The KTM weighs 5 pounds less than
the Husky. KTM also uses a Brembo
master cylinder for the hydraulic
clutch, whereas Husqvarna uses a
Magura. The EXC-F rims and handlebar are KTM’s in-house brands,
whereas the Husky uses DID Dirt Star
rims and Pro Taper bars.
The engine itself is the same on
the two bikes. It’s still a double-over-head-cam six-speed with electric
start. The KTM has the same emission
and noise equipment as the Husky,
which is all said to be tamper-proof.
It’s not really tamper-proof, of course.
Nothing is. But, KTM dealers are
under strict orders not to assist customers in changing the EFI system.
A number of aftermarket companies
specialize in just that, but the smart-est thing KTM did to ensure the bike
would be left alone was to work very,
very hard to make it run well in stock
form. That way, people wouldn’t want
to alter it. The days of phony measures are coming to an end.
THREE OF A KIND
In the past, dual-sport compari-
sons were wonky, awkward affairs. In
order to make most of the subjects
work off road, they had to be dras-
tically altered. With throttle stops,
street tires, Bonneville gearing, CV
carbs, ridiculous jetting and parts
that couldn’t possibly survive in the
dirt, old-school DS bikes were kind
of like Lego sets without instructions.
In this case, the bikes were tested
stock. The only change that we made
were the tires, and that was simply
because we had been riding the Beta
for months and its Michelins were
worn out. We already knew that the
Beta came with better tires than the
KTM or the Husky. With that part of
the shootout decided, we put Dunlop
606s on all three bikes to get a better
feel for how everything else compared.
First, the most obvious difference—the KTM and Husky are much
quieter than the Beta. They probably
make less noise than any full-size
bike we’ve ever tested aside from
electric motorcycles. You hear other
things that would usually be masked
by the exhaust, including an odd hum
coming from the airbox of both bikes.
That’s the reed valve. The Beta, on
the other hand, is a normal, reason-
ably quiet trail bike. It would probably
be the quietest bike on any given trail
ride, as long as there weren’t any new
Husky or KTM dual-sport bikes in the
As usual, the louder exhaust makes
the Beta seem more powerful. That’s
one of the tricks that your ears play
on your mind. In truth, all three bikes
are almost identical in acceleration.
The KTM might have the most snap right
off the bottom, but the Husky delivers its
power a little more smoothly. The Beta
has a little more power on top, but all
three are amazingly close. As a group,
these are moderately powerful bikes. You
could take them directly to a National
Enduro and be perfectly competitive.
In off-road racing, there’s been a trend
towards smaller bikes in the hands of top
pros. First, the top GNCC riders down-
sized to 350s. Now, some are even run-
ning 250s in the big-bike class. Any one
of these machines is just as powerful as
the bike that’s been winning the GNCC
Pro class. In the desert or on a motocross
course, they’ll come up short of full-
fledged race bikes, but that environment
is the last holdout of cubic inches. What
these bikes offer instead of holeshot pull-
ing power is excellent manageability. All
Beta, Husqvarna and KTM—the three
best dual-sport bikes on the planet, as
far as dirt bike riders are concerned.