than it used to be.
In the rear, the changes are a big improvement. The
KTM rear suspension can now go toe to toe with the best
that Japan has to offer. We set up the bike with about
105mm of race sag for the light chop at Glen Helen. Like
the front, the rear is a little on the soft side for pro-level
riding. But for 2015, not only is the KTM suspension in the
ballpark, it’s amazingly close to home base.
LIFE IN THE 350 LANE
Everyone likes the 350. With some, it borders on love.
But it’s not perfect. The 350 has some odd traits that may
or may not be easy to deal with. It has a little hitch in the
fuel mapping and occasionally sneezes and dies. We’ve
found that idle speed is critical on the bike. Most throttle
bodies have a separate idle bypass circuit, but the 350
uses a stop on the throttle butterfly to control idle speed.
This means that the throttle position sensor changes every
time you change the idle, and that has implications that go
deep into the system’s brain. The idle has to be set to the
rpm recommended in the service manual, and without a
tachometer, it’s hard to set.
We’ve also noted that the bike runs a little hot, espe-
cially in the summer. The coolant overflow hose often
spits fluid out after a hard race. Our other complaints get
progressively less important. We don’t like the plastic
preload adjuster, the clutch pull is a little harder than that
of the KTM 450, and the battery doesn’t have much in
reserve. On the other hand, the list of details that we like is
long and more significant. The brakes are awesome. The
hydraulic clutch doesn’t fade. The graphics don’t peel off,
and the airbox is easy to service. The bars, rims and chain
are high quality. The levers are tough, and the new Dunlop
MX52 tires are excellent. All great things.
This year might just be a turning point in the history
of the 350. In the past, pro riders have been reluctant to
climb on the bandwagon. Having a 350 was probably seen
as a sign of weakness. But, the rational arguments against
the bike have faded away one by one. This might be the
year it does as well on the racetrack as it does in sales. o
The KTM 350SX-F has come a long way since its introduction.
If it were this good in 2010, we might all be on 350s by now.