Wednesday, October 26, 2016

TAT 2017 Post 4 10/25/16

Note: This post has a lot of technical details on my new KTM 350 EXC-F and unless you’re a gear head, you probably won’t find it very interesting. For those who continue reading, enjoy.

Since my last post a few weeks ago I’ve had the opportunity to put a few more miles on my new KTM 350 EXC-F and of course a few enhancements. This past week-end, three of the original TAT 2016 riders decided to head west into the wilderness that is only about 30 miles from downtown Little Rock; i.e. Mike, Steve & Terry. Woodrow made some excuse but I think he just didn’t want to be seen with 3 orange bikes while on his red Honda. Our destination was actually a national forest but has plenty of forest service roads and side spurs to give a dual-sport plenty of action. As for the 3 orange bikes, all of us were on KTMs; Terry and Steve were on their KTM690s and I was on my KTM 350 EXC-F. Although Steve used his Yamaha WR250R on the TAT Leg-2 ride from CO to AR, he had this KTM in his garage but he had just bought it used and wasn’t sure it was ready for the TAT when we started. He now thinks it will be his primary bike on future TAT rides. That leave only Woodrow still on his Honda CRF250L for the TAT 2017 ride.

We rode 135 miles round trip with about 90 of that on pavement. I don’t really like riding to this spot on pavement and will probably trailer my bike there in the future. The primary reason is that the KTM is NOT a pavement bike even though it’s called a dual-sport. I confess that I am not very smart on KTMs so most of my observations are based on hands on experience with this bike. It appears that KTM took an enduro off-road motorcycle and installed lights and a license plate and called it a dual-sport. One of the scariest moments on our ride was doing 65 mph down I-430 across the Arkansas River Bridge and the road was grooved to facilitate water drainage and to provide better traction. This is a pretty steep decent and we had lots of traffic to deal with. The KTM was jumping around so much I actually thought it was going to go down several times. I’ve ridden this highway numerous times on various types of bikes including the Honda CRF250L with Dunlop D606 knobbies. I can only attributer the KTMs reaction to the more aggressive knobbies installed on this bike. It reminded me of riding my Super Tenere in Alaska and Canada on the metal grated bridges but about 3 times as severe. Just a warning to new KTM dual-sport riders like me.

Other than poor pavement performance the KTM really shines on the dirt which makes sense based on the previous paragraph. We started on steep gravel roads and progressively moved on to some side spurs with mud holes and even a steep logging road with lots of moguls; i.e. large bumps in the road to prevent water erosion. Several of us got some air time going over the moguls and once again the KTM took them in stride.

Bike Notes - I’ve become much more comfortable riding the KTM but here are a few new or updated “observations”.

1               The bike is still tall but I was able to handle multiple stops on pavement and especially on the dirt. This included having to turn around several times on narrow dirt roads that required going forward and backing several times. No drops which surprised me.
2               It handles mud like a dream. The several mud holes we encountered would have been a challenge on my CRF but I just got on the pegs and powered up and the aggressive knobbies did their thing.
3               The power is outstanding with more than I needed to handle this type of riding which is equal to about 95% of the TAT from the east coast to Lake City, CO.
4               The gearing is terrible for in-city driving but is excellent for the dirt. I could pick a gear and powered up any hill I encountered. The CRF would have required a down shift in the middle of a climb which was never fun to accomplish.
5               I have used the kick starter and it worked great after I realized I had the kill switch on after kicking it about 10 times. One important side note is that damn kickstand, sorry for the language but it is definitely my most disliked item on this bike. As you kick the starter, the bike jumps some and the kickstand would come up. More on this later but it’s going to be fixed I promise.
6               Throttle sensitivity is still an issue but I think I can get used to it.

Modifications - As I am inclined to do even though I know I shouldn’t, I’ve made a few enhancements to the KTM:

1               I replaced the Spanish Inquisition style KTM seat with a Low-Boy Seat Concepts saddle. I love these seats and had one on my CRF for 5,000 miles of comfortable riding. The KTM version isn’t as plush as the CRF version but it is a significant improvement over the stock KTM seat. Another plus was this seat lowered the seat height around ½”. Doesn’t sound like much but every half inch helps.
2               I installed a DirtRacks rear rack that appears to be perfect for this bike. I worried about how well this bike could handle a rear rack since the substructure on the KTM is pretty flimsy; i.e. aluminum to reduce weight. The DirtRacks attaches to the steel primary frame in several locations and seems to be pretty well supported for the type of load I will carry which is extra fuel and the large GL horseshoe style saddle bag. The benefits of this rack are it has wings on both sides to help keep your bags off the muffler, provide crash guards plus lift handles. Only time will prove if it perform as I just stated.

Future Enhancements – Here are a few mods I plan on doing to the KTM as long as the money is available and my wife doesn’t find out, just kidding about the wife so no need to tell her.

1               Larger fuel tank to eliminate carrying the RotoPax. KTM makes a 3.45 gal fuel tank to replace the stock 2.25 gal tank. From what I see this bike gets about 50 mpg so fuel range will definitely be a problem out west. Even the 3.45 tank won’t cover some of the distances between fuel sources so I won’t totally eliminate the RotoPax yet.
2               Heavy duty springs fore and aft. I’ve learned a lot AFTER buying the KTM that I should have known before buying. The stock springs on the KTM are for a mid-range rider being max around 180 lbs (give or take a few pounds). I’m 195 lbs dripping wet from the shower so with gear I’m well over that limit. In addition, I bought this bike for the TAT and I’ll carry another 40+ lbs of baggage and gear on the next TAT ride. I must put heavy duty springs on both the front struts and the rear shock.
3               Lowering kit – I still want to get this bike lower so I can handle it on steep and rocky slopes plus deep mud. After riding 5 mountain passes in CO and lots of OK mud during TAT 2016, I know what it takes to keep a bike moving through this stuff and having the ability to get my feet on the ground for bracing is imperative. I now better riders would stay on the pegs and punch through but I’m a bit more conservative considering my old bones. To lower this KTM you have to put shorter springs in both the front struts and the rear shock.

Items 2 & 3 above both apply to the strut and shock springs so of course need to be dealt with at the same time. After doing research on multiple forums and web sites I hit on a site called KTMWorld in Georgia. They were extremely helpful answering all my questions and even provided a solution to my kickstand vendetta. The details of my discussion with KTMWorld are provided below but I assume all they said is accurate and if someone disagrees, I’m open to all input:

1               They confirmed that KTM only provides lowering springs for riders in the mid-weight category. All heavy weights are out of luck.
2               They stated that they specialize in lowering multiple models of bikes and they do the KTM 350 EXC-F on a regular basis.
3               They stated they can lower the 350 up to 2” based on the owner’s desires and riding requirements.
4               They stated that they do not use KTM springs but buy aftermarket springs that are available in multiple ranges and that they tune the owner’s suspension based on an extensive survey form the client fills out prior to the modification.
5               They require that the front struts and rear shock be shipped to their facility with a normal 10 day turn-around for the modification.
6               Price for my KTM 350 EXC-F to have my suspension lowered 2” with heavy duty springs is $758.00. A spring kit (mid-range) from KTM is around $450.00 plus installation at a KTM dealer. I would expect the price to be about the same considering KTM dealer labor prices.

With the Low-Boy seat (1/2” lower) and this suspension change the bike would be 2 ½” lower than stock. This would be much better than standing on tip-toes while riding through some tough terrain. I’m still undecided but leaning towards having the suspension lowered. Removing the struts and shock from my bike is pretty easy so that won’t be a deterrent. I’m taking the KTM to ride a 150 mile dual-sport rally this week-end and will decide after that ride if I will do the mod or not.

ATMWorld also gave me some valuable information on the KTM’s auto-retract issue. As I suspected, KTM used this to get around the DOT requirement for a kickstand down safety switch that prevents the rider from taking off with the kick stand down causing a potential accident. They said the solution is to remove the main bolt on the kickstand and replace it with a 10mm shorter bolt. At the same time remove the cam that is on the bolt which is used to make the kickstand spring back once a load is off of the kickstand. Very simple and after looking closely at my kickstand I can see how this would work. The result would be the kickstand stays up or down. The only down side is that you no longer have protection from leaving the kickstand down and riding off to oblivion. I’ll take that chance. More than once I was trying to get the kickstand down on sloped dirt and could barely hold the bike up on the right side while fighting with the kickstand on the left side to get it down and stay down. KTMWorld stated they remove it on all their showroom bikes because customers had dropped new bikes several times while trying moving them or getting on/off.

The above pic shows the cam removed.

That’s all for this post but will give a ride review after this week-end.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

TAT 2017 Post 3 10/16/16

 Today was my first chance to actually put some miles on my new 2016 KTM 350 EXC-F (KTM) dual-sport and per several readers request; this post will give my first impressions of this high performance street legal dirt bike (high performance to me anyway). I rode 60 miles on mostly paved 2 lane back roads but did put some dirt and mud on the bike in Ott Park next to the Arkansas River. I’ll provide details in this post but anything I write here is not a criticism of the KTM but my impressions during the first ride.

I spent yesterday moving some items from my 2015 Honda CRF250L (CRF) over to the KTM such as the double-take mirrors, ram mounts, Garmin 64ST GPS (uses batteries only) and my Garmin 660LM GPS (uses bike power). I’m sure you’re asking; “why two GPS?”   and the answer is the 64ST is for off road and following SAM’s TAT tracks and the 660LM is for finding gas and motels. Both are waterproof and compliment each other with the information they provide. The biggest problem was running the power cable from the 660LM to the battery. The KTM has only a 2.25 gal fuel tank but it sets low on the chassis and hangs down on both sides. I finally removed all the plastic from both sides and the seat to try and find a clear path for the cable. Only after Steve dropped by to look at the bike did we lift the gas tank up enough so I could run the line under the tank. This long paragraph brings me to my first KTM comment.

1               The KTM is the easiest bike I’ve ever had to remove the side panels to gain access to the guts of the bike. Everything comes off with only a few screws and doesn’t require taking more off than required to get to a certain location. This includes the seat removal with a single screw. The CRF was terrible in this area and I dreaded having to remove panels or the seat.
2               I tried to mount my GL tank bag but because the fuel cap has the vent hose, it interferes with the bag. Hate to give up the GL bag but will solve that problem later.
3               Shift lever – It was entirely to low and my heavy enduro boots had a hard time getting under the lever so I missed several shifts. I’ll raise the lever and solve that problem.
4               Rear foot brake lever – The lever is smaller than the CRF and is very close to the crankcase. As a result I missed it several times while stopping. I assume the design was to decrease the chance of damaging the lever in bike drops but it will take some getting use to.
5               Tires – My KTM came with Metzeler tires and is clearly made for off road use. While riding to Ott Park I came to a light changing to red so started to stop. Problem was that I made the rookie mistake of being in the center of the lane right where all the oil was at the stoplight. Both tires locked up and only quick action on my part prevented the bike going down; how embarrassing that would be. The tires are new so I expected they would be a little slick until they roughen up some but this caught me by surprise. During the rest of the ride I could tell these tires don’t work that well on pavement compared to the Dunlop D606s I had on the CRF. The little bit of mud and dirt I rode today did demonstrate good traction off road.
6               Seat – Hard as a rock! Within 5 minutes I could tell my butt was not going to like this seat. It may be that I’m spoiled after riding 5000 miles on a Seat Concepts saddle on my CRF. I had planned on upgrading the seat later on but that has now moved up in my priority list. I’ll probably go for a lowboy seat as well which brings me to the next item.
7               Seat height – The bike is tall for sure but I finally got comfortable at stop signs/lights but was very diligent on evaluating the slope of the stopping point. Only problem I had was while riding a narrow dirt road at Ott Park that had big mud puddles every 100 feet. I had gone through several spots when I came to a mud hole that looked too big to ride through without the potential for a drop. I decided to turn around and started by riding into the grass on the left planning to back up to head the opposite direction. Problem was my feet barely touched the ground and I couldn’t get enough purchase to push the bike backwards. Next I tried to put down the kickstand so I could dismount and walk the bike out of this mess. No good because the slope on the left was too high to get the kickstand down. I finally turned back to the right and rode through the mud as close as I could to the edge until I had turned around. If I had someone else with me I would have been a bit more aggressive but I was alone and didn’t want to have to drag my new bike out of a mud hole alone.
8               Gearshift – The KTM doesn’t sift gears as smooth as the CRF. On several occasions I thought I had shifted into the next gear to find that I had not. I started making a more pronounced movement with my foot to make sure the gear had changed. The low shift lever didn’t help so hope that was the main reason for this problem
9               Gear spacing – I’m confident the KTM designers picked the gear spacing to be optimum for off road riding but for my first ride I found them to be very close for the first 2 or 3 gears. I would be in 3rd before I had crossed an intersection. In addition, the engine revs to redline very quickly so I had to shift about every couple of seconds. I’m sure I’ll figure this out but it’s much different than the CRF. One thing I did find is that the bike is pretty forgiving about what gear is the right gear to be in at different speeds. This means I could lug the engine down and the bike still would accelerate when twisting the throttle.
10           Throttle – It has a very sensitive throttle. Just a fraction of an inch movement and the engine would be in high revs. Another thing to get used to. It did cause problems while standing on pegs on rough dirt road because the throttle would move just a bit and the engine would accelerate/decelerate more than I like.
11           Clutch – It doesn’t engage until almost completely out. This caught me off guard several times when pulling away at an intersection. I would let the clutch out and it didn’t seem like I was in gear then it would finally engage. Much different from the CRF.
12           Vibration – The KTM vibrates much more than the CRF. Not excessively but it is noticeable in the handgrips.
13           Standing on pegs – I felt like I was leaning too far forward and could go over the handlebars if I tried to slow down. I plan on adding risers as I did on the CRF.
14           Suspension – Definitely a rougher ride than the CRF. I know the KTM is a far superior system but the squishy CRF ride was pretty comfortable. I plan on reducing the rear shock pre-load and hope this also helps a little with the foot-on-ground clearance.
15           Acceleration – Eye opening to say the least. So glad I didn’t get the KTM 500. Only issue is that the engine winds out so fast that you have to keep changing gears so it isn’t a steady acceleration like I had with my Yamaha Super Tenere XT1200Z.
16           Neutral – No neutral light that I could find so it’s all by feel. Add the issue with the late clutch engagement and I had a hard time finding neutral.

Before I get hammered for all the items I listed above I want to say I’m no newbie to motorcycles. In the last 5 years I’ve owned several different bikes:

2012   Harley Davidson FLHTCU Ultra Classic – I rode this bike round trip from Arkansas to Yukon Canada 6000 miles.

2014 Yamaha Super Tenere XT1200Z – I rode this bike round trip from Arkansas to Alaska and up the Dalton Highway to the Arctic Circle 8000 miles.

2015 Honda CRF250L – I rode this bike from Charleston, SC to Lake City, CO on the TAT 3000 miles

That being said, this KTM is a new experience for me. I felt like I was always a little behind what was going to happen next. I’m confident I will eventually catch up to the bike but it’s been a long time since I was actually a little scared while I rode a motorcycle. Compared to the CRF, which was easy to ride from the very start, the KTM needs your constant attention.

Final evaluation - It is a fantastic bike but it takes some time to learn how to ride it correctly and feel totally comfortable with the ride.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

TAT 2017 Post 2 10/15/16

I woke up at 3 am thinking about my new KTM 350 EXC-f and what I wanted to talk about in Post 2 of my latest blog. So I got up, made a cup of decaf coffee (doctors orders but terrible) and here I am writing.  BTW, if anyone can explain the KTM naming convention please tell me because I have no idea what EXC-f even means.

This is a long post so I apologize up front.

It’s been several months since we completed our TAT 2016 SC to CO ride which added up to ~3,000 miles of dirt, mud, dust, slick rocks, gravel, water-crossings, dogs, crashes, dropped bikes, mountain passes, blah, blah, blah. It was exciting to say the least and anyone wanting to do the TAT but just can’t get up the steam to start you are missing an adventure of a life time. Don’t think of all the problems you will encounter because that makes it an adventure, just do it before you are too old like me. Sorry, I digress. I’ll talk about the bikes first for those interested and give my interpretation of life’s meaning in a future post.

Why I switched bikes:

When I started planning for TAT 2016 late in 2015 I knew I wanted a lite dual-sport compared to the big adventure bikes, which seemed to be the most popular. I plan on writing another blog soon about all the different modes of transportation I’ve owned in my 69 years but for this blog I’ll keep it simple. The Yamaha Super Tenere XT1200Z (S10) I rode to Alaska and the Arctic Circle (AC) in 2014 (AK2) is a fantastic bike but it weighs loaded over 600 maybe 700 lbs. I made it the 8,000 miles on AK2 and only dropped the bike once while getting fuel. No way I could pick that bike up loaded and barely able unloaded using a shoulder strap I carried. AK2 had thousands of miles on super highways with some mud and gravel on the Dalton Highway to the AC. Still for AK2 the S10 was a perfect choice.

I determined by much research prior to TAT 2016 that most of the route would be dirt/gravel roads with some sand out west and rocky mountain passes. The S10 or similar type adventure bikes could certainly do the TAT but the rider had to be able to handle that weight. I explained in detail in my TAT 2016 why we selected 250cc bikes so I won’t repeat it here but I selected the 2015 Honda CRF250L as my second choice. I wanted a Yamaha WR250R but none were available so I decided to take the cheaper CRF and use the savings to outfit the bike. Interesting thing is the several thousands of dollars of add-ons I put on the CRF would have been necessary on the WR250R also.

The CRF250L is a fantastic bike and extremely fun to ride. Mechanically it is reliable and to date I’ve had only a single failure, the headlight. During our CO to AR ride last August my headlight would go out occasionally but them be on at other times. I suspected a bad connection somewhere and started working the problem after arriving back home. As a side note, I love the Internet. I did a Google search on the problem and after reading several blogs got a bit of information that seemed the likely cause; the starter switch. I have lots of electrical experience on airplanes so studied the schematic for the CRF and determined that was the only possible answer. The starter switch has two functions, apply power to the starter motor but it also disconnects the headlight to save battery juice for the starter. The portion of the switch for the headlight was intermittent but the starter portion seemed to be ok. I cut the 2 headlight wires to the switch and crimped them together, problem solved without buying the $70 switch. Only downside is headlight stays on during starting.

If the CRF is such a great bike, why am I replacing it with the KTM? Glad you asked. The only real problem I had with the CRF was in the mountain passes, which got up as high as 12,800 feet. We were light with only extra fuel and tools but I noticed that to make the steep climbs I had to keep the CRF in the power band or it would bog down at the worse possible time. Even though it is fuel injected, the thin air still took its toll on the CRF’s power. Please don’t misunderstand; the CRF can handle the high altitudes, especially if you have the FMF muffler, header and electronic fuel mod. You need the right tires (I used Dunlop D606s) and always power up in time to hit the climb with RPMs in first and sometimes second gear. I would actually use the CRF for the remainder of the TAT to OR with no hesitation but for the following.

1 – Weight: Terry was the only KTM of 7 riders on TAT 2016 and he had a new and powerful KTM 690 that weighted about the same as my CRF250L; around 320 lbs. unloaded. My new KTM 350 EXC-f weighs ~250 lbs. That’s 60 to 70 lbs. lighter than my CRF and the weight is down low on the KTM which helps significantly. BTW a few weeks ago several of us were riding on some steep and rocky ATV trails at Mack’s Pines in AR and I dropped my CRF on a steep climb when I hit a patch of sand in a rut. I’m the last bike and I hit hard on my left side with my left foot pinned under the bike. I have excellent riding gear including enduro boots, body armor and Aire helmet so I wasn’t injured but I could not push or lift the bike off my foot. Although we all had intercoms, mine disconnected for some reason when I went down. I lay there for several minutes until the others walked down the hill because I hadn’t joined them at the top. They lifted the CRF off my foot; I remounted and made the rest of the climb starting on a steep incline to the top. The CRF handled the climb easily except for the dropped portion. That made me start to think about the KTM.

2 – Power: As we on the 250’s were powering up for each switchback on the CO passes, Terry would putt on by with his engine barely out of idle. Irritating to say the least. In addition, on the occasional paved runs between dirt, Terry would cruise at 65-70 mph where the CRF was very comfortable at 55 mph but was working to get to 65 for any long durations.

3 – Suspension: On the rocky climbs and descents, especially on Stony Pass, Terry’s KTM with its much more robust suspension seemed to handle it with ease. The CRFs and the WRs all did OK but had to work harder than the KTM.


1               Reliability: The Honda CRF250L is a very reliable bike as I described in previous paragraphs. The KTM is still questionable in my mind on how reliable it is. Terry had several parts “fall off or become loose” on his KTM. After further investigation we found that all the issues in this area were on the parts he installed. That may mean the bike is OK but he needs close supervision during any maintenance activities. More on this as I put miles on my KTM. CRF wins only because I don’t have enough experience with the KTM at this time.
2               Displays: The CRF has a pretty good and big display including a fuel gage, which is nice. The KTM has this small display that I’m still trying to figure out how to use. It appears to only have two data items on at a time such as MPH and Odometer. The KTM doesn’t have a fuel gage but the fuel tank is opaque white plastic and you can visually see the fuel remaining. Neither bike has a tachometer, which I really miss. CRF wins but I may learn to love the minimalist KTM display in time.
3               Fuel capacity: Both bikes have a little over 2 gal tanks. The stock CRF was getting close to 70 mpg, which is unbelievable. After the FMF mod it dropped drastically to 57 mpg but the power increase made it worthwhile. Not sure yet what mpg the KTM will provide. As a side note, fuel range is a big deal on the TAT, even on the east side where SAM tries his best to keep you away from civilization. CRF wins until I see how the KTM performs.
4               Starter: The CRF uses electric start only while the 2016 KTM has both electric and kick-start. KTM eliminated the kick-start on the 2017 models and this was a big reason I wanted the 2016 model. A big win for the KTM.
5               Ease of maintenance: The CRFs plastic is a pain in the a__ to get on/off to gain access to all the guts of the bike. The seat is also a pain to get on/off on the CRF. Still unfamiliar with the KTM so this is unknown but I’m going to say it looks like the KTM may have this one. KTM win unless proven wrong with time.
6               $$$$$: This is a big one. The KTM is twice the price of the CRF: roughly $5K compared to $10K. I had to add numerous add-ons to the CRF to make it TAT ready including the very expensive FMF mod. The KTM won’t need any power or suspension enhancements but it still needs a rear rack, skid plate and maybe some more robust hand guards. Maybe even a better Seat Concepts seat (low boy version). If cost is your only consideration then the CRF wins. The KTM better prove its worth in some other areas that I have yet to experience. If I have to spend $$ to lower the KTM due to other issues described here, that will be a very expensive mod. CRF wins for now.
7               Mount-ability: This means getting on/off the bike and touching the ground while stopped. The CRF was perfect. I could swing a leg over and stand almost flat-footed at stoplights. The KTM is TALL!! This almost cancelled the deal for me. I’m 5’10” with 32” inseam but the KTM seat height is around 38” from what the brochure says. I figured I needed 6 more inches (sorry ladies) from what I could tell. After being on the bike and a short ride I think I can handle it. I have to mount by standing on the left foot peg then swing my leg over. With the sag in the suspension I can touch the ball of both feet on the ground. This doesn’t give me any margin for error if the ground is slopped but I dropped the CRF several times due to this issue. I will have to be very vigilant where I stop and park. CRF wins if you have a short inseam.
8               Kickstand: Item 7 made me think about this item. The CRF has an up/down kickstand like I’ve had on every other bike. It stays where you left it last; up or down. The KTM’s kickstand is unusual for me; it is spring loaded up! In addition, before riding the bike the manual says to attach a rubber strap that ensures the kickstand stays up. Plus the KTM’s kickstand retracts to a sharp angle upwards while the CRF’s is parallel to the ground. Downside is that on several occasions while riding the CRF on steep switchbacks in CO the engine bogged down and I realized after a while that I was pushing the kickstand down with my boot while standing on the pegs thus killing the engine until I sat back down. What concerns me about the KTM is that if you lean the bike over even a little bit, the kickstand goes up. I’m unsure if this will be a problem while mounting/dismounting the bike. In addition, once on the bike I found it difficult to reach up with my foot to get the KTM kickstand back down. I haven’t tried the rubber strap thing yet. Ease of use goes to the CRF win for sure. KTM is probably safer but time will tell.
9               Weight: No question, KTM wins.
10           Power: No question KTM wins significantly. During my first ride of my new KTM yesterday, I applied the same amount of throttle I would use for the CRF and the front wheel almost came off the ground. Really dramatic difference in power. I’m glad I decided on the 350 rather than the equally priced 500 I had first thought about buying.
11           Suspension: No question, KTM wins.


After doing the Pros/Cons I’m wondering why did I buy the KTM since the CRF seems to be the clear winner except in some very important areas: Weight and Power. For you serious dirt riders you know that the KTM is the clear choice and you just have to accept it’s deficiencies in the other areas. I know every KTM rider I talked to says the same thing: “you’ll love the KTM”. I’ll report on this after I put some miles on the bike. I hope to get to put some dirt on the tries this weekend but for sure I’m joining my son Jeff on a 150-mile dual sport ride on 30 Oct in Oklahoma. That should give me an idea if I made the right choice or not.

P.S. I caught a lot of grief in my TAT 2016 blog from several readers on my selection of the CRF over other more capable dual-sports including the KTM. I still think the CRF250L is an excellent choice for a lot of folks if you consider all the things I listed above. I’m lucky that I can afford the expensive KTM but someone with less financial abilities should not miss the TAT adventure when several less expensive dual-sports are available, especially the CRF250L.