ktm 300 exc(w) test
Posted by Tanner189 on July 22, 2009
Here is a great article I found about the KTM 300 xc(w). It is pretty informative because they us a stock bike in real off road use. They haven’t loaded it up with thousands of dollars worth of up grades nor have they had their expert mechanics work it over.
KTM can’t believe its luck. It has basically been handed the off-road two-stroke market with little, if any, competition. But instead of pumping out the same old bikes with years-old technology, the Austrian company keeps the development coming. And 2008 is a huge leap for every aspect of its off-road two-stroke lineup, including a feature that many don’t even feel is necessary: electric starting.
The first thing you want to know is how much weight did the starter and battery add to the bike. Well, the scale tells us one thing, but riding the bike will tell you another. Without gas the bike weighs 227 pounds. KTM claims that only six of those pounds are directly related to the electric starter. But the chassis dropped two pounds compared to last year. Our ’07 250 XC was right near 220, so the XC-W(e) is a bit heavier despite the lighter chassis. Go ahead, tough guy, say you’d rather kick it. We didn’t have one rider who’d trade the button for the weight loss. Electric starting rules! To be honest, during the testing we were switching between the 300 and various four-strokes, so the E-start two-stroke always felt remarkably light. But you can always get a straight kickstart-only XC because KTM seems to cover everybody. The electric start is an option for the XC.
The chassis was a huge step forward for the off-road XC-Ws. It takes the newfound stiffness from the SX and translates that into better off-road handling. Combined with a suspension setup aimed at an aggressive single-track rider, KTM is building the bike for which hard-core trail hounds are begging. It is not a track-ridable bike like the straight XC, yet the W designation on the end should mean single-track. It’s a setup that works in a national enduro condition as opposed to a GNCC race. Why? Those two types of riding are completely different and take totally different valving inside the suspension. Fork action this plush also required a different type of fork than the XC (and the SX) uses. The XC has a sealed-cartridge design with the compression adjusters on the top, and the W models require the open cartridge setup with the compression adjusters on the bottom of the fork legs. For relatively low-speed rock and root hits, the open cartridge fork works better. And as KTMs are sold as ready to race, the casual-to-serious trail rider is on a bike that was designed to compete at the highest level of its sport if asked to do so, but at the same time is trail compliant. The next step softer for suspension is usually to a dual-sport bike or a foo-foo trailbike. Good thing they got it right. Naturally stiffer than a dual-sport bike, the 300 XC-W(e) blows through the stroke when it needs to and also holds itself up when necessary by getting the high-and-low speed sensitivity right. By having the right spring rates, the bike stays up in the stroke and has a very light stance on its wheels. Hitting choppy bumps, like roots and rocks, the bike blows into the stroke so it doesn’t deflect. On rolling bumps, like whoops and water bars, for instance, the 300 has enough valving to keep the bike from bottoming and then on the jump landings it absorbs and slows down the suspension so it doesn’t slam to the bottom. If you hit motocross-style jumps, the XC-W will use up too much of the stroke on the takeoffs and landings, therefore feeling wallowy on the track. And it will bottom way too much. But on the trail this is a supple ride. Our only complaint is that there’s a moderate amount of feeling transmitted through the bike, mostly through the bar compared to other bikes. Some riders like the KTM letting them know what the ground feels like, often it’s something that you get used to if you spend more than just a brief ride on a KTM. But it isn’t a dead-feeling bike by any means, it’s light and agile all the time. Plus, the overall suspension action does improve with time and miles. Unfortunately, the seat still stinks.
The handling has taken a leap forward, making the old bike feel a little lazy. The 2008 searches out traction, especially in the front compared to the old bike. It’s as light as ever in the steering, and with the new seat and tank it’s simple to move around on. There’s also plenty to grip. Bigger riders find the KTM roomy and average-size pilots fit perfectly. It also seems the bike acts lighter and is easier to lift the front wheel off the ground as well. It packs 2.9 gallons of gas in an MX-thin package, has the simple, no-tools access to the air filter with styling that everyone seems adapted to now. Oh, the rear fender isn’t the best for lifting the bike onto a stand, but the XCs come with a kickstand.
2008 KTM 300 XC-W(e)