Earlier this week, I went to Sunday Creek Raceway in Ohio, which is the home of the John Penton GNCC to preview KTM’s 2024 off-road collection. The centerpiece of them all is the new 300XC-W, but I also got to check out the 150XC-W, the 250XC-W and the 450XCW-F, which was the only four-stroke. All of them are dramatically changed for 2024. To be honest, I didn’t do very much riding. I was nursing a sore knee and went there to shoot photos and video, while Carson Brown came out to be our official test rider. That was fun to watch.
All four of the bikes were XC-Ws, which are the models with headlights, for lack of a better way of identifying them.Traditionally the Ws are more trail oriented, and in keeping with KTM tradition, they are built around PDS no-link rear suspension. Accordingly, the frames were redesigned from scratch with PDS in mind. It wasn’t like they could just take last year’s SX suspension and just remove the linkage. It doesn’t work like that. This shock is similar to the one on the SX, but it has a different body and radically different internals. Now it has a straight-rate spring, whereas last year’s PDS bikes all had progressive springs. It also has clickers that can be adjusted by hand; even the rebound adjuster on the bottom.
There’s bigger news up front. The open-cartridge WP Xplor fork is gone. In its place is a coil-spring version of the Xact fork that comes on the competition bikes. It has a closed cartridge and now the two fork legs are more-or-less symmetrical–no more split design with the rebound damping on one side and the compression on the other. Those legs are clamped in place by a new forged and machine-finished triple clamp, unlike anything KTM has used before.
The two strokes got all-new motors. Transfer port injection is completely gone in the KTM line, replaced now by throttle-body injection. KTM kept the oil injection, though, so you still have the little oil filler in front of the gas cap. TPI was smooth and great for trail riding, but the new system definitely has more bark. Along with the injection system comes an electronic power valve which opens up a whole new world for tuning.The 300XC-W doesn’t come with a map switch, but there are two different maps pre-programmed into the ECU.
Here’s a short run down on what Carson said about the bikes.
It’s powerful, but it doesn’t hit uncontrollably down low. It’s actually kind of mellow at low rpm, even in the more aggressive green map. In the middle it’s far, far stronger than the previous version and it revs out much further. The green map is excellent for aggressive trail riding and racing, and you don’t have to be Carson Brown to hold on. The white map for the XC-W is clearly the trail riding option and might be appropriate for nightmare Ohio mud. We missed that by a few days.
The fork was the most limited aspect of the previous XC-W. It worked well at low speeds and that was it. This one is more akin to the Xact air fork with the WP drop-in spring kit. If you dropped the air pressure on your Xact suspension down into the 140 pound range you would be close, but the new fork doesn’t have the defining characteristics of air. It’s much more stable through the deceleration and acceleration phases of any given turn and seems to have less stiction.
KTM 250XC-W TWO-STROKE
In keeping with class restrictions, the 250XC-W two-stroke is exactly like the 300 XC-W with the exception of displacement. It uses the same PDS rear suspension and the same Xact coil-spring fork. The smaller motor, of course, has a big effect on performance, both pro and con. The bike doesn’t have as much pulling power, but it does rev more freely and overall, the bike feels lighter. In a parallel universe where there are no 300cc two-strokes, the 250XC-W would rule.
KTM 150XC-W TWO STROKE
It was hard to get Carson off this bike. He wanted to put it in his gear bag and take it home. This is the off-road version of the 125 motocross bike that was revealed last year. So it got a new motor with an electronic power valve and the injectors moved back to the throttle body–no more transfer port injection. It retained oil injection, too, so you can pour your straight gas directly from the pump into the gas tank. What makes this bike so much fun is that it’s easy to ride. Carson said it revved like a 125, but had great low-end. In fact, he felt the motor was strong enough to qualify for the main in a 250 supercross against all the four-strokes. Coming from anyone else, that would sound silly. Coming from him, it’s real.
KTM 450XC-W FOUR-STROKE
This bike was a sleeper last year. Very few people talked about it, but it was an excellent bike with smooth power and sweet off-road manners. This year, it uses a new platform, very similar to that of the new two-strokes. The gearbox is a six-speed, which should make it a big hit in the desert-racing world, although those guys might want a little more bark. That’s easy to get with exhaust and mapping changes. This bike is not EPA compliant–it’s classified as a closed-course competition bike, just like a motocrosser.
See you next week!
Comments are closed.