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Differences in model years & EXC vs. XC-W; 300 & 250

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About a year ago we traded my son's Polaris quad with KTM 525/IRS for a KTM 450 SX-F. The 450 was a pistol but only 4 gears and seemed like a set up for racing. We put a 12T sprocket on front and a 53T sprocket on rear. He rides mostly trails and some logging roads to get to trails. Also likes to have power for hill climbs. I don't think top speed is a big issue.

I sold the 450 yesterday. MAN, was that a hard bike to find a buyer for!! It seems like a bike made for less than 1% of riders. So in our 3 million person catchment area, the 2 guys that wanted this style of bike already owned it!!

I've read some posts about XC vs. XC-W. The W seems to have a lower 1st gear for trail lugging and faster speed in the top 2 gears. The XC seems tighter ratio through all the gears. I could see the XC might be nicer on a hill climb to find the sweet spot, and the W might be better on a technical trail in low speed. So maybe both of these would be fine? Are both of these 6 gears?

Also seems the W suspension is softer than XC. I don't think he launches huge air, is the W suspension still stiff enough for some smaller jumps. Is a softer suspension nicer through rutted, roots, etc.. ?

I hear and read a lot about the 300 being all round awesome and can be lugged or pounded hard. Don't quite have the funding for the newer stuff. I see a '96 300 EXC in my price range. What big changes have KTM made from that generation to '08 stuff? (anything newer than '08 is way too expensive). Is EXC the same as XC?

Last curve ball...what about something like a Yamaha WR 250 or 450?

THANKS for any help.

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I believe that you are correct about the XC vs XC-W gearing on the older bikes. The new model XC and XC-W are both 6 speed, but thats not relevant since you are looking at older bikes, as I did. I ride a 2007 300 XC and my owners manual states that the XC and SX for 2006-2007 have the same transmission gearing. This makes sense because my gearbox is tight with a low 5th gear. Thats actually ok with me because I dont ride fire roads or many open areas..I ride mostly tight, rocky singletrack. I really like the 300 XC...it suits me well.

I wouldnt worry too much about the suspension because you will be buying used, so the seller could have changed the suspension to match his weight and riding style anyway. I got lucky...I bought the bike setup for my weight which saved me money.

To answer your question about 08 changes...they changed the frame in 2008. Some say it handles better, some say they cant tell much of a difference. Ive never ridden an 08, so I cant comment. They added electric start in 2009.

Yamaha makes good bikes...I just sold a 2001 WR426. It was a hard running, reliable bike, but just too damn heavy. I am much faster on the KTM. The power of the WR250F will not be in the ballpark of a 250/300 XC. The 450s are plenty powerful, but a bit heavy.

Edited by moto_rider7755

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FYI, EXC is what 2005 and older XCWs are called. So a EXC will have OC forks and WR transmission.

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Well, I guess everything depends on your budget. If your budget affords you to buy a 1996 model...then buy the cleanest late 90s 300 you can find. Its not going to perform like a later model bike, but it will get the job done. If you are looking for a larger "pool" to choose from at that price range, you might also consider a Kawasaki KDX (quite common) or Yamaha WR250 (less common). The WRs were 2 strokes until 1998...good bikes for their time. Around here, you can buy a 2000-2002 KTM 300 for around $2000. I know someone that bought a 2001 300 MXC for $1800...it had alot of hours, but was well maintained.

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I was told by a local KTM dealership to stay away from the 300 until '98. In '98 they got an all new ignition system and that's when they went from good to great bikes. Yes, a clean older model would be a good purchase if the price is right. In all honesty I would get a '96 KDX200 before I bought a '96 KTM 300. The Kawi will have a lower purchase price and has a seemingly unlimited supply of aftermarket goodies.

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Or, if you can suck it up for a bit and really try to save your pennies, you could probably find an 05-07 generation 300 EXC/XCW/XC for $1700-$2000.

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Or, if you can suck it up for a bit and really try to save your pennies, you could probably find an 05-07 generation 300 EXC/XCW/XC for $1700-$2000.

Not in my neck of the woods. Can you point me to some in that price range?

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Well, yeah, here in Texas they can be found. One guy I ride with bout an 05 250 EXC for $1900 (a few months ago) and an 06 250XC for $2100 (last year). They fetch more up north and in higher elevations.

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Or, if you can suck it up for a bit and really try to save your pennies, you could probably find an 05-07 generation 300 EXC/XCW/XC for $1700-$2000.

that bike is about $3500-4500 up here. $3500 is probably rough shape and $4500 would be well looked after. you might find an '01 around $2500, maybe as low as $2000. too late for me, i bought the '96. I still think the rider can make up for a lot. If he ever learns to master this like a second skin, we'll look at the newer/better stuff.

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