Bike Reviews

2010 KTM enduro range

2010 KTM enduro range

I should probably kick off this test with a bit of a confession and that’s that I’m a big KTM fan. Or, to be more precise, I’m a huge fan of their 300cc two-stroke. I race a ’09 model in extreme enduros and having finished Erzberg in 20th and run top 10 at The Tough One I reckon I know the bike inside out.

Of course, the 300EXC is just one model in an eight-bike range with three more two-smokers and four four-bangers combining for what must be the most comprehensive collection of off-road machines offered up by any manufacturer.

We were flown out to Tuscany in North West Italy – not far from the location of the Hell’s Gate extreme enduro – for the launch of the 2010 Toomers and there was some pretty hardcore terrain waiting for us with an eight-mile enduro loop that featured extreme and chicken routes. You’ve got to hand it to KTM, they’re not afraid to give us something challenging to sling their new bikes at…

For 2010 KTM have taken a close look at the geometry of most of their enduro machines and the 125 and 200EXC models come with a steeper steering head angle and an extra 2mm steering head offset which – on paper at least – should make for sharper turning. And it does – both bikes handled really well, turned brilliantly and felt light and precise.

But while the handling wasn’t a problem I did struggle with the power produced by the smallest two EXC two-strokes. Straight away I felt comfortable on both of them due to the excellent handling but I found myself really having to work hard to keep the 125 in the powerband and was constantly clutching it and crashing through the gearbox on the tighter bits of the enduro loop.

The 200 is nearly an excellent bike – again, it felt just a little bit under-powered. You had to really race it – there was no time to relax at all and you had to be on it constantly. But if you were on it then it felt awesome and again that super-light feel inspired confidence. There was a decent bottom-end on it which was great for the nadgery bits, not a lot of mid-range and then quite a lot of top-end. But I couldn’t ride on the mid-range – it was either bottom or top for me.

The 250EXC’s an animal – pure and simple! A full expert bike purely down to the hit off the bottom. It was phenomenal. Very quick. It was nice and sharp on the bottom-end and the hit came in almost straight away. It’s very similar to a motocross bike but this shouldn’t detract from enduro use because a good expert will use it in the special tests – it’s an excellent motor for special tests.

You could be forgiven for thinking that this is a mistake – why bring out a bike that only the really quick men will want to race? It doesn’t make sense! That is until you swing a leg over the 300EXC. This is the bike that the switched-on clubman will go for and if there’s a better bike on this planet then I need to ride it.

First gear, second gear – you can ride anything! You can very nearly trials ride on it. You can ride over any rock, any log, it never wants to stall, it’s got power whenever you want it. There’s no big hit – you can start from nothing and it will just pick up beautiful all the way through to the top-end.

The 250 and 300 have a 20mm steering head offset and to be fair there’s no need for the extra 2mm featured on the 125 and 200 as the handling is mega on both. Again, there’s a light, nimble feel and the brakes are awesome across the entire two-stroke range. But out of the two-strokes the 300 is the stand-out bike – no question about it.

The motor is that nice, especially with the CDI pack on it where you can clip it or unclip it depending on what power you want. With it attached it’s really raspy and with it off it’s a lot softer and much more user-friendly but still with that tractable power. It doesn’t matter what gear you’re in, what hill you’ve come to, what log you need to get over – you can do it. This engine will get you out of trouble almost every time.

Suspension wise all the two-smokers felt perfect. They all come with the same WP 48mm forks and PDS rear shock but the 6kg difference between the 125 and the 300 is unnoticeable. Lovely and smooth, the suspension soaked up everything whether it was logs, big rocks or steep banks.

In contrast to the two-strokes, I struggled with the handling on the four-strokes and this was down to the extra weight. They felt a lot heavier. And I couldn’t get used to the engine braking. I could ride a full eight-mile lap on any of the two-strokes without a problem but as soon as I did a lap on a four-stroke my thumbs started to ache.

I thought the 250EXC-F was the best bike out of all the four-poppers, if slightly under-powered. It felt nice handling wise but you could tell it was a little bit heavy for the power and the engine braking was quite hard to get used to for me after jumping off the two-strokes. The clutch also felt a little heavy on it and caused me to stall a couple of times.

Up to the 400EXC now and I’d rate this as a lovely trail bike. For me it didn’t feel competitive – this is the bike for the guy who wants to do green laning or race clubman three-hour hare and hounds. There’s lots of nice tractable power all the way through with no big hit – it just felt a little bit under-powered and a little bit overweight. It handled very well though.

And there didn’t feel to be a great deal of difference between the 400 and the 450 – it was just a little bit punchier in the mid-range. Out of corners you could keep it in second or third gear and ride pretty much everywhere in third and it would pick up from nothing. But it felt a bit heavy if you’re going to go into extreme events or pro-level hare and hounds races.

The daddy of KTM’s off-road range is the 530 EXC and this is a beast! It only needs one gear – I could set off in third and do the full lap in third and it never missed a beat. A really fast, comfortable bike with great brakes and great suspension. But the engine braking and weight was a low point for me. On steep downhills it took some stopping and I could really feel the pressure on my hands.

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Specification:

125EXC
Capacity: 124.8cc
Bore and stroke: 54mm x 54.5mm
Transmission: Six-speed
Fuel tank capacity: 9.5 litres
Front suspension: WP 48mm
Rear suspension: WP PDS
Seat height: 985mm
Wheelbase: 1471mm
Ground clearance: 390mm
Weight: 97kg

200EXC
Capacity: 193cc
Bore and stroke: 64mm x 60mm
Transmission: Six-speed
Fuel tank capacity: 9.5 litres
Front suspension: WP 48mm
Rear suspension: WP PDS
Seat height: 985mm
Wheelbase: 1471mm
Ground clearance: 390mm
Weight: 97kg

250EXC
Capacity: 249cc
Bore and stroke: 66.4mm x 72mm
Transmission: Five-speed
Fuel tank capacity: 9.5 litres
Front suspension: WP 48mm
Rear suspension: WP PDS
Seat height: 985mm
Wheelbase: 1475mm
Ground clearance: 385mm
Weight: 101kg

300EXC
Capacity: 293.2cc
Bore and stroke: 72mm x 72mm
Transmission: Five-speed
Fuel tank capacity: 9.5 litres
Front suspension: WP 48mm
Rear suspension: WP PDS
Seat height: 985mm
Wheelbase: 1475mm
Ground clearance: 385mm
Weight: 103kg

250EXC-F
Capacity: 248.6cc
Bore and stroke: 76mm x 54.8mm
Transmission: Six-speed
Fuel tank capacity: 9.2 litres
Front suspension: WP 48mm
Rear suspension: WP PDS
Seat height: 985mm
Wheelbase: 1475mm
Ground clearance: 380mm
Weight: 105.7kg

400EXC
Capacity: 393.4cc
Bore and stroke: 95mm x 55.5mm
Transmission: Six-speed
Fuel tank capacity: 9.5 litres
Front suspension: WP 48mm
Rear suspension: WP PDS
Seat height: 985mm
Wheelbase: 1475mm
Ground clearance: 380mm
Weight: 114kg

450EXC
Capacity: 449.3cc
Bore and stroke: 95mm x 63.4mm
Transmission: Six-speed
Fuel tank capacity: 9.5 litres
Front suspension: WP 48mm
Rear suspension: WP PDS
Seat height: 985mm
Wheelbase: 1475mm
Ground clearance: 380mm
Weight: 114kg

530EXC
Capacity: 510.4cc
Bore and stroke: 95mm x 72mm
Transmission: Six-speed
Fuel tank capacity: 9.5 litres
Front suspension: WP 48mm
Rear suspension: WP PDS
Seat height: 985mm
Wheelbase: 1475mm
Ground clearance: 380mm
Weight: 114kg