SO, we have a 2 part (sort of) review for you of the KTM 350 SX-F. One from Myself, and one from my friend Bjorn. Neither of us are pro riders or professional reviewers. We are weekend warriors at best. My best race result ever was 2nd overall in the Expert Schoolboy 125 class in 1986! Nowadays I would be a Vet B rider I guess but I dont race, I just ride for fun and to stay fit. Bjorn raced some Vet C.
Piers SP’s Review:
First day at Dirtpark in Komlo I was really not digging the 350. It felt muffled, heavy and boring after riding my 150sx and the suspension was bouncing me all over the place. With the two bikes sitting side by side I took the 150sx 9 times out of 10.
Day 2, I thought I should give it another chance and spent some time tuning the suspension a bit. Moving 2 clicks at a time and putting in some laps after each adjustment I ended up going 6 clicks softer on the rebound on the front and 4 on the back! I also softened the compression on both a few of clicks. Whoever had the bike from KTM marketing before I picked it up was a big man! Once the suspension was settled the bike was a different beast. In fact I started to really like it. The first place I started to favor it over my 150sx was on the supercross track. The 350 was making easy work out of doubles and stepups close to corners I was struggling or even failing to clear on my 150. Returning to the main track I started to notice how much more settled the 350 was everywhere and how much faster I was going with minimal effort.
Day 3, My Buddy Bjorn I was with refused to ride my 150 and just wanted the 350. This had been ok up until now but it was starting to become an issue. I wanted to ride it dammit but I had to ride my 150 so he could ride. Switching back and forth was beginning to be a pain and after trying and failing to clear the triple stepup I had to reluctantly hand the 350 back.
Day 4, More back and forth between the two bikes, with most of my time spent on the 150sx so Bjorn could ride. I was really enjoying the 150sx again but I wanted to hit the triple stepup and with the engine tapped out in 6th gear I wasn’t sure if I had enough speed. Maybe, maybe not, but having cased the landing pretty bad and winding myself I didnt want any maybe’s. I wanted the 350sxf. I wanted that smooth, meaty 350 motor.
Day 5, We were going home tomorrow and I still hadn’t cleared the big triple. It had been grating at me for the 2 days prior already as I knew I could do it, I just wasn’t feeling comfortable enough with all the switching back and forth of bikes. Or I was just being a pussy. In any case, day 5 I did a few warmup laps on the 150, then switched to the 350 for the rest of the morning. I started to feel really comfortable. The bike was railing everywhere. It was settled and stable. The suspension was dialed. I had a good feeling for the powerband. Factory KTM rider Kornel Nemeth (who also rides and favors the 350 over any other bike) had hit the triple the day before with my goPro on so after watching the footage I knew what I had to do. Kornel let me ride a few laps on his 350 too, which immediately showed me a few things to tune on our 350. After doing them it felt even better and I knew I was ready.
I rolled the table before in 4th gear, blipped the throttle a couple of times to get the revs up and then twisted it as far as it could go. Halfway to the triple I shifted into 5th and kept the throttle open. I hit the jump with more speed than any jump I have ever hit before, faster that the 150sx could even go. 35meters to the back of the landing. 115 feet. The amateur kids in pala are doing bigger jumps that this nowadays, but hey, I am 36 and had an 8 year break from riding before picking it up again last summer so this felt like a pretty big deal. I cleared the jump and turned around and hit it 4 more times. So stoked.
The 350 felt light and balanced when catching big air.
It may be a little strange to compare the 150sx to the 350sxf, but I have been riding the 150sx for a couple of years now having chosen it over a 250f which is a nice bike, but (while it feels smoother and easier to ride than the 150) doesnt feel much faster. The 350 sxf feels like the next step up. The 150sx is still the most fun bike I have ever owned, but the 350sxf is also fun and it is possible to go a lot faster and clear certain sized jumps which unless your name begins with ken and ends in Roczen you are going to be struggling to make consistently.
If you buy a new 350sxf, prepare to shell out some cash for a new tyre pretty soon.
FOR SALE. KTM 150SX 4999 Euros.
Intermission, 2011 350sxf:
Mats Engler has owned and ridden all manner of bikes, both 2 and 4 stroke and has settled on a 350sxf. The 2011 model felt a lot different to the new one. I didn’t like his low bars and it was not as good as the 2013 model but it was still a good bike.
So I had pretty much decided my time on an Mx bike was more or less over, when Piers calls me and invites me for a week of riding in Hungary. This was met with a bit of trepidation as I had only ridden once in the last year, and my less than stellar skills had corroded beyond any former recognition. To give one an accurate account of my offroad abilities, a brief history lesson is in order. I started riding a 06’ Honda CRF450R about 3 years ago, raced a handful of VET C races, then had a very big off at Freelin in Michigan in 2010, breaking my heel in half, Tibia, Fibia, and tearing my Achilles tendon. It slowed me down. One year later I was able to jump everything I was previously, but the consequences were still haunting me. In the process of moving from the USA to Austria I was only able to ride twice in the last year. So it’s pretty accurate to label me a noob.
Cue the 2013 KTM 350SX. First thing one notices upon saddling up is that little grey button. I’m 35 years young, and 50% certain a couple ligaments in my knee are no longer anatomically correct, so this little button is nothing short of magic. No more TDC, choke, half throttle, whatever, just push and go! If you’re middle aged you will love this, if you’re 18 and you stall it during a race and your heart rate is banging off the rev limiter, you will also love this feature. The kickstarter has gone the way of the dinosaur. The next thing you notice is the fueling, a couple blips and she is purring like a kitten, ok more like a hungry Sabre tooth tiger. My old Honda was pretty trusty with a few mods to the fossilized carb, but this new 350 is on an entirely different planet. Never a hiccup, or bog the entire ride. This kind of throttle response is very confidence inspiring for a new rider.
Whenever I used to switch bikes at the track with friends I almost always favored the ergo’s of my Honda. The Yamaha felt strangely wide, and somehow the Kawasaki didn’t quite feel as natural as my CRF. The KTM felt instantly comfortable and neutral and tight. This bike is like Heidi Klum, she’s gonna do the trick for most folks.
The motor was a big surprise. I was expecting the ride to be much more involving than a 450, perhaps I would have to concentrate on corner exits a little more to get better drive for jumps, etc. Well you don’t, this thing flat out rips. Riding up the long whooped out hill at Dirtpark, flat out in 3rd, I could not believe how hard this little pony was pulling. I was never once thinking, “boy I wish this bike had more power.” You can ride it low down relying on the torque or you can rev it out a little like a 250 if you wish, the motor is sooo versatile. I think this translates directly to the rider’s confidence.
I did expect the handling to be a little more agile than my previous experience on a 450. The KTM didn’t disappoint. The 350 managed to feel light, even off the throttle. The bikes behavior was never unexpected, simply put, it will go where you point it, accurately I might add.. The word “Balanced” comes to mind. When it comes to jumping, my style( or lets say lack thereof) has always been a little more “Steve Mcqueen” than “Justin Barcia.” Not really wanting to pull a “great escape” to the local Hungarian hospital, I spent an afternoon jumping the beginner track with the clutch and rear brake covered. Feeling much more comfortable in the air with this in the toolbox, I took to the big track with more confidence. The 350 was soo predictable and stable, that it only gave me cause to use my newly learned skillset once, and I was purposely ham-fisted on the takeoff…
The fact that I am now seriously considering buying a 350SX should convey how good this motorcycle performs. I live in a small flat in the city, I do not own a car, I could maybe ride moto twice a month ( if I am lucky) and yet I still really want to buy a 350. I’ve never hopped on a bike and felt so comfortable, so quickly. When a bike doesn’t feel hard to ride, it lets you as a rider concentrate on what you are doing wrong, and it simply rewards as you get better. In summary, the 350’s overall state of equilibrium gave me the confidence to push my own limits.