RIDING THE 2024 KTM 300SX TWO
We just got our first chance to ride the 2024 KTM 300SX. We knew what we were getting into; we had a fair amount of time on our 2023 version and it never stopped impressing us. Prior to last year, KTM had never produced the 300SX for the U.S. It was up to the buyer to build it up from a kit or a modified off-road bike. There were a bunch of riders who attempted to race the 300XC in motocross, but it wasn’t a good fit, particularly with the Transfer Port Fuel Injection that came along in 2018. That made for a smooth off-road power delivery, but it wasn’t barky enough for MX. Now KTM has a whole new two-stroke engine platform. It has electric start, an electronic power valve and throttle body fuel injection. All that stuff has been seen before individually, but with the 300SX KTM integrated it all in a way that we haven’t seen before. The bike’s CPU controls everything including how far and when the powervalve opens. That’s never been done before on a production bike. Last year, the chassis was also updated to the same general specs as the four-strokes, meaning it’s a little more stiff and has more anti-squat tendencies than the older frames. The suspension still features a WP Xact air fork in front and an Xact shock in the rear. The brakes and hydraulics are still Brembo and Premix is accomplished the old-fashion way; you mix the oil and gas yourself.
In case you haven’t heard, this bike is insanely fast. Technically, the fastest of 450s might make more peak power on a dyno, but that’s just a number. On the track, the 300SX feels faster than any of them. It has more to do with the way the power is delivered. Down low, the 300 is smooth and runs super-clean. If you have good throttle control, you can actually ride it in the zone below the powerband and turn in respectable lap times. But the real power starts in the middle and hits pretty hard. Modern four-stroke riders might not be ready for this. Most have grown up in the era where smooth power deliveries have accomplished miracles in disguising and making power easy to use. The 300SX has an element of that–it certainly is easier to ride than a ported and polished 250 two-stroke from the old days. But it’s still harder to control than a 450. On the other hand, it opens up options for different riding techniques. Almost all 450 riders have learned to do all their hard braking with the clutch in for fear of stalling. With the 300SX, you can brake hard without touching the clutch, and then roll-on the throttle old-school.
The bike does have two maps available on the handlebar switch. For now, the company doesn’t want end users messing with any other maps so the ECU is locked. There are too many ways that it could go wrong. The wild ride is the green map on the bottom, and that’s the one that most riders choose simply because it’s fun. For pros, that’s perfectly fine. Almost everyone else should go with the gray map. You don’t get the big hit and the thrill factor isn’t quite the same, but it will wear you out less and result in better overall performance. In truth, KTM really needs to offer more than just two maps. Five would be about right. JD Jetting already has a piggyback fuel controller that allows you to alter the mapping somewhat. You can change fuel delivery, but not spark advance or power valve setting. That gives you a little more adjustability, but there’s no adjustment on the fly.
We still love this bike. It’s fast and it’s really fun. The KTM 300SX is probably the ultimate practice bike and once you learn the two-stroke touch, it’s a great race bike, too. We will have more to say about this bike in the November 2023 print edition of Dirt Bike.
We also got a chance to ride the 2024 Kawaski KX250 this week. This bike is unchanged this year because Kawasaki focused its effort on an all-new 450. That bike will have an official introduction to the press and the public at the SuperMotocross World Championship Finals at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 22, 2023. Mark Tilley absolutely loves the KX450; I love the KX250. it works out well when we divide up the bikes we want to race. One reason I like the KX250 so much is because it’s a screamer. it makes a ton of power on the top, and if I can’t get to the shifter when I should, it’s always happy to rev a little higher. It also makes good mid-range. If you look at the dyno chart in our 2023 250 Shootout, it beats everything from 9500 rpm to 12,000 rpm. Then and only then does the KTM catch up to finish with a tenth or two more peak.
I love the hydraulic clutch and the brakes are awesome. I will admit that the KX250 is getting a little dated where mapping options are concerned. It still uses the three couplers and none of the preprogrammed maps are ideal. The bike always runs a little raspy and occasionally stalls. I would love to get in there with a tuning app like the one that Kawasaki is apparently offering for the new 450. Maybe next year.
The 2023 Tennessee Knockout enduro is taking place this weekend and will be broadcast at a later date on MAV TV. All the cool kids are there, including Billy Bolt, Jonny Walker, Cody Webb and Colton Haaker. We will have results right here, but in the meantime, check out last year’s event below.
Early this morning (Friday) the 2023 edition of the Best in The Desert Vega To Reno got underway. Casey Folks founded this race almost 30 years ago and his family is still doing an amazing job. You can check out the Vegas to Reno live timing here to see who is beating who. Unofficially, it looks like Danny Cooper is the top Open Pro motorcycle.
Right now most other forms of off-road racing are in hiatus for the summer. WORCS will get going again on September 15 at Buckskin Hills Recreation Complex in Utah. On the same weekend, the GNCC series will fire up in Beckley, West Virginia for the Mountaineer. The AMA National Grand Prix Championship will start up a few weeks later on september 30 for Ridgecrest. It will be here before you know it!
Even though the 450 class is wrapped up, there’s still plenty of action in the 250 class to be seen at Budds Creek. And there’s also the possibility of Jett’s perfect season. Here are the broadcast details:
BROADCAST TEAMPlay by Play: Jason WeigandtAnalysts: Ricky CarmichaelReporters: Will Christien & Jason ThomasHOW TO WATCHSaturday, August 19Pro Motocross Championship: Race Day LivePeacock @ 7 a.m. PT / 10 a.m. ETPro Motocross Championship: Budds Creek National [LIVE]Peacock @ 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ETMonday, August 21Pro Motocross Championship: Budds Creek National ReplayCNBC, NBCSports.com, NBC Sports App11 p.m. PT [Sunday] / 2 a.m. ET
See you next week!BROADCAST TEAMHOW TO WATCH