KTM has answered many dirt biker’s prayers with its 2012-spec 350EXC-F, a street-legal enduro-spec version of its recently-released 350SX-F motocross weapon.
As with KTM’s entire enduro range, the new 350EXC-F continues to utilise the proven PDS (linkage-free) shock absorber system, but for 2012 it’s sporting an entirely new frame, upgraded WP suspension and has finally made the successful upgrade to EFI.
With a bore and stroke of 88 x 57.5 mm, the engine’s capacity promotes an excellent blend of torque and horsepower. It was actually built in parallel to the motocross engine, so it could later facilitate a six-speed gearbox, as well as a heavier crank and flywheel – for a smoother, more tractable off-road version.
Bolted into the new frame, it provides a near-perfect ride dynamic, which feels and acts more like a 250F. This powerful, yet user-friendly, package is aimed at the rider who wants more power than a 250F, but may not have the experience or fitness to handle a 450F over a big day.
Its power spectrum up to full throttle is metered perfectly by the 42mm EFI Keihin throttle body and provides superb drive to thump from one corner to the next, without fear of wheel-spin or overshooting a turn. You can blow corners apart and charge across rugged, ugly terrain – big-bore style – or track up the inside of turn and switch lines last minute like you would on a 250F.
The optimal torque and horsepower combo of the 350cc engine allows graceful meshing of the ’box. You can shift so quickly, you barely disturb the tail of dirt spewing from the tyre.
With an engine working completely in your favour, it’s very easy to explore the true handling characteristics of this bike. And, in my opinion, it complements the chassis so well, the 350 feels to be the best handling of the four-stroke EXC range.
The added flex in the shock mount of the new frame’s backbone really comes into play across braking bumps and kickers. Very rarely do you get that ejector-seat sensation when you’re smashing the bike into square edge bumps. With less engine braking than its bigger brothers, the 350 coasts across the deeper bumps more like its two-stroke EXC cousins, making it less prone to bounce the rear-end when you’re rolling off the throttle into corners.
With the new 70mm longer rear shock, 48mm WP fork and redesigned cast swingarm – all of which are shared across the entire EXC range – the 2012 350EXC-F is at the pinnacle of KTM’s off-road development. It’s quality of finish and deluxe controls, like Domino throttle and Magura hydraulic clutch, give the KTM the allure of a prestiguos European car. You simply will not fault this bike in any off-road terrain and no doubt it’s going to pose a massive threat to its rivals – the Husaberg FE390 and Sherco 3.0i. See the July issue of Australasian Dirt Bike magazine for the full launch report, on sale now.
Configuration Single cylinder
Cylinder head DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Bore/stroke 88 x 57.5mm
Compression ratio 12.3:1
Fueling EFI, 42mm Kehin throttle body
Final drive Chain
Frame material Chrome-moly
Frame layout Double cradle
Trail Not given
Front: 48mm, USD fork, 300mm travel
Rear: Monoshock, fully adjustable,
Wheels Wire-spoked rims
Front: 21 x 1.6-in
Rear: 19 x 2.15-in
Front: 90/90-21 (54M)
Rear: 140/80-18 (70M)
Front: 260mm disc, two-piston caliper
Rear: 220mm disc, single-piston caliper
Weight 107.5kg (kerb, claimed)
Seat height 970mm
Max width Not given
Max height Not given
Fuel capacity 9.5L
New plastics and ergos
New super stable frame
Power down for E2 racers
Yet another KTM model