Tested – 2015 KTM 300 EXC
Enduro21.com ride and rate the new 2015 KTM 300 EXC in Sibiu, Romania – the home of Hard Enduro…
Tested by Llewelyn Pavey
For 2015 the EXC range has received small tweaks but realistically the changes are small. The most significant alterations have been applied to the big two strokes, the EXC 250 and 300 models. These two bikes have been top of the pile for a long time but in the last two years Sherco and Beta have brought serious competition to the table and KTM felt it was time for some improvement.
The 300 EXC is the king of the Enduro 3 class – there is nothing it hasn’t won. Over the last ten years it has at some point claimed every single major extreme enduro race on the calendar – including the Erzberg Rodeo just a few weeks ago – and is currently poised to claim it’s third EWC title in a row. The big bore two-stroke has also found huge popularity amongst pro and hobby riders alike.
KTM’s alterations have all been based around the delivery of power that the 300 produces. The Austrian marque are extremely happy with their chassis and suspension setup but the development team were keen to improve the rider friendliness of the engine. To achieve this KTM have altered the powervalve timing so it opens 200 RPM later, re-engineered the ignition timing and worked extensively on improving the jetting.
The 300 EXC has never been a bike that sat well with myself – the power surged forward and it was the type of engine that punished the smallest mistakes. It suffered from being overly aggressive and in technical, low grip riding could prove difficult to put the power down make forward progress.
KTM have absolutely transformed the 300 into the bike it should always have been. Everything about the test bike was perfect, making for the friendliest, most manageable, easy to use power whilst still retaining the incredible torque and drive that makes 300 engines so popular.
The absolute surge of power that was characteristic of the previous models has been altered to create an extremely linear power curve. This translates into a bike that is extremely easy to get the correct amount of power on the ground – even in awkward, slippery situations. The old bike required a level of finesse in difficult terrain that was beyond most normal riders but that’s no longer the case. It’s still seriously quick and hugely torquey but now it’s manageable for every level of rider and absolutely a better bike.
It appears that the jetting is one of the biggest differences to the ’15 EXC. The development team spent a long time working on the jetting settings they recommend. The typical setting is a lot richer than in the past. The new, richer jetting setting helped with the smooth power, but also gave much more leeway with the big altitude and weather changes that often comes with extreme enduro.
The settings in our test bikes were apparently taken straight from the manual for the conditions we were riding in, if that’s the case then well done KTM. You’ve turned the 300 from an awkward bike for a niche rider into a bike that will suit an incredible spread of rider.