The new Renthal grip is a little pointy and hard on our hands
after a full National. The Enduro Engineering handguards are
quite necessary for a good woods event.
Our own T Webb wanted a taller saddle and brought his
own EE tall stiffy. The stock screen-type spark arrestor
muffler is perhaps the best in the business.
ing. KTM changed to a cone-type fuel filter in the fuel rail;
this is big, as it plays an important role in keeping junk out
of the injectors.
A new exhaust cam auto-decompression system
improves cold starting, and a more durable head gasket,
along with stronger valve spring parts, targets long-term
strength. The 350 XCF-W crankshaft is heavier than the
SX-F’s, targeting better power delivery and traction. The
new cases are pressure die-cast for less weight. The
42mm Keihin throttle body is unchanged, and the
machine’s generator is a massive 196-watt unit that offers
strong lighting capabilities and helps with the fuel injection
and other electrical loads.
KTM’s DDS clutch is machined out of solid, high-tensile
steel for reliability. It uses a diaphragm spring for plate
tension and is actuated by a super Brembo hydraulic unit
for easy pull and focused engagement qualities. The six-speed gearbox has tight spacing designed for woods riders who dislike gappiness, and the machine is fit with both
an electric start and a kickstarter.
THE RACE TEST
The new 350 starts better stone cold than past efforts,
though ours got irritable one morning. When it seemed
that the button was just making noise, a quick kick
brought it to life. Stock gearing is dialed for most off-road
applications, and the fact that the KTM comes with high-end sprockets and an O-ring chain means little maintenance—for a few months anyway.
The clutch is fluid and smooth with excellent feel.
Shifting, too, is creamy, unless you start over-revving, then
it gets stubborn. The good news is that the machine actually likes to lug, so staying in a high gear is beneficial.
KTM has finally taken ergonomics into consideration (for
years riders complained about oddities and a Euro feel)
and, frankly, the bars, levers, grips and the ability to reset
the handlebar position rather easily are a big plus.
Power is remarkably right in the middle. We had the luxury
of comparing it directly against the new 250 XCF-W, and, as
much as we love the new character of this machine, the 350
kills it in the “chug, lug and make traction” categories and
still has a mind-bending top-end yank. For tight woods, first
gear is pretty much a take-off-only cog, with second and
third handling the majority of the load. Like we said, the 350
Agility mated to a near ideal blend of bottom to mid power
make the 350 an ideal choice for woods moto. Here’s T Webb
playing the day before the National.
likes to be short-shifted and lugged (we raced the entire
enduro and stalled it only once). Even with an oversized
fanny compressing the saddle and taxing the powerplant, in
the world of eastern enduro, it makes just the right proportion