KTM set out to make the perfect bike for when the conditions get extreme, tight and technical. What they came up with is the 2017 KTM 300 XC-W. When we got our hands on the new 300, we were excited to see that it isn’t just the same bike as the XC with an added headlight. In fact the bike is different in many ways, from the frame to the suspension, to the triple clamps, the 300 XC-W is its own, tight-trail-loving machine.
The heart of the 2017 KTM 300X C-W is all new and now features a counter balancer to help reduce vibration that has been an issue on KTM two-strokes for some time. The new engine is incredibly smooth, so much so that the front fender barley vibrates at all. On the previous 300, there was noticeable vibration transferred to the rider through the handlebar and foot pegs, but that is all gone now as the bike is silky smooth. The extremely low bottom end is unreal, it will pull and keep running from so low in the RPM range it’s surprising that the bike doesn’t stall. The pull from low to mid is very strong and torquey, this is where the bike makes most of its power. From mid to top the power tapers off, letting the rider know it’s time to shift, that’s not to say that it can’t scream if it needs to. We took the XC-W hill climbing and to our surprise we could upshift to 4th gear at the bottom of some hills and the 300 had no problem obliging us with enough power to pull us up almost the whole hill without the need to downshift.
The fork on the XC-W is the all new XPLOR, and it really shines when the going gets tough. On hacked up tight trails, and in rock gardens, the new spring fork works wonders. It has a slightly springy feel, but that results in a supple front end feel that doesn’t deflect and bounce off of rocks, instead, it rolls right over them. The PDS rear suspension also has a springy feel, but like the front end, that springy feel is welcomed in the rocks, as it keeps driving straight and over the obstacles instead of bouncing around and making the rider off balance. Both the front and rear of the bike are a bit on the soft side when the speed picks up, having a wallowy feeling in deep whoops and g-outs. That’s not to say it can’t be ridden fast, just that it has a tendency to bottom out somewhat easily and has a slight buck in the back after repeated hard hits.
A cool feature on the 2017 300 XC-W is that it has a stock headlight and tail light, which work well enough to get back from a long days ride that turned into night. It also comes stock with good ODI grips and quality handguards, although it would be nice if it came standard with a skid plate and spark arrestor. It’s great to see a manufacturer putting effort into the off-road two-stroke market, and also great to see they aren’t just marketing to the racer, and have a bike that is good for the do it all rider. Make sure to keep an eye out for an upcoming issue of Dirt Rider where we will be doing a comparison test between KTM’S 2017 300XC and the 300XC-W, to help our readers decide which bike meets their demands.