2011 KTM 350 SX-F First Ride Preview
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
KTM's 2011 350 SX-F is sure to attract buyers with is unique blend of power and agility.
Yesterday MotoUSA had the opportunity to pilot the all-new 2011 KTM 350 SX-F motocross bike at Southern California’s Pala Raceway and all I can say is wow! As the model name suggests the 350 is a hybrid between that of a 250F and 450F dirt bike. For some of the tech details make sure to review the 2011 KTM Motocross Lineup First Look
Physically it feels a little bit wider and taller than KTM’s 250 SX-F but at speed you’d be hard pressed to notice the difference. Even though it weights a few more pounds than the 250F it feels equally as agile. Steering is light and predicable plus the wheelbase feels stretched which helps the bike remain stable at high speeds.
The entire ’11 4-stroke SX-F line now uses a linkage-equipped rear suspension. Considering how smooth the track was at Pala it was difficult to get a good read on whether or not the addition of the linkage improves rear suspension action but overall it was good and no better or worse than the non-link set-up on this year’s bikes. Once we put more seat time on it at some of California’s rougher tracks we’ll elaborate on rear suspension performance.
In the engine department the 350 uses a liquid-cooled 349cc 4-stroke single that is fuel-injected and also features electric start. There is no fuel petcock or choke lever so the engine starting procedure is as simple as pushing the handlebar mounted starter button.
Power wise the engine delivers a more robust bottom-end power and mid-range compared to the 250F but keep the revs up and that’s when the real fun starts. During the course of the day we never encountered the rev limiter. It almost seems like the 350 doesn’t even have one with it pulling, and pulling, and pulling—never wanting to sign off. The fuel-injection settings are well calibrated and throttle response is excellent without feeling too touchy.
Power output doesn’t feel quite as torquey as a 450 but the rear tire seems to spin less which allow for fantastic drives off the corner which in turn equates to 450-like sense of acceleration. It also seems to be a snappier and spool up quicker than the bigger motor when the throttle is pinned.
Overall the $8499 350 SX-F really impressed us and is sure to attract racers and recreational riders with its hybrid blend of power and agility. Stay tuned for the full report in the next few days. On a final note, I want to wish MotoUSA’s speedy test rider Matt Armstrong a quick recovery as he crashed today during our test and fractured his heel bone ala Honda Red Bull’s Andrew Short. This is the first time I’ve ever seen Matt crash and another reminder that no matter how skilled you are crashing just happens.
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