Life doesn’t always work out to plan. Best plans laid out for the year and with our long term test KTM 300EXC TPI sitting primed and ready for a mixed season of events leading up to Romaniacs and then, in a blink of an eye, instead of trying to ride #jarvisstyle I ended up #beingmorelikebilly.
At the time of year when almost everyone I know is getting on it for the new season, sorting their bikes out and racing, I’ve been laid up with a badly broken tibia and fibula. I won’t bore anyone with the details (in short, try not to catch your toes on the ground because it hurts) but the knock-on effect is zero hours have been clocked up on the Enduro21 test bike these last few months.
No KTM long term test mules were harmed in this incident but the 300 EXC has suffered a serious amount of neglect. Neglect in terms of turning a wheel but to be honest it has been something of a salvation. When I could eventually get out in the workshop it gave me a focus and something to occupy the mind.
Serious workshop time has been entirely dedicated to ripping all the parts off and returning the bike back to standard. It is always a sad day when you have to do this, although of course for us the TPI is going back to KTM not onto the small ads. I guess usually the sadness is silver-lined with the idea you’re hopefully getting a new bike some time soon.
We’ve had the test mule in our hands for about eight months and the fettling time gave me chance to look at which bolt-ons, accessories and upgrades had worked best…
Best of bolt-on parts fitted to our 300 EXC TPI test mule: FMF Gnarly header pipe and Titan Powercore 2.1 muffler.
The test mule never looked so good as it did when we rocked-up at Hawkstone Park for a round of the World Enduro Super Series in September 2018. Part of that sweet look was the FMF goodness bolted on.
Not only did the Gnarly header and Titan muffler look great but they spiced up how the 300 TPI feels to ride. Crisper power delivery and more feel for grip is how I’d sum up the difference over stock exhaust system which helps it feel more alert and helps control power through the revs better and onto the ground.
The FMF parts also weigh less than stock so the handling improves too –the stock muffler weighs 1760g compared to the 1440g FMF Titan. The FMF Fatty is 180g lighter than stock on our scales too.
There’s no additional work needed with different jetting as you maybe would with a carburetted two-stroke or re-mapping of the ECU. Just bolt-on and feel like you’re on a better bike.
Radiator guards and braces
I chucked myself off the bike on the back-side of a jump one day at a practice track and proved the reasons why a set of strong radiator guards is a sound investment.
The squashed radiator still sits in my workshop as a reminder to a) fit radiator braces and b) get better at hitting jumps!
Enduro Engineering are by no means the only manufacturer making radiator braces but the 11-017 braces proved themselves to be strong and withstand some pretty bad treatment on my part at a couple of events – check out some onboard action from the British Extreme enduro here.
The Enduro Engineering design fits around the stock radiator and guards (we used a set of colour-matched set of Polisport guards which have the same fitment) and are solid.
Read more about fitting the Enduro Engineering radiator braces and KTM Power Parts fan kit in our post from a few months back.
WP Cone Valve and Trax Shock
No question bolting-on WP’s Cone Valve forks and Trax shock absorber was the most expensive part fitted to the test mule. Ssdly it was only for one race.
It was the biggest single difference I made to the bike in its time with us. It never felt so good as it did for a sprint race as part of the WESS championship at Hawkstone Park.
An hour or so into a race when the track is beaten up, braking bumps and whoops are growing by the lap, the Cone Valves and Trax shock worked hard to keep the bike floating and controlled where the stock suspension would be over-heated and been a handful.
They make you faster, you can hit things harder and it is less tiring. Who doesn’t want those three things attached to a ride? Read more about our test on them here.
Wider, lower, flatter and grippier footrests
Raptor Titanium footpegs are a simple bolt-on are all about improving rider feel on the bike – like having your levers in the right place or handlebars in the right position, getting the pegs nice makes a clear difference.
I’m tall and prefer the 5mm lower, 5mm further back position the Raptor Titanium pegs dish up (other options are available). I’m not a big fan of the stock pegs sloping inwards so the flatter, grippier and lower Raptor pegs basically means I feel more in control.
Grippier Enduro Engineering brake pedal tips were another small but sweet addition. They’re titanium and designed to bend, so you can replace (or bend it back) instead of losing the whole lever).
Top things I wished I’d done:
- Not broken my leg!
- Put the 300 EXC TPI on a dyno machine with the standard pipe versus the FMF full system. I’m curious to know about the power of the TPI 300 but also want to know if the numbers back up my seat of the pants feeling for how nice the FMF kit feels to ride.
- Got a better check on which tyres and specifically mousses I use at the different events. The current crop of mousses available for enduro is growing by the month it seems and I need to nail down what works best for me and be on the right one in the right conditions.
- Upgraded the suspension. I understand why KTM produce EXCs with the stock suspension settings as they are but they are too soft for me and makes riding harder work. Whooped-out sections of track kill the rear shock which can’t keep up with how fast I want to ride.
- Fitting the Cone Valve forks and Trax shock were as good as it could get but I can’t afford that upgrade at this point in my life. However, I did ride some stock MX bikes mid-year in 2018 and that cemeneted the idea in my head that stock MX suspension could be a solution.
- I wish I’d also played with flywheel weights. Not strictly the most important thing but I wish I’d experimented more with the bottom end power deliver. The TPI 300 works well in the slow and technical riding but I feel like it could be better and wish I’d had chance to experiment.
Anyway, that’s more or less it for our time with the KTM 300 EXC TPI. As ever, we need to point out though this bike comes from KTM it is left with us and gets treated exactly as if it were our own bike. As such that means it gets a fair, real world test and sincerely it has proved itself a solid and reliable off road bike to live with and ride. Most recenlty it also brought home how damn easy an EXC is to play with in the workshop as well – even on one leg.Photo Credit: Future7Media/Max Silverster Photography/Bramley Pearson Jon PearsonEnduro21 Editor and Bike Testerjon.firstname.lastname@example.org