I have completely given up on trying understanding the economics that allow KTM
to roll out half a dozen new enduro bikes each year while their Japanese competition averages about one, among all makers, in the same period. The 2012 model year will be no different. While we sit around speculating on the potential of one all-new Asian off-road bike, KTM quietly trots out an entire fleet of orange monsters. In this case, there are seven new XC-W models and two forthcoming EXC’s.
Model Line Overview
KTM's XC-W line maintains its commitment to enduro riders by adding the latest PDS shock in a slimmer frame.
The XC-W line represents KTM’s commitment to the core enduro enthusiast. All of the models receive the latest frame design and PDS shock that debuted on the 250/300 XC’s last year. That is correct, no linkage bikes in this group. The new, slimmer frame is aimed at making the four-strokes act and feel more like the two-strokes. The swingarm is 300 grams (0.66 pounds) lighter than last year’s version.
The enduro lineup retains the open chamber design WP 48mm fork which comes with new specification SFK seals and wipers to reduce friction. New bushings with improved Teflon coating give better ride and longevity.
In the “everything old is new again” category come the cast, two bolt fork clamps to replace the three bolt machined units of the previous years. Again, the cast clamps are said to have better flex characteristics for enduro terrain. They retain the 22mm offset. Up top, all of the bikes have the standard KTM odometer, Brembo hydraulic clutch and Renthal Grips. Other nice features include clear gas tanks, new bend Neken bars, stronger Excel “AL7” wheels and new design flag-style handguards. Also new across the entire line is the move to Dunlop tires, with the MX51 now serving as the designated original equipment choice.
All of the body panels and seat now match the 2010 SX designs and are completely interchangeable among all full-size models. The rear fender has been beefed up to handle the extra weight needed for the EXC model lighting.
The 2012 KTM 250 XCF-W returns with an updated ECU that is now locked to comply with tampering regulations.
All of the four-strokes are fuel injected, using the 42mm Keihin throttle body. The EFI system changes a little this year to comply with stricter tampering regulations. Like last year’s bikes, they still have three mapping choices, but the ECU is now locked. The factory “User Tool” is required to unlock the system, this can only be done by an authorized dealer.
All the bikes are green sticker legal. This allows them to carry lights, sidestand and spark arrestor. The new muffler now uses a screen type spark arrestor instead of the traditional Krizman design and it is located in the end cap.
The lighting system is an amazing 196 watts for all the bikes. The 2.5-gallon transparent fuel tanks are non-permeable to meet emissions standards. In effect, they are almost white looking.
As is typical with KTM, the changes to the 2T line up bring it up to spec with the 2011 XC models. Again the new frame, shock angle and bodywork. A welcome sight is the reintroduction of the venerable 200cc model back into the fold.
Along with a new frame, the 2012 300 XC-W two-stroke model gets a clear 2.7-gallon tank and a VForce4 reed.
One of the areas that gets attention this year are the airbox designs. Each displacement now has a unique design aimed at improving throttle response. There is also the new “VForce4” reed. This has been completely redesigned to give a larger reed surface and reduce the area of the central wing to give better velocity characteristics. The longer reed stop controls pedal tip velocity and leads to increased durability.
The two-strokes now have a 2.7 gallon clear tank. As they are not green sticker legal, the bikes all come with the European closed course silencer. Other miscellaneous changes include new ignition mapping for the 200 to smooth out power delivery and a new cylinder for the 300.
The Big News
That of course would be the debut of the all-new 450/500 engine. After a four year run, the current generation 450/530 motor has been put to rest. It had a bit of a mixed history and never really gained the praise of the earlier RFS motors. While the 500 designation is new, the fact of the matter is that the bore and stroke of each is the same as the previous design, giving 449/510 cc of displacement.
In short, this is a six-speed, single overhead cam, single oil motor. Nearly every part is new or redesigned. The engine cases are new generation die-castings versus traditional sand-cast. This alone is claimed to give a 5.5-pound weight reduction. KTM says the 500 motor is actually lighter than the current 450 SX-F engine. The cases are physically smaller, allowing for a reduction in the frame size. Case material is more ductile and can withstand greater impacts without breaking.
Weight reductions also come from the use of lighter pistons and connecting rods. The balancer shaft is integrated into the water pump for further weight savings and simplification of parts. Overall, the reduction of rotating mass is 15% for the 450 and 20% for the 500.
For the most part, the valve train has not changed significantly over the predecessor. Cam chain guides are improved and the troublesome hydraulic cam chain tensioner is ditched in favor of a more traditional ratcheting one.
The highlight of KTM's 2012 fleet is the 500 model.
A number of steps have been taken to improve cooling. The cylinder gets a new water jacket. Hoses are rerouted, with more of it incorporated into the frame. The T-connector fittings are redesigned - all of this aimed at better flow of coolant and air. A cooling fan is now fitted as standard equipment.
The oiling circuit is completely reworked to address some of the issues in the previous design. It is a single oil system with the motor and transmission sharing the same sump. It uses one filter, two screens and a magnetic drain plug. One of the screens is moved back underneath the motor, right below the oil pump intake, just like on the RFS models. This filters any debris from entering and damaging the fragile pump surfaces.
As if that were not enough in the way of new things, there is also an entirely new clutch! The current clutch design of both the 530 and 450SX-F models has proved too weak for the top-level racers. This new design is supposed to solve all of that. It also looks suspiciously like something that might have flowed out of the minds of those geniuses over at Rekluse. The new package uses a billet steel basket. It has a single diaphragm style spring that is preload adjustable. The dampeners are now located in the inner hub. The whole package is lighter and narrower by 6.5mm. It is claimed to get better oiling for both cooling and durability. The clutch has a lighter pull at the lever. The new clutch is now standard on all the four-stroke models.
The six-speed, wide-ratio gearbox remains the same with 13/50 final drive ratios. Other details like the electric and kick starter are redesigned.
Along with the obvious work towards weight and size reduction, specific work goes to the 500 to improve the power characteristics. Namely, to make the motor a little less aggressive and improve rider feel. The inference is “more 525-like.” This 450 and 500 XC-W will be hitting the showroom any day now. The street legal 500 EXC (along with the 350 EXC) are slated for a fall release.
2012 KTM XC-W Line up
• 200 XC-W $7099
• 250 XC-W $7999
• 300 XC-W $8099
• 250 XCF-W $8299
• 350 XCF-W $8999
• 450 XCF-W $9199
• 500 XCF-W $9399
• 350 EXC* $9499
• 500 EXC* $9699
*due fall 2011