In spite of the 257-pound weight, the machine is
nimble, feels light and has good off-road manners. For bigger riders, you’re going to need
stiffer springs. On the power side, the 350 is
super stealthy, makes decent bottom end in
spite of lean mapping, and runs clean and crisp.
removable screen (last year you could remove it) at the
muffler’s end piece. This has helped reduce noise even
The EXC uses the new 250 frame, which is equipped
with thinner-walled downtubes, making it lighter. The
cast swingarm targets lighter weight, with stiff points at
strategic zones. Like the XC-W off-road line, the WP fork
is a 48mm, open-cartridge design with adjustable spring
preload and both compression and rebound circuits. The
open-bath system offers plusher action than the closed-
cartridge system used in the SX or the 4CS1design in the
XC-F. The rear end’s absorption comes via a WP link-less
shock that has been the staple of KTM off-road bikes
for years. While motocross bikes and closed-course off-
road bikes need linkage to help deal with the higher shaft
speeds in the shock, courtesy of whoops and other obsta-
cles that stress the shock’s ability to react, enduro terrain
is all about smoothness and traction. This is where the
lighter (around 5-plus pounds) link-less design is magic.
Also, it makes removing the shock a five-minute job rather
than 35 minutes.
It has cast triple clamps rather than machined, because
they have found that cast helps keep the fork action more
supple, which is good for the off-roader. The front fender
is new (and bolts up differently), rather spacey and 50 percent stronger. The clamps are multi-adjustable (fore and
aft, plus perch offset) and attached to Neken bulge bars,
which are strong and have a good bend. Renthal grips, a
Brembo hydraulic clutch and miscellaneous street electrics inhabit the bars’ real estate. They’ve redesigned the
handguards, and they are now a two-piece system that
bolts to the clutch and brake perches.
The brakes are Brembo, and the brake piston has
been changed to enhance smooth power. Both hubs are
machined and use black aluminum spoke nipples and
Maxxis DOT tires, which got great reviews last year.
TRACK AND TRAIL
Our first test of the machine was in stock trim, including the gearing. Normally, the 14/45 sprockets are something that we’d leave on for roadwork but would swap out
for taller cogs as soon as dirt came into play. Here’s how
Starting stone cold is doable without the choke, but
it doesn’t like it. You have to keep at the button eerily
long, and then all of a sudden it lights. With the choke,
it’s immediate, though it’s a nightmare to find the sucker.
There’s a rat’s nest of paraphernalia under the left side
of the tank and in front of the throttle body. First gear is
way too tall, second naturally more so. On the street, this
wasn’t a problem. In the dirt, nearly every tight trail was all
about first gear and second only when it opened up substantially. We tested this way on our 45-miler, a trail sys-
It comes with 14/45 gearing. We switched to 13/50, and it
was a big improvement. In stock form, nearly every trail was
a first-gear-only section.