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KTM 300 XC – Review

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Earlier this year MotoOnline.com.au was invited across the globe to Les Commes in Spain to sample the MY17 KTM endruo range. We got a great feel for every particular model on offer from the Austrian manufacturer, however they still had another off-road card up their sleeve – the 2017 KTM 300 XC.

Based off the 2017 KTM 250 SX motocrosser, the 300 XC shares only a few components of the EXC range, which makes this cross country-styled bike a real weapon in both the bush and on the motocross track. The ability to register this bike with rec-rego further shows its versatility in the Australian market.

It is easy to understand why the big-bore two-stroke is a fan favourite. It’s little more friendlier in the maintenance department, lightweight, has more torque than most people know what to do with, electric start, great handling and that sweet, sweet smell of burning oil. Combine those features that you would find on the EXC bike and transfer them across to the platform of the ripping KTM 250 SX, you have a cross country KTM two-stroke with a kickstand, six-speed gearbox, 18-inch rear wheel, 10L fuel tank and an electric start.

The MY17 KTM 300 XC is new from the ground up and, in terms of a motorcycle, it is considered an all-new bike. KTM focused on three particular features when developing the new generation bikes: lighter, stronger and faster. When you cast your eyes over the stats from the previous years, it’s clear they’ve made massive inroads in all of these areas.

Being based on the SX platform, there are a few things that jump out immediately compared to 300 EXC – air forks and linkage! If you are coming from a KTM off-road heritage, then this is going to come to you as a surprise with 10mm more travel on the front forks and 10mm less on the back, although you have a linkage. A slightly steeper steering-head angle and a 500ml larger fuel tank over the EXC range, there are a few further subtleties. All in all, the 300 XC is 700 grams heavier than the 300 EXC, but it’s hardly noticeable, if at all.

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What makes the 300 XC? The WP AER 48 air and oil forks and WP 5018 linkage rear suspension. They are lighter and are the same forks as the SX and SX-F motocross range, but have been specifically developed for cross country racing in the US – think GNCC and WORCS-style racing.

The forks are adjusted easily via the dials on the fork tubes and have 310mm of travel, as mentioned earlier that is 10mm more than the KTM 300 EXC. The forks have a split function with air on the left side and oil dampening on the right. Easily adjustable as the air can be added or adjusted by the valve at the top of the left-hand side fork tube.

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

The 300 XC WP 5018 rear shock and linkage is set up for cross country, which is slightly softer than the motocross set-up. The shock is softer in dampening to allow for better traction and feel on the trail. The shock gives a little more progressive feel than what the 300 EXC offers due to the linkage, also giving more feel on the motocross-style conditions.

The suspension of the bike was plush over the small, sharper bumps while remaining forgiving and stable over the larger hits on the rocky terrain. The rear suspension was a little more plusher and perhaps a little more predictable than the 300 EXC, but having said that, riding on a motocross track, hitting the same lines each and every lap may attribute to that feeling.

Aside from these comparisons of the 300 EXC to the 300 XC, KTM has worked on a lot more of the bike to really lift the game of the big-bore two-stroke machine. Combined with a new chassis made from lightweight chrome-molybdenum steel, which has been designed with maximum longitudinal stiffness to work better with the suspension, and perfected torsional stiffness to give better handling and rider feedback, the 300 XC is lighter, stronger and performs better.

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

The new design of the frame has also allowed for the mass of the bike to be more centralised and better distributed for greater handling and performance. The graphics, bodywork, rider cockpit and air-box are all new as well, along with ODI lock-on grips, Neken high-strength aluminium handlebars, Brembo front and rear brakes, as well as a Brembo clutch.

The graphics are in-molded to the plastics and have been redesigned to include a grab-hold at the rear of the seat, which is perfect for extreme off-road and cross country courses. The seat has improvements to be more ergonomically shaped for better comfort. The air-box has also been redesigned to help airflow into the carb. New locator pins make it harder to incorrectly install the filter and damage your pride and joy.

The big-bore KTM two-stroke 300 XC is like a little chainsaw, if you have never owned or ridden a 300, then you probably don’t know what your missing out on, within minutes of throwing your leg over it, you wonder how you ever got by without it in your life. Although the 300 XC is very similar to the 300 EXC, it’s hard to split the difference on which side of the fence to jump to. A lot of factors are going to creep into deciding between the two.

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

Depending what state you live in may make your life a little easier, being in Victoria, you have the opportunity to take advantage of rec-rego and then 300 XC becomes somewhat of a no-brainer. If you are doing closed-course racing, then the 300 XC is also probably going to be a better option, being styled slightly more to the cross country/racing market. But if you’re not racing, not in Victoria and have no option for rec-rego, then the 300 XC becomes more limited in its usage.

The 2017 KTM 300 XC is available now from your KTM dealer for a recommended retail price of $12,495. For further information on KTM’s complete range and specifications, visit www.ktm.com.au.

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