Q: FIRST AND FOREMOST, IS THE 2015 KTM
350SXF BETTER THAN THE 2014 350SXF?
A: Yes. Since there has never been a 350SXF
Factory Edition, the KTM faithful didn’t get a preview
of the potential of the 2015 model (as they did with the
2014 KTM 450SXF Factory Edition III). Now that the
2015 KTM 350SXF has been released, we think that it is
a giant step forward.
Q: WHERE DID THE 350 MOTOCROSS BIKE
IDEA GERMINATE FROM?
A: Power politics. The birth of the 350 was not
an organic development that was market driven by
consumer demand, which makes its success all the
more amazing. The original idea was generated by two
bureaucrats—Youthstream’s Giuseppe Luongo and the
AMA’s Steve Whitelock—who felt that 450cc motocross
bikes were too powerful. Their plan, which was doomed
from the beginning, was to strong-arm the rule-makers
into regulating the maximum engine size down to 350cc.
They both used their bully pulpits to proselytize about
the nirvana of a 350cc world.
The problem for Luongo and Whitelock’s crusade was
that no one at Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki or Kawasaki had
any intention of building a 350cc motocross bike. Why
not? The bottom line. If a manufacturer was selling 20,000
units, equally divided between 250cc four-strokes and
450cc four-strokes, and it made a 350cc four-stroke, its
sales department predicted that sales would not increase
by 33 percent but that they would sell the same 20,000
units—only divided into three smaller groups. They would
still sell 20,000 units, but the 350 would cannibalize 250cc
and 450cc sales to do it. And when they factored in the
costs of R&D, castings, marketing, warehousing and
promotion of a third model, they saw red ink.
If Luongo and Whitelock had tried to force a 350cc max
displacement rule on the sport, the “Big Four” would have
found someplace else to race. Thus, the 350 idea was
dead on arrival.
Q: SO, WHY DID KTM AGREE TO BUILD A 350?
A: There are three reasons why KTM bit when the
other fish swam away.
(1) Niche marketing. KTM is a niche marketer. They
hit the Big Four where they aren’t. Thus, KTM builds
50cc, 65cc, 85cc, 125cc, 150cc, 200cc, 250cc, 300cc, 350cc,
450cc and 500cc bikes in a variety of forms—motocross,
enduro, cross-country and dual sport. Finding niches,
special products for special groups, has paid off for KTM,
especially as the Japanese manufacturers have cut back
drastically on offroad models, engine displacements
KTM 350SXF 2015 350SXF
The KTM 350SXF is an amalgamation of KTM 450SXF
and KTM 250SXF parts that blur the line between a
big-bore 250 and brutish 450. It’s the only thing like it
on the showroom floors.