I really enjoyed your article on the 450XCF and YZ250X. I race hare scrambles on a 2005 YZ450 with a 3.3 gallon tank, bark busters, and spark arrestor. The advertised weight on my bike was 220lbs. With my stock tank I weighed it at 238lbs full*. I have been researching what would be the best “do it all” bike for me. I do not race motocross very often but for practice and exercise. I ride 1 ½ to 2 hour motos at Orlando MX doing most of the big jumps most laps. My old bike feels like it lacks the horsepower to safely attempt some jumps. I recently got to ride some new Yamahas that Jason Raines brought out to one of our hare scrambles here in Florida. I do not know that I can claim that most hare scramble and enduro guys use Rekluse clutches but it is a large percentage. Test riding the 450FX without one wore me out in short order. Like you described on the KTM, it stalls easily. It also has a ton of compression braking that sucks energy from a rider. It also will not lug without stalling. All these issues a Rekluse would likely fix. I assume the KTM would be about the same experience, just lighter? The YZ250 was nice but would also benefit from the clutch also. My favorite ended up being the YZ450F.
In the closing paragraph you mentioned, “ As a do-all XC bike, DBT feels that the KTM 350XC-F or even the 300XC have a wider range of duty.” I do not feel the that the KTM 250SX has enough bottom end on short run ups to big jumps for a 48 year old novice. How does the 300XC do in that situation? I would prefer the two stroke just because they are quieter and lighter but I do not want to have to roll obstacles when practicing with friends at the track.
*Bill later sent us a note telling us his scale was incorrect the bike was actually 277 pounds.
All of the bikes you mentioned have plenty of power to clear most jumps a Senior rider should be trying and all of them stall with roughly the same ease when compared to more off-road or trail oriented bikes. The difference is in the details.
First the stalling. It mostly happens when the rider is at zero throttle and the clutch control is a little off or timed wrong. Here is where a Rekluse is invaluable because it takes rider error out of the picture. You may still have some stalling based on how the clutch is set up and how the bike’s fuel management or carburetor is set up but typically it solves the stalling issue. All the bikes rank the same here but our experience is that the KTM 300XC would stall the least of the bikes mentioned.
Now for power. Since you liked the YZ450F that would indicate you are using low RPM pick-up to get you over the jumps and that the very snappy quick revving power delivery isn’t bothering you. The good thing here is that the YZ450FX can be made to run exactly like the motocrosser with the GYTR Power Tuner in a few seconds. It can also change the feel of the compression braking and to some point make the bike less prone to stalling. Then you get E-start and we feel the FX actually feels lighter when you are riding the bike than even the YZ. More versatile gear ratios and suspension as well. Even the stock FX will make the two-stokes feel sleepy in throttle response for most riders. A 300 two-stroke will have more get up and go than a 250 but not as much as a 450.
Want to know the real answer coming from someone who teaches riding schools? Turn the throttle farther and learn to use the power at bigger throttle openings and higher RPM and your bike choice becomes a lot more broad. Don’t do it over jumps in the beginning, practice on straights letting the bike rev farther and shifting later. Learn where the power tapers or where the rev limiter is–and I will guarantee that even 250 two-strokes will have plenty of power to get over most jumps easily. Learn to turn the throttle quicker when traction allows. Learn how bigger throttle openings and riding a gear high or revving in the right gear change not only how fast the bike goes but how it handles based on the weight feel of the bike.
We get beat up all the time by saying that all of the bikes are good. But they are. In reality they are just a bit different and it is up to you to know what you are looking for. The spec sheet can say a lot of things but it is actually how those specifications turn into characteristics that becomes important for you to know what you will get.
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