KTM 350 EXC-F Long Term Update #5 | Back End | Bike Reviews
The fifth update for the ADB KTM 350 EXC-F long term test bike as printed in issue #453 - June 2017.
KNOWING THAT EDITOR Mitch Lees was on the mend I have been getting in as much riding as I could on the 350EXC-F before the dreaded phone call to say he was coming to get it. It was non-stop rain here for most of the month so riding in the dry just wasn’t happening.
Instead I had to wait for breaks in the weather to get out there. Riding in the wet isn’t that bad, riding in the rain and being soaking wet sucks but riding in mud can actually be really enjoyable. That is unless the yahoo 4WD crew have been through your local tracks.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to see everyone enjoying the bush but why these guys need to go back and forth through a tiny puddle in their lifted trucks with R.M. Williams mudflaps and fake exhaust stacks and turn it into a swamp is something I will never understand. Us motorcyclists unfortunately get lumped into the same group.
The rangers see 4WD guys destroying the place and then want to lock us all out. I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets frustrated by this and I’m sure I’m not the only who gets a little excited when I see gates up to keep the 4WDs out. Gates mean I don’t have to ride around every blind corner in fear of a bullbar at eye level.
Our savior is the mighty singletrack, although I have come across a few morons trying to widen our primo singletrack with their Tonka toys. Speaking of guys with trucks, here comes Mitch.
If I had my way I certainly wouldn’t be giving the Kato up anytime soon but the Editor has been given the all clear and he wants his bike back. My time with the KTM has been thoroughly enjoyed and it has definitely opened my eyes to a whole new world.
I grew up riding and practicing in the bush but I always raced motocross and supercross. I wasn’t blessed with rich parents so I never had my own private test circuit, but I was lucky enough to live in a place where we had plenty of tracks cut into the bush which we used for training. The big thing for me was having a registered trailbike.
Being road legal and able to commute to the bush whenever I felt like it has been a blessing. It also opened up a whole new range of trails that I have never been able to ride without rego. The thing I have enjoyed the most is being able to come home from work and duck out on the bike for an hour and be home in time to bath, feed and put my daughter to bed.
This is a win for me and the wife. Going for an hour ride with a motocross bike means three hours by the time you load, unload and drive to and from the track. So the big question here was whether the KTM would make me an enduro convert. The straight answer is yes, but I’ll still ride motocross.
I’m just really enjoying the convenience of enduro riding right now. Motocross is much more serious and requires much more time to get to the track. I’m finding the guys out in the bush much more relaxed and it’s just easier to enjoy.
Enduro riding is all about enjoying yourself and that is certainly what I have done over the last few months. If the option of another enduro bike came up I would not hesitate to put my hand up for it and a KTM would be nice.
The 350EXC-F has been fantastic. I can’t fault it. The power is user-friendly and the plush suspension makes riding all day not a problem. The chassis is nimble and well balanced. The bike steers well and is effortless to ride.
You don’t need to fight it or muscle it around, it just does everything it is designed to do perfectly. I have kept the KTM serviced and have had no mechanical failures with it, although former Enduro Editor Jake Stapleton had to replace the fuel pump due to a broken plastic part when he took the bike for a few weeks. The only thing I would change on the bike is the springs, but only if I was to race it. For trailriding the suspension is fine but when it comes to a rough track where you are pushing the bike during a race I feel the springs will need to be stiffer.
I have really enjoyed this experience and am disappointed I had to part with the bike.
Technical Editor Mat Boyd