2014 KTM 350 XCF-W – Sept 2013

Here is my brand new 2014 KTM 350 XCF-W in my trailer at the dealer’s parking lot.  It will never be this clean again – it rained all the way home.  But, it is a dirt bike after all.

Brand new 2014 KTM 350 XCF-W

KTM’s slogan is “KTM – Ready To Race”.  That may be true, but the first thing to do is get it “ready to ride”.  Let the modifications begin…

Wolfman fender tool bag

Heat reflective tape on the underside of the fuel tank

Scott’s sub-mount steering stabilizer and bar riser

Exhaust pipe heat shield

Rear brake guard

TUbliss tire inserts

Quadboss dirt bike tire sealant

Push-to-talk (PTT) button

Ignition map switch (mild, standard, or wild)

Orange TM Designworks skid plate

Tugger lift straps (front and rear)

GPS mount and 12V power

Fastway hand guards

Fastway footpegs (wider and lower)

Now it is ready to ride!

First Ride Impressions

Three years ago I bought a 2010 Husaberg FE450.  Not because it was the exact bike I wanted – but because the XCF-W version of the KTM 350 was not yet out and I couldn’t wait another 9 months.  The FE450 has been a really great bike – and still is – but it is too heavy for me when the going gets tough.  Having just turned 60 years of age, I am finding it very difficult to manhandle a bike of that size.

So, I decided to pull the trigger and buy a 350 since it is about 20 lbs lighter.  I decided to get it now so I could get in a few rides before winter and then have all winter to fine tune the suspension, etc.

For its maiden voyage, our family decided to do a fairly easy loop in the Uinta mountains and enjoy the autumn colors.  The weather was quite good, although there was a stiff breeze so the air wasn’t as clear as I had hoped.

Feeling right at home in the beautiful mountains

After unloading the trailer at the trail head, I started warming up the bikes.  I “knew” my bike would start right up since it is fuel injected.  After all, my Husaberg always does.  Wrong.  The darn thing wouldn’t start.  I was surprised at how quickly we drained the battery.  But not to worry – it has a kick starter.

We eventually got it started (turns out I had the idle set way too low).

The first thing I noticed was the engine vibration in the footpegs.  Not as much as a two-stroke, but more than my Husaberg.  I got used to that in about two minutes.  The only time I would notice it was on boring stretches of road.

The next thing I noticed was that it didn’t have the low-end torque of the 450 – but that was expected.  I needed to down shift a little more often, but not much.  I think it has all of the power that I will need.

The suspension was not as plush, but that was expected too.  I had the Husaberg re-sprung for my weight and the valves changed for my recreational trail riding style (no racing for me).  The 350 seemed kind of harsh, but as the bike got broken in and as I picked up the pace, it felt fairly good.  I need to test it in the whoops and deep sand before deciding what modifications to make.

The bike certainly felt lighter and more maneuverable and nimble.  This was very obvious on steep, rocky, hill climbs.  A few times I likely would have dropped the Husaberg due to its weight, but I was able to regain control with the lighter bike.  I also found that the lighter bike was much easier to balance when doing the “slow ride” balance exercise.  And when I needed to lift the rear end to swing it over a log, I could do it.  I would have needed someone’s help to lift the Husaberg.

The more I rode it, the more I liked it.  I let my daughter try it out and she instantly liked it better than her Honda CRF250X.  She thought it felt more nimble and inspired confidence.  Even though it is a little tall for her, the height didn’t bother her because of her confidence.

Note to self: don’t let your daughter ride your new bike – she may not give it back

Updates:

Here are some of the updates to the bike after my first ride…

The stock fuel line is exposed and could be damaged in a fall

After market 90* fuel line is better protected

Swingarm guard

Clutch cover guard

Rekluse EXP 2.0 auto-clutch

Rekluse left hand rear brake (LHRB)

Bullet Proof radiator guards

I have also now installed stiffer springs based on my weight.  Now to take some time and try to dial in the clickers…

As a winter project, I added blinkers and a horn so that I could make the bike street legal.  I have another post talking about that project.

Hand Guards

The Magura clutch cable sticks out a long ways before the cable is allowed to bend.  This makes it challenging to install hand guards.  It got even more difficult when I added the left hand rear brake (LHRB).

At first, I wanted to have the LHRB in line with my front brake lever so that it would be similar to riding my mountain bike.  This forced me to move the clutch lever way up, and I had to run the cable over the top of the hand guard, as seen here:

Clutch lever above LHRB

I didn’t like that cable routing, and I found it difficult to ride other bikes with a standard clutch.  I therefore decided to switch the levers and put the LHRB on top.  This also allowed me to get a shallower angle between the two levers due to clearance issues.

By moving the clutch back down below, I was able to route the cable under the hand guard.

LHRB on top

With all of the dual sport controls and the LHRB, it is really tight fit on the handlebar.  I had to move the kill button over to the right side.  As you can see in the above photo, I have, moving left to right; the light control switch, the LHRB, the clutch perch, my mirror RAM ball mount and my push-to-talk button.  There is 2.5″ of space between the hand grip and the clutch perch.

The stiff exit of the clutch cable from the clutch reservoir makes a very tight bend in the cable, as shown here:

Tight bend on the clutch cable

The Fastway FIT hand guards mount directly to the bar clamps.  Hand guards that have a separate clamp would be very challenging to install.  I just installed a set of Cycra Pro Bend hand guards on another 350.  I was able to get it to fit, but it was tight.  If I install the light control switch and a LHRB on that bike, it may not fit.

Cycra Pro Bend

I thought the bend in the hand guard would allow plenty of room, but as you can see, the Magura clutch cable goes very close to the center of the bike before it begins to bend.  Here is another view:

Clutch cable routing

Here it is with the plastic guard installed:

Hand guard

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About gardinerfamilyadventures

A really great family!
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13 Responses to 2014 KTM 350 XCF-W – Sept 2013

  1. Burt says:

    I think you’re going to have a lot of fun on this new bike, Dee. Congrats! Don’t you just love that new bike smell? 🙂

  2. Sean O'Brien says:

    Hi Dee,
    Congrats on the new bike! I haven’t done much dirt biking since we were with you in Green River. However, a couple of years ago I bought a BMW GS 1200 Adventure. It is so much fun and an incredible bike! If you ever want to take it out for a day let me know.
    SeanO.

  3. Dave McIntire says:

    Nice Dee! Congratulations! Nice upgrades! Hope you get some more rides on some beautiful Fall days.

  4. Would love to have a 20 lb lighter bike with the power of my 400… Dang, that is EXACTLY what you have! VERY happy for you, thanks for the report.

  5. Roy R Shadbolt says:

    I have a 200 e/xc for single track and a 450 x/c for most other stuff. I have been thinking about getting one of these and getting rid of the 2 I have now. Kind of a good compromise of everything.

    Great job on the thoughtful mods you have put on it.

  6. Don Watkins says:

    Hey I really get a kick out of reading your adventures. So detailed and well done. I was going to pick up a 350XCF-W 6-day Saturday but I want to lower it with KTM’s lowering kit and I am told it can’t lowerd. So I am happy to say I am picking up the same bike you have and very excited. I have a 2012 WR450F (283lbs) and I am really hoping that the 236lbs XCF-w 350 will feel a lot lighter for this 60 year old. I am 5’8″ with 31 inseam and am having it lowered 1 3/4 inches. Hope it does not mess up the handling. So after watching as much of your adventures as possible I am very excited to put it in my cold Denver garage and look at it until March/April. 🙂

    • I think you will like it. The 350 is only 15 lbs lighter than my Husaberg, but it feels like it is 50 lbs lighter. I can’t believe the difference. It is too cold here is SLC too, but I have been out in the garage playing with it – adding blinkers, etc to get it plated this spring so I can do some dual-sport rides.

      • Don Watkins says:

        You will never guess. I wanted the six day 350 badly and did not get it for I was told I could not lower it because the forks were different. I rode the regular 350 and 250 in the parking lot and don’t think I messed up but bough the 250xcf-w. I have some property and have been riding around on it and think I love it. I am still going to put a plate on it. So I would love to get a list of your upgrades. You have my email if you have the time.

  7. Pingback: KTM 350 XCF-W Dual-Sport Project – Jan 2014 | Gardiner Family Adventures

  8. Brian K says:

    How did you manage to get your clutch lever so high and also so far inward? I just bought a ’14 350 XCFW last week and after putting my hanguards on I had to move the clutch lever inwards a bit, but unless I roll it down, the hydraulic line gets pretty close to the guard bracing. Can you snap a pic of how yours looks?

    I’m using Cycra guards with the Bonz mounts.

    • I just added a section to the end of the post regarding hand guards. This illustrates the Fastway FIT handguards and the Cycra Pro Bend guards. They both fit, but they are tight. I imagine some other mounting schemes may not fit.

      • Brian Kimmitt says:

        I meant to say thanks for the pics a while back but forgot! I got things sorted out fairly well – I got everything to fit and still be comfortable to use. After a fall this past weekend which slightly dinged my pipe, I want to order the same Flatland exhaust pipe guard that you’ve got. Do you recall the exact model number you ordered? I can’t find an exact listing for the ’14 350 XCF-W. Thanks, Brian

      • The exhaust is the same as the 2013 model, so I ordered the 2013 350 guard from Slavens Racing:

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