You eagle-eyed newsstand readers and not-so-snowed-in subscribers may have noticed the gem of a motorcycle on the front cover of the new issue of Dirt Rider, piloted by none other than Factory KTM racer Cory Buttrick. Yes, I’m talking about the all-new KTM 350 XC-F, a long-awaiting mid-sized four-stroke off-road machine of hyphenated proportions.
Since taking delivery of the new 350, we’ve been learning how the bike ticks and figuring out what direction we want to take it in. Immediately after the press intro, Jimmy Lewis took the machine to his secret spot for a few days and explored the engine’s strong top-end pull and EFI-equipped delivery. The tranny is geared for speed, and Jimmy found the high-speed sections of trail to be a killer match to the XC-F’s style.Following the first few weeks of riding (and subsequent first test in our May issue), we took the bike to a variety of other spots, including the Racetown 395 MX track in Southern California. It was surprising to see how well the steed worked in the MX realm; you truly could race this bike on any given Sunday, be it off-road or moto, and still be happy. The bike is much lighter feeling than some of its off-road cohorts, and this lends itself to an easy-to-shred feel in big berms and over rough terrain.
More recently, we took the KTM on a tighter trail ride, and it was here that the orange machine’s lack of low end was a hindrance. The 350 just doesn’t lug that well, and we’re currently thinking of a few ways that we can increase the off-road capabilities of the bike. On the plus side, we went on a fairly long, demanding loop and somehow managed not to run out of fuel or break anything. Success!Stay tuned for more updates on this machine, and if you have any suggestions for modifications-as well as any questions about the bike-please post them in the comments section below.