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350SXF - Tips, Tricks, Report, Rant


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Servus,

I had already hijacked Ville's thread for my first (not so great) impression of my new 350SXF, but after a vacation, a FMF 4.1 Megabomb system and two more rides I'm ready to start something on my own. For those people who came here to read only positives and how the great the bike is, you better stop reading now๐Ÿคฃ

Old and new beauty:

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Report:

Coming from a 09 CRF450 which I had perfectly setup and liked really, really much, the transition to the 350SXF was not painless. Somebody wrote about the 350SXF "people hoped for 250F weight and 450F power and got 450F weight and 350F power" - well, it ain't so. In reality it is 350F feel (450F weight is correct though) with 350F power. IMO 250F riders will have no problem with the transition, but (some) 450F riders will struggle. Nevertheless once you accept that it is no 450 and start to keep the revs up, things look much brighter. Since my first outing on the bike I readjusted (from my CRF450) and keeping the revs at a higher level is now much more natural to me - and so is the amazing speed of the bike. The FMF 4.1 Megabomb helped, but it did not "transform" the bike. The system is expensive, but the quality is great and the performance with the 94dB insert is just what I had hoped for - a little more down low&mid. Happy with the power on top. I opted against the Akrapovic since I've read some reports that it adds a lot of power on top, but actually makes the "not so impressive stock" lowend even less. FI is flawless with either the stock and FMF system. Still waiting for the map-switch just to see what else is hidden in this engine.

All in all I still stand to my original statement: the 350F is a new breed of bike and can't actually be compared to the 250F and 450F class. It can definately run with 450Fs, but you have to be on top of your game and if you are caught in the wrong gear it won't save your a** like a 450F can. Some will like it, some won't, but I wouldn't be surprised if KTM would increase the capacity in the future for more lowend - 380SXF, 400SXF, 410SXF, 450SXF :cheers:

Tips:

.) Well folks, it is a linkage bike! So grease that linkage before you ride it. While not dry mine came from the factory with just a light coat on the linkage bearings. Pack it with quality grease and your are good to go for a long time. Oh, and please, no comments on how low-maintenance the PDS is - if it would be like that, there would be no need for X-Bushings, Neoprene socks all the PDS-bearing-replacement-threads :ride:

.) My bike was leaking oil from this little screw.

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All I had at the track was a little Teflon tape (used for plumbing) and that did the trick. The worker at the factory possibly just forgot a little blue loctite.

.) Shock removal 350SXF

Follow the manual closely - it only works this way!!! A two piece header like the FMF helps to make things even easier (in comparison to jap. bikes). Also you NEED to remove the right side plastic frame guard.

.) You will hardly find wheels that are lighter than the 2011 stock wheels! Unfortunately also are gone the times of sturdy spokes and rims on the KTMs. The 2011 spokes and rims have the dimension and feel of Honda material - light, but not build for eternity. DirtRider reported some dented front rims already and one of the first things I did was replacing the wheels with some Talon/Excel A60 units. Only time will show if this is a must, but at least consider when making choices for upgrades to the bike.

Rants:

.) So the design a new bike from ground up and can't build a rear fender that doesn't get hit by the tire๐Ÿคฃ

.) Since the bike is rather heavy (๐Ÿคฃ) the sharp plastic of the newly designed handholds painfully cut in my sensitive and soft palms - Honda did a much better job here.

.) Looking for more, but actually they put a lot of thought into this bike - good stuff ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜

Oh, and I do really love the e-start!

Michael

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Vielen dank :-)

I am still confused. Since I sold my beloved 2010 450 Max Nagl I have borrowed my friends 450 2008 and that is also a very good bike. I like the 4 gears and the ability to ride the whole track in one gear ๐Ÿ˜ I don't find the bike heavy and I really hate waiting for the 350. Maybe I should get the 2011 450 or find a leftover Max Nagl?

Things that pulls me away from the 350:

- I don't like to rev a bike and change gears like the MX2-guys. I am a slow rider, but the 450 just sounds like the bike for me.

- The 350 is a new engine, it revs forever and has the same top-end-power like the 450. How about reliability? One of the reasons for me to not ride a 250 is the (apparently) need for a new piston every 25 hours. With my ridingstyle a 450 will last forever... Will the 350 be an even more unstable 250?

-This is a new and unproven concept. What if it fails completely? Alessi is smoked in the MX-class in the US and if a couple of problems with the 350 arise it could end up like a bike nobody wants and therefore impossible to sell as a used bike. The 450 (expecially the 2010 Max Nagl) is a tested and proven bike that works for sure.

Things would be easier if KTM put FI on the 450 :-)

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Take it easy Thomas!

If I wrote that "reving" the bike a little more became natural, I just meant that. On the 350F those extra "revs" have no negative effect in feel of the bike, compared to a 450F it is just something you have to get used to. I ride a fast outdoor track and with the stock gearing I actually never use 5th - 3 and 4 are the gears mostly used and I can see how Cairoli was able to ride at Glen Helen with only 3rd gear. Naturally you have to shift more than with a 450, but it is within reason and if you are not out for fast lap times you can get away with being lazy and just ride around a little more relaxed.

Regarding reliability I wouldn't be worried. IMO the best and most trouble free engine in the KTM lineup is the 250F - change the rings now and then and it will go a long, long time. The 450SXF engine has a history of problems with the oil system causing seizures of the camshafts. As for the 350F only time will tell, but the engines are usually the last thing to worry on a KTM ๐Ÿ˜

As for the "unproven concept", well, no risk no fun! Just look how many people already spent a fortune to have their 250Fs made into 280,300,320&350 engines so the demand "for a size in-between" will always be there. Actually I think that the Yamaha engineers were pretty spot when introducing the YZF400F in 1998 (Europe) and it was a shame that the displacement got upped to 426 and 450 later. Those 400Fs with 10years of development would be pretty sweet engines by now - but isn't that what we thought of the 350SXF before it was even introduced ๐Ÿ˜ Just face it, the perfect bike/displacement dosen't exist - I'm pretty sure you can be very happy with the 350SXF (as you could probably be with the 450SXF).

Michael

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Take it easy Thomas!

If I wrote that "reving" the bike a little more became natural, I just meant that. On the 350F those extra "revs" have no negative effect in feel of the bike, compared to a 450F it is just something you have to get used to. I ride a fast outdoor track and with the stock gearing I actually never use 5th - 3 and 4 are the gears mostly used and I can see how Cairoli was able to ride at Glen Helen with only 3rd gear. Naturally you have to shift more than with a 450, but it is within reason and if you are not out for fast lap times you can get away with being lazy and just ride around a little more relaxed.

Regarding reliability I wouldn't be worried. IMO the best and most trouble free engine in the KTM lineup is the 250F - change the rings now and then and it will go a long, long time. The 450SXF engine has a history of problems with the oil system causing seizures of the camshafts. As for the 350F only time will tell, but the engines are usually the last thing to worry on a KTM ๐Ÿ˜

As for the "unproven concept", well, no risk no fun! Just look how many people already spent a fortune to have their 250Fs made into 280,300,320&350 engines so the demand "for a size in-between" will always be there. Actually I think that the Yamaha engineers were pretty spot when introducing the YZF400F in 1998 (Europe) and it was a shame that the displacement got upped to 426 and 450 later. Those 400Fs with 10years of development would be pretty sweet engines by now - but isn't that what we thought of the 350SXF before it was even introduced ๐Ÿ˜ Just face it, the perfect bike/displacement dosen't exist - I'm pretty sure you can be very happy with the 350SXF (as you could probably be with the 450SXF).

Michael

What's interesting about your review is that I share most of your comments even though having only spent a short time on this bike. I'm also glad that you didn't just give a glowing review because it's your new bike.

BTW: a 280 BB feels nothing like the 350. I was happy to get back on my 280 as it actually has a low end and feels nice and light, but also know that some like a free revving engine with little engine braking. I think your points are relevant however- as with any bike, you'll learn how to ride it best. I wasn't expecting a high revving bike, but that can be fixed. I still think the best value for the buck is the 250 or 450. I hope in the future I have a second chance at riding a setup 350.

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Vielen dank :-)

I am still confused. Since I sold my beloved 2010 450 Max Nagl I have borrowed my friends 450 2008 and that is also a very good bike. I like the 4 gears and the ability to ride the whole track in one gear ๐Ÿ˜ I don't find the bike heavy and I really hate waiting for the 350. Maybe I should get the 2011 450 or find a leftover Max Nagl?

Things that pulls me away from the 350:

- I don't like to rev a bike and change gears like the MX2-guys. I am a slow rider, but the 450 just sounds like the bike for me.

- The 350 is a new engine, it revs forever and has the same top-end-power like the 450. How about reliability? One of the reasons for me to not ride a 250 is the (apparently) need for a new piston every 25 hours. With my ridingstyle a 450 will last forever... Will the 350 be an even more unstable 250?

-This is a new and unproven concept. What if it fails completely? Alessi is smoked in the MX-class in the US and if a couple of problems with the 350 arise it could end up like a bike nobody wants and therefore impossible to sell as a used bike. The 450 (expecially the 2010 Max Nagl) is a tested and proven bike that works for sure.

Things would be easier if KTM put FI on the 450 :-)

i think your tripping way to much........i got 50-60 hrs out of a top end on a 250f at vet int ability.........pro racing and you are like apples to oranges, there is no similarities or concerns.........any new model bike can outperform your abilities or abuse.....as a beginner rider you could actually benefit and become a better and faster rider with a smaller less powerful bike......you will learn how to " ride" instead of cruising around then " punching it" to make up ground lost because of the beginner's inability to carry momentum and proper cornering........your progress in the sport is hampered on the 450 as you dont have to do anything cept cruise around in 3rd gear ( so you wont)......you cant do that on smaller machines...............and a beginner does not need a " nagl replica" a stock one is just as good and reliable, and your laptimes would be the same...........
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I can't comment much on the stock suspension since I've never ridden the bike in stock configuration. The fork has been replaced with a WP aftermarket fork right away and I'm on the 2nd revalve of the WP shock (in the beginning I usually revalve the shock every ride till I get it to my liking - this is part of the game :-). Have been riding and tuning PDS bikes for the last 9 years so I can say that the linkage works very well. Not surprisingly though as they had years of linkage-experience from the other brands they could build on.

KTM choose very different setups for the Euro and US versions this year so it will be hard to compare impressions from those different builds. The Euro bikes start with less damping on the shock and ramps up quickly while the US setup is more "traditional", jap. style. I'm shooting for a setup in between. Just forget the sag recommendations for the Euro bikes (90mm race sag) and use the same as on the US bikes - 105mm. Also, according to the spec sheets, the US shocks are 4mm shorter, but interestingly ,my Euro 350SXF also had the shorter shock (a modification I'd had done anyway). Forks are speced the same.

Overall I think the chassis, handling and ergos are very good if not great. Suspension is so personal though, that you'll need to set it up correctly anyway - be it PDS or linkage. The linkage is just more forgiving and works well in a broader range.

Michael

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Michael

Thanks for a good wright up; Not here to defend everything Orange but I might needle you just a bit, I think it was in the first post you said;

"So the design a new bike from ground up and can't build a rear fender that doesn't get hit by the tire"

and in the post above

"my Euro 350SXF also had the shorter shock (a modification I'd had done anyway)"

Uh lower the rear the more its guna hit! :>)

Overall I think they are on the right track, 1/2 between the 250 & 450 suits a lot of riders, I did not do a lot of MX during my competitive years and looking back I know I would have become a better rider had a spent more time on medium size engines rather than the big bores which luls you into a more lax attitude, where the small buzzy motor gets your adreniline charged up

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Not here to defend everything Orange but I might needle you just a bit, I think it was in the first post you said;

"So the design a new bike from ground up and can't build a rear fender that doesn't get hit by the tire"

and in the post above

"my Euro 350SXF also had the shorter shock (a modification I'd had done anyway)"

Uh lower the rear the more its guna hit! :>)

๐Ÿ˜ Since all you Americans get the shorter shock you better start loosing weight then. Seriously, even at full compression regardless of shock length the rear wheel shouldn't be able to touch the rear fender. A reason not to buy - well ... ๐Ÿ˜

Michael

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๐Ÿ˜ Since all you Americans get the shorter shock you better start loosing weight then. Seriously, even at full compression regardless of shock length the rear wheel shouldn't be able to touch the rear fender. A reason not to buy - well ... ๐Ÿ˜

Michael

and why is that?..pretty common...i have marks under my rmz rear fender....look at lots of pro's bikes and you'll see rubber marks under their back fender..........speaking of, my buddy got a pic of RC in the 07 nats and he has some pretty mean black stripes under the rear fender, and i have also seen it many times and myself included

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You might be right. I think too much. Latest: I can get the 450 now and the 350 in about two weeks. But I have to pay like 400 $ more for the 350 because my dealers can sell all he can get and therefore will not give any rebate.

At the moment I feel most for the 450 and then I might get the 350 in a couple of months, maybe in a Cairoli-edition with orange frame ๐Ÿ˜

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Good write up, should be very helpful. Thomas, You sound like your in the same spot as me. I decided not to get the 350 and probably pick up a 450 next year (Im a carb-tard and want FI) I'm not super worried about absolute best results at the track and I figure a 450 being respected will last more than a 350 being abused( I used the term loosely, as I know it's not abuse but it is no doubt a bit harder on the bike). But like anything else, I am gonna have to ride one before I can tell what the best bet is. The new dirtbike mag says that it's a good mx bike but a game changing off road machine, this has me a bit more intrigued.

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The next week I get to try both the 350 and the 450 and then I hope I can make my decision. Today I raced my friends 450 08 again and damn it is (also) a good bike. I really like how easy it is to ride and the fantastic pull from low rpm. Tuesday I can race the 350 and I guess that I can feel in my stomach after 1-2 laps what I feel for :-)

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Reality check at 4.5 hours:

By now the bike sounds like a 2004 KXF250 with 200 hours and no piston change at startup and idle. It is actually pretty embarrassing to start the bike in front of people who came to check out the latest marvel in KTMs lineup, but the good thing is that almost nobody dares to ask for a test ride since they fear that the bike will blow up underneath them. Recent and current KTM riders just shrug their shoulders though - my 2006 250SXF wasn't much different when cold.

On the plus side I have really grown to the new chassis and handling and I'm heading in the right direction with my shock setup. This bike turns outstandingly well.

Nevertheless, despite feeling like RC himself and getting compliments for "looking" fast I cannot break my CRF450 lap times. Most discouraging today was that a (former) fellow CRF450 rider who I always had under control , chased me down and put pressure on me till I made a mistake and went down. Fortunately no damage to the bike (or me), but my ego is hurt.

All the guys, being it 250F or 450F riders, who actually dare to test ride the bike, come back very impressed by the engine. This falls in line with many of the reports published on the net, but I'm curious to see if the opinion of "real owners" will stay like that. Personally I seem to get more unhappy with the engine with each ride, so possibly I'm just a grumpy middle aged guy who doesn't know what he is talking about ๐Ÿ˜:foul:๐Ÿ˜:foul::cheers:

Michael

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