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Fullnoise.com.au 2013 KTM 350 SX-F

Author: Aaryn Minerds

Author: Aaryn Minerds

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Fullnoise.com.au 2013 KTM 350 SX-F
We have now spent two and a half months enjoying our KTM 350 SX-F and things are about to get serious as the race season approaches.

So far our current Fullnoise.com.au long-term project is yet to line up behind a start gate, something that is not likely to change until either the last week in February or the first week of March.

We are currently in the process of finalising our racing schedule for the year and at this point in time we may head to the opening round of the Australian Arenacross Championship at Phillip Island to kick of our race season

If not our first race on our 350 SX-F will be the opening round of the South Australian State Motocross Championship in March.

In the mean time, we have put in a few hours at the practice track in an effort to be as ready as possible for a long season ahead and to also find a comfortable base set up that will see the bike hit everything from Stadium-cross races, Local Motocross meetings, State and National Off Road Championship rounds and of course the Hattah Desert race.

This week we are going to have a look over the bike from top to bottom and point out the changes we have made or will be looking to make over the next four weeks before racing gets under-way, as well as giving a final overview of the bike in stock form before we start making some changes.

THE CONTROL CENTRE
Fullnoise.com.au 2013 KTM 350 SX-F
The controls up front on our KTM are fault-less, we have just received some flex levers to help with some extra piece of mind in those small tip overs! Everything else is staying as is.
Starting up front, the handle bar set up on the 2013 KTM 350 SX-F is very good, Normally one to change my bars as soon as I get a bike to the same bend I have always ran with, I have come to feel right at home behind the Renthal 827 bend that come stock on the KTM's this year. I did spend some time rolling them forward and then back and have found a nice sweet spot that I will be sticking with.

The clutch and brake set up is also spot on, the levers feel good on both sides and clutch and break feel are great.

In saying that I will look at changing things up and getting some type of "Flex" lever mounted before racing gets underway. There is nothing worse then having an event ended due to a snapped lever, or hafting to ride 10Km with no clutch lever in the sand as I found out at Hattah in 2010!

I was a fan of the stock orange and black KTM grips when I first rode the bike and still am, though I will look at running a slightly softer compound grip when the originals are ready to replace.

The rear brake pedal has been working faultlessly and the Shift lever the same, both are stock parts that at this point in time will be staying stock.

The only changes I will be looking to make when it comes to Foot controls are the Foot-pegs. The Stock Pegs I am finding a little slim and have had my feet slip of on quite a few occasions, it may be rider error, but I think a slightly wider peg is in order to see if it makes a difference or not.

SUSPENSION
Fullnoise.com.au 2013 KTM 350 SX-F
The stock suspension on the KTM 350 SX-F has proven more than handy, but a few tweaks using all the stock internals should have it spot on for myself.
For the most part the suspension on our KTM is pretty stock. We did drop 20cc of oil out of each fork leg not long after we picked up the bike, which actually made a big difference in how the KTM tipped into corners, and held its line. At my weight, which is the wrong side of 95Kg at the moment the reduced oil height has probably made the bike a little to soft up front, but overall, it feels pretty good.

The bike does become a little unstable through the front when hitting multiple shallow breaking bumps coming into a corner, especially at the end of a high speed straights, while the rear has the same issue with square edged hard-pack holes coming out of corners, heading into corners the rear is as stable as any bike I have ridden.

Tomorrow I will be heading to see Grant Beale at his Bike Tune work shop to get the suspension dialled front and rear ready to go racing. Grant has been helping me at the track with some minor adjustments and been keeping a close eye on how our KTM.

I have no doubt that this already great bike will be even better once we have the suspension dialled in for myself.

THE POWERPLANT
Fullnoise.com.au 2013 KTM 350 SX-F
Not only has the engine on the KTM ran like clock work, the gearbox works a treat.
I love the engine in this 2013 KTM 350 SX-F, it really is the middle ground I have been looking for. 450s can be a handful when you are not riding week in week out, while a 250F is a bike that you really do need to run high in the RPM range to get the most out of, even for a clubman lever racer.

Don't get me wrong riding a 250F high in the rev range is still great fun and makes even a clubman rider like myself feel like they are flying around a track, but the extra power from the 350 is certainly more than helpful.

The 350 gives you the best of both worlds. In those times when you have not been riding a great deal and need some time to work back up to speed, the 350 gives you a nice progressive roll on power right from the bottom and can be short shifted to keep things nice and relaxed and in control.

If you are feeling good it is just a matter of riding the bike a little higher in the rev range and keep it down a gear through corners and the bike is ready to rocket.

I am finding the more comfortable I get on the bike the more I am riding the 350 SX-F a gear lower and running higher in the RPM range and if you are looking to go quicker on the 350 it does favour being ridden up high, but not to the extent of a 250F.

More power is something I am not looking out of the engine at the moment; performance wise the plan in the coming weeks is to play around with the rear sprocket size.

I will add one tooth to the rear sprocket at a time until I find the perfect gearing. I have a feeling it will only be one or maybe two teeth on the rear which should allow me to run 3rd gear through most corners, giving me a bike that will be ridden pretty much in 3rd and 4th at most of the MX tracks in South Australia, we will go back a little taller on the gearing when we hit some off road races.

UPKEEP
Fullnoise.com.au 2013 KTM 350 SX-F
Looking after our KTM has been a breeze so far, oil and air filter changes are quick and simple.
Keeping a basic maintenance schedule on the KTM is proving to be very easy. The tool-less air-box access makes changing in and out a fresh air filter after each ride a breeze. As we went through in our last article on our KTM 350 SX-F oil changes are a do it yourself job at home that anyone can do in minimal time and the Oil Level window is great for a quick double check on the oil level before you go riding.

As with all new bikes it is advised to check every nut and bolt after early rides. The KTM has been good, I did do a couple of quick checks after the first few rides, as expected the spokes needed to be tightened.

The only other bolts that had started to work loose where the lower fork protector bolts and also the bolt under the chain guide that came loose and fell out while riding.

The stock chain and sprockets are still looking new after nearly three months. The chain has actually surprised me, normally a stock chain is off my bike with in the first few rides due to being annoyed with checking and tightening them every two seconds. So far the chain on our 2013 KTM needed an initial adjustment, then only a couple more since.

Both the Chain and sprockets will be changed in the next few weeks however, I will run a x-Ring chain mainly due to some of the riding I am planning to do this year and the sprockets are only being changed due to the fact I am looking to change the gearing a little.

I have had to replace both the front and rear tube already, the front was due to a nail going through it, while the rear was due to a pinch flat, both have been replaced by heavy duty tubes.

The stock Dunlop MX51 tyres are still hanging in there, though only just for the rear. The MX51 rear has not been to bad of a tyre, though the track surfaces it has been faced with over the summer months probably have not been ideal for it.

After my first ride on a hard pack track I thought the tyre would be lucky to last a month, it has lasted nearly three, however ride time has not been as high as it normally would be.

The front is still looking good, but with a set of the new Pirelli Scorpion MX 554 Mid Hard tyres rolling up, both the front and rear will be changed over in the coming days.

The plastics are holding up well for the most part. The air-box cover and radiator shrouds have taken a bit of punishment, though in saying that the radiator shrouds still look close to new.

Late last week the original plastics came off with a fresh set going on front to rear along with the custom Ringmasters Graphics kit as you can see in a few of the images. Once again the guys at Ringmasters have given us a bike that will be the best looking on track all year.

Check back in a couple of weeks when we will have a look at a full race schedule for the year ahead and run through what we have done to our bike in the lead up to its first race for 2013

Top Image: our 2013 KTM 350 SX-F in stock mode has been a great bike top to bottom.

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