The first update for the ADB 350 EXC-F long term test bike as printed in issue #449 - February 2017.
Mods this month: None
Mods next month: Plenty of riding
I have been a motocross guy for the past 25 years. In that time, I have done plenty of trailriding. In fact, I grew up trailriding and practicing in the bush but it has always been on motocrossers and never on an enduro bike.
Jumping and racing motocross is in my blood and, to remove it, I would need a full blood transfusion, but something about a registered bike has been tickling my fancy. I don’t know if it’s the fact I’m nearing 30 or maybe that I’ve become a dad but something about jumping on a trailbike and heading out for hours to discover new country sounds appealing.
Although it’s not the way I would have chosen to find myself aboard a 350EXC-F, ADB Ed Mitch Lees had a get off and needs a few months to shake off a punctured lung and busted bones which opened up a seat. Mitch has trusted me to pilot his bike for a few months while he practices filling his lungs with oxygen again. Mitch is also trying to convert me to the darkside. He believes with the arrival of a baby, more responsibility at work and the number three in my age now, It’s the perfect time to convert to trailriding.
It’s a tough situation to be in, but I’ve got the 2017 Kawasaki KX250F and KTM 350EXC-F now in my garage and the best indication of my defection will be hours. Will I spend more time on the trailbike or motocrosser?
I’m sitting here writing this after clocking up my first two hours on the bike. I have a smile from ear-to-ear and I’m wondering how KTM continues to keep improving its enduro bikes.
Recently I have tested previous EXCs and have always struggled to criticise or find fault in them. They have always performed well but this bike has gone to another level and has to be one of the easiest trailbikes to ride that I have ever thrown a leg over.
The 350 isn’t exactly a fire-breathing dragon and it’s not as punchy and aggressive as a motocross engine but it is so smooth and easy to handle. It’s still a 350 so it will get moving and it is by no means slow but the power is very linear and forgiving.
The handling is effortless. The suspension is plush and perfect for a trailrider. When pushing hard the suspension feels on the softer side and would benefit from stiffer springs to handle my 90kg of pure muscle but for trails the suspension is hard to fault.
The 350 really excels on singletrack and can be flicked around with ease. It really is a joy to ride.
I am going to click over the hours and see if the Kato is still as enjoyable to ride once it has a number of hours and months clicked up on its time.
Tech Editor Mat Boyd