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Old 08-05-2014, 02:32 PM   #1
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200 EXC, 250 EXC or 300 EXC?

Quite a few of us have become smokers recently. a mate of mine is struggling with choosing between the KTM 200 EXC, 250 EXC or 300 EXC. He started a thread and got lots of useful advice, plus a pile of other guys with the same question who want to swap over from their heavy lumbering four strokes.

So stitched this video together and put the text in below too.

KTM 200 EXC - lightest, cheapest & most chuckable
The 200EXC gets a lot of rave reviews but is surprisingly overlooked by many dirt riders. As any experienced rider knows, outright power can actually slow you down and some of the biggest fans of 200s are those who know they can ride these faster and better in tight gnarly terrain.

The 200 has a completely different engine design to its bigger brothers which is significantly lighter. Prior to 2009, it also had a smaller and lighter frame, making it around 4kg lighter and a real weapon in technical terrain. Now that is shares the same frame as the bigger bikes, it's only about 2kg lighter. But it still feels much lighter, in part to less rotating mass but mainly because the power is easier to handle when riding hard.

This bike is great for tight difficult terrain and for the rider who enjoys riding on the pipe and plenty of gear changes to keep the engine singing. The low end grunt is surprisingly good for such a small bike, and it can be beefed up with mods like shaving the head and an FMF Gnarly pipe.

KTM 250 EXC - good all rounder & cheaper than the 300
The 250EXC is pretty much identical to the 300 except for the top end and CDI. The surprising thing is it usually sells for close to $1000 cheaper, which also just happens to be how much it costs to buy the 300 conversion kit, either direct from KTM or through Slavens. So some riders buy the 250, knowing they can get the conversion kit later if they want the extra grunt. The piston kits are also significantly cheaper for the 250 than the 300.

The 250 definitely has more power than the 200 across the rev range, but it's particularly noticeable at the low revs. And the three power valve springs transform the power characteristics. The green spring results in a nice flat power curve, while the red spring sees the bike leap into action with a motorcross type hit of power from 5700rpm as the valve kicks open. The yellow spring is in between these, and the favourite choice for many riders.

For the average rider, the 250 has more than enough power and in fact there are riders who find the 300 a bit intimidating and have downscaled as a result. Mind you, there are also very experienced riders who prefer the 250 as it is easier to rev and ride motocross-style.

You can lug the 250 around at incredibly low revs without it stalling, but it simply can't have the low down grunt of the 300 - it's true there is no replacement for displacement. Like the 200, you can pick up improve the bottom and mid-range power through mods such as an FMF Gnarly pipe, shaving the cylinder head or fitting the SX head from the motorcross range. But seriously steep hills will see you either changing down a gear or slipping the clutch when the 300 would still grunt away like a bush pig.

KTM 300 EXC - the torque meister
The 300 EXC is definitely the torque monster, with more grunt than the 250 but about the same top end power. As already mentioned, some riders find the extra power too intimidating, but it does come down to riding style as well. Quite a few riders simply lug the bike around like a four stroke, keeping the revs low and not changing gear as often. It has been said the 300 works well for the lazy rider, which is true. But of course it's the most popular engine size in extreme enduros because the top riders have the skill to make the most of all that power.

The suspension on all three bikes is pretty good if you are around 70 to 80kg, but after that you'll probably be making changes to suit you. It would be hard to really make a wrong choice on these bikes, as there is so much you can do to set them up the way you want. For example, if you bought a 300 and find it a bit too powerful, you can always use the soft map, install the green spring, and even lower the compression with thicker gaskets.

Personally I've ridden quite a few 300s and I was surprised that the power difference isn't all that great - we are only talking about 50cc after all. In tight technical terrain there are definitely times the milder low down response of the 250 is a big advantage. But there are definitely huge hills where the 250 EXC needs to be dropped down into first gear or some clutch feathering is needed, whereas the 300 has the grunt to keep chugging along.

So which bike is best for me?
In the end, you'll probably need to get a test ride to know for sure. If most of your riding is tight technical terrain, the 200 EXC is worth thinking about, and remember it is way cheaper than a 300! One of the great aspects of these bikes is their flexibility - you can't really make too big a mistake with whatever you buy... if you find the 200 a bit lacking in power you can beef it up with shaving the head, a different pipe and change the valve spring. Likewise with the 300, if it's too much of a handful then put it on the soft mapping, the green spring and maybe even a thicker base gasket to lower the compression.

And don't forget, while KTMs are still very popular there are plenty of awesome enduro bikes coming out from other European brands nowadays that are well worth a look. Most comparison tests and reviews are putting the Beta RR300 as equal with the 300EXC or an even better option for everyday dirt riders. And both the Gas Gas and Sherco aren't far behind according to the same reviews. There's no such thing as a dud bike in the two stroke enduro market!

EDIT: A few of us have now swapped over to the Beta RR300 and loving them, we'd agree with the magazine reviews that this is the bike of choice for the typical dirt rider, which the KTM would probably have the edge for those racing.

B1 screwed with this post 06-11-2015 at 11:09 PM
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Old 08-06-2014, 08:49 AM   #2
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Great video, I choose the 200 and am not sorry.
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Old 08-06-2014, 12:45 PM   #3
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they are definitely a cool bike... the young guy riding the 200exc is the current australian junior endurocross champion and also junior queensland trials champion. he does pretty amazing things on that 200.... i had a ride and was surprised at the way you can still lug it around.
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Old 08-07-2014, 04:20 AM   #4
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The 300 fit me perfectly, lugged my 250 lb carcass around like a tractor, chugged up hills with the front tire an inch or two off the ground most of the way up.
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Old 08-07-2014, 11:29 AM   #5
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yup. the vid started off because a mate is swapping over from a 450exc and trying to decide which would suit him best for mainly tight gnarly trails.

originally he was going for the 200 but after riding my 250 was keen on that. but the luggability of the 300 is tempting so looks like he's going for the big one.

i'll be jealous as the 250 does bog down on some steep hills where the 300 would just keep chugging away in second gear. might have to get one of those conversion kits....
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Old 08-08-2014, 05:58 PM   #6
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I have a 300. I like the down low torque. I ride lots of tight stuff. I tend to lug the bike most of the time and only get on the pipe when going up a hill or something.

That said, Ive ridden my buddies 200 abit and I could totally live with it. Got to rev it a bit more but its still a great bike.
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Old 08-08-2014, 09:02 PM   #7
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all this talk of lugging, i might just have to get me a 300 conversion kit! nobody out there hates lugging their 300 and wants to swap barrel, piston and CDI with me?
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Old 08-09-2014, 10:35 AM   #8
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This is like comparing Oranges to Oranges to Oranges.

I chose the 300, but I can't say if it's "better" than the 200 or 250. They all jam on the trails. I'm loving the switch over from the 450 I had. The weight savings is great, especially when I'm hot and tired and having to pick up and/or drag the bike around. Last week I had to drag it over some boulders that I couldn't ride up. Would have been almost impossible if the bike weighed 50 lbs more. Mine came with a Rekluse too, so that really makes it easier to ride the steep stuff. Would like a LHRB (left hand rear brake), for riding down the tricky sections.
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Old 08-10-2014, 04:15 AM   #9
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I'd buy both then figure which one fits better.
That's what I did.
Then kept the 200 and 250.
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I can't bring myself to not own a 200.Its such a great woods motor,an I have an 05 EXC so its smaller and lighter but still not lacking in the power deptment compared to my 250XC.IMHO it doesn't tired me out anywhere as quick as my 250,or the 300s I've owned.
I'm not a big guy though,so the chassi is the driving force.I can man handle a 200 alot more then my 250.
The only place I feel I need more bike like a 250/300 is big wide open spaces where the 200 would be wicked on the throdle stop all day,or when spinning a heavy ice tire.There the 250 shines on the 200.
But ice is the last thing your thinking of.
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Old 08-10-2014, 01:28 PM   #10
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yep, you can definitely throw the 200 around... the grunt of a 300 is great but there are times it does make it feel like a big heavy bike although it isn't. initially my 250 was bought only because there no decent 300s around but as i get used to it i think i've made the right choice - i just need to learn to slip the clutch better on steep hill climbs in second gear and not just try to rely on engine grunt.
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Old 08-13-2014, 08:00 AM   #11
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My last 200 was an 09,nice bike but some revs are called for to get up the steep stuff,gotta keep the shifter moving to go quick-ish.

Then I barged in and bought a 2014 300XCW,very little shifting required,doesnt like to stall,almost never slip the clutch.

I usually start in second gear and get to third and the thing will do lots of trails in 3rd gear at low revs. Ive had some older 300's and the new ones be mo bettah. As close to a 4 stroke as can be done,with out the excess weight and over heating.
Some bikes around at times
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Old 08-15-2014, 10:08 AM   #12
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Thanks for the review B1.

I've never owned or really ridden a two stroke (a college roommate had a 1983/84 Yamaha RZ350 that I rode a few times but that can't be compared to these three KTM's) and I'd like to purchase one of these KTM's someday. I've always been intrigued and curious about two stroke dirtbikes and I think one of the above will be a lot of fun if plated and used on the forest service roads in either the Cascades or Olympic Mountain ranges of Washington State. I own a pick up truck and the dirt roads are about 1 -2 hours away from my home in Seattle.

I'm 5'6" and 165 pounds so the 200 seems like a good fit, but I currently ride a DR650 and love the ability to lug and torque my way up the steeper sections. I'm also a dirt newbie and still learning.
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Old 08-15-2014, 10:52 AM   #13
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i always look at em', really want one....

my buddy just got a '13 300 XC, real nice bike....

i think it was stated before, but.... there's really no difference in the weight/size of the new ones, so that's why he went w/the 300, the 200 is like 5lbs lighter...... i think the 12' 200 was the last one w/out the magic button, and it was lighter, the @'05 era bikes were lighter still w/smaller frames, i think.... really wanna try one of the older 200's....
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Old 08-16-2014, 05:45 AM   #14
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Right now I'm bringing a EXC 380 back from the dead, so once that's done I think I'll have tractor T2 covered. Now I'm also interested in the KTM 200. What were the lightest and best years for the KTM 200?
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Old 08-16-2014, 06:10 AM   #15
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look on in the dealer/info button, you can download all the owners manuals..... they have alotta info there, weights/wheelbase,etc.... i dunno if the '07/'08 bikes is when they went to the same size frames or not?... i'm pretty sure the earlier ones had the 2 different size frames.... i rode a '10 four stroke, and i liked those frames, the newest ones feel just like jap bikes... i dunno if i like the new ones as much, but i haven't really ridden them enough to really say that....everybody seems to really think they're superior......
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