KTM 300 EXC-E Enduro

 

 

 

Make Model.

KTM 300 EXC-E Enduro

Year

2007 - 08

Engine

Two stroke, single cylinder

Capacity

297 cc / 18.1 cu in
Bore x Stroke 72 x 72 mm
Compression Ratio 12.8:1
Cooling System Liquid cooled

Induction

Keihin PWK36 S AG carburetor

Ignition

Kokusan digital 2K-3

Starting

Electric

Power

17 kW / 23 hp @ 6120 rpm

Clutch

Wet, multi-plate, hydraulically operated

Transmission

5 Speed

Final Drive

Chain, Regina O-ring

Frame

Central double cradle, CrMo4

Front Suspension

WP 48 mm upside down fork and shock

Front Wheel Travel

295 mm / 11.6 in

Rear Suspension

Fully adjustable WP-PDS mono-shock

Rear Wheel Travel

320 mm / 12.6 in

Front Brakes

Single260 mm disc, 2 piston caliper

Rear Brakes

Single 220 mm disc, 1 piston caliper

Front Tyre

90/90 - 21, Michelin MP11

Rear Tyre

140/80 - 18

Steering Head Angle

62.5o

Wheelbase

1476 mm / 58.1 in

Ground Clearance

386 mm / 15.2 in

Seat Height

945 mm / 37.2 in

Dry Weight

103 kg / 227 lbs

Fuel Capacity 

8.5 L / 2.2 US gal / 1.9 Imp gal

ELECTRIC STROKER
Anyone who reckons this thing is slow should give up dirt bikes, according to Dirt Bike Trader's Dr Dan...

KTM have been teasing us for quite a while now with the promise of an electric start 300EXC. Now it's here and it's called the 300EXC-E. The factory first leaked pictures of the pre-production models midway through last year and then didn't give a release date: "It'll be released soon" they told us. Well, soon wasn't soon enough for many people waiting to lay down cold, hard cash to get their hands on one. Whatever your take on the delay, it's here now. The 300EXC-E is a big deal because it's the first electric start two-stroke enduro bike to be released by a major manufacturer. Well, as far as we know it is.

There are two opposing factions when it comes to e-start on a two-stroke. Camp one: love the idea, I'll buy one. Camp two: you're a bunch of pansies, real riders kick start their two-strokes.

While we don't fit into camp one we can definitely see the merit in e-start. There is no doubt it has had a huge part in the popularity of modern thumpers. It's also brought all the over thirty fives back to the sport, and now it's time two-strokes riders got to dip their hand in the lolly jar. Yes, two-strokes are easy to start but you tend to re-evaluate "easy" when you're dangling over the edge of Mt Snotmore with only two knobs hanging on to what's left of your traction.

To us the starter motor looks like an afterthought that was tacked on just before the bike was rolled out. The manual says that the e-start is only a start assistance utility and that it should only be used once the motor is warm. Stuff that! We flicked the choke on and hit the button. It fired up easily, but not first time. The failure to start first time was not due to hard starting but because the starter gear didn't engage. This happened many times on our day with the 300. You knew when it happened, it sounded like a milkshake maker as the motor whirred away furiously. All you do is take your finger off the button and hit it again and it usually engages on second hit. Yes, I share your outrage that starting this motorcycle means pressing a button twice!

The 300EXC-E shares the black rims that are common to the rest of the 2007 EXC range. While we like them, we don't reckon they're a patch on the sexy, blue rims that adorn TMs. Overall the 300EXC is an attractive bike, all the 07 KTMs are. The orange plastic is nicely offset with the stencilled black graphics. And we've gotta give credit where it's due: KTM had the good sense to send us a bike shod with decent tyres. Hoo-bloody-ray!

LET'S GO!
Once you've gone to the effort of pressing the button, the bike pulls away cleanly and crisply off the bottom. It's so smooth and linear you'd be forgiven for thinking you were riding a four-stroke. It doesn't feel as strong as a 450 in this part of the rev-range but with the light overall weight, sending the front wheel skyward is just a twist of the throttle away.

The mid-range is where the 300 really comes on strong. Once you're in this part of the rev-range, lobbing the front wheel in the air is just a matter of leaning back. That's if your front wheel is still on the ground. It'll send roost left, right and centre and leave your mates wondering where the hell you went. The top-end lacks a little though. The engine fires up with so much much promise and then, just as you think you're on your way to revvin' heaven, it runs out of breath.

We don't see this as a problem though, and anyone who thinks this bike is not fast should give up on dirt bikes and buy a top-fuel dragster. When you get to the end of the strong part of the power curve, change up and it pulls just as hard next gear. The downside to all this power occurs when you front up to the bowser. Our bike consumed 10km/L which is quite thirsty and nearly 5km/L behind the TM530 we tested last month on the same trails.

All the KTM range run Brembo brakes. We hear constantly that Nissans are the setting the standard in the brake world but funnily enough the two best braking packages we've encountered this year have been on the Huskys TE450 and KTM's 250EXC, both Brembo shod bikes. Unfortunately the 300EXC-E isn't up to the standard set by its smaller stablemate. The front is progressive and strong without being an award winner. It needed the usual knee on the calliper trick to get some feel at the lever before we rode out. However, the rear was wooden and had little feel.

The gear ratios have been changed on the 300EXC-E this year. No longer is there a huge gap between forth and fifth. The ratios are well spaced and spot on for bush work. Fifth is a little busy on the highway and we found 85kph to be the most comfortable cruising speed with the 13/50 gearing. This is not a bike that you'd want to clock many miles with on the freeway anyway, five minutes at cruising speed on the black top and your fingers and toes have lost all feeling. It's got the typical two-stroke vibration. Limit yourself to short stints on the tar and get back into the forest as fast as you can.

As much as we liked the motor, it's the handling that makes the 300EXC-E so much fun to ride. Firstly it's a two-stroke so it feels like it's been filled with helium. The cockpit is spacious but slim and the flat seat makes getting forward easy. It tips into corners with little effort, and the (claimed) weight of 102kg has a lot to do with this. When things get bumpy we found the WP forks to be pretty damn good. They were supple and soaked up all the small ripply stuff but had plenty in reserve for the gnarly terrain. The rear worked just as well and the bike was very well balanced. We rode the 300EXC-E through every sort of terrain we have in the Watagans. Open trails, tight trails, root-infested trails, rocky trails, and none of it upset the suspension. With the wheels always on the ground, cornering faster became easier and nasty mid-corner trail surprises came with much less cheek clenching. This is all good for us weak-bladdered sorts.

The 300EXC-E feels just like the 300EXC, funny that. The only difference is the e-start, and if there's any extra weight due to this we couldn't feel it. The RRP of the 300EXC-E is $11,695 +ORC while the kickstart 300EXC has an RRP $10,995 + ORC. Would we spend the extra $700 for the 300EXC-E? Too-bloody-right we would! It's great value for money. The only question we have is how long before the other manufacturers catch up?

THUMBS UP
Light weight
Great motor
Electric start
Electric start
Electric start

THUMBS DOWN
Crappy rear brake
"Tacked on look" to e-start
High fuel consumption