New Project Time

It was time for a new project I’ve had the Yamaha YZ250/290FX for going on three years. It’s a great bike and I certainly don’t need another bike, but since when does that kind of logic mean anything.

So I decided to buy a real trail bike, one that is designed for good old woods riding. And I all ready knew what I wanted and why. I wanted a 2017 KTM300XC-W for many reasons. New frame geometry, lighter weight, (220.4 lbs plus gas) a new motor with the starter relocated underneath the motor. The Exploror open cartridge forks, didn’t want the air forks or the rear shock linkage. The W means all those things plus an eighteen inch rear wheel, 2.5 gal gas tank, a kick stand, headlight and taillight, a six speed transmission and of course electric and kick start. Every time I looked at videos from Europe I’d see the vast majority of KTM’s were W’s.

Well I couldn’t find a 300-W anywhere around here, the W’s seem to sell out long before the XC’s. (With linkage and air forks) I could find 300 Husky’s or KTM’s around. So I decide to buy a 250-W with the thought I can easily convert it to a 300 later on.

The forks are new but are an updated version of the old open cartridge forks with the compression and rebound clickers on the top of the forks. The shock is a recently revamped PDS system shock.

In order to ride it in the woods I needed, spark arrester, plus for my piece of mind a skid plate, steering damper, hand guards and of course a Rekluse.

My first ride was at the rock pile known as Prairie City OHV Park. All I had added that first ride was the spark arrester. I literally went right out into the rocks and the first thing I noticed was how well the stock suspension worked I was very surprised and pleased. The other thing that surprised me was how low in the RPM’s the two strokes motor can keep chugging. I actually only stalled it once that day and this is a guy who’s ridden with Rekluse’s for years.

I have a 2016 Husky FC350 that weighs just a few pounds more than the 250 but the difference in feel is amazing. I’m sure it’s the four stroke versus the two stroke motor vibes, but the 250 feels a lot lighter. I eventually ended up riding all around the park that day and had nothing but positive feelings.

Not having had a two stroke for six plus years it does take a bit of getting used to, like no engine braking, I found myself rolling off the throttle expecting some engine braking so I over cooked some corners. The two stroke motor does not respond as quickly as the FI four stroke off the low end but nothing you can’t get used to. The jetting was totally stock and could have had something to do with that.

We ended up riding 28 miles that day and I had a smile on my face the whole time.

My next ride was at Foresthill, a place with a good mixture of single track flowing trails, rock up hills and down hills, water bars and some tight tuff. By this time I had the steering damper, skid plate, shark fin and Rekluse installed. I had also dropped the cir clip on the needle to help it run cleaner. I backed the compression off all the way on the forks and shock and slowed the rebound a bit.

I need to tell a little story on myself here. Something I believe we have all experienced at some point in our motorcycle mechanic-ing career. When I went to install the steering damper bracket and I know better than this but it seems I have to learn this lesson every time. And that is don’t think you can install the bracket with the front end (forks front wheel) still on the bike. At some point in the distant past I have had success doing it that way so I still try doing it this way every time. So after I tried and failed and ended up taking the front end off and had put it all back together I discovered I left the round fat O-Ring off. And so once again thinking I could take it apart just enough to slip that O-Ring on at the top only to fail again and once again have to take it all apart. Finally success after I don’t know how many hours, I decided to work on the Rekluse the next day, fresh start and all that.

The Rekluse install went without a hitch or so I thought. When I was ready to test it I hit the starter button the only response was one single click. So now I think the battery has somehow died. Just so happens I have a Shoari battery which I install only to hear the single click. I check everything to no avail, I end up calling the KTM dealer I bought it from and from there I take it to them the next morning. Everyone pushes the button and offers a possible solution. Finally the owner comes out and looks at it and says did you install the Rekluse? Yes I said he proceeds to tell me a story about one of his mechanics spent eight hours trying to figure out the same problem with another customer’s bike. The problem, there are two long bolts one at eleven and one at five o’clock that are used on the clutch cover, one is about three millimeters longer than the other. I had a fifty, fifty chance of installing it correctly but as luck would have it I installed the longer bolt on the bottom where it interfered with the starter.

This is what this bike is made for and it worked amazingly well. It turns, it stops and the motor pulls extremely well. I’m not a screamer more of a torque it around guy and this motor would do that. Right now at least I don’t feel the need for a 300. One of the other reasons I bought this year’s bike was because of the counter balancer which cuts out virtually all vibration, it works. No hands going to sleep no foot peg vibration either.

Put another 28 miles on the bike, would have ridden more except it was getting hot and I was tired from riding moto cross practice the day before.

Interestingly enough and for the first time I don’t at this juncture feel the need to have the suspension worked on. And I’m not sure I need the steering damper that’s how stable it felt. Even at Prairie City on the open trail and roads it felt very stable. And can’t think of anything I want to change or add to the bike. Incidentally the new 2018 KTM250XC-W TPI (TPI is for fuel injection) is the same bike as the 2017I have except the FI of course. So I’m going to just ride it, continue to learn how to ride it all with a big smile on my face.

I’ll put some time on it and report back later.

Doug 21J

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