2011 KTM 350 SX-F Glen Helen Impressions
Friday, August 27, 2010
The 2011 KTM 350 SX-F continued to impress us at the ultra-fast and ultra-bumpy Glen Helen Raceway.
Hey all, yesterday morning I put in a ride session at Southern California’s Glen Helen Raceway
. And if you like riding dirt bikes at fast, flowing real outdoor-style motocross tracks then you’re absolutely going to love the layout at Glen Helen right now.
The track climbs up and down the surrounding hillside offering a variety of different straight-aways and corners. Many corners have a selection of either deep ruts—which can be tricky, yet exciting to maneuver through, and/or soft, loamy berms on the outside which are perfect for blowing up on the throttle. They’ve even built a few simple but fun tabletops in for those that enjoy flying through the air and the best part is the jump landings are rounded so you can go a little bit short and not worry about crashing.
I had the opportunity to pilot KTM’s all-new for 2011 350 SX-F. This is only the second time I’ve ridden the bike—the first being at Pala Raceway on the tight and relatively smooth, bump-free vet track during our 2011 KTM 350 SX-F First Ride
in June. And after spending some more time with the bike yesterday I have hand it to the Austrians as they’re really onto something with this innovative machine.
If there were any motocross tracks that you absolutely need the power of a 450 it would be Glen Helen. Yet somehow this new 350cc KTM has plenty of balls to climb up its near vertical hills. Sure, you have to be more conscious with gear selection, carry a bit more momentum, and be prepared to work the clutch more than a 450, yet when you do I was utterly amazed with how well the bike works at an ultra-fast track like Glen Helen.
First off, the KTM handles phenomenally. Even in flat corners the 350 carved right into the turn almost instinctively. I’m by no means an expert at ruts but I sure felt like I was aboard the sharp turning KTM. Yet its 250F-style agility comes at zero price of stability with the bike resisting the urge to shake its head excessively on some of the bumpy third and fourth-gear pinned straight-aways.
Both the fork and shock spring rates are definitely too soft for my speed and weight (175 lbs.) yet even so, the chassis served up a high level of balance. The fork would bottom rather violently when landing off jumps and occasionally at the bottom of the hills if I got too aggressive on the front brake, yet the attitude of the bike never felt like it pitched much and it was relatively easy to compensate for the soft spring rates by maneuvering my body in anticipation of big hits.
This weekend we’ll be racing the bike at Glen Helen with the REM Motocross series so stay tuned for more riding impressions.
Follow Adam Waheed on Google+