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Old 06-04-2012, 03:12 PM   #60
Kelso
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Joined: Jun 2010
Location: Santa Clarita, CA
Oddometer: 2
2012 350exc-f impressions

I have about 10 hours on the bike so far. Still breaking in, but here are my impressions after 2 rides.

First couple of hours was a 50/50 mix of street and dirt. Feels alot like my old YZ125, very slim and light. Suspension is a little soft in the dirt, but still the motor is too new to really ride too hard. At the dealer's suggestion, I drained the oil and changed the filter. Few bits of metal on the drain plug but nothing out of the ordinary. Bike also lost a little coolant. One thing I have noticed so far is the quality of bolt hardware. I guess in an effort to save weight the fastners are soft and not the best quality. I guess that's also the reason for the dual Torx/8mm head bolts. Once you strip the cheap bolt, you have another chance to get them off.

The next 8 hours were accumulated all on dirt. Single Track, Two track, Fire road. All rough beat up, whooped out stuff. I stiffened the low speed compression and front fork compression a bit, nice difference. Bike is very light and responsive. I still would like to rev the engine higher, as I think this is where the bike wants to run, but I am still breaking in.
I'm glad I chose the 350 over the 500. I've ridden a few 520's,525's,530's, etc, but not the 2012 500. I realize the frame, ergonomics, and suspension, is different on all those 500's, but I felt the 500 was just too much unused power. I like to try and ride in the meat of the powerband, the 500's I rode felt too bogged down and when you revved a little more it was too much power and not really controllable. With the 350 the power is really useable all the way through each gear. The 350 turns on a dime. I was really surpised how low the center of gravity felt on some tough switchbacks. Even my old 300mxc felt top-heavy compared to this bike. I guess that is new technology for you, but I did not notice the weight of the bike in the tight stuff. I am also one of the most out-of-shape bastards on the planet, so KTM did something right to make the 350 feel smaller and lighter than it truly is.

Lastly, I did have some issues with hard starting after the bike had sat for a time, after a break, but I guess this will improve over time.

My next test will be a nice ride of 70+ miles of pavement to the riding area. I am interested to see the on-road rideability. Will report
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