When racing off-road, and in this case a National Enduro, you are looking for a few things in your ride that I myself am not too familiar with. I have motocross running through my veins and am more aggressive than most when it comes to trail riding. When I first hopped on the new 2012 KTM XC-W’s and XCF-W’s I honestly wasn’t sure what to think. Remember, I’m used to a bike that rides a lot rougher and is made to hold up too much harsher hits.
Both the two- and four-strokes had great stability whether I was ripping down the trail or maneuvering my way through the trees. I felt that this was mainly due to the low riding rear end, which at first felt odd to me. I was slamming into bumps and bottoming out the suspension but I forgot I wasn’t on a motocross track. I did stiffen up the shock by going in a half turn on the high speed on each bike to help hold up the rear end. Doing this allowed me to ride the bike a little more aggressively without affecting how the bike handled at higher speeds. It also made the bike lean into the corners better and sharpened up the feel of the front end. With the stiffer rear end, I was able to aim the bike where I wanted with more precision.
The two most exciting bikes to ride were the 250 and 300 XC-Ws. Both felt super lightweight especially when being ridden back-to-back with the bigger four-strokes. Just by popping the clutch and shifting my weight back, I could easily get the front end up over anything. And with the extra torque of the 300, it made things just that much easier. The 250 and 300 feel exactly the same when it comes to suspension and handling. When you turn the throttle on the 300, that thing has a healthy bark that sets it away from the 250. Not that the 250 is lacking power by any means, it is just fun to have some extra power to play with.
The 250 XCF-W and 450 XC-W have very smooth but usable bottom end power, just the 450 makes a lot more of it. The small amounts of vibration and the smooth hitting power seem to go hand in hand. The 250 revs decent but likes to be ridden in the mid range so it requires a bit of shifting to stay in the right rpms. It can be lugged but if you are in too high of a gear, then you might have to be patient for it to get a little higher in the revs. Riding the 450 through tight stuff was almost to easy for such a big bike. I could take off in third gear from being almost stopped, and easily let out the clutch and the motor would just chug along and build up speed quickly. On some trails, I was able to leave it 3rd and enjoy the ride with plenty of power down low and more than enough top end. Here is a list of changes for the 2012 two- and four-stroke XC-Ws.
250 And 300 XC-W
It’s always reassuring when a manufacturer puts effort into improving their two-stoke line, and for 2012 the smokers received some substantial improvements. The 200, 250 and 300 XC-W were all outfitted with a new frame and swingarm to make room for a new 7mm longer PDS shock. The front fork was reworked with new oil and dust seals and new bushings that have an improved Teflon coating. A new air box and intake boot brings increased volume and better breathability to the motor. New bodywork and a new cylinder for the 300 XC-W rounds off the list of changes for the two-strokes.
For 2012 the 250 XCF-W gets a new DOHC EFI engine tuned for enduro-style riding, new cylinder head and new electric start system with a stronger stator that has been increased from 130W to 196W. Like the two-strokes, the XCF-W also gets a new frame and swingarm for the longer PDS shock, the new Excel AL7 wheels, new bodywork with a reinforced rear fender, new handguards with a stronger mount, new airbox and intake boot, a new silencer with a larger volume and spark arrestor and a new translucent 2.5 gallon fuel tank.
The KTM 450 XC-W gets the biggest list of changes out of all with a new SOHC EFI engine that is 5.5 lbs lighter. The new die-cast cases play a big part in the massive weight savings as they now have one oil circuit instead of two. Next is the multi function balancer shaft, a lighter piston and con rod for 20% less oscillating mass. The new design of the single diaphragm spring clutch allows for a smaller package and is 6.5mm thinner for yet another weight savings. This design also requires less force on the clutch lever from the rider. Also like the 250 XCF-W, the 450 is complimented with the new electric start system with a stronger (196W) stator, new frame and swingarm to accommodate the longer PDS shock. Along with the rest of the XCF-W and XC-W line she gets the new Excel wheels, bodywork, airbox and intake boot, silencer, translucent tank and new handguards with the improved mount.