I am very familiar with all these bikes. I rode the 450 first, and since I prefer a larger-size bike I immediately became accustomed to it. I am a smooth type of rider who likes to roll the throttle on calculated coming out of corners, and finding creative lines is key for me to go fast around the track. The KTM 450 SX-F lets me do this and agrees to my riding style the best.
The 350 is a little more hyperactive than I want out of a machine but is still so much fun to ride. The track we tested on was faster with bigger-size jumps, and the 350 had no problem clearing them all. However, I feel like I can’t lug the bike as much as I prefer, especially when the track gets hard-packed and choppy. The more I rode the 350 like a 250, the better I felt my lap times were getting. I do like the free feeling of the engine and the lack of engine-braking on the 350 the most, however.
The 250 plain and simple just doesn’t have enough power for me to take inside lines and clear obstacles. In order to get over those obstacles I have to seat-bounce the jumps, and my back has too many miles on it to keep riding like that. The 250 felt awesome to lay into corners, but coming out of them is where I felt it lacked the fun factor for me.
—KRIS KEEFER 5’11”, 170 LB., PRO
Personal Ranking: 1. 450, 2. 350, 3. 250 Actual Lap Times: 1:54 (450), 1:57 (350), 2:02 (250)
“I would buy the 450 if I was 6 feet and weighed 180 pounds. With me being a little out of shape and not able to muscle the more powerful bike around I feel like I get tired sooner.” —KELLY GELHAUS