First Look: 2011 KTM 350 SX-F

Orange Crush Lite

By Tim Carrithers, Photography by H. Mitterbauer

Raise your hand if you think a four-stroke 250 doesn't generate quite enough steam, but one big handful of the typical 450 and Mr. Sphincter is trying to inhale Mr. Motocross Pants. Not a problem: KTM has been listening, and the Mattighofen works has something ready to slot in between.

Enter the 350 SX-F. Unveiled by living legend Stefan Everts, Project 350 has been under development for some time, with various prototypes being tested on Southern California dirt for months. Though generalities outnumber specifics at this point, expect the bike that materializes in showrooms this summer to squeeze about 50 horsepower from a fuel-injected 250-sized single using familiar SX engine architecture. Informed sources on this side of the Atlantic tell us it spins up more like a two-stroke than something with cams shoving four valves around at high rates of speed. And if the prototype unveiled in Milan is any indication, starting will be strictly a push-button operation.

The chassis it lives in, however, is all-new, using slimmed-down frame spars and a selection of other tricks to hold dry weight to about 220 lbs.-closer to the 216-lb. 250 than the Orange crew's 231-lb. 450 SX-F. Look closely and you can see the 350's rear shock works through an actual linkage; no more linkless PDS arrangement common to current KTM motocrossers. How does it work? Current MX1 World Champion Antonio Cairoli fought off a field of world-class 450s to take a Starcross International win in Italy last February, so the short answer is pretty good.

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