It’s been a little over a month since my last blog update so thought I would provide the status of my 2016 KTM 350 EXC-F upgrade. Work has kept me busy for the last several weeks so this weekend was my first opportunity to work on the KTM.
After my short ride last month where I mentioned in my blog post 10 that the KTM felt very “sensitive” in steering, I started researching how steering dampers impact these types of bikes. I love YouTube because you can find a review on almost everything. After watching many different rider videos I was convinced and ordered the Scott Steering Dampener for my KTM. It is a bit pricey but that’s never stopped me before. I received the unit a week ago but had to put it on the shelf waiting for a free weekend to install.
While watching many YouTube videos I also watched some on the ReKluse auto-clutch again. If you haven’t been reading my blog you should know I have a new one setting on my bench waiting for installation. My point is that I found some new information while watching the ReKluse videos that I hadn’t thought of before. With the ReKluse installed, the bike no longer has engine braking because anytime the throttle is at idle; the clutch disengages the engine from the rear wheel. I watched several examples of how this became an issue while riding in hilly terrain.
I’ve always found it a bit difficult to use the rear break while standing on the pegs during hilly descents so I used engine braking in most situations and now this became much more important. ReKluse actually understands this problem and offers a left hand rear brake system that works in parallel to the foot rear break. I also ride mountain bikes and this is exactly how they work and it seemed logical to me that it would be a perfect solution for the KTM. The left hand brake lever is mounted under the clutch lever. Since you really don’t even need to use the hand clutch with the ReKluse auto-clutch this works pretty well. Of course I ordered one and it is also setting on my shelf ready for installation
I only had a few hours available to work on the KTM so elected to do the two easiest mods first; TPS adjustment and Scott Steering Dampener.
As stated in Post 10, the KTM was popping and backfiring much more after all the mods I had accomplished up to that point. I knew the engine would be running much leaner after the intake and exhaust mods but I did send an email to KTMandHusky.com (referred to as KTMH from here on) where I had purchased most of the kits asking for confirmation that the TPS would fix this. I got an immediate response confirming that I needed to increase the fuel with the TPS tool I had purchased from them. Their videos are excellent and explain all this technical stuff so I’ve included a couple of links so you can see what I’m talking about.
Following the written instructions and TPS video I disconnected the TPS connector, which is easy to reach on the 350 KTM, and plugged in the TPS tool. As predicted from KTMH I got a reading of .57 on the TPS tool. To adjust the TPS I needed to loosen the TPS hold down screw and slightly turn the TPS until I got a reading of .65. Of course I never have anything be that simple. My newly installed 3.45 gal fuel tank was in the way so I couldn’t loosen the TPS screw. I removed the seat, and then loosened the tank screw so I could lift the tank enough to reach the TPS screw, which I did. It doesn’t take much but with a little bit of movement of the TPS I now read .66 on the TPS tool. As you tighten the TPS screw it may change the reading a bit so it took a couple of times to get it tight with the reading I wanted. KTMH’s email said to start with .65 and go to .75 if needed. I removed the TPS tool, reconnected the TPS connector and reinstalled the fuel tank and seat. Engine started ok and ran smooth but the test ride would have to wait for the next mod to be completed.
Scott Steering Dampener:
This unit is top quality and receives great reviews on YouTube. The instructions are clear and include colored pics of the bike plus there are many good YouTube videos showing the installation process. It does require removing everything around the handle bars including the top triple tree so be sure to support the front wheel as instructed so it does not drop off the bike!!!
This mod actually went on without a lot of problems. I took many pics and I’ve inserted some of the better ones in this post. I would point out that I have the service manual for this bike (on DVD) so I follow its instructions, including torque values, very closely. This means you need good quality torque wrenches and I use lock-tight everywhere the manual says. Two problems I should note:
1 Top triple tree pinch bolt cannot be reached with a socket wrench while the bike is strapped down. It is blocked by one of the Scott components. I had to drag the rear of the bike off center enough to reach it with the torque wrench. That worked.
2 The new Scott component that was blocking access to the triple tree pinch bolt also has to be tightened around the frame neck. I had the bike back together before I remembered that I had not torqued the clamp bolt on this unit. It may be easier to get to if the headlight unit was removed but being too lazy to take it back off I placed the bike on the kick stand, turned the steering bars all the way to the left and could barely get to the bolt with an allen wrench. It’s tight now but I’ll keep an eye on this to see if it starts to slip. No big issues if it does but I would have to disassemble some of the mod to do it properly in the future.
Temperature was in the high 40’s so I knew it would be a short ride but I was anxious to see how the TPS adjustment and Scott steering dampener impacted the KTM.
TPS - The bike ran smoothly with NO popping or backfiring. Acceleration is tremendous and it does feel like it got a boost in horsepower as promised. I’ll leave the TPS at .66 for a while until I get the rest of my mods installed. KTMH has some very good videos on the TPS and fuel injection in general. The KTM fuel injection is an open loop system, which means it doesn’t compensate for changes in altitude like a closed loop system. The primary reason is because it doesn’t have an O2 sensor in the tail pipe. Watch the videos to get more details on this. The 2015 Honda CRF250L I used on the first 3,000 miles of the TAT has a closed loop fuel injection system and made it to the top of several 12,000+ foot mountain passes without a problem. Although the KTM is much more powerful than the CRF, I may have to readjust the TPS as we start our CO to ID ride in July.
Scott Steering Dampener – I love this thing. It totally eliminated the steering sensitivity at both low and high speeds. I rode a short stretch through some gravel and mild mud just to see how it would react. No issues whatever and the bike tracked true through stuff that previously would have had it jumping all over the place. I know it will be a great improvement to handling for the rocky CO mountain passes, muddy roads and even slippery water crossings we will experience on our last 2,000+ miles of the TAT. BTW the wheel weights I installed from KTMH also worked great at high speeds.
In summary, I’ve installed the following mods on the KTM with a couple more to do in the near future:
1 Replaced stock 2.25 gal tank with KTM OEM 3.45 gal tank
2 Removed all environmental control hardware (KTMH kit)
3 Installed new end cap on muffler (KTMH)
4 Installed new exhaust port (KTMH)
5 Installed airflow vanes in intake (KTMH)
6 Installed new fuel rail on throttle body (KTMH)
7 Installed wheel weights, front and back (KTMH)
8 Installed heavy weight springs in struts and shock (KTMWorld)
9 Re-valved struts and shock (KTMWorld)
10 Lowered suspension by 2” (KTMWorld)
11 Installed Low Boy Seat (Seat Concepts)
12 Adjusted Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) with electronic meter (KTMH)
13 Installed Scott Steering Dampener (Scott Performance)
On shelf waiting for installation:
1 ReKluse Auto Clutch (ReKluse)
2 Left hand rear brake kit (ReKluse)