Up front, some definitions are in order. The “XC” models are considered closed-course, competition bikes, virtually off-road versions of the motocross bikes. When the “W” suffix is added, that’s considered a trail bike, at least by the U.S. government. It meets EPA emission standards and is approved for operation on federal land. So the two XCs that KTM just announced are targeted specifically at racing. As such, they share most parts with the SX-F motocross bikes. In the case of the 350, that was an all-new bike released late in 2010. The motocross version was a fuel-injected bike with electric-start and full-linkage suspension, departing from the PDS design that KTM used for years. A fuel-injected 250SX-F motocrosser which also used linkage suspension followed in 2011. Unlike the 350, the 250 was kickstart-only with no electric starter.
The rest of the motor components are the same as the motocross bikes. They have the same cam, the same compression, the same ignition and even the same pipe. As with the motocross bikes, the EFI system has three maps. With an aftermarket switch, you can alter the bike’s output slightly. The default map splits the difference between a mild map and a hot one.
The XCs also got 2.5 gallon fuel tanks, 18-inch rear wheels and kickstands. The suspension was revalved with off-road settings, and softer fork springs were used up front. The 350 and 250 share identical suspension components.
The 250 is a more focused bike. It has to compete with a 250cc four-stroke that already exists in KTM’s line. The “W” is actually a very different bike, beyond the fact that it has a carburetor and no-link suspension. It’s in a milder state of tune, has wider gear ratios and even the engine cases are different, with a more massive electric starter.
Overall, we’re pumped with the two bikes. The 250 is exactly what its supposed to be: a racer. The Kailub Russells of the world will love it. The 350 is all that and more. It’s a legitimate trail bike as well as a racer. For more information, check out up coming print issues of Dirt Bike.