Even amid the eclectic mix of motorcycles in this middleweight section, the KTM seems out of place. But for off-road riders who want the convenience of a street-legal dual-sport, KTMs have to be at the top of the shopping list. And falling neatly between the lightweight 250s and monster 450/500s of the dirtbike spectrum, this 350cc, Austrian-built Single definitely fits the definition of “middleweight.”
In our May “Rocking the middle ground” comparison test, we rode the 350 EXC-F, Beta 350 RS and Husqvarna TE310 in the Arizona desert and made them fight it out amongst the cactus. The KTM was the clear winner, but more significantly, the trio announced the arrival—and legitimacy—of the middleweight four-stroke enduro.
Following in the bootsteps of its motocross cousin, the 350 SX, an enduro version wasn’t exactly a big surprise when it was released for 2012. What was unexpected, though, was that KTM built a street-legal rendition of the 350. The result is essentially a hardcore enduro capable of winning off-road races but that also can be legally ridden on the road. ChaChing!
In general, 350cc “inbetweeners” promise better handling than their big-bore siblings but with more oomph than those less-well-endowed in the displacement department. Apparently, this concept was properly translated in Mattighofen.
As a trailbike, the EXC is impressive. At just 251 pounds (without fuel), it is nimble-handling, yet the chassis and excellent WP suspension provide confidence-inspiring stability in the rough stuff, slow or WFO. Power output may not be as impressive as that of an Open-classer, but the 350’s linear, usable, fuel-injected delivery is hard to fault. Despite tall gearing, it still has good grunt off the bottom, but it really screams when revved out.
So, don’t think of “middle of the range” as mediocre, because as the $9699 KTM 350 EXC-F proves, light-bike handling plus almost-big-bike power equals balance, and there is nothing average about that.
• Street-legal enduro racer
• Flexible engine can crawl or scream
• Do-it-all chassis at home in the woods or on the range
• Only $200 less expensive than the 500 EXC
• Stalls when hot
• Same weight as 500 EXC
|Dry weight:||251 lb.|
|Seat height:||37.6 in.|
|Fuel capacity:||2.2 gal.|
|Front wheel travel:||11.8 in.|
|Rear wheel travel:||13.2 in.|
|Footpeg height:||16.5 in.|
|Ground clearance:||12.9 in.|