geared transmission vs. wide ratio or semi wide ratio.
  • Someone can make the FX  (XC-F) "ride" similar to the FE (XCF-W) from 3rd through 6th gear, just by changing the FX sprockets (14/50) to FE sprockets (13/52).  FX 1st & 2nd gears are lower ratio / "higher geared" than FE and they will not "ride" the same in the two lowest gears.

 

 

 

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No unfortunately I didn't ride in Colorado.  It was a vacation with the wife and she doesn't ride.  I did make the hike/climb to the summit of Mount Elbert which is the highest summit in Colorado and the second highrst summit in the contiguous U.S..  Quite the accomplishment for a sea level dweller that hates heights.m You'd have thought I was climbing Everest they way I was huffing and puffing at 14,000 feet. :lol:

That pretty much mimics what I've always heard about the XCF-W vs XC-F vs SX-F.  Although the actual numbers are a bit surprising.  Thr XCF-W and SX-F share the same 2nd gear ratio (secondary gearing not withstanding) while the XC-F 2nd gear is taller than both.  It's hard to wrap your head around the numbers.  It would be interesting to see these plotted out on a graph superimposed on each other.

 

Doc

Edited by Doc_d

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9 minutes ago, Doc_d said:

That pretty much mimics what I've always heard about the XCF-W vs XC-F vs SX-F.  Although the actual numbers are a bit surprising.  Thr XCF-W and SX-F share the same 2nd gear ratio (secondary gearing not withstanding) while the XC-F 2nd gear is taller than both.  It's hard to wrap your head around the numbers.  It would be interesting to see these plotted out on a graph superimposed on each other.

 

Doc

yeah...i had heard a couple different versions  about the FX (XC-F) but most recent was that 1-4 in the FX were close ratio (e.g. like the FC/SXF) and that 5-6 were like the FE/XCFW....turns out....not so much.  1-2 for FX (XC-F) are sort of like the close ratio on the SX-F but not quite and then 3-6 are exactly the same as the FE/(XCF-W).  I did note that the 2nd gear for the SX-F and XCF-W are exactly the same.  Probably just a function of using existing parts and what matters is the spread or RPM drop between the gears of the SX-F which you can see are a lot closer than the XCF-W.

Anyhow, nice to have the full facts and this reinforces to me why i like the FE or XCF-W....good nicely spaced spread and a very low 1st gear should you need it and a pretty low 2nd gear.

All this information can also be input over at www.gearingcommander.com and can be used calculate the various rpms/speeds in each gear.

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I like the XCF-W / FE and presumably XC-W / TE gearing as well.  I went through s logged out section on my last ride that was just horrendous .  Tons of small trees (4" - 6") littering the ground and felled on top of each other over probably 100 acres.    It was a pain in the butt but totally manageable without abusing the clutch with the XCF-W's low first and 13:52 sprockets.  I spend most of the time in 3rd on normal trails occasionally dropping to 2nd for climbs and tight turns and 4th if the trail really opens up.

I would be curious to ride an XC-F or FX for reference though.  I suspect I might shift s little less on normal trails albeit at the expense of beating up my clutch on the slow stuff like that logging area.

Doc

Edited by Doc_d

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