than half a tank.
– The odometer/clock is the same unit KTM has had for
years, and once you know how to program the modes you
want (I like speed and a resettable odometer), it works
well. Guys with old eyes will have issues picking up the
–For some reason, the shifting seemed a little notchy.
I’m hoping that it smooths out with time on it.
–Only boiled it two times when flogging in the tight. Still,
does a fan make sense?
–No skid plate? Come on.
–I broke off both of the new two-piece handguards at
the plug-together points. I’ve since drilled them out and
used nuts and bolts, which solved the problem.
– The stock mirror is worthless off-road. I switched to a
Double Take unit. It kills it off-road, and you can actually
see traffic behind you on the pavement.
tem with some good hills, lots of tight turns, ruts, gotchas
and serpentine rock zones. Actually, the bike was amazing
geared so tall, and there was far less struggling on the hills
Power-wise, the 350 is quite a bit softer than the XC-W
and way mellower than the XC-F. Still, it’s very trail-friendly.
The engine feels light, has little decel and ekes out just
enough adrenaline down low to pull the machine through
the trails. And, man is she quiet! Part of our route takes us
by horse properties, and the well-honed survival traits of
the ponies were barely aroused when we putted by. Once
you motor past the mild bottom power, the 350 seems to
pull decently for as long as you can twist it. Mid-to-top
juice is impressive!
In the handling department, the 350 feels a bit heavy and
is fit with spring rates that target a 180-pound pilot—max.
At two bills plus a 20, I struggled here until I went back
home and bumped up both the fork and shock spring rates.
This helped me monumentally, keeping the bike higher up
in the stroke. The bike’s high-speed habits were improved,
and it still carved quite nicely. So, in my first 100 miles of
trail testing, the biggest drama I encountered was a little bit
of Stanly Steamer action (there is no fan on the 350) and a
high wallow factor—until I went with heavier springs.
For round two, the only change I made was to the gearing. I dropped the front countershaft sprocket to a 13 and
upped the rear sprocket to a 50. Unfortunately, this meant
that a new chain was in order, so it wasn’t a cheap update.
But, this one change was dramatic, and I found the bike
started to feel nimbler simply because I now had power
attached to proper gearing. My speed and control were
amplified, as having usable ratios made the soft power
feel more suited to conquering terrain. It would now pull
and sort of chug, whereas with the stock gearing it was all
I had no issues with stalling, flameouts or glitches in the
power during the next month and a half of testing. Every
street-legal piece, including the seemingly crushable rear
taillight/plate holder, held up fine under the duress of my
tonnage. In a shotgun burst, here are the quick and nasty
points that I’ve noted.
– Seat is too low for my creaky knees; thankfully, I have a
tall Enduro Engineering saddle and fixed it.
– Then the bars were too low. I installed two 5mm EE
spacers and put the perches in the front holes.
– I have no idea what gas mileage the 350 gets, but is
has to be stunning. On my 45-mile loop, I used way less
We made a couple of mods to our bike (see sidebar) with the
Fastway handguards and Evolution pegs. Right at the tail end
of the test we evaluated Precision Concepts’ suspension and
we came away…jazzed.