For 2015 the KTM SX-F lineup looks as close to the race winning bikes ridden by Herlings, Cairoli, Roczen and Dungey as any we have had a hand in designing the Color, trim and Graphics for at KISKA. Specifically, for 2015 they come with Orange frames and black rims as stock, new white and orange plastics and a host of technical updates. I picked up the 2015 KTM 350 SX-F last week and spent a week at Dirtpark in Hungary riding it back to back with the 2014 KTM SX-F with a crew of friends. I threw some 2015 red bull factory GFX on the 2014 model to spice it up a bit and set to work to find out which one I preferred.
The 2 bikes are actually surprisingly different, both in the motor and handling department. The 450 has a full FMF Megabomb system on it, which might have given it a bit of an unfair advantage and it sounded way more aggressive and exciting than the 350. I would like to get a full Akro or FMF system on the 350 too because it clearly makes a bigger difference than just using a slip on muffler. The power hit on the 450 is incredible. Not when revving it out so much as down low and in the midrange. In fact it is both a blessing and a curse, if you want to blip the throttle at the last minute to clear something on takeoff you can do so with ease, but it is also very easy to overdo it. At one time or another I over jumped every single jump at dirtpark, usually when I was really low down in the rpm’s.
The 350 is much easier to judge your speed on and just revs to the moon. It is such a joy to ring it out that I could almost stop the review here and say the width of the powerband and the ease of controlling it is the clincher for me over the 450, but I guess I should talk about some other stuff too.
The brakes are great as stock, but I got some oversized MotoMaster discs and pads on the 350 and this gave me a much broader and more progressive feel when braking. I really love those brakes. The 450 also got some Moto Master discs but just the standard size and they are better than stock, but not as good as the oversized set.
We had a factory Sella Della valle seat on one bike and the Low powerparts seat on the other and I felt way more comfortable on both bikes with the lower seat. It just helps to get your center of gravity down and makes it easier to get your foot down too. I am 5ft 10. If you are this size or smaller I would really recommend a lower seat, it makes a surprisingly big difference to the handling of the bike.
What else, well the suspension is ok. It was for sure better on the 2015 SX-F than the 2014 model, but we were all changing the suspension to our liking, so the bike never stayed one way for long and I am looking for a bit more time to get it all setup properly for me. I dropped the forks down in the triple clamps to make it better on the wide open curves of dirtpark, but I could imagine for tighter tracks it might be better to have them a little higher to help you get over the front. I also plan to change the grips for some softer Renthal ones. Gearing was a little on the low side for dirtpark, but should be ok for other tracks. Vibration was more noticeable on the 350.
Updates for the 2015 4 strokes include a new frame with 26.5 degrees of steering-head angle and a 58.8-inch wheelbase. Rear suspension is completely revised and now features a lighter cast aluminum swingarm, an updated rising-rate linkage with a lighter-yet-stronger forged cross member, and a retuned WP shock. Front-wheel axle diameter has been reduced from 26 to 22mm.
So, KTM 350 VS 450, which is better? Which one wins? I love the 450 engine, but without a doubt the 350 turns better and is a lot easier to gauge and control your speed with than the 4 speed 450. It’s so fun bouncing it off the rev limiter too when you finally reach the end of the powerband. For ease of riding and just a great all around package I pick the 350 over the 450.