KTM 300XC 2-STROKE PROJECT: BEHIND THE BUILD

Shaun Langham is a good friend of the DB editors. He rides weekly with the Webb bros. and has a reputation for not skimping when it comes to building his personal off-road machine. He recently sold his heavily modded 2019 KTM 300XC-W and purchased a 2023 KTM 300XC. Before the tires kissed the dirt, Shaun parked the stock suspension, triple clamps, wheels, exhaust system and most of the hardware. Let’s just say he’s all about “excess in moderation.” He fit the KTM with every high-end piece of suspension, protection, performance and ergonomic upgrade prior to riding.

Nearly every aspect of the Langham “Big Bang 300” was gifted with an upgrade, except for the engine. It was left stone stock but was fit with an FMF Gnarly pipe and a new titanium Power Core 2.1 muffler. The wheels, suspension, triple clamps, bars, saddle, brakes, bolts and pegs all went up to the first-class seats.

 

His explanation for spending a veritable fortune modifying a high-priced machine is succinct: “I get asked a lot why I spend so much money on my bikes and is it really necessary. My answer is simple: It’s my time. I’ve raised two kids. They are both married and doing well, so my job as a single father is done from a financial standpoint. Therefore, I enjoy building bikes, and I have expensive taste, so I do what I do.”

The price of this project would have bought a decent house in 1970! Still, combine the shockingly strong and wide powerband with state-of-the-art suspension, and if you’ve got the bank, you’ve a got a winning mount!

 

Shaun’s plan was premeditated all the way. “When I decided to buy the XC, I wanted to set it up like my XC-W, so I started ordering parts to get it where I thought I’d like it. I started with the fork and shock. I have gotten very spoiled by having the best suspension on my bikes, so this one would be no different. I called Billy at Powerband Suspension in Florida, as I have been beyond happy with every machine he’s done for me. He set up a new WP Pro Components cone-valve fork and Trax shock with new valving and proper spring rates. As far as spending $6K on suspension, instead of spending $1200–$3000 to have the stock forks and shock set up, I believe that the money spent on upgrading the stock stuff is gone when you go to sell the bike because nobody is going to put much value into suspension that was set up for me. I put the brand-new stock stuff back on the bike when I sell it, and the new owner can do what he wants with it.”

Shaun: “I installed a full-bike titanium bolt kit on this bike as I have done on all my bike builds. I don’t do it based on the weight savings; it’s more of an appearance thing to be honest. Although there’s a 3–5-pound savings for those who are trying to shed weight, I replaced them all with a complete bike kit from Rob at Doc Wob (www.superlitetitanium.com) imports out of the UK. You can get a compete bike kit without axles or swingarm pivot bolts for around a grand. I added linkage bolts to my kit, which is not part of the complete bike kit.
PowerBand (www.powerbandracing.com) suspension in Florida handled the WP Pro Components suspension, then Shaun swapped out the stock triple clamps for a set of Xtrig clamps (www.xtrig.com) with the PHDS bar mounts. They have been his go-to clamps for all his machines. He’s not a fan of the OEM/Neken handlebars. They are too rigid and transfer too much vibration to his hands and wrists. He opted for the ProTaper EVO bars based on recommendations from several friends.

 

Nearly every facet of Shaun’s machine received some love. He’s a bit eccentric but well motivated and a classic dirt bike fanatic. We’ll delve into the mods, but here are Shaun’s thoughts on the power of the throttle-body-injected, electronic-power-valved KTM 300XC. “When asked how this bike’s motor compares to my XC-W, I tell them that I used to call my XC-W a three-stroke because of how smooth the power was compared to the two-stroke bikes I grew up riding. Well, I have tagged the new XC a 3 1/2-stroke. It has even smoother power yet is seriously strong. I’ve found that even with its taller (14/49) gearing, the XC motor can pull third gear on massive hill-climbs where I would have had to shift down to second on my modified XC-W motor. It’s incredibly robust and will rev hard and make your vision blur, but it will throttle down and pull a high gear. It has fantastic power that is potent, smooth and tractable.

KTM Hard Parts Factory Edition wheelsets were used, the Ti bolts from Doc Wobs in the UK, and the lower guards for the WP cone-valve fork came from TM Designs.

 

Langham on foot traction: “I’ve been using Raptor titanium (www.raptortitanium.com) footpegs for several years, and this bike would be no different. They keep my feet stuck to the pegs, and although they are very sharp, they really don’t tear up my Gaerne SG12 boot soles anymore than the stock pegs.”

 

With serious suspension, incredible 3 1/2-stroke power and painted with high-end enhancements, the Langham “Big Bang 300” is a joy to dance in the off-road habitat. Dennis Petracca is at the wheel.

 

“In closing, this is the best motorcycle I have ever owned. This might be one of the most hyped-up new-model bikes in a long time, but, in my opinion, KTM really nailed it. Waiting for the weekend to ride again is almost like waiting for Christmas when I was a young kid; it’s that good.” 

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