KTM 250SX vs 350SX-F for Vet Novice

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11/21/2018 2:10 PM

Hi all, so here's my brief history, I started riding/racing motocross in 2017 at age 30 on an old 2002 CR125 after riding street bikes for over 10 years, fell in love immediately. I liked my 125 but being as old as it was the bike was an absolute money pit and tried to kill me a few times when things broke while riding it. My wife encouraged me to buy a new bike so I got a 2017 CRF250 since I liked the overall feel of the Honda. I HATED this bike, the suspension was so harsh I felt like I just got my ass kicked after riding it, and they way the plastics/seat/frame were set up I had a real hard time holding onto the bike with my knees while standing so I always felt like I was falling off the back when on the gas, and the throttle response was really jerky at on/off making it tough to ride when it was slick out. I figured I just wasn't ready for a 250 at that point, or I just didn't gel with the 4 stroke, that bike really made me not want to ride, I just wasn't having fun on it.

Over the winter I ended up tearing an ACL at work and had surgery to replace it so I couldn't ride again until July of 2018, in the meantime I sold my CRF and bought a 2018 KTM 150SX. Now this bike has just been magic for me, it fit me great right out the door, only fit changes I made was the factory low seat (I'm 5'5" with a 29 inch inseam, about 165-170 pounds) and grips. I've put about 35 hours on it before the snow started falling earlier this month. The suspension is nice and plush, everything is right where I want it, and I have no problem gripping the bike with my legs and most importantly I have endless fun when riding it.

The issue is when it comes to racing, I mostly ride the vet novice classes in NESC an NEMX (25C, 30C) which are open displacement, so most guys in my class are on 450Fs or 250/300Ts, no matter how hard I ride I just can't keep up with the pack. When we get on the straights or in the sand of Southwick, those big bikes just disappear, I can sometimes hang with the few guys on 250Fs, but even those pull on me unless I'm really on my shifting game. Many of the tracks also have some jumps right after tight corners which I have a hard time clearing on my 150 that were much easier on the 250F. Now even on a bigger bike I'd probably still be hanging around the back of the pack, but I think I'd have a better shot at not coming in last.

So I'm thinking some time next year I'd like to get a bigger bike for racing, but I don't think someone of my skill level has any business on a 450 (which is a shame because they practically give away brand new Suzuki 450s here). So I'm thinking of going with either a KTM 250SX 2 stroke or a 350 SX-F 4 stroke as something that will let me hang with the big bikes without killing myself on. I'd like to stick with KTM as I'm just so comfortable on my current one. I got a chance to do a 2 lap demo on the 250 a few months back, it felt good under me but the throttle was so savage, off the pipe it felt like my 150, but once you hit the power the front tire kept reaching for the sky, definitely can't ham fist it like I'm used to. The suspension was also set way too stiff for me so I couldn't really ride it how I'd like. I haven't ridden the 350 yet but everyone I've spoken to seems to love them.

Which of these 2 bikes do you guys think will be better some someone of my skill level and still let me be competitive with the big bikes? I prefer the power delivery of the 2 stroke on the small bores, but the bigger bikes seem to be a different animal altogether, my 4 stroke experience is limited to just that CRF I had which was kind of an oddball (huge low end power, dead up top.).

Another benefit of a big bike is that I'll also be able to run the 450C class which around here is a defacto Vet C class.



11/21/2018 2:17 PM
Edited Date/Time: 11/21/2018 2:19 PM

I vote 250 smoker they are great bikes. The 350s amazing also but since you gelled so well on the 2 stroke ktm and are after more power it sounds like a good recipe to me. But spend the time testing and tuning on the 250. Id say keihin carb, full pc pipe amd you'll have a really potent and broad delivery.


11/21/2018 2:20 PM

250 2 stroke with a fly wheel weight and a tooth less on the rear to mellow it out a little. IMO If you didn't like the Honda 250f you won't like the ktm 350.


11/21/2018 2:24 PM

Probably finish better in the B class than in the C if it's anything like my area..

If your comfortable on the smoker I'd stick with that. Some people just don't click with certain bikes or brands. Ride what feels good.


2018 CRF250R

11/21/2018 2:26 PM

3rd vote for the 250 2-stroke. You mentioned having trouble with the "jerky" on/off throttle problems with your 250F... that's the biggest problem I have with 4-strokes. And I have a lot of problems with 4 strokes.


Braaapin' aint easy.

11/21/2018 2:41 PM
Edited Date/Time: 11/21/2018 9:28 PM


"Who cares about what other people think"

11/21/2018 4:32 PM

Thanks for the input, I was leaning towards the 250 already but had always been intrigued by the 350 and the good deals to be had on them. I'll probably stick with the smokers, I've had really good luck messing around with the power valve adjuster on my 150 to modify the power delivery (MXA settings are a great starting point.) so I can probably smooth out the hit on the 250 with it. I've also had no issues with the Mikuni on my 150, just run it a tad leaner on the pilot and the needle than what the manual says and it rips.


11/21/2018 4:34 PM

feelit2morrow wrote:

Probably finish better in the B class than in the C if it's anything like my area..

If your comfortable on the smoker I'd ...more

I did notice that when I used to run the 250C class here, which is mostly teenagers. I'd get fuckin smoked and then go check the lap times afterwards, the top 10 250C guys were running faster laps than the 450B guys who raced right after us. After being taken out by those kids a few times I now stick to the vet classes mostly where everyone has to go to work the next day and isn't trying to kill each other.


11/21/2018 4:38 PM
Edited Date/Time: 11/21/2018 4:38 PM

Had a 2015 sxf 350 and a 2016 sx 250. Both were great bikes but the sx 250 was easier for me to ride, That being said I would buy another 350 sxf in a heartbeat. I have a 2017 kxf 450 with about 6 hours on it now. LOL


11/21/2018 5:55 PM

I had a 16 250 sx and now have a 13 350 sxf. I much prefer the 350. It’s a damn near perfect engine. But the 17 and newer 250 sx is a very good bike. I thought it smooth and manageable when I rode one - much more so than my 16. I don’t think you can compare the 350 to the Honda you had. The 350 revs to the moon and really takes off at high rpm, which the pre 2018 Hondas did not do.


Current rides: 2021 TM 144, 2008 YZ250

11/21/2018 6:34 PM

I'd stay 2 stroke if that's what you get on better with. Personally I can't get on with 4 strokes at all, the engine braking, weight, rotational force etc. all feels wrong to me and I ride like a novice.

If it's too much power, tame it with gearing and a fly wheel weight. I did that with my old CR250R and it was easy to ride, fun and bulletproof.


11/21/2018 6:43 PM

Sounds like you’d be perfect candidate for the 300xc. The 300 has a smoother delivery and more torque so you can ride it below the power very effectively. Plus it has softer suspension which it sounds like you could really use as well. Bonus point is that you’ll be giving up very little to the 450’s on the starts.


11/21/2018 7:48 PM



11/21/2018 8:44 PM

The 300XC will have softer Suspension and a mellower hit right out of the box or you could do what I just did. I bought a 19 KTM350 and a 1986 CR250 for my 250 two stroke itch.


11/21/2018 8:54 PM

It just sounds crazy to me that a 250f had an on/off hard to ride power problem, yet you love your two-stroke?? Maybe something was wrong with it or the suspension was just that thrown off that it felt jerky lol


11/21/2018 9:43 PM

I’m voting for the 350. With that being said, I’m curious about your 150. I’m looking for an ‘18 with low hours.


11/21/2018 11:46 PM

Flip109 wrote:

It just sounds crazy to me that a 250f had an on/off hard to ride power problem, yet you love your two-stroke?? Maybe ...more

It had more to do with the throttle response from off to on being really jerky, which sucks when you're leaned over. I think that's more of a fuel injected vs carbureted thing as even with street bikes I've ridden many FI bikes that had that jerky response at the first opening, carbureted bikes are just way smoother in their response.


11/21/2018 11:50 PM

hellion wrote:

Sounds like you’d be perfect candidate for the 300xc. The 300 has a smoother delivery and more torque so you can ride it below ...more

That's an interesting idea, hopefully they do another demo day at Southwick next year and maybe I can ride a few different models.


11/22/2018 3:48 AM

I’m from New England as well and ride the same tracks. Keep the 150 and thenid say try and get a ride on a 350. Especially if you are racing quite a bit, my 350 was hard to beat, especially when the tracks got super rough. Put it in 3rd gear and cruise. I think maybe the 250sx and 150 may be a bit similar and you can have the 350 for days when you want the riding to be easier. I had a 250sx and 350 at the same time and I felt the 350 had a great power and and a lot of my buddies who rode it said it was the most fun bike they’ve ever ridden. If I could afford it I’d have another for sure.


11/22/2018 4:12 AM

The 350 is decevingly fast could possibly get you into some trouble, you could also hole shot all of the vet motos on it, id get a 250sx run more classes an get more seat time 250c 450c 30c


11/22/2018 4:17 AM

I’m 5’5” as well, 36, 155. I can holeshot the 450’s and run with them bar to bar, it’s mellow enough down low that you won’t get whisky throttle too bad when tired but still has enough grunt to get you over any jump 450’s are hitting. Get the 350 and forget about those two strokes.


11/22/2018 7:06 AM



11/22/2018 7:54 AM

I've raced both, 350 for sure.


11/22/2018 8:04 AM

we are very similar, I race a couple times a year, generally NESC. Also professional practice rider (crow hill,wareham, 101,207 and southwick), my 2 cents:

1. at southwick the 350 is better, much better starts and the bike revs to the moon, great for those long sandy straights.

2. everywhere else hands down the 250 sx is better, I am easily 5-7 seconds faster @ crow hill on the 250sx, couple seconds faster at warhead etc.The 250 is easier to ride on any type of twister track, my corner speed is ridiculously faster.

3. 250 sx is much more fun to ride, always have a smile on my face, not kidding, just so much fun.

bottom line, 350 is a good bike, but I enjoy the 250sx more, I am also much faster on the 250 except for southwick...hope that helps.


11/22/2018 8:07 AM

You're fine with either. Don't overthink it. With either one, it'll be the skill holding you back, not the bike.

With the SX you'll probably get a better deal and is cheaper to rebuild.


11/22/2018 8:27 AM

I have a 250sx, great bike.... but sure would love to try a 350! Probably my '20 bike.


vomiting equals disqualification.

11/22/2018 8:34 AM

250sx is a very hard bike to ride "fast", 350sxf is a very easy bike to ride fast. But like somebody else pointed out its more about your skill level not as much difference between the bikes.


11/22/2018 8:43 AM

As a vet B racer who owned a 17 350 and has ridden a 17 250 sx several times, my recommendation would be the 350 all day. The bike is a hole shot machine for slow vets and super easy to ride. 250sx is an amazing bike but definitely more snappy and more difficult to ride when you’re gassed out. The 350 is just super smooth power delivery and won’t punish you. I also had put a rekluse radius cx on the 350 and it became the ultimate lazy man’s bike...but don’t get me wrong the bike is incredibly fast. The 250sx feels far more agile around the track but if you’re looking to put in several consistent laps at a novice level, I think the 350 is the safe bet.


11/22/2018 8:44 AM

I'm a XXL guy and ride an 17 FC450. My friend has a 17 KTM SX350. He has a 50T sprocket and the rest of his bike is stock. If I had ridden a 350 before I bought my 450 I would have had to make a tough decision. It is about feel more than outright power and to me the 350 had both. The 350 has actually been improved since 17 to deliver a little more midrange power.


The older I get, the faster I was.

11/22/2018 8:45 AM

I do run a clutch weight and 49t on my 250sx, definitely smooths things out, but more than likely still harsher than a 350 when you are old and tired.


vomiting equals disqualification.