Thursday, September 20, 2012

First Contact: KTM 350 EXC-F 2013


When I asked KTM Canada to lend me a bike, I did not expect to be catapulted miles out of my comfort zone.

The landing is a bit brutal: it is not the bike that is adapted to humans - but humans must adapt to it.  The word “compromise" was not part of the 350 EXC-F spec sheet.

Result: about 240 pounds.

Once the shock of the first contact has passed, one understands where he just landed: in a world where gravity is no longer as important. The 350 EXC-F is easy to tame and quickly becomes an extension of the driver.  The step is high, but behind the handle bar, everything is possible.  I experienced it on my way back from KTM Canada in St-Bruno.

My first off-road experiment was done in Kahnawake, near Mercier Bridge on the south shore of Montreal: I spotted a trail from the road and gave it a try.  There was a steep slope covered with boulders - the kind of road where you have to think twice with a bigger bike. With the KTM, I was on top of the slope in a wink. It felt like the weight of the bike was almost negligible and it didn’t require much effort to drive even in difficult situations.  I was pretty eager to find other similar challenges after this one.  I rode alongside the St-Lawrence river for a while in short trails then I continued my journey to St-Eustache.

On my way back home, there is a trail that I could never access with my regular motorcycle: there are big concrete blocks that prevent vehicles from crossing.  The 350 EXC-F is so thin that I could snake around the blocks easily.  At the other end of the trail there was a racing sand pit with jumps and bumps pretty well hidden from sight – probably the best kept secret in town.  I went for a couple of laps in the sand, through the bumps, and even attempted a few jumps.  That was pretty cool.  I was able to ride the bike it the sand with such ease!  The biggest surprise was that the small 350cc engine was more than sufficient for the task.

So my next ride with the bike will be to kick some ass in trails that I could not complete and had to turn around with my regular bike.  My expectations are very high, but I feel that I will not be disappointed… 


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