i posted this over at ktmtalk.com, but maybe it could help someone out over here
my previous bike was a heavily modified '99 KX250 ($2K+), i am 5'8 155lbs nakie, and i am an above average rider. i dont race, but i have been riding for 3 years now, am very agressive, and can pick my way around a MX track, as well as through the trees, at a respectable pace.
okay, our riding area, at a friend's property had extensive trails and a few small jumps that are frequent in "pits" but nothing of MX caliber. It consisted of a bit of mud/swamp, and fluffy/powdery sand, but most of it was dried dirt/sand mix that is frequented in NJ. A good amount of whoops were also present, but the area was not chewed up and had not been ridden on in a long while, so the ground was very firm. good stuff. first thing i noticed is that, although this bikes starts so easy as it is almost like you *think* about firing the bike up and it starts, i dont like the shape/length of the kickstarter. its very much 125 and not so much 250. i like lllooonnggg kickstarters that swing below the footpeg (ala KX250), instead of my foot abruptly stoping ontop of the footpeg (ala every 125 ive ridden). but no matter, the bike is just SO easy to start. So i let it warm up and i take it for a spin. I havent ridden that many 125's (maybe 4 in the past 2-3 years) but it definetly reminded me of one, it doesnt make any power down low, but it will chug. as in, you can ride it lazily, it will pull your weight, but you would never race in these RPMs. whack the throttle open and hit that clutch though, and hold on! hoolyyy SHEOT! this thing is a blast. top end goes and goes and goes and seems to never taper off. Some serious eye watering accelleration in those upper RPMs. When i grabbed a handful of brake the bikes light weight responded immediately, and those brembo's have some serious ability to reel in the bikes major speed. i was able to do stoppies down hill (something i was NEVER able to do on my KX) for 10-15 feet on a whim. very VERY good feel and modulation. i also noticed i like the flatness that KTM has to their lever's shape, its weird, but if you have ever ridden one or sat on one, you definetly know what im talking about. this goes for both clutch and brake levers. speaking of the clutch.. magic. it engages a little early for me, and i dont quite know how to adjust engagment point yet without affecting its positioning from the bars, but the feel is just great. i had a friend struggle with his clutch for a bit of the day (he was riding a CRF), as it would swell with use, but i had none of those problems. modulation, play, and feel were just awesome. im so spoiled after just one ride. when i hit the turns i knowticed that this bike definetly likes to be turned with the power on, and the rear sliding around the front. i have no problem with this. i do however, understand what people mean when they say "euro" handling. its not good or bad, just different. The bike has character. It feels almost like the bike doesnt rotate around the bars, it feels like the bars are mounted on a different axis then the steering head. i dont know if that makes any sense, just me trying to make sense of the feeling i got when flicking the bike around. it did handle great though, especially in big soft sandy berms. the bikes ultra-low weight and explosive power delivery, along with its excellent brakes/clutch, made it a blast to just come in way hot for a corner, burn off speed in the last 5 feet, flick it sideways and drop the clutch, sending sand everywhere. berm oblitherated. when we were in really tight woods i noticed that the steering stops offer less turning radius then my KX250's. i wasnt used to this so i had to do some tripod turns (stand next to the bike, pop the clutch and swing it around your body in a 180) oppose to just leaning it over and dropping the clutch as i would with any other jap bike. thats fine though, the steering stops are adjustable! In the mud/swamp i noticed that either the rear fender is a bit small, or those tires like to throw things cause my back had a bit of muck on it.. but my poor friend who was behind me had way more. lol. i know it wasnt because i was spinning the tires excessivley, although the temptation was there, because i was bogging the bike a bit, trying to be curtious of my buddy behind me. i think its just the particular back tire KTM supplies, but thats cool, because the more it throws the more its gripping then. the tires wore very well, and still look brand new, even after a short stint of riding on the road, maybe a half mile, and another half mile or so on railroad gravel (you know, those sharp golfball sized rocks that line railroad tracks with). As i said before there was no big air (gaps of over 20 feet) but i did air the bike out a little. what i noticed, strangly in the air, and not on the trails, was that the fork seemed stiff to me. the shock worked alright, but i think i, personally, could afford to go a few clicks softer on compression for my fork legs. that being said, it handled woops fine and the suspension
was great. the big fork legs didnt flex and the bike felt very "tight" the whole time, which i like. its the feeling of a new bike. At the end of the day i had used an entire tank of gas, and that included chugging it on most fire roads to conserve fuel. It may not sound like alot of riding, but damn, those acrebis tanks are big! (without being heavy)
My friend, the one i was riding with, happened to bring his new 2004 CRF450 with him. This just so happens to be the bike i was debating on, it was between the 200SX and the CRF450. We did a bit of switching off, and in the end, im very happy with my purchase. his bike did not seem heavy at all, and it was actually easier then the 200 to ride, in stints of 10 minutes anyways. after a race, the 450 might have tired me out a bit, but the 200 was definetly "funner" to ride. The quality of the KTM definetly surpasses the honda
, and honda
's are nothing to sneeze at in that department. His brakes were very good, especially for slowing down a bike maybe 25lbs heavier then mine. His suspension
was nice, but definetly softer. The action itself didnt seem that much better, which i was releaved about. when i first got on his bike i was worried i was going to like it more then the 200SX, but that wasnt the case. i think the suspension
was more akin to my weight, but as i said, the action was no better. for what it is, its a great bike, but its not a KTM. he paid MSRP on it.. i got mine for 4999 and had it shipped to my door, set up by the dealer and everything. i think i got the better deal, and my KTM's parts are just... well.. amazing. the honda
has nice bars and an aluminum frame.. thats cool, but it doesnt compete with everything on the K-toom. his bike is good for him, as he is a compitent mechanic, and he has no problem doing the 4 stroke maitnence, but i on the other hand, am very pleased with my two stroke. the power delivery difference is not worth the maitnence to me. as i said, he had some problems with his clutch swelling, and i think he was prone to stalling because the CRF didnt have as much flywheel weight as maybe he was used to. i didnt have those problems when i rode his bike, and i definetly didnt have any of those problems when i was on mine
. Believe it or not, i think on the road or on some nice dirt, i think my 200 would keep up with his 450. That might sound rediculous but maybe its because the 200 just feels so fast, but i think ill stick to those guns that i wouldnt give up nearly as much as one might think to a CRF450. i think this 200 will run from my KX250. It goes to say though that at the end of the day, both our bikes cleaned up extremely well, and i didnt say this to him, but.. i think my bike cleaned up slightly better. for all the nasty scrub brush we rode through, no noticable scratches, bike still looks new. I am very very pleased, and i think KTM is heads and shoulders above the rest of the bike manufacturers. i guess i AM now biased, but up until my first ride, i really wasnt, because i just wanted to get the best bike i could, no matter what color.
i love my KTM and i wouldnt give it up for the world. if anyone is in the monmouth county area NJ and is on the fence about what bike they want, you are welcome to try mine. im pretty confident that one ride is all it would take. in the words of one of my friends that was with us (he is a VERY talented and fast rider) as he rode past me at about 55 hammering through the whoops on my bike, i heard, over the KTM's angry-hornet sounding engine, "IM NEVER GIVING IT BACK muwaAHAHahaHAa"
i got it back.. but i did have to pry it from him. they are that good.