The 2015 KTM 350SXF isn’t for everyone; it is
an acquired taste. It is perfect for the connoisseur looking for a bike that is more powerful
than a 250 but not as brutish as a 450. It is
easy to ride on the hard parts of the track, but
that means you have to ride it harder on the easy parts.
It’s not a great Pro bike, which means we are ignoring
Tony Cairoli’s supposed 350 engine, but it is a very good
machine for Novices, Intermediates (especially those
coming off of a 250) and Vets. And, of course, it remains
the bike of choice for professional practice riders.
Package. What’s bad would be a better question.
Compared to its competition, the KTM 350SXF has an
electric starter, hydraulic clutch, black anodized rims,
quick-release fuel lines, 260mm Galfer front rotor, no-tools
air box, in-mold graphics and superb shifting.
4CS forks. Without the old WP forks, this bike would
be an also-ran. With the new 4CS forks, it is a player.
Engine. If you aren’t revving it to the moon, you
aren’t getting your money’s worth. In the middle, it’s
slow; on top, it’s fast.
Black frame guards. Why go to the trouble of
painting the frame orange and then covering it up with
black frame guards?
Fork guards. In the last five years we have never
blown a KTM fork seal. We don’t expect that record to
last now that KTM has dropped its wrap-around fork
guards for less protective but lighter guards. The old
guards will not fit on the new forks.
Shift lever. Too low on the stock notch and too high
on the next one up.
Air-filter cage. Never believe that the air filter is
sealed without double-checking it.
Gearing. One tooth on the rear makes it a better race
bike. Professional practice riders won’t need this.
BEST SUSPENSION SETTINGS?
Forks. These are MXA’s recommended 2015 KTM
350SXF fork settings (stock settings are in parentheses).
Spring rate: 0.48 Nm
Oil height: 95mm (100mm)
Compression: 20 clicks out ( 15 clicks out)
Rebound: 14 clicks out ( 15 clicks out)
Fork leg height: 5mm up
Notes: The 4CS is a little too stiff for Novice and
Vet riders, but they can fine-tune it by turning the
compression out (don’t be afraid to go all the way out).
If that fails to provide a supple feel, lower the oil height
in each leg in 5mm increments.
Shock. These are MXA’s recommended 2015 KTM
350SXF shock settings (stock settings are in parentheses).
Spring rate: 5. 7 Nm
Race sag: 100mm
Hi-compression: 2 turns out
Lo-compression: 15 clicks out
Rebound: 15 clicks out
Notes: As a rule of thumb, faster test riders stayed
near the stock settings, give or take a click or two, while
slower riders clicked the compression and rebound out
(as much as four clicks).
WHAT DID WE CHANGE?
Here is the short list of things the MXA wrecking crew
changed on the 2015 KTM 350SXF.
(1) We bent our shift lever in a bench press to raise
the tip 5mm. This makes more room to get your foot
under it. Why don’t we just move it to the next notch on
the shaft? Because then it is too high.
( 2) We changed the map settings (found under the
seat). We preferred Map 2, which advanced the ignition
timing and provided more hit in soft terrain. You will
need KTM’s accessory switch to access the maps
( 3) We installed a 7602 Racing brake-pedal tip. It
makes the brake pedal longer so we can get a more
tactile feel on it with our feet.
( 4) We cut the rubber housing off the two throttle
cables to lighten up throttle feel.
( 5) We ran a Works Connection stem nut because it
allowed us to run the gas cap vent hose down into the
steerer tube, which stops the hose from twisting.
( 6) We ran the radiator cap from the KTM two-strokes
(you can recognize it from its brass center). It is bulletproof; the four-stroke cap not so much.
( 7) If you invested big dollars into aftermarket wheels
for your 2014-or-earlier KTM and are afraid that the front
won’t fit on the new 20mm axle, relax. You can use last
year’s front wheel by swapping out the 2015 wheel
WHAT DO WE THINK?
This isn’t a Pro bike. That isn’t a bad thing, because
most likely you aren’t a Pro. Instead, the KTM 350SXF is
the perfect bike for a middle child. Not a 450. Not a 250.
It is its own animal, and it is as close to a two-stroke as
any four-stroke has ever gotten. ❏
MXA RODE TEST