What a crazy year 2015 was, the highlight was the entire Flats Movie adventure to the center of South Australia, it was this time last year that Matthew Cox and I decided to do it, the planning process begun and the 2012 KTM 350 SX-f I was riding would be pulled down and built into what is now the 350cc Land Speed Record holder.
In the wake of the adventure was the aftermath of broken and tired motorcycles. I washed down the Land Speed Race bike a number of times in an attempt to save it from the salt corrosion, the wiring loom and ECU was the first to go, the throttle body linkages seized, the bearings started to become stiff and at that point my 2012 KTM 350 SX-f was merely a garage ornament.
It was the bike that allowed me to get lost in the forest whenever I wanted to, that bike gave me the biggest thrill of them all and now after having it sit dorement in the garage left a big hole in my getaway plans.
Funnily enough though I met the crew from Peter Stevens Motorcycles up at the Salt Flats, they were campaigning a Triumph that was making big moves in the speed and style department, we chatted about a lot things throughout the event and ever since then I have kept in touch, it paid off!
As soon as the 2016 KTM range hit the showroom floors I was blown away at the advances that KTM had made in an already perfect motorcycle. There isnt a motorcycle manufacturer out there that upgrades its equipment as frequently as KTM, the new 350SX-f is just that, all new.
So when I struck up a conversation with the Peter Stevens crew about my plans to get back onto a KTM motorcycle they listened.
Like a kid in a candy store they gave me a tour of the warehouse which is the backbone of their retail stores across Victoria and Australia, they threw me the keys to the forklift and went searching for a box that said 350 SX-F.
I found one, I’m not sure how they pack so much excitement, adventure and thrill into one little cardboard box but once assembled the 2016 KTM 350 SX-F is a marvel of modern engineering.
With a quick tap on the start button it fires to life and purs away, there’s over 50HP beneath me and a whole world of adventure to explore.
Its a surreal feeling rolling past the rows of motorcycles in boxs waiting for their own adventures, I cant thank Peter Stevens Motorcycles enough for the opportunity to start my ownership from the very beginning.
Back home and the realization of owning this brand new motorcycle starts to kick in.
It doesn’t end there though, Peter Stevens Motorcycles also has the finest brands of motorcycle gear and I was set to benefit with a Bell Moto 9 Carbon Flex helmet and Alpinestars Tech 10 boots, as if the bike needed any more top end they also gave me a Pro Circuit slip on muffler.
Just looking over the bike you start to realize just how serious this is, the engine is completely new compared to my 2012 KTM 350 Land Speed Racer. When you read a little deeper into the details you begin to understand that this is a very serious and pure factory motocross bike.
Having been involved in a lot of racecar builds and trying to comprehend the amount of engineering gone into these machines you start to put these bikes in the Formula One category for two wheels.
Every detail is faultless.
Its a precision machine that gets put through an extreme amount of abuse.
With the thumb operated launch control switch activated it engages an engine management map to give you more control over the power delivery, once you ride one you will understand that gaining traction is not as simple as you may think.
I could stare at it all day but that would be an insult to its ability.
The first ride location was different to any other we had been.
A paddock overlooking the bay in the Bellerine Peninsula.
On a perfect Summer Saturday afternoon.
So hows it ride?
I would say brutal if everything didn’t feel so well balanced.
The engines power is extreme, its response is mind blowing and its power doesn’t end till 13,500rpm!
But what is equally impressive is everything around the bike is as good as the engine, the suspension, brakes and handling all gave me the confidence to push harder than I ever have.
The grip from the Dunlop tyres make any mountain an option and any corner a speed test.
As the sun dropped so did my energy levels.
I was surprised though, the bike didn’t beat me up, it feels so light, it is so light, its almost amazing that it has the power to weight ratio that it does.
I cant wait to spend my days on top of this motorcycle, improve my ability as a rider, maintain and care for this equipment and most of all have a good time on two wheels, its good to be back and its good to have a truly capable motorcycle back in my life again, 2016 is all about making the most of my time and doing more of what I love, the introduction of this bike allows me to get away when I need to and return to concentrate on the things that matter.
Oh and before you ask…. no I am not going to modify this one, its perfect the way it is, I have a 4 wheel project that needs my time and attention.
KTM 350 SX-F Straight out of the box! from Engineered To Slide on Vimeo.
Huge thanks to Dean Walters for his work on the photos, the guys at Peter Stevens and Lee Turner for that little edit.