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"Dirt Rider", March 1, 2013


Photo By Chris Green And Jim Rios

When it comes to riding off-road, there are plenty of different types of terrain, and choosing a bike that will match everything seems somewhat unreasonable. I’m a firm believer in KTM’s off-road two-stroke lineup and 300cc sounds about right, and that lands us right around the XC or XC-W mark. Narrow down the terrain type to none other than the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and the XC-W’s smooth-handling and lightweight chassis is your new best friend. Jim Rios at BRP went way out of his way to transform his bone-stock, never-before-ridden 2012 KTM 300 XC-W into the ultimate trail slayer — all while remaining Colorado street-legal!

Jim knew that the high-altitude riding (8,000 feet and above) was going to rob some power, so he sent the head to Slavens Racing for a head/cylinder mod and Mountain Jetting Kit — which Jeff Slavens has specifically designed for KTM 300s at 6,000 to 12,000 feet of elevation. The motor maintained its amazing stock power delivery, but with Slavens’ tweaks there was a lot more of it across the power spread. Chugging the bike in second and third gear nearly guaranteed a firmly-planted tire with amazing traction. In high elevation around 13,000 feet, every bike in our group ran extremely rich due to the lack of air. With the special jetting I was running, I did notice that my 300 was prone to reaching higher rpm quicker than the other bikes in our group. Getting a bike into the revs at those altitudes usually requires riding a gear or two lower, and my machine was breathing well. There was nothing we could do to maintain full power except ride them wide open and feel like heroes, except we were still traveling at normal speeds. The Pirelli MT-43 trials tire on the rear not only increased traction by what felt like 50 percent, it basically took out all of the trail harshness you would feel with a traditional 18-inch knobby tire. The suspension on this KTM took a bit of fine-tuning but was otherwise well-suited for the rocky routes.

A downfall that some see as the only negative on a KTM 300 is the vibration you feel in the handlebar. The BRP rubber-mounted SUB (Scotts Under Bar) mount took out most of the vibration. I’ve experienced nearly numb hands after all-day trips aboard 300cc two-strokes, and this wasn’t an issue after five days and close to 600 miles of riding! The cockpit felt very neutral, and the BRP hand guard mounts and the Scotts steering stabilizer saved me many times when rocks seemed to jump out in front of me. The Hyde Racing skid plate was another chunk of trail armor that received its fair share of abuse and held up exceptionally well protecting the XC-W frame. An assortment of Enduro Engineering pieces served as functional eye candy including the spark arrestor end-cap, radiator braces, head- and taillights, brake light switch, clutch reservoir guard and the all-mighty carbon-fiber pipe guard that must have kept a million rocks from dinging up the pipe. Other BRP mods included an orange chain guide and a billet gas cap. Wrapped in Pirelli rubbers were the very stylish Dubya black D.I.D Dirt Star rims and orange Talon hubs that gave our KTM the extra bling it deserved.

The only thing I would have done differently on Jim’s KTM would be to go down one spring rate on the fork (from the installed 4.4 N/mm) to get that smooth stock feeling back into the front end, yet I’d keep the smooth action in the mid-stroke that the Slavens Racing revalve provided. Unlimited power at elevation would have been nice, too, but since all that oxygen is hiding at the beach, I’ll go ahead and say Jim couldn’t have picked a better machine for the technical, sometimes trials-like riding that he has on tap. I’m right there with Mr. Rios on the list of mods he installed. Thumbs-up!


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