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I'm considering a 350F enduro bike.  Which would you choose from KTM, Husky and Beta and why?

They all feature the same bore and stroke and are all within 7 lbs of each other for dry weight.

Probably the biggest differences are going to be in suspension and build quality.

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I've got a 350 XCF-W... it's a shame they done make them any more.   They are great bikes.  Completely different motor than the XC-F / FX.  More low end, more fly wheel weight, much better lugging down low without flaming out.  Comes with a fan which is really nice under certain circumstances...

If I had to buy a bike in 2019, I'm not sure the XC-F or TX 350 would make my short list.  That motocross engine is too prone to flameouts.  They are also sprung stiffer than the old XCF-W or their current XC-W / TE two stroke counter parts.  They'd probably good for more open riding or fast hare scrambles with an aggressive rider.  But for the tight stuff with rocks, roots and slower more technical stuff they wouldn't be my first choice. 

Getting an EXC-F or FE and setting it up for the woods is an option but not a good one in my opinion.  You could have the equivalent of an XCF-W by doing that, but they are very pricy and then by the time you strip off the road legal and emissions stuff, put a vortex ECU in it and put tires on it you're talking big bucks.  To put it into perspective I paid $7,800 for my new 350 XCF-W in '16.  

I've not ridden the Beta 4-strokes but have ridden with several guys who have them.  I know some guys here love the 350's and 390's.  They might be more like the XCF-W motor and better suited for riding in the woods.  They are also most likely sprung softer than the XC-F and TX and are probably better at eating up the rocks and roots.

What kind of terrain are you riding in?  Are you just riding for fun or riding something like hare scrambles?  

Doc

 

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Doc:  Good info, thx.

Terrain is all very tight, technical, steep, rocky, rooty, nasty shit.  Basically zero open areas.  Just riding for my own fun, will never race.

I test rode a Beta 390 and loved it but the forums are full of people detailing weird electrical and FI issues on what is a pretty expensive bike. If I'm spending that much coin, I don't need a bike that requires a ton of screwing around to get it sorted.

Thus I am contemplating a 350 with a Rekluse and a heavy flywheel weight as another option.  Wonder how that would compare to the 390?

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Even if you can make the motor work by using a rekluse, I'm not sure you'd be happy with the XC-F / FX suspension for the type of riding you are doing.  The open cartridge forks on my XCF-W are the equivalent of what's on the current XC-W, TE, EXC-F or FE's.  They are down right plush and a joy for riding through roots and rocks.  The bike tracks straight and doesn't deflect.

The XC-F and FX are going to be stiffer, even with the newer air forks.  I haven't ridden those bikes, but I've ridden enough MX bikes in the woods to know they are not great through the roots and rocks.  

Dont't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the XC-F and TX.  For aggressive riders riding hare scrambles they are probably the golden ticket.  But for slow technical stuff I think you might be disappointed with both the motor and the suspension.  These are the reasons Graham Jarvis ran the 250 FE instead of the 250 FX when he was on a 4-stroke.

I really can't comment on the Beta's.  I should know more about them because one of the guys I ride with owns a Beta dealership.  Several of the guys I know well ride Beta two strokes.  And I have ridden with and talked to a few guys who ride the Beta 4-strokes.  But I somehow haven't ridden one yet.  If the build quality was there, I'm guessing the motor and suspension is probably better suited to the terrain you are riding.  But yeah, I wouldn't want to spend that kind of money and have a bunch of problems.

Doc

Edited by Doc_d

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The KTM and Husqv are the same bike. There is different colors on some parts, different suspension setup and a few trivial differences. I have a KTM and a Beta, and the basic bike quality seem to be about different. But the dealer qualities are very different. I've got a great KTM dealer, full of folks who ride KTMs in the dirt. The Beta shop isn't a place I'm likely to do business with again. They are OK, but not full of folks who understand dirt.

I've ridden my various buddy's KTM 350F and its a really nice bike. I've ridden Beta 300s and they are nice too. I have not personally ridden the Beta four strokes, so I can't help there.

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Like Doc_d recommended....look for a low hour KTM 350 XCF-W that was built 2016 and prior.    If you have to have a new one you are going to have to spend the extra buck to get an EXC-F and the vortex ECU

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On 12/31/2018 at 9:31 AM, SilvFx said:

look for a low hour KTM 350 XCF-W that was built 2016 and prior.  

Thanks for the info guys.  I will keep an eye out.  I've got a bunch of time yet before I get to the point of plunking money down on a new(ish) bike.

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If I were buying new then I would ensure that I attended a demo day for each brand so I could better decide vs hope for the best and then hafta spend thousands fixing my mistake. 

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I will try my best to ride as many of these bikes as I can first.  A friend has a Husky 350 already.

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Id say the xcf mainly bc of the pds suspension it really comes in handy dont wanna bust your linkage over a rock 40 miles from your truck

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7 hours ago, David Cardenas said:

Id say the xcf mainly bc of the pds suspension it really comes in handy dont wanna bust your linkage over a rock 40 miles from your truck

At least in the recent bikes, the XC-F, XC, FX, FE, TX and TE are linkage.  The XCF-W, EXC-F and XC-W are PDS.  KTM/Husky's vegetable soup naming and changes over the years doesn't make it easy to keep track of.

Doc

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Went to a couple of KTM dealers today and looked at the 350 EXC-F.  

Both dealers told me the tranny ratios are basically the same as for the old XCF-W.  Apparently only final drive gearing is different and thats easy to change.

I was told the PDS rear end is softer than the link rear ends but the PDS suspension felt quite stiff compared to my current enduro bike.

The 350 feels lighter than my GasGas 250F ... not a lot but a bit lighter anyway.

I asked about flywheel weights but neither shop knew of a customer that had gone that route.  Apparently KTM offers a dual map switch as an accessory and a softer map makes a big difference.

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56 minutes ago, CDNSXV said:

Went to a couple of KTM dealers today and looked at the 350 EXC-F.  

Both dealers told me the tranny ratios are basically the same as for the old XCF-W.  Apparently only final drive gearing is different and thats easy to change.

I was told the PDS rear end is softer than the link rear ends but the PDS suspension felt quite stiff compared to my current enduro bike.

The 350 feels lighter than my GasGas 250F ... not a lot but a bit lighter anyway.

I asked about flywheel weights but neither shop knew of a customer that had gone that route.  Apparently KTM offers a dual map switch as an accessory and a softer map makes a big difference.

I'm a little confused by your last statement, but I'm guessing the dealer is feeding you some b.s. to make more money off of you. The EXC-F doesn't need a flywheel weight, and you definitely don't need to bother with a map switch for the stock ECU. The stock fuel mapping is way too lean, swing on over by the KTM subforum if you want to read more about it. Long story short, plan on either getting a JD tuner or a Vortex ECU if you want to bike to work as intended.

The stock 14/52 gearing is a good starting place. For tight woods and enduro you'll probably want 13/52, but that depends a lot on where and how you ride. You may be totally fine with stock.

The stock tires (TKC 80s) are what they are. You should plan to get rid of them if you're doing any actual enduro riding. They are NOT trials tires.

The suspension is decent for what it is. Some like it, some hate it. Ride it and see what you think. It's actually pretty soft in my opinion, but I don't know how much you weigh.

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I want the flywheel weight.  I asked the dealer about it.  Really what I want is the Beta 390, which is a stroked 350, for its more docile rev characteristic.  I want bottom end torque for technical, steep terrain.  A flywheel weight will help slow down the engine's propensity to rev and make it more drivable off the bottom end in nasty terrain.

The reason I'm looking at 350's rather than the 390 is I'm a bit concerned about all the reports of weird electrical gremlins I've seen on this board and the Beta board.  

Quote

 you definitely don't need to bother with a map switch for the stock ECU. The stock fuel mapping is way too lean, swing on over by the KTM subforum if you want to read more about it. Long story short, plan on either getting a JD tuner or a Vortex ECU if you want to bike to work as intended.

I was just on a thread on ADV Rider and then the KTM forum and there was a lot of talk about the map switch as well as going to the EU map to richen up the fueling.  I didn't see one poster mention a JD unit.

Its funny you mention the OEM tires are not trials tires cause for sure they do resemble trials tires.  Not to worry though.  I'd go straight to a Cheater 505 and a proper front tire.  😎

 

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Posted (edited)

Man that's a tough call.  It sounds like you have your heart set on a Beta 390.  Are you sure the problems are that bad and not easily addressable?  Every bike has issues that can be nit picked.  Is this a nit pick problem like KTM's old starter issues or a problem that makes you not want to buy the bike, like Honda's eating valves?

If you go the EXC-F route, you'll definitely want to budget for something like the Vortex ECU.  It's now nearly impossible to get the EU map flashed in the US.  Beware because I think some dealers will lie to you and say they've flashed it but didn't.  People like Munn racing will reprogram your ECU but I don't think it's that great from talking to someone who did it.  I went through this with my XCF-W which also came with a locked ECU and an emission standards compliant map.  The bike ran so darn lean, in the single track the fan ran 100% of the time.  I'm talking about 4 hours straight on 60 miles of single track.  I messed around with adjusting the TPS and you could make small improvements but it was less than ideal.  I put the Vortex ECU in and an FMF 4.1 muffler on (with the spark arrestor /94 db insert) and what a difference.  I did that same 60 miles of single track and the fan came on once for less than 30 seconds in the slowest section.  The bike just felt smoother and happier everywhere.  That's how the engineers intended it to run before the EPA makes them screw it all up.

The front suspension on the KTM EXC-F and Husky FE are plush.  For me that's where the magic happens.  I grew up riding MX bikes through the trails, going up technical hills pinballing all over off every root and rock.  When I got my KTM I was just amazed at how straight it tracks through the roots and rocks.  It makes everything easier than it should be.  Now if you jump it off a big jump you'll find the trade-offs pretty quick.  We have a lot of whoops on our trails and there is some trade off there too if your the kind of guy that wants the hammer them and get the bike up on top of them at high speed. 

PDS is a bit of a long conversation.  PDS itself doesn't affect how stiff or plush it is.  KTM made PDS MX bikes in the past with very stiff rear suspension.  PDS and linkage are two different ways of handling progressive dampening.  As the rear tire moves through it's travel you want soft dampening in the first few inches for bump compliance.  You want that dampening effect to ramp up as you get towards the end of the stroke to prevent bottoming over big hits.  

Linkage accomplishes this mechanically by changing the ratio of shock movement to wheel movement  throughout the wheel's travel and shock's stroke.. I'm going to make up numbers for demonstration.  The first 2 inches of wheel travel might only be 1/2 inch of movement at the shock.  The last two inches of wheel travel might be 4 inches of movement at the shock.  That's how they provide less dampening early in the wheel's travel and more dampening later in the wheel's travel.  

PDS has no linkage.  The ratio between wheel movement and shock movement is fixed throughout the entire range.  The first 2 inches of wheel travel moves the shock 1 inch and the last 2 inches of wheel travel move the shock 1 inch.  They ramp up the dampening effect internally inside the shock using valving as it move further into the stroke.

The pro's of PDS are that it's simple.  It's easy to maintain.  There is no linkage to get hung up on rocks and logs.  The downsides are that some people say it's not as progressive as linkage.  That means the range from soft at the begining to stiff at the end cannot be as wide.   So when KTM tunes that shock to have awesome bump compliance for roots and rocks, it's going to bottom pretty easily over jumps.  Or in the past when they put it on their MX bikes, it they tuned the shock for the big jumps, it was harsh over the small bumps.  The other complaint I've heard is that it rides high in the rear.  I've never noticed that or it's never bothered me.  But enough people talk about it that I'm sure that a linkage setup sags more (without using up much stroke) and rides a little lower in the rear.  That might have been what  you were feeling when you sat on it and said it felt stiff.  You might have been feeling the fact it sags less and rides a bit higher than linkage.

The good news is' if you prefer linkage, the Husky FE is the same as the KTM EXC-F except it comes with linkage. I like my PDS, especially from a simplicity and maintenance perspective, but I am tempted to try the Husky linkage setup when I'm ready for a new bike.

I'd ride the bike without the flywheel weight and then decide.  The 350 likes to rev like a 250.   A flywheel weight will change the nature of the bike.  I'm not saying it'll be better or worse for the type of riding you do.  But you'll never know if you don't ride it for a while in stock form first.   

Doc

 

 

Edited by Doc_d
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7 hours ago, CDNSXV said:

I want the flywheel weight.  I asked the dealer about it.  Really what I want is the Beta 390, which is a stroked 350, for its more docile rev characteristic.  I want bottom end torque for technical, steep terrain.  A flywheel weight will help slow down the engine's propensity to rev and make it more drivable off the bottom end in nasty terrain.

The reason I'm looking at 350's rather than the 390 is I'm a bit concerned about all the reports of weird electrical gremlins I've seen on this board and the Beta board.  

I was just on a thread on ADV Rider and then the KTM forum and there was a lot of talk about the map switch as well as going to the EU map to richen up the fueling.  I didn't see one poster mention a JD unit.

Its funny you mention the OEM tires are not trials tires cause for sure they do resemble trials tires.  Not to worry though.  I'd go straight to a Cheater 505 and a proper front tire.  😎

 

As mentioned above, EU maps aren't available anymore, not for the newer generation of bikes. Dealers in the US will not flash you, and if they tell you Blais can do it, they're lying. You either run stock and accept the shit fueling, or you do what I suggested. I don't know what you've been reading, but it was wrong. 

I have 40K miles on TKC 80s, trust me when I tell you that they're not good in the dirt. They're good 50/50 tires, if I were riding around the world or across continents, that is the tire I would use. But if you want to ride off road and Enduro, they will not hook up like a real knobby. I ran them on my 350 for a while to verify my own beliefs, and I was right. They hit their limit pretty quickly. 

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Dont know anything about the KTM MAP switch you mentioned, but my understanding of what KTM, Husky, Husaberg have offered for years is a switch that remaps the ignition timing only.  Had one on my FE 450 and have one on KTM 300 XC-W.  While I can/could feel some difference between the settings, it was hardly noticeable (to me).

Perhaps they are offering new map switches that modify both the timing and the fuel map....but frankly I am skeptical it would include fuel mapping.  On my Husaberg FE450, I added a JD Power Tuner and had the ECU remapped to Euro specs that did enable you to fiddle with the fuel mapping.  That was a noticeable difference in performance.

Unfortunately, I think the future with any fuel injected bike is going to be dictated by both replacing the ECU for competition and being able to fiddle with the fuel mapping.  For example, with the Yamaha fuel injected bikes, you have to buy the GYTR ECU (about $120) and you can by a GYTR fuel mapping tuner for about $220.  Cheaper than what the KTM guys have to do on the EXC-F models.  Dont know why KTM cant/wont offer something similar to the GYTR fuel map tuner but my guess is simply regulatory/emissions trouble if they do so....so they leave it to others such as JD or Vortex.  Perhaps the KTM ECU is much harder and more expensive to 'crack the code' since it doesnt appear you are replacing the ECU.

You have the same issue with automobiles.  Guys are spending fortunes on tuners, powerchips, reflashing ECUs etc to change the factory setup.

Sucks but what can you do....either bitch about it and do nothing and live with it (not that you are doing that), or spend the money for the work around and unfortunately the KTM /Husky workaround seems to be more expensive than the Yamaha workaround.  Dont know anything about the other manufacturers.

I dont think i would worry so much about the flywheel weight...but would be more concerned about the ECU/fuel mapping on the EXC and how to get around it.

 

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1 hour ago, Doc_d said:

Man that's a tough call.  It sounds like you have your heart set on a Beta 390.  Are you sure the problems are that bad and not easily addressable?  Every bike has issues that can be nit picked.  Is this a nit pick problem like KTM's old starter issues or a problem that makes you not want to buy the bike, like Honda's eating valves?

If you go the EXC-F route, you'll definitely want to budget for something like the Vortex ECU.  It's now nearly impossible to get the EU map flashed in the US.  Beware because I think some dealers will lie to you and say they've flashed it but didn't.  People like Munn racing will reprogram your ECU but I don't think it's that great from talking to someone who did it.  I went through this with my XCF-W which also came with a locked ECU and an emission standards compliant map.  The bike ran so darn lean, in the single track the fan ran 100% of the time.  I'm talking about 4 hours straight on 60 miles of single track.  I messed around with adjusting the TPS and you could make small improvements but it was less than ideal.  I put the Vortex ECU in and an FMF 4.1 muffler on (with the spark arrestor /94 db insert) and what a difference.  I did that same 60 miles of single track and the fan came on once for less than 30 seconds in the slowest section.  The bike just felt smoother and happier everywhere.  That's how the engineers intended it to run before the EPA makes them screw it all up.

 

I'd ride the bike without the flywheel weight and then decide.  The 350 likes to rev like a 250.   A flywheel weight will change the nature of the bike.  I'm not saying it'll be better or worse for the type of riding you do.  But you'll never know if you don't ride it for a while in stock form first.   

Yes I thought for sure I wanted the 390.  Even test rode one and loved it.  No I'm not sure how common those electrical problems are but trolling through the Beta forums, I saw quite a few threads, which then concerns me.  Could I end up with a faultless bike .... maybe.  Could I sort out issues if they pop up ... probably.  Do I want to take the chance with a $14,000 brand new bike ..... not really.

On the other side of the equation, KTM is a much bigger company, meaning they offer more accessories, parts are quicker to get and there is a bigger community and aftermarket for the bikes.  Also they hold their resale value way better.  All worthwhile pros to consider.

My current 250 has a WR250F motor in it so its not exactly an aggressive engine.  A friend has a Husky 350 so I will give that a test ride but I suspect a flywheel weight is in the cards, along with a Rekluse.

Apparently I will have to spend some more time reading up about how to sort out the fueling.  I think the ADV Rider thread was over 30 pages and I didn't go through them all. 

 

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1 hour ago, Horgh said:

As mentioned above, EU maps aren't available anymore, not for the newer generation of bikes. Dealers in the US will not flash you, and if they tell you Blais can do it, they're lying. You either run stock and accept the shit fueling, or you do what I suggested. I don't know what you've been reading, but it was wrong. 

I have 40K miles on TKC 80s, trust me when I tell you that they're not good in the dirt. They're good 50/50 tires, if I were riding around the world or across continents, that is the tire I would use. But if you want to ride off road and Enduro, they will not hook up like a real knobby. I ran them on my 350 for a while to verify my own beliefs, and I was right. They hit their limit pretty quickly. 

The OEM tires will only be on the bike for the 5-10 kms it takes to break the motor in.  After that they will be replaced.  👍

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Every time I go an check out a bike in the dealership I seem to change my mind.

At first I was sure I wanted the Beta 390.  But potential build quality issues and a much smaller following made me reconsider this bike.

Then thought the KTM EXC-F was the bike to have however the suspension seems kinda stiff for the riding I do.

Fairly sure it is the Husky FE that I want now .................. 🤔

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