A friend is going to buy a new KTM 150 in the next few days. We are east coast off-road guys, GNCC, SETRA, National Enduro. He is torn between the SX and XC-W. If KTM sold a XC there would be no question what so ever. The biggest question ,I guess, is with the XPlor fork and PDS? He was a super fast 125 MX kid so I know he will adapt to the small bore again quick but never riding one in the woods, how big of sacrifice will be made on engine/tranny characteristic to gain the air fork/ link shock? He is 160, 5’8″ top of class B GNCC level rider. He is coming off of 2013 Kawasaki KX250F that he could never come to terms with without over revving and on a budget you know how that ends up. Also he will be only able to ride it stock for a while so the suspension versus engine setup is the big question. SX vs. XCW and what suspension tuner would you lead us to on the new forks?
We miss the 150XC as well and for this it would be the perfect bike. That said we have not ridden the 2017 KTM 150 XCW so some of this is speculation. We always like to make that clear.
The engine power characters will not be that different, it is mostly the transmission ratios. And in the past on the 125/150 gearing has not been that big of a difference unless you are riding desert or very fast GPs. For GNCC style most prefer the close ratio MX gear box. Be aware that tuning the powervalve and adding flywheel weight can pay huge advantages for off-road power delivery. As well as pipe and especially muffler changes.
Onto the chassis and again most racers would go for the SX linkage and WP AER fork over the other. We have not ridden the Xplor fork on any bike yet but it will be set up for less aggressive riding and not be as adjustable, likely needing tuning for a faster rider racing the bike. As I always say with suspension valving and setup, exhaust the adjustability of the clickers and springs with the stock bike before you send anything anyplace and explain to the suspension tuner what you are looking for. Otherwise he is no better than the tuner that set the bike from the factory except he knows your weight and the ability level you tell him. Suspension valving is kinda like reading someone’s fortune unless you can watch them ride or they can tell you how to make it better, then it becomes educated guessing. There are lots of good guys, just depends on finding the right ones.
With the SX you may not even need to get into the valving especially with the adjustability the KTM suspension offers. At 160 lbs. the rider is right at the target weight for the bike.
What the SX will be missing is the larger fuel tank and the electric stater, stuff that can easily be added if those are needed. And even altering the internal transmission ratios is not that tough for a good mechanic.
The way I separate the KTMs as far as XC and XCW, or linkage and PDS chassis is pretty simple. If the bike will be raced or will be used on a track, the linkage chassis performs better. If the bike is going to stay on the trail and never see the track, I prefer the setting and performance, as well as the simplicity of the PDS chassis. Especially if dragging the bike over rocks and logs.
Hope this helps,