rpm. Now, you might think that the increased horsepower
would make the 2016 KTM 350SXF feel a lot faster than
the 2015 model. Not true. Since the power increase is
equalized across the board, the two powerbands mimic
each other to a T. Yes, the 2016 is faster, but you can
only tell that by riding the 2015 and 2016 back-to-back on
the same track. While the 2016 model is more
meteoric, it is also smoother, very electric and favors
faultless execution over huckability.
This is not a slow bike by any means, but there is
one major caveat to racing it—never shift! If you want
all 54. 41 horsepower, you have to milk the last drop
out of it. If you shift at 9000 rpm, you will be giving up
5 horses; you must make the cows come home and
dogs whine. What is cool about the progressive nature of
the powerband is that it is flexible enough to meter out
the correct amount of power for tricky track situations;
it makes perfect half-throttle cornering power without
engendering the same level of fear about breaking the
tire loose as on a 450.
Q: HOW GOOD ARE THE 4CS FORKS?
A: We applaud KTM for making a move to shake
up the status quo. Of course, since KTM’s status quo is
based on a decade of less-than-stellar WP forks, KTM
doesn’t have much skin in the game. Over the past
decade KTM forks have been too harsh for almost
everyone, even though the excuse was that they were
valved for fast riders. The kicker was that fast riders
didn’t like them and slow riders hated them. It was a
8000 rpm, it makes 44. 42 (last year it made 42.08). At
9000 rpm, it makes 49. 47 (last year it made 47. 74). At
10,000 rpm, it makes 50. 88 (last year it made 49. 37). At
11,000 rpm, it makes 53. 49 (last year it made 51. 93). At
12,000 rpm, it makes 53. 80 (last year it made 52), and at
13,000 rpm, it makes 54.08 (last year it made 52). Peak
horsepower is 54. 41 at 13,200 rpm.
Simple math tells you that the 2016 engine is 1 to 2
horsepower stronger everywhere on the curve, with the
biggest improvements from mid to top. Additionally, you
don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to understand that
peak horsepower is in the upper reaches of the rpm
range—although the 350SXF revs to 13,400 rpm, the soft
rev limiter kicks in a little earlier. That means that if you
don’t rev it to the moon, you don’t get the full measure
of its devotion.
Q: HOW FAST IS THE 2016 KTM 350SXF?
A: MXA has been fairly steadfast in the belief that
the KTM 350SXF should have more power in the midrange and give up some of its maniacal rev. We think
that a peak horsepower around 11,000 rpm would be
better. We even lobbied KTM to drop the 350cc size and
up the displacement to 380cc to give us the grunt we
wanted. All that said, the company has done a very good
job of producing an easy-to-use powerband that gets its
horsepower from rpm instead of cubic centimeters.
The 2016 powerband is the model of perfection. It
picks up clean, builds power progressively and keeps
its eye on the prize—even though that prize is at 13,200
2016 KTM 350SXF: It’s light.
It’s fast. It’s got great brakes.
It starts on the first kick (make
that without kicking). It makes
54-1/2 horsepower. It revs
to 13,400 rpm. It comes in