THE 300’S PLACE IN THE WORLD
KTM makes two versions of the 300. The XC-W is more
trail-oriented, and the XC model, tested here, is a little
more racy. The main difference is that the XC has stiffer
suspension with linkage in the rear. There are also differences in gear ratios and equipment. The XC has no headlight, no odometer, and is actually very similar to a motocross bike in looks and equipment. There is no motocross
version of the 300 in the U.S., which means that the XC
has to serve in that capacity as well.
Each year KTM gives the 300XC chassis all the same
updates that the four-strokes get. For 2015, that means
a new WP 4CS fork. Last year, the XC had the closed-cartridge bladder fork, just like the motocross bikes, while
the W had an earlier version of the 4CS. The new fork has
revised damping, as well as a much smaller front axle,
and 2mm less offset between the fork-leg centerline and
the axle location. That results in more trail, which can give
the bike different steering characteristics. In the rear, the
shock is longer and the linkage is different, but the rear-wheel travel is unchanged. Both ends have new valving.
The motor didn’t change too much, although it did get
more updates than the four-strokes did for 2015, again
showing that KTM doesn’t play favorites with engine types.
There are jetting changes, and the power valve now opens
200 rpm later. KTM has different power valve springs that
allow the end user to fine-tune that as well. The electric
starter has different gearing to provide higher initial torque
from the electric motor, and the new battery is said to be
lighter and stronger. None of that should affect the sacred
aspects of the motor. There are no changes to the porting,
the pipe or the head, and nothing was done to change the
power delivery. In case you don’t already know, the 300XC
is imported as a closed-course motorcycle, just like a
motocrosser. That has no bearing on the residents of most
of the country, but in California, it is not eligible for a green
sticker. If there’s any anti-two-stroke agenda, it’s confined
to the West Coast for now.
The 300 motor didn’t get many changes. That’s good. If you
want to fine-tune the Powervalve, you can use optional springs
or an aftermarket preload adjuster (try KreftMoto.com).
KTM makes two versions of the
300, but neither one of them is
a motocrosser. The XC can hold
its own on a track, but to take it
there is missing the point.