and engine types (read two-strokes).
( 2) Direction. Reportedly, at the time, KTM was
working on a new mid-sized enduro engine to replace
the discontinued KTM 400. The enduro concept was
still in the prototype stage when Luongo and Whitelock
began beating the 350 drum, thus KTM was mentally
prepared to have a dog in the fight. According to
sources, KTM shelved the enduro engine, which was
probably in the 380cc region, and instead repurposed the
R&D group to work on a 350cc motocross engine that
could be used as an enduro engine. KTM didn’t need a
shove toward the Luongo/Whitelock foolishness because
they were already coasting in that direction anyway.
( 3) Bosom buddies. No one can deny that KTM and
Youthstream have a very chummy relationship. Whereas
the Japanese teams are seen as outsiders, KTM is an
insider. While it’s hard to prove that KTM gets favoritism
from its close relationship with Luongo, you need look
no further than the FIM rule that would have required
Jeffrey Herlings to move out of the 250 class after
winning his second straight 250 World Championship.
With Team KTM already covered in the 450 class by
Antonio Cairoli, they didn’t want Herlings to have to
leave a sure thing in the 250 class. Surprise! The rule
was dropped for the 2014 season. This “you scratch my
back, I’ll scratch yours” relationship often works in KTM’s
favor on the Grand Prix circuit.
Q: WERE THE BIG FOUR WRONG NOT TO
EMBRACE THE 350 IDEA?
A: Who knows? The 350 idea was hatched at
the beginning of the economic recession—a time
when motorcycle sales in the USA fell 650,000 units.
Introducing a new model in a climate where bikes
weren’t selling was considered marketing suicide.
Instead, the Big Four turned turtle and tried to ride
out the motorcycle slump by doing nothing more than
KTM, however, didn’t stick its head in the sand; it
invested in new products, engines and designs and
actually grew during the recession while everyone else
shrank. And, the KTM 350SXF was the star of the KTM
hit parade, becoming KTM’s best-selling engine size.
KTM has kept fueling its R&D department—and that
includes funding the 2015 350SXF.
Q: WHAT CHANGES DID KTM MAKE TO THE
A: KTM made 10 major changes between the 2014
and 2015 models.
(1) 4CS forks. The 2015 KTM 350SXF gets all-new
4CS forks. The new fork is 6. 5 ounces lighter than the
KTM doesn’t cut corners on the quality of their machines. From
the black anodized rims to the orange frame to the frame guards
to the electric start to the hydraulic clutch, KTM offers bang for