My KTM is Cool
bike, a 2002 300MXC, was unfortunately not one of KTM's better
efforts. I raced it for a year, then switched to Kawasaki KX250's for the
next 6 years. The 300MXC became primarily my enduro and general
purpose trail bike.

When the Japanese manufacturers abandoned the two-stroke
motocross and off-road market (save for Yamaha and its YZ250), by
then KTM had developed a lineup of off-road bikes very similar in
purpose as my KX250's. These XC models were designed to
accomplish what I had done with my woods-converted KX250's:
combine the handling and power delivery of a motocross bike, toned
down just enough to make nice for hare scrambles and GNCC-type
racing. Enduro racing and all-around trail riding were left to KTM's XC-
W models.

Compared to my old 300MXC, pretty much everything was new. There
may be a few parts interchangeable with the 300MXC, but not many.
Check out the photos below for some of the highlights.
And here's why....
Hand it to the Austrians, they
know how to make a bike look
pretty...oh, so pretty. Of course, it
did not stay pretty for very long!
I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical when KTM introduced electric
start on 2-stroke dirt bikes. The extra weight seemed unnecessary on
a motorcycle that is already very easy to start. But with advances in
materials and design, the 250XC weighs no more than my old
300MXC. The E-start adds another handlebar-mounted button beside
the throttle, resembling a kill switch. Push that button and the engine
fires in about half a second. A kick-start lever is still in its usual place
on the right side of the engine, just in case the battery fails to
cooperate.

The starter mechanism is placed in a location similar to the Hebo
hydraulic clutch slave cylinder on my old KX250s, meaning it's tucked
nicely out of the way and protected by both the left side of the exhaust
pipe and my boot. The battery is located in the airbox. The battery was
not the strongest in terms of amps, so I upgraded to a Yuasa YTZ7S
6-amp battery. It's a tighter fit under the seat, but gave me a little
quicker cranking speed.
The best part about the tool-less air box cover is that is has no weird,
expensive fasteners that come undone or fall off. This cover just pops
on and off. I like it. The seat now has just one bolt for removal, under
the fender. I'm not so sure about that...if you ever had to remove the
seat when the bike is muddy, the bolt may be more difficult to access.
Back side of the airbox cover.
Extremely easy to remove; no more
difficult to install than the old style
covers.
Here's a shot of the battery
upgrade, with the seat
removed. This replaced the
stock 4-amp battery. The
new battery is taller and
barely fits under the seat,
but it does fit perfectly inside
the plastic battery case. The
stock battery isn't powerful
enough to fire the engine
very well for dead-engine
starts.
Here's the odd-looking fender/side
panel that KTM has been using for
several years now. Initially, I wasn't
sold on it, but it's held up well.
Custom number graphics usually
come as two pieces - one part for the
side panel and one for the airbox. The
small-ish side panels don't cover the
silencer, which does get a little
scratched up. And if you loop out and
destroy the fender, you're buying a
fender
and side panels.
Another KTM original - the quarter-turn
gas cap. Push on the orange button,
turn slightly and the gas cap pops off.
The first generation caps leaked, but
apparently these do not.
And while we're on the
subject of gas, this is almost
a foolproof petcock. Almost.
If the lever is rubbing your
leg, the fuel is probably off.
This hasn't changed: a heim
bearing on the lower shock
mount. KTM finally went back to
linkage a couple years after this.
But for 2009, after more than 10
years of refinement, the heim
still lived.
Another part unchanged from
previous KTM's: the quick release
brake pin. The cotter pins on my
previous KTM's never stayed put
and I expect the same for this one.
It will be replaced with a regular
cotter pin.
Oversized, crossbar-less handlebars now come standard. Note the E-start
button on the right. Hydraulic clutches are still standard on KTM's.
Finally, a strong front brake!
This one holds its own against
any Japanese bike I've ever
owned.
Left: KTM now uses Brembo
clutch master cylinders. Gone
are the days of endless debate
over Magura's definition of
mineral oil. DOT4 brake fluid is
pretty much self-explanatory.
Sometimes it's the details that
matter. Along with the interesting
spring anchor for the kickstand,
just enough aluminum has been
removed from the kickstand so it
doesn't interfere with the upper
torx-head bolt. Nice work.
Another nice touch is the cable
guide. It integrates pretty well into
the number plate and is attached
with a single plastic screw. Once
you try to squeeze an enduro
computer wire through here,
however, it gets a little too tight. I
ditched the guide in favor of a zip
tie.
True to its enduro roots, KTM still
has its rotors stamped out with a
magnet-sized hole for an enduro
computer sensor pickup.
Check this out - a cap for the
swingarm bolt, to keep out mud
and crap from the hollow bolt.
Wonder how long before it
becomes trail junk....
And how 'bout this: my favorite
all-around front tire comes stock!
The rear tire is a Bridgestone
M404, another decent all-around
tire that I used frequently back in
my Missouri racing days.
Sweet rims. The black paint will
begin chipping off about 10
minutes after your first ride.
...and a fork compression adjuster
that doesn't require tools.
But it wouldn't be a KTM without
some quirks. Note the clearance
between the spark plug cap and
the center frame rail. Yep, it's
tight.
Here we have a DCI box that
doesn't interfere with the steering
stops. First one of these I won't
have to relocate under the frame.
Gotta love the KTM front number
plate graphics.
Funky fork guards
I dumped these silly things in favor
of the previous style guards,
because the OEM's interfered with
SealSavers. I actually went without
SealSavers for about the first 9
months I owned this machine,
which was just enough time for the
seals to begin leaking. Never
again.
Click on the photo and check out
the bolt heads. That's right, now
I have a choice: will I use a
standard socket, or will I grab a
Torx driver? So now if I strip a
bolt head, I'm not totally screwed!
So as always, KTM continues to implement new and innovative
ideas with its dirt bikes. We'll see how well these changes
translate to everyday riding and racing. However, after a short
break-in ride at a friend's backyard motocross track, the 250XC
feels more like a traditional Japanese MX'er than any Euro bike
I've owned, which is a definite compliment to KTM and its
engineering development. It's also the first Euro bike I've owned
in which the jetting felt just right, with no adjustments. I'm
excited....stay tuned for updates.
When I brought home a new KTM
250XC in July 2009, seven years
had passed since my last purchase
of an Austrian woods machine. That