The 2016 KTM 85 SX won Dirt Rider’s 85cc MX Shootout. Though many bikes in the 85cc class get updates very rarely, this bike has had some very recent updates with a new fork and axle in 2014 and a new cylinder and swingarm in 2015. This is the only non-linkage rear end of the 85s we tested this year (the Husqvarna was not available). Test riders loved the smooth, broad, controllable power with great over-rev. Most felt the suspension was well balanced and gave outstanding bump absorption and control (some said it was too stiff). The bike handles great, but most riders commented that it did feel taller than most other bikes in the test. Overall the bike won because it didn’t have any real flaws. On our first day of testing, at the rough Glen Helen track the bike won on the score sheets by a wide margin. On the tighter desert test track of Day 2 of testing, it still won the test sheets, just by not as much when it’s potent engine didn’t have the real estate to show off its strength.
A general note to non-riders: We tested with a group of six young but highly skilled and very experienced racers, and our shootout was geared toward this type of top-level racer. If you’re researching a first bikes for a kid, none of the 85cc race bikes are a great choice, a trail bike (CRF-F, TT-R, DR-Z, KLX) would be the right machine to get a youngster into the sport.