My KTM History
I bought my first KTM, a 1999 KTM 300EXC, new in December 1998.  I had wanted to "upgrade" my 1996
Suzuki RMX250 for some time and finally made the trade at Surdyke Yamaha/KTM/BunchaOtherStuff in
Festus, Missouri.  KTM stands for something Austrian that I can't pronounce, and although not exactly a
mainstream motorcycle brand, they are very highly regarded as off-road racing machines.  I had owned two
RMX's prior to the KTM, and each one required an aftermarket exhaust system and re-jetting of the carburetor
to "un-cork" the full performance potential.  I decided that I was ready for an out-of-the-box race bike that I
wouldn't have to mess with to get the kind of performance I wanted.

Well, I still did plenty of "messing" with my KTM, as any speed/power/performance freak (or guy in general)
would do.  Check out the
mods I did to both of my KTM's. Quite frankly, when I wrote down all that stuff, it kind
of shocked me.  But hey, I live frugally in every other way, and I enjoy the sport more than any other. It's only
money...I'll make more.

The first year I owned the '99 EXC, we had a love-hate relationship.  I loved the way it performed but I hated all
the broken parts.  Part of the problem was learning how to ride the rocks in Missouri after growing up in
Illinois and riding mostly mud.  My technique was not very smooth, so I would hit rocks that the natives had
learned to ride around through years of practice.  In the first 6 months of 1999, I bent two sets of handlebars,
bent the upper and lower triple clamps, bent both brake rotors, cracked a small piece off the rear hub, tore
my seat cover, and dented up the pipe so bad that it had to be replaced at the end of the year.  Part of the
problem, in my opinion, was KTM's use of out-sourced parts.  All of the above items that had to be replaced
were manufactured outside the KTM factory.  And to be fair, the crash that bent the triple clamps and a set of
handlebars also knocked me unconscious.  But KTM likes to make their bikes as lightweight as possible,
which often means using materials with less strength.  I clearly put those materials to the test with my riding
style and crashing ability.

Our relationship slowly improved over time.  In November 1999 I decided that if I was going to ride safely in
the Missouri rocks, then I needed a
Scotts steering stabilizer.  The stabilizer is like a shock absorber for the
steering.  When the front wheel makes contact with an unseen object (rocks, tree roots, etc.), the wheel often
deflects off the object, rather than travel over the object.  When there's speed involved, the deflection can rip
the handlebars out of your hands and send you crashing to the ground before you even know what hit you.  
That happened to me near the end of the
Lebanon, Missouri race in 1999 and after that I made the decision
to purchase the Scotts stabilizer.  At $400, it is a hefty investment, but during the 2000 season it made all the
difference in the world.  Not only did it keep me going straighter and keep me upright, it eliminated high
speed headshake.  When I sold the '99 EXC I kept the Scotts damper for the '02 MXC and decided I'd never
own a dirt bike without one.  Check out the
setup I used on the '99 EXC. I had a similar setup on the '02 MXC.

Overall, the '99 EXC was the best all-around dirt bike I've owned, and the '02 MXC was more of the same.  At
300cc engine displacement, it had enough power to keep up in the fast Missouri Hare Scrambles Series, but
was still light enough to work well in the tight woods of Illinois and Indiana.

My second KTM, the aforementioned 2002 300MXC, was purchased in July '02 from Fay Myers in Denver.
Why Denver? Saw the bike on eBay (it didn't sell) and negotiated a decent price with the dealer, and was able
to use a business trip as an excuse to pick it up. This bike was very similar to the '99 EXC, with the exception
of the front suspension and the transmission. From 2000-02, KTM went back to an "upside-down" 43mm
fork. It was much lighter than the 50mm conventional forks on the '99 EXC, but not nearly as plush. The upper
three gears on the MXC were lower than the EXC, which meant it didn't have the top speed of the EXC but the
transmission was more usable in the woods.

If you've read this far, you're probably wondering why there's a bunch of pages in this website dedicated to a
certain green bike. I've fielded many questions on why I switched to a 2003 Kawasaki KX250. Basically, it
came down to quality control at KTM. Here's three things about the 300MXC that frustrated me enough to look
elsewhere:

1. Race Gas - why? I never was able to get rid of pre-detonation at 1/4-throttle, no matter what jetting
combination I used. On an internet discussion group, it was suggested that a 50/50 mix of pump and race
gas might help, and that turned out to be correct. However, race gas is a pain to get and a pain to mix, and it's
expensive. In September 2003,
ktmtalk.com had a lengthy discussion on cylinder manufacturing
intolerances as the root cause of inconsistent jetting from bike to bike, and pre-detonation problems. A small
company called
C&M Motorcycle Machineworks claimed that machining the cylinder head to the proper
squish band parameters takes care of pre-detonation problems. I tried it, and it worked. For $40, it was an
economical method to fix a chronic KTM problem.

2. Brembo front brakes suck. I tried everything. The front brake was still mushy. Pull on the front brake levers
of a line of KTM's sitting on a dealer's showroom floor, and you'll probably find quite a difference. Again,
quality control appeared to be the issue. Some front brakes are great, others were like mine.

3. Got Loc-Tite? Sometimes the KTM factory guys don't. Less than 30 hours into its life, the shift drum bolt on
the 300MXC's transmission came loose, costing me 4 weeks and $250 to fix. No evidence of thread lock on
the bolt, even though the factory parts guide indicates thread locker must be used.
It certainly comes
black clean