MXA’S 90-SECOND TEST: 2014 KTM 350SXF
KTM is the only manufacturer to build a 350cc motocross bike—thus they own this segment of the marketplace. And don’t be fooled into thinking that the 350 market is a small segment of dirt bike sales. According to KTM they sell more 350cc dirt bikes than any other engine size (and they produce 85, 125, 150, 250, 350, 450 and 505 displacements).
If you ride at your local spot, rarely race and just go out to have fun, the 350SXF is the perfect size bike. Faster than a 250, but not as brutish as a 450, the KTM 350SXF demands a high rpm attack profile, but can be ridden slow without as much penalty as a 250cc four-stroke.
Power. Although it gives up about 10 horsepower in the midrange to a 450, the 350SXF makes good overall power—with the caveat that its best power output is found from 11,000 rpm to 13,400 rpm. If you don’t rev it, you might as well not ride it.
Electric start. Why kick if you don’t have to?
Brakes. Awesome Brembo brakes.
Clutch. The 350SXF does not use the exotic diaphragm clutch that comes on the 450SXF, but it does have a durable steel clutch basket. Plus, it is hydraulic.
Suspension. The 2014 KTM 350SXF suspension is okay. Not great for anybody, but mediocre for fast riders.
Rims. KTM’s silver Excel rims have been a source of aggravation for us. They don’t stay round and require constant attention.
Preload ring. KTM admonishes owners not to hit the Nylon preload ring with a hammer. Good advice because even dynamite would have a hard time moving it.
Gearing. Add one tooth to the rear sprocket to get full use out of the high rpm powerband. Invest in a 51-tooth rear sprocket.
WHAT DID WE CHANGE?
Here is the short list of things the MXA wrecking crew changed on the 2014 KTM 350SXF.
(1) We sent our suspension out to have it revalved. we have had good luck with MX1, Pro Circuit and MX-Tech. While the shock is in the shop, switch to an aftermarket preload ring or X-Trig.
(2) We relaced the stock hubs with D.I.D. ST-X or A60 rims.
(3) We added a 1.250mm longer link.
(4) We bent our shift lever upward in a hydraulic press to raise the tip to make it easier to get our boot under it.
WHAT DO WE THINK?
If you’d prefer to race a 250 four-stroke, but don’t think it is powerful enough, then the KTM 350SXF is perfect for you. It is an oversize 250, not an undersize 450.