Sept. 21, 2013
I wanted to take an easy ride to break in the new KTM 350 XCF-W, so we decided to go to Soapstone and enjoy the autumn leaves. The aspen trees were starting to turn, so we had some great scenery.
The plan was to ride a loop that I haven’t ridden in many years. The first time I rode this loop Jason was very young and sat behind me on my old dual-sport bike. The ride took longer than we expected, so Jason eventually fell asleep. So I had to finish the ride with one arm behind my back to keep him from falling off.
On this trip we were able to move at a slightly faster pace. Kim was on her ATV, I was on the new 350, Jamie was on the 250, and her friend Jon was riding his factory edition KTM 450. Jon was kind enough to take video with his helmet camera, so Jamie and I got a break from filming.
We drove up through Kamas and parked outside the Mirror Lake Highway fee area along the road to Soapstone Basin.
When I started warming up the bikes I found that the new KTM would not start. I tried pulling out the cold start knob and I tried all three ignition map settings (mild, standard, and wild). The bike just wouldn’t fire up. We very quickly drained the battery and switched to the backup kick starter. I then quickly learned that the wider footpegs I installed interfere with getting a full kick on the starter. Jon was kind enough to give it a shot and he finally got the bike going. It was difficult to start all day, but I managed to get it going with the electric start from then on. After getting home I did some research and found that I had the idle set way too low. The idle spec for this bike is around 2000 rpm, which is about double that of most bikes. After turning up the idle speed, it has been starting up very rapidly – as it should – being a fuel injected bike.
The following map shows the route we followed.
We rode up the old Jeep road shown by the blue track (intermediate). This road is somewhat rocky, but not overly difficult. I stopped about half way to make some ergonomic adjustments to the new bike.
We then rode the short loop up to Lightning Ridge for some nice scenic views overlooking the Duchesne Gorge.
We were making good time so I decided to explore some roads I hadn’t been on before. The first part was pretty good, but then we got into some fairly large mud puddles. We stopped for lunch in a small saddle overlooking the gorge.
After lunch, we continued along this road, but it turned really rocky and had some steep climbs. Kim called on the radio and told me she didn’t want to come back down this trail. Well, guess what? The trail was a dead end, so we had to turn around and come back down. I didn’t earn any brownie points for picking this trail.
We eventually got back onto the main road that goes past Cold Spring. We still had a little spare time so we took another spur that is one of Kim’s favorites. She calls it the “cream filling”. It is a little rocky on each end, but the middle part through the meadow is very easy and has a great view overlooking the Wolfcreek Pass road.
From this overlook it was easy sailing all the way back to the car. We rode about 34 miles in under 3 hours, counting scenic stops and lunch. We loaded up the trailer and returned home, washed the bike, and I did the break-in oil change on the new bike. So far I am very happy with the new bike.
I let Jamie ride the new bike as well. Even though she is just getting used to the 250 (after riding the 230 for many years), she immediately took a liking to the 350. It is narrower and feels lighter than the 250. It is a confidence inspiring bike.