Ultimate Off Road Round Up: We test a bunch of bikes considered the best of the best in the trails.
Story Damien Ashenhurst | Photography iKapture/ Damien Ashenhurst/ Matt Bernard/ Shane Booth
The 350 changed the game; it’s that simple. It’s undeniable that the leap from a 250F to a 450F is a big one and when KTM addressed this it was met with mixed feelings. The motocrossers wanted to know where their horsepower went and particularly in the States the bike was derided and never put in performances that could sell the concept. But in the bush the 350 proved itself quickly and riders took it up in numbers.
The motocross version and enduro versions were designed in parallel which is to say the off-road machine wasn’t an afterthought tacked onto the motocross pioneer.
For those who have taken the 350 to heart, it represents the perfect bike in so many ways. Light, responsive and with just the right mix of power and manageability, the EXC-F doesn’t exhaust you on a lengthy ride but doesn’t leave you disappointed or uninspired in its performance, like a 250F might.
The 2014 350EXC-F is an improvement on all that came before it and the benefits are mainly found in the engine and the extra poke that KTM has managed to get from it.
On the trails and up against your mates, you’ll notice that while a 450 will leave it behind out of corners, it’s coming into corners that the 350 can edge ahead and if you have the skills then from there you can get ahead and fill in the bloke behind you because that’s what mates do.
This is my pick in the bush when we’re talking four-strokes. I previously loved the Husaberg FE390 but since that was scrapped, the 350EXC has taken the place as the go-to. I like that I can have a leisurely trail ride it but also give it some curry and it responds. Most of all I like how it owns that line between power and manageability. The 450 tires me out, the 250 can be a bit boring and so bang – there’s the 350. – Damien Ashenhurst
Can you say “On the money”? KTM can, this bike is about as close as it gets to the perfect bike in the bush. I believe 350cc of four-stroke engine is the ideal amount of motor to enjoy riding in the sticks. There’s enough torque to ride without the need to use too much clutch, yet it doesn’t have the mass feel that a 450 has underneath you. It isn’t intimidating and from a handling point of view it feels much more 250 than 450. If you are happy to put your ego aside, leave the 450 on the floor and buy a 350. –Shane Booth
Three Top Tips
A full Akrapovic exhaust brings a lot out of the 350.
Work the clickers before you book it in for a suspension tune.
Radiator guards and bashplate – essential.
The Husky carries a better stock set-up for the faster rider or racer. The up-specced suspension works well at accommodating bigger and harder hits but for the average trailrider the KTM offers a more comfortable overall ride at less than warp speed.
THis INSURANCE QUOTE
Can also be comprehensively insured THiS Road Bike Insurance as registrable bike