MXA RACE TEST
THE WORLD OF C4,
NITRIDE & MIM
THE WORLD OF C4,
Q: FIRST AND FOREMOST, IS THE 2018 KTM 350SXF BETTER
THAN THE 2017 350SXF?
A: Yes. Although it does not completely obsolete the 2017 model, the
2018 KTM 350SXF is better suspended, cleaner looking, quicker starting,
more durable and, most important of all for KTM owners, it comes with a
highly valued orange frame.
Q: WHY IS THE KTM 350SXF BULLETPROOF FOR 2018?
A: KTM’s rapid pace of development over the last 10 years has sent
the motorcycle manufacturing world spinning off its axis. As Honda,
Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawasaki tried to regain geocentric orbit, KTM’s
constant weight savings, horsepower gains and value-added extras left the
Japanese brands well short of KTM’s stratosphere. There is no doubt that
KTM has bought itself several years of coasting room, because that’s how
long it will take for the “Big Four” to come anywhere close to KTM’s ultra-light, high-rpm, hydraulic-clutch-equipped, Brembo-braked, chromoly-framed
Nowhere does KTM have more breathing room than on the 2018 KTM
350SXF. How so? It is a bike without competition (save for blood brother Husqvarna). Back in 2011 when KTM launched the first 350SXF, the
Japanese brands said that they couldn’t and wouldn’t build a mid-sized
350cc motocross bike to slot between their 250 and 450 four-strokes. Why
not? The marketing men said that adding a third model to their four-stroke
lineup wouldn’t gain them any sales but would detract from their 250 and
450 sales. The Japanese believed that they would be adding the extra
expense of building a 250, 350 and 450 but selling the same number of
You can’t fault the Big Four marketing men’s logic. It does make sense,
in a downmarket, not to steal from yourself; however, this is the same
logic they use for why they won’t make two-strokes. They don’t believe
in the consumer’s desire for new, interesting and different products. The
Japanese gambled on not making 350cc four-strokes or 250cc two-strokes
and they lost. KTM’s two biggest-selling engine types, across the brand’s
motocross and offroad lineups, are 250cc two-strokes and 350 four-strokes.
KTM gained market share by rejecting the logic of its competition.
Q: WHAT DID KTM CHANGE ON THE 350SXF FOR 2018?
A: By KTM standards, the 2018 KTM 350SXF is only mildly changed
from 2017, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t changed. In fact, it has more mods
than the 2018 KX450F, YZ250F, RM-Z250 and CRF450. The big R&D money