(1) Forks. There is a learning curve to living with WP Xact air forks, but it is not as complicated as plasma physics. In its simplest terms, air replaces the coil springs. That is all its does. Do not waste time trying to tune your compression or rebound damping by adding or subtracting air pressure. That is what the clickers are for. Once you find the correct air pressure for your weight, speed and track conditions, turn your attention to the clickers. 

(2) Horsepower. The 2020 KTM 350SXF makes 54.61 horsepower, which is more peak horsepower than the 2020 Suzuki RM-Z450 makes; however, to get the best out of the KTM 350SXF engine, you have to rev it to the moon. The best advice for first time 350SXF riders is —don’t shift when you want to, shift when the rpm peaks out. That’s a lot higher than your brain tells you.

(3) Airbox. KTM includes an optional vented airbox cover with the 2020 350SXF. On muddy or dusty days, run the non-vented one. Always keep a roll of duct tape on hand to block off the vents before power-washing your bike after a race.

(4) Seat height. Motocross bikes keep getting taller. If you are under 5-foot-9, there is a good chance that your feet won’t touch the ground. KTM Power Parts, Guts and Seat Concepts make low seats that will bring your feet in contact with terra firma.

(5) Maps. The 2021 KTM 350SXF will have a much more aggressive Map 2 than the 2020 model. If you can’t wait, send your black box to Twisted Development and have them put their map in place of the 350’s milquetoast Map 2. Twisted Development can be reached at

(6) Traction control. The stock maps can be enhanced by running them in conjunction with traction control. Don’t fret that traction control will slow the bike down. It only comes into effect when the rear wheel spins.

(7) Gasoline. The KTM 350SXF is tuned to run on 91-octane American fuel. If you modify your engine, increase the compression or switch black boxes, then you might need better fuel. Until then, run the highest-octane pump gas that you can find at the busiest gas station in your town.

(8) Swingarm. In 2019, KTM lengthened the swingarm by 5mm with a longer axle slot. You can use the long axle slots to fine-tune your bike’s handling. For fast sand tracks, cross-country races or in the desert, the rear wheel can be moved rearward to make the 350SXF more stable at speed. Be forewarned that changing the wheelbase affects the compression damping and race sag.

(9) Shock linkage. Most MXA test riders prefer the Pro Circuit rising-rate shock linkage. It isn’t as soft as the 2015 linkage or as stiff as the 2016–2020 linkage. It splits the difference and produces a more fluid feel. It does require a stiffer shock spring. For 2021, KTMs will get all-new SKF low-friction seals that reduce stiction in the link’s moving parts and a rising rate closer to the Pro Circuit aftermarket link.

(10) Checklist. Check the bolts on the rear sprocket, shift lever, shock linkage, head stays and hydraulic clutch slave unit at regular intervals, but most important, check the spokes after every race. Start at the spoke next to the rim lock. It is the first one to get loose.

(11) Preload ring. Don’t hit the WP shock collar with a hammer and punch. Instead, turn the shock spring by hand while using a long, flat-bladed screwdriver to pry against the frame and the shock collar at the same time.

(12) Throttle cam. The stock throttle cam has an incredibly long throw. Luckily, KTM includes a black quick-turn throttle cam with each bike. Put the black cam on your bike.


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