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ktm 300 xcw vs... Looking for options

birdman2447

Chimp
Aug 6, 2008
70
0
Hello all, I am looking to get back into trail riding up here in maine as training. There is a decent amount of riding, mostly woods riding sorta 2nd & 3rd gear stuff. Looking for opinions on what bike to buy looking to sped around 3k on a used bike. I have owned both 250 2 and 4 strokes. All Japanese bike but never a KTM, however the 300 really has my eye. I am wondering what you guys have for opinion on them? I have also been looking at the 450's but I like the weight of the 2 stroke as well as the low cost to maintain it. Any 300 riders on here?
 
I just picked up a 2013 ktm 200xcw. Its a trail shredding machine for sure. Given that its nearly 40lbs lighter than my former 250 4stroke, feels more nimble and responsive while riding. The 2stroke should be more reliable and rebuilds less costly. The power definitely comes on quicker compared to the 4stroke. The hydraulic clutch on the ktms are money. Feels way smooth and controlled than a cable actuated one. And the E Start is a godsend in tech climbs if i stall out.
 

profro

Turbo Monkey
Feb 25, 2002
5,602
270
Walden Ridge
Everyone I know with a 300 detunes it via powervalve, throttle tubes, ReKluse, gearing, etc. Personally I think 300s would be great for the desert or at altitude. Otherwise depending on your height go for a 200 or 250. Most people love the bottom end torque of the 300 and very few that I know of locally actually ride a 300 on the pipe. In my opinion, if you want the torque then just stick with a 4-stroke. Otherwise grab a smaller, more nimble 200 or 250 and stay on the pipe. But don't be fooled to think that they can't lug in technical trail.

My 2012 250sx

 
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batts65

Monkey
Aug 27, 2002
182
0
Upstate NY
I have a 2005 exc 450. it is heavy but you can really lug it along in 2nd and 3rd on the real tech stuff. It is also plated so I can ride the roads between trails without much worry (no inspection, but it is registered and insured). I have gone past a lot of police and they do not even look at me.

Some of the guys that ride where I do have the 300 and say it has a lot of the benefits of the 4 stroke and the light weight. Like said prior there is a lot of tuning that I know nothing about.

If going new, then get the 2012 or 13 350exc, just need to change the rear sprocket and it is all set for the trail and still street legal. Bike is amazing in the woods.

The magic button is also great, most of the KTM's have them since 08 or 09. Especially when stuck on steep hill.

**** Spam **** I am looking to sell my 450. I am in upstate NY. (sorry, had to do it)
 

Kanye West

220# bag of hacktastic
Aug 31, 2006
3,450
164
All the KTM 300's have very flat motor powerbands, except for the SX models with the different ignition. I wouldn't even worry about staying on the pipe with that bike.

If you're doing ONLY 2nd or 3rd gear stuff, look into a KTM 200. It has the frame of a 125, it's light as hell, and the motor is super friendly like the 300. No reason to haul a 50+ HP machine that's taller through tight stuff if you're never going to make use of it's real power and the stability.

I wouldn't even think about riding a 4-stroke around on tight stuff only. Heavy, prone to overheating, annoying compression braking, very poor handling and cornering.

FYI, if you're looking to spend around $3k, you could pick up a used 250 2-stroke with a worn out top end for way cheap, and send the cylinder and head to www.ericgorr.com for a 300cc kit on it with whatever powerband you'd like. Costs about $650 for all fresh stuff, and a bunch more power. Find a YZ250 with a blown top end for $1000 and get that kit and have a bunch of money left over to customize it how you want. And you want have to deal with the craptacular KTM suspension, brakes and the expensive parts of the mid 2000's (which is what you'd get for $3k).
 

Lelandjt

Turbo Monkey
Apr 4, 2008
1,688
99
Breckenridge, CO/Lahaina,HI
In short I agree with everything that'sbbeen said. I have a 2010 300 and love it. Since getting it every friend that's tried it has bought one. Some have plunked down for new 2011s and 12s, others have gotten 2005s or 06s for $2500-$3000. 2005 is the oldest you wanna go. On the newer ones we've all taken the Estart and battery out. It kickstarts so easily that stuff is dead weight sitting up high. We all live at altitude and like riding at low rpm so the 300 is the best 2stroke for us. If I lived at sealevel I'd wanna testride a 200 to see if it could be lugged well enough to make me content. Lighter and less gyro effect would be nice but the 300 is pretty light and nimble and its massive power is fun.

I considered modding a blown YZ into a big bore woods bike but the more I looked at KTMs the more I liked everything I saw (even the linkless suspension). I decided it was worth the money to just buy the complete package and have jetting and stuff already figured out.
 

birdman2447

Chimp
Aug 6, 2008
70
0
Thanks for all the feedback guys. I have narrowed my choices down to the ktm 250 and 300, minus the sx model due to the more peaky tuning. I am a intermediate rider and not picky as long as the bike is in good shape with how it is setup so that's what is most appealing about the ktm. If i found a to set up one of the Japanese 250sx bikes for the woods would require me to but springs, flywheel, etc. But I guess its not a ton of money considering how cheap they are. The 300's are tough to find used but I am going to keep my eyes peeled for one over the next few months as its my first choice. For now I have access to my brothers cr250 and cr85. That cr85 is about the same size as my dh bike and a blast to just mess around on.

If I look at Japaneses 250's are there any ones to stay away from? Is there a certain 250 that is know to have more broad power and be a better candidate for a woods bike?
 

Lelandjt

Turbo Monkey
Apr 4, 2008
1,688
99
Breckenridge, CO/Lahaina,HI
YZ 250 back to 2005 is the first choice, then older YZs, then RM250, then CR and KX. If you like playing on the CR85 imagine a KTM 105xc. It's like the CR but with bigger bore and wheels. I did the suspension and some other stuff to suit an adult and it's a blast on small tracks and tight trails.
 

birdman2447

Chimp
Aug 6, 2008
70
0
Nice, I bet that thing is a blast, the cr85 is fun but the little power it dose have is right at the top so its pretty useless for a 170lb guy. I will look into the yz's more. All my bother did to his cr250 was a flywheel, springs and a knarly pipe. Any recommendations on what the yz would need to make it trail ready. Should the suspension be re valved if I i was going to spring it for a 170lbs woods rider? Or can the stock dampers compensate for the softer springs?
 

Lelandjt

Turbo Monkey
Apr 4, 2008
1,688
99
Breckenridge, CO/Lahaina,HI
I'd ride it and play with the clickers before having the suspension tuned. Just like an MTB get an idea of how the springs feel and what you can't accomplish with the adjustments before spending money. Mods I'd do to turn an MXer into a trail bike in order of importance:
Fly wheel weight and change sprocket if neccessary so 1st doesn't require a lot of clutch slipping or wheel spin in slow techy stuff.
Gnarly pipe and Q Stealth silencer.
Full wrap handguards and akid plate
Kickstand
If the motor needs work anyway a big bore and porting
18" rear wheel and Pirelli MT43 trials tire
Auto-clutch and handbrake setup
 
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dfinn

Turbo Monkey
Jul 24, 2003
2,129
0
SL, UT
286995_10151161861564648_182792644_o.jpeg

Huh, what? Bike porn, I got that. Not at all relevant to the post but since we're sharing, here's my new toy
 

DirtMcGirk

<b>WAY</b> Dumber than N8 (to the power of ten alm
Feb 21, 2008
6,417
0
Oz
I'm in the same boat when it comes to shopping for a new bike, but I live in the desert and I weigh 244#.

Do you guys suggest the 300 or the 450 for someone mostly going out in the desert, putting paddles on and hitting the dunes, maybe even a few trips to the track?
 

Kanye West

220# bag of hacktastic
Aug 31, 2006
3,450
164
First of all, don't go to the damn dunes if you like your bike. 4-strokes in the dunes will be a lot more expensive when you wear it out in 10 hours though.

As for the Jap 250 2T's, the YZ has the most broad powerband due to the powervalve design and spring, and the shape and lengths of the intake. The problem with the YZ's are that they're tall at the pegs/cases, and they run a lot of offset in the triple clamps, so they handle like ass in stock form. My YZ300 is great offroad with some reduced offset and a lower ride height in the rear. They are also the most bulletproof, both in the motor and the chassis, and super cheap to own and maintain. Aluminum frame in '05. Suspension and frame geo un-changed since 2006.

The RM's handle great, but the clutches are made of tinfoil.

The CR's are solid, and a good mix of handling precision and stability. If you get a 300 kit on one of these, it has to be sleeved, not just bored/ported/plated. The 300 kit can only be put in a motor up to 2001. The newer powervalve design doesn't leave room for the overbore. My current project bike is putting a 2000 CR300 motor into a 2002 CR250 frame/chassis with '06 revalved suspension on it, and a '96 powervalve governor for a more progressive powerband. Should be a wicked track bike. Huge parts availability and crossover for these too (as my current build will illustrate). If your state has green sticker rules, this is the only aluminum frame green sticker 2-stroke you can get ('02 was last year for green sticker 2-strokes).

The KX's both handle poorly, and have a poorly made engine and sub-par suspension. I haven't seen anything appealing about these.


I've found a Rekluse autoclutch and rear hand brake makes the bike handle just wicked offroad, and on the MX track. With the 300 kit and crisp jetting, I don't find myself needing the clutch. It's a bit easier to set this up with a cable clutch bike too (non-KTM).
 

Lelandjt

Turbo Monkey
Apr 4, 2008
1,688
99
Breckenridge, CO/Lahaina,HI
I rode and raced for years with a standard brake and clutch setup. I'm even faster with the handbrake and it's just more fun feeling. I'll never go back and every friend who tries it has me install one on their bike. It's definitely optional though and that's why it's at the end of my list.
 

buckoW

Turbo Monkey
Mar 1, 2007
1,533
193
Champery, Switzerland
I rode and raced for years with a standard brake and clutch setup. I'm even faster with the handbrake and it's just more fun feeling. I'll never go back and every friend who tries it has me install one on their bike. It's definitely optional though and that's why it's at the end of my list.
Can you some show pics of your setup? What lever are you running?
 

Lelandjt

Turbo Monkey
Apr 4, 2008
1,688
99
Breckenridge, CO/Lahaina,HI
Can you some show pics of your setup? What lever are you running?

This is my 300 but I have the same setup on the 105 too. The lever is the stock clutch lever. Most people keep the front brake on the right and just run a custom hose (I use Speigler*) from the rear caliper to the left, former clutch lever. You can see I run my brakes American MTB style so the rear hose goes to the right and the front hose to the left. The stock front hose loops up above the lever. This routing lets it cleanly extend when the fork compresses. The stock hose is a little long and a custom one 2" shorter would be nice but I haven't bothered replacing it. You can barely see the rear hose leaving the right lever and going behind the number plate. I used zip ties to route it along the frame. The original rear brake pedal, master cylinder, and hose were removed, though for kicks I temporarily used a short custom line to connect it to the clutch slave and had a foot operated clutch override. It worked but wasn't useful enough to be worth the weight so it came off.

*buckoW would use a Euro equivalent but for Americans http://www.spieglerusa.com/brakes/custom-brake-lines.html is awesome. Custom length, color, and banjo bends and the banjos pivot for $80 shipped. I've got an extra one for my 300 here if someone wants it.
 
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profro

Turbo Monkey
Feb 25, 2002
5,602
270
Walden Ridge
Yep just like Steve Peat used to rip on a hardtail with an elastomer fork and cantilever brakes. I guess we should stick with that technology too.
I dunno know, but pretty much the entire AMA MX and SX field runs the old school setup. No need for gimmicky setups.

I have ridden both setups and I hate Rekluses. It takes the snap off-idle and yes I have tried the high end one that is supposed to not do that. But it still does.

Rode yesterday with a guy who has a 2011 Honda 450 CFR with a Rekluse. I rode it and hated the hesitation off idle. I gave him my bone stock 250sx and he came back white as a ghost and said 'no thanks'. It was like he didn't know how to work a clutch and struggled. Knowing how to work a clutch is a huge benefit. I just don't understand why you would want to limit yourself without it.
 

gemini2k

Turbo Monkey
Jul 31, 2005
3,526
115
San Francisco
I'll take a slightly worse snap off idle in exchange for better performance and less headache in every other aspect. Also, plenty of MX/SX/Enduro pro's are running rekluses now. They just don't talk about it. You can tell when you watch it on TV pretty clearly.
 

Kanye West

220# bag of hacktastic
Aug 31, 2006
3,450
164
Set the Rekluse up correctly and it will lock up right off idle. I can loft the front end of my bike at a moments notice, even with tall gearing.

And yes, LOT of MX/SX guys are running them now, despite what they say. Watch closely in crashes.
 

jekyll991

Monkey
Nov 30, 2009
473
0
Belfry, KY
One pro rider I know for a fact is running a rekluse is Munn racing's Lance Vincent.

Personally I wouldn't recommend one to someone who's never really ridden before.. the base skill is very important in learning overall bike control. For someone who has plenty of experience and it makes them faster I don't see why not.

Will I ever have a rekluse? Not likely, I like the feeling of feeding power to the bike with the clutch, which is probably why I fell in love with my friend's 125 I rode a few weekends ago while my piece of junk 4 stroke was broke down.
 

Lelandjt

Turbo Monkey
Apr 4, 2008
1,688
99
Breckenridge, CO/Lahaina,HI
It's not about the auto-clutch, it's about the handbrake. To have a hamdbrake you need an auto-clitch so it's a means to an end. The handbrake makes the bike so fun in twisty singletrack and downhills. None of this is relevent to motocross. Riding singletrack and MX are completely different.
 

ianjenn

Turbo Monkey
Sep 12, 2006
2,486
283
SLO
So I am thinking I need to go take a look at this sometime this week:Craigslist KTM

Any advice on what I need to look for?
Just to give you an idea. My friends that raced Pro and Intermediate did motor rebuilds on smokers about every 2 or 3 weeks. Although MX is way harder on the motor than trail riding. Homie said he used in in dessert meaning screaming so see when and if last rebuild happened. It isn't much for new piston, and ring may take some time. My friends could do it around an hour.
 
3G is alot to ask for a 2005 2stroke bike. for ktms i'd get something 2008/9 or newer...it'll have the new style frame and electric start.

2 stroke top ends are easier than the 4-stroke counterpart...and cheaper if you have a shop do it.

i'm still on the fence about dropping a rekluse in on my ktm. i'd like to ride a bike with it first before i mod mine. rekluse also came out with a dedicated rear hand brake, looks like a hayes master cylinder/lever with a slightly modified end banjo on the brake line to plug into the rear brake pedal, so you have dual function. also, they are mounting it on the same side as the clutch but angled more so you can grab the clutch or grab the brake.
 

Lelandjt

Turbo Monkey
Apr 4, 2008
1,688
99
Breckenridge, CO/Lahaina,HI
So I am thinking I need to go take a look at this sometime this week:Craigslist KTM

Any advice on what I need to look for?
Just like with an MTB look at the general cleanliness and condition of the bike but it sounds well cared for and with some good mods. I'd try to get it for $2500 but would pay $2700. My friend paid $2800 for the same bike with mostly the same mods but also a Rekluse auto-clutch. KTM 300s really hold their value cuz they're usually taken care of and are a coveted bike. The 2005 is the first year of the first generation to have a good chassis and handling. Ask how many hours the top end (piston, rings, cylinder) and bottom end (rod, crank, bearings) have on them and feel and listen to the engine to see if it's running well and how crisp the power is. The internal condition of the engine could be used in negotiating price but like someone said, they're cheap and easy enough to freshen up that a worn engine wouldn't turn me off buying one. Look at the shape of the sprocket teeth and condition of the o-rings on the chain. If they're worn it knocks $100-$150 off the value. It sounds like the tires are fresh but look at those too. This is the MXC model (2005 equivalent to the modern XC) so it sits between the motocross and trail models, kind of trail racing. Semi-close ratio tranny, medium-firm suspension, no lights or odometer but capable of having them added.
 
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Kanye West

220# bag of hacktastic
Aug 31, 2006
3,450
164
I could tell you a million little things to look for, since I'm ultra picky when looking at bikes, unless I'm getting them dirt cheap. Bring a friend with you who's rebuild motors before and knows what to look/listen for. Brakes, suspension, wheels/drivetrain/tires you should be able to diagnose yourself. Check the steerer bearings for play and the rear shock bearings for play (with it off the ground on a stand - shock bearings replaced "a year or so ago" doesn't mean a f'ing thing, and they're about $50 each end for new ones). The ad has zero mention of the last top/bottom end and it's not the original owner. I'd probably pay around $2200 max for that bike, assuming the top end isn't roasted. The fact that the rear wheel was replaced entirely probably means it was slammed into some rocks good and hard. Those don't just give up after a while like MTB wheels do.

Big things to check for:
- Have a friend pull the pipe and look inside the cylinder with a flashlight. If you can see ANY vertical scoring on the side of the piston or the cylinder walls, it needs a top end, and probably a re-plate (about $300 for the replating alone).
- Remove the oil fill plug and look at the fingers of the cluch basket for notching.
- Have a friend use screwdriver or something to listen to the bearings in the engine as it's running for loose/rattling bearings. Screwdriver = stethoscope.
- If the air filter is dirty, and/or the gas is old and yellowed, or the oil drain plug under the left foot shifter looks like it hasn't been touched in a while, then it's a safe bet they didn't do any kind of motor maintenance.
- Look at the spark plug. If there is any gray or white on it, that indicates a lean condition, and the top end probably needs to be addressed. Ideal is brown/tan. If it's super dark and black, that indicates rich, which isn't great either, but it's certainly better than lean for your purposes.

Keep in mind - any OEM parts you need to replace on a KTM will be expensive. Pistons, rings, cylinders are usually about twice as much as a Japanese counterpart. And then it will have ****ty suspension on top of it.

The 2008's were an improvement for sure. This one is already sold, but deals like this pop up on the District 37 website frequently: http://district37ama.org/forums/showthread.php?t=54655
 

Kanye West

220# bag of hacktastic
Aug 31, 2006
3,450
164
Sometimes. It also varies from bike to bike how well they work.

Wiseco rings typically suck, so I stay away from those when I can.

Pro-X/Vertex pistons are usually OEM quality for the Jap bikes.

Moose makes low-end stuff overall. No reason I would use one of those in a motor.
 

Kanye West

220# bag of hacktastic
Aug 31, 2006
3,450
164
200 hours is high for a 2010. Super high. If it didn't have any road miles, that means it was all offroad, which is definitely no better. One look at that air filter says "F that". Also if it's never had a new crank or gear inspection, it's due. ~$3000 factoring in the price of an engine rebuild.
 

Err

Chimp
Aug 28, 2008
27
0
KTM 300's commonly get 400+ hours on the bottom-end. Most people have no where near the skills to wring out a 300 so they last a long time. 200 hours is common on a top-end for these bikes. Yes, I'm well aware that's a ton of hours, it's just not that uncommon on the big-bore KTM 2-strokes.