Of all the mini cycle manufacturers, KTM has put the most effort and R&D into the 85cc market over the last five years. KTM has not rested on its laurels.
WHAT WAS GOOD? There weren’t many things that
our testers didn’t like about the 2014 KTM 85SX. As with
the Husqvarna TC85 engine, our crew was over the moon
about the broad and usable 85SX powerplant. Riding the
KTM effectively required judicious use of the hydraulic
clutch at low rpm, but the powerband was forgiving once
the revs climbed. There were other areas that drew praise
as well: shifting, clutch, braking and overall balance.
WHAT WAS BAD? We encountered a shock failure
on the day of our shootout. Dirt penetrated the shock and
wreaked havoc on the valving. Fortunately, the problem
was easily and quickly solved by KTM, but it was still
disappointing. Even so, understand that the KTM 85SX
shock is the same one that’s on the Husqvarna TC85. One
doesn’t perform better than the other. We chalked the
85SX shock failure up to a fluke; however, there are
real-world complaints with the KTM. The brakes are too
touchy for Junior. The tall seat height is intimidating for
shorter riders. And, the retail price ($5349) is a tough pill
to swallow for a family on a budget.
WHAT’S THE FINAL WORD? KTM has done a
masterful job of making improvements to their mini cycle
line. In fact, they even sell a limited-edition 85SXS, which
has an advanced ignition and FMF exhaust, yet is eligible
for the stock class. KTM executives won’t like the bitter
pill of finishing second to a bike that is nearly identical in
every way. During our testing, we reminded our mini cycle
counterparts that the Husqvarna TC85 was a KTM 85SX
dressed in white garb. In response, they all agreed that
the 85SX was worthy of winning the shootout; however,
they felt more comfortable on the Husqvarna TC85.
2014 KTM 85SX