I’ve never been a 450 guy. I ride them well, but to me they aren’t as fun to ride as other bikes and I tend to hit the ground hard on them.
I had bad luck with some silly issues on a 2010 KTM 250 SX that took a whole summer to figure out. I’ve never broken a shift shaft or had a power valve fall apart before this bike. The little crack in the shift shaft was hidden by the glide plate. A few people had a look and couldn’t see any issues. It was obvious what was causing the shifting issues when the shaft broke all the way. To top it off, it seemed every time I rode I was getting some part of the exhaust or silencer welded up.
I then bought a cheap, but like new 2006 YZ 250 off eBay that was impossible to get jetted correctly without race gas. Despite what I had read from reviews. A magic needle would not fix this bikes problems, it needed race gas and probably a re-cut head. Without race gas and a modified head these things pre-detonate like crazy. I was bullheaded and trusted what I read about the N3EW needle fixing this bikes jetting problems–this cost me a lot of money.
In mid 2011 I was sick of bike issues. I didn’t want a YZ 250 or a KTM 250 SX with the problems I had over the past year. I was looking at 450’s, even though I don’t love riding them, hoping to find some reliability. For me, 450’s tend to lead to big crashes. My dad talked me out of the 450 plan. I went with the obvious solution, a brand new KTM 350 SX-F.
My life with the 2011 KTM 350 SX-F started out great. The bike felt light even though it was actually heavy, turned and handled well, and was all around fun to ride. The bike felt comfortable almost instantly, which was pretty surprising since I had spent the previous two years on two strokes. After getting the suspension set-up for me and dialed in, I definitely had no complaints about the way this bike handled.
It was obvious, especially at loamy tracks, that this bike was not the fastest way around the track for me (6’1″ 180 lbs is probably not the ideal 350 rider). It didn’t matter though, the bike was fun to ride and that’s what Motocross is supposed to be all about.
My love for the 2011 KTM 350 SX-F started to wain when the bearing recall was issued and took at least a month to get fixed. This was very stressful to me wanting to ride mid-summer. I bought this bike hoping to not have to deal with mechanical issues.
About a month after the bearing recall, the bike started having a really awesome, not scary problem. I was doing some riding at my house, was probably on the track for about 15 minutes, when the bike bogged and stalled. The bike would not restart. Assuming the bike was blown up I pushed it back to the barn and changed out of my gear. About 30 minutes after the bike had quit I decided “what the heck, may as well try to start it again”. It started.
The bike did this a repeatedly leading to a long process of no one knowing what was wrong with the bike. It took forever to get this figured out. Riding, not knowing if the bike was going to quit wasn’t very fun. Cleaning fuel filters, injectors, etc.. It took months to solve this problem. Eventually after a lot of research I found among the other things I already tried, people were having issues with the spark plug cap and the fuel pump. I decided to buy an OEM spark plug cap and a CA Cycleworks fuel pump $129.00.
The bike never did randomly stall on me again, but I had no confidence in it and never felt comfortable riding it after the random shutdown problem. The bike was sold at the beginning of 2012 and as far as I know the new owner has had no issues at all.
Below are the modifications I made to the bike, click to read more: