The 2015 KTM 350SXF engine is based on the 250SXF engine
architecture, but with a 12-horsepower increase.
KTM has the best all-around handling of the 2015 bikes, and
the 350SXF is the best of the KTM line-up.
that the KTM 350SXF catches and passes it.
For clarification, peak horsepower on the KTM 450SXF
is at 9100 rpm, while peak power on the 350SXF is at
12,600 rpm. Think of it as a 54-horsepower open bike
that you ride like a 40-horsepower 250.
Q: IS THIS A GOOD ENGINE?
A: It is a great engine—if your mindset is to ride it
hard and put it away wet. This is surprising, because
many 350SXF riders like the engine because it is so easy
to ride in the midrange. No mystery here; it is easy to
ride in the midrange because it’s slow in the midrange.
Q: HOW GOOD ARE THE 4CS FORKS?
A: In last year’s 2014 KTM 350SXF test we said,
“Suspension is like Kryptonite to KTMs.” We don’t take
that statement back, but we revise it to say that WP’s
bladder forks are like Kryptonite to KTMs. The new
4CS forks are a breath of fresh air. They are much
better than last year.
Q: WHAT ABOUT THE NEW RISING RATE?
A: Historically, KTMs have been hard to get to work
across the full spectrum of a racetrack. If you set the
shock up to be supple in the choppy bumps, you risked
it bottoming in the big stuff—and vice versa. Perhaps the
new rising rate, which starts stiff and then flattens out,
could have been a tad more progressive at the end of
the stroke (since we still have the occasional G-out issue),
but, overall, the 2015 rear shock is very workmanlike.
Q: HOW DOES THE 2015 KTM 350SXF
A: This bike sails around a motocross track like a
slot car. The key to getting the chassis dialed in is to
spend extra time getting the rear sag and front fork
height balanced for your weight and style. Once you find
the sweet spot, you can make the 250SXF turn corners
just by thinking about it. We love the way the KTM
Part of the charm of the 350SXF’s handling, when
compared to a 450, is that there is a lot less rotating
mass throwing a monkey wrench into the chassis in roll,
yaw and pitch. Less gyroscopic effect from the cams,
crank, piston and valves means a bike that feels lighter—
even if it isn’t.
Q: CAN YOU HOLESHOT ON A 350SXF?
A: Yes. In a field of 450cc competitors, the 350SXF
may give up a boatload of grunt to its bigger brethren,
but it has two aces in the hole: (1) It revs to 13,400 rpm,
which plays out as a couple thousand more rpm between
shifts. Plus, the higher it revs, the more power it makes—
and there is virtually no sign-off on top. ( 2) Think of the
mellow low-to-mid transition as built-in launch control.
It hooks up without the fuss of a 450 and then uses
beaucoup rpm to get the job done. Does that mean it
will holeshot every moto it’s in? Heavens to Murgatroyd
no—just that it has the potential.
Q: WHAT DID WE HATE?
A: The hate list:
(1) Air-filter cage. Without an added dose of due
diligence, you stand a chance of sucking dirt because of
the way the KTM air-filter cage fits in the airbox.
( 2) Gearing. If you don’t add one tooth to the rear
sprocket, you will never get full use out of the high-rpm
powerband. Invest in a 52-tooth rear sprocket.
( 3) Weight. The point of a mid-sized open bike is
to complement the modestly powerful engine with a
supremely light and agile chassis. The KTM 350SXF may