It is easy to see how
much lower the bike is
with the cut-down
subframe and longer
Number One in 1994. So, he fits the market demographics
for the KTM 350SXF to a T. We aren’t saying that the
KTM 350SXF only works for riders over the age of 30
(and beyond), but we are saying that the numbers
prove that teenagers aren’t looking for mid-size Open
bikes as their chosen steeds. So, we’ll let Jody take over
the test from here.
LET’S HAND IT OVER TO JODY
“I’ve never been a big fan of the KTM 350SXF. From
the moment it was introduced in 2011, I was disappointed
that it was more of an oversized 250 than a mid-sized
450. Although there are Vet riders who big-bore their
250Fs in hopes of getting more thrust off the start, they
always compromise the fluidity and top-end flow of their
YZ250F, KX250F, CRF250 or RM-Z250 in hopes of getting
grunt. For them, the 350 would be a much better choice.
It feels a lot like a 250, revs to 13,400 rpm and produces
comparable peak power to a 450, albeit at 13,399 rpm.
“But—and this is a big but—I don’t want to have to
rev my engine to almost 14 grand to get it to make
max power. So, my weapon of choice has always been
a YZ250 two-stroke or 450cc four-stroke. Those are
power-now machines. I can’t chicken out on getting
max power out of them because they make their power
6000 rpm sooner than the KTM 350SXF. Plus, a 450cc
motocross bike makes 10 more horsepower than a 350cc
at 9000 rpm. I will admit that the peak power of the
KTM 350SXF is well over 50 horsepower and only gives
up around 3 horsepower to its bigger brother, but the
difference is that I’m not willing to hold a 54-horsepower
bike open all the way to 13,400 rpm. I prefer to hit it and
quit it before things get too scary. I’ve always said that a
faster bike doesn’t make me faster; it just makes me shut
it off sooner. Fourteen grand is out of my wheelhouse,
unless I’m stuck in second gear.
“As an MXA test rider, I don’t get to choose the bikes
I race. I race what’s on the test schedule and I don’t
complain. People think that I always race a KTM, but
that is just because KTM has seven different models that
MXA tests, while Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki only have
two each. Just by simple math, I’m more likely to be
riding a 125SX, 150SX, 250SX, 300XC, 250SXF, 450SXF or
450SXF-FE than a CRF450, YZ450F, RM-Z450 or KX450F.
“But, there is a time when the MXA wrecking crew is
given the opportunity to race whatever they want—and
that is when all the test-bike assignments have been
completed for the season. So, once my assignments
were finished for 2014, I started to race the bike of my
choice—a KTM 450SXF.
“Did you think I was going to say a KTM 350SXF?
I wasn’t, because it wasn’t my first choice. In truth, it
wasn’t my second or third choice. So, why did I switch
to the mid-sized 350SXF? My doctor made me do it. At
the World Vet Championship, I collided with another
rider and seriously hurt my rotator cuff. My doctor said
that I could avoid surgery if I went to rehab religiously
and never let my arm get pulled all the way forward or
pushed back behind my shoulder blades. Under those
conditions, I could avoid the knife and keep racing. I
“My first attempt to make my doctor happy was to
switch to a Yamaha YZ250F. It didn’t work for two
reasons: (1) I’m only as fast as the people in my class if
I get a start that puts me in front of them. That wasn’t
happening for me on a 250 four-stroke. ( 2) I had to ride
harder, hit jumps harder and slam into square-edged
bumps harder. I found my shoulder getting pushed
back every time I jammed through the whoops. Pain
made me reevaluate my 250 four-stroke decision.
“My second attempt to make the AMA (American
Medical Association) and Lovely Louella happy was to
switch to a Yamaha YZ250 two-stroke. I loved this idea
because, given my druthers, this is the bike I would
choose to race every weekend of my life, largely because
250 two-strokes are what I raced from 1968 until four-strokes replaced two-strokes on MXA’s test schedule.
Sadly, I made it two laps at the 2014 World Two-Stroke
Championships in April before sharp stinging pains told
me that the brutal rush of turning a two-stroke wide
open wasn’t compatible with a rotator cuff that had
no stops in it.
“It was a quandary. One bike pushed my shoulder
rearward too far, and the other pulled it forward too far.