KTM Freeride 350: accessible off-roading

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At just 99kg/218lbs, this all-new KTM Freeride 350 is set to create a new type of dirt bike. Not only is this four-stroke’s weight roughly equivalent to the Austrian firm’s two-stroke 125 enduro, but it comes in a street-legal package fitted with high-end components like WP suspension and radial brakes. Think of it as the ultimate in accessible dirt performance, eliminating traditional barriers like high cost and high frequency maintenance and a focus on outright race ability at the expense of broad appeal. It’s headed to North America in 2013.

Also, a street-legal, four-stroke 350? That sounds an awful lot like the kind of motor that could power the upcoming KTM 350 Duke and Moto3 replica.

The Freeride achieves that extreme light weight by employing a hybrid steel tube/forged aluminum frame with a self-supporting monocoque tail. Think the Freeride name sounds familiar? That’s no coincidence. This is the exact frame and aluminum swingarm used by the upcoming KTM Freeride electric dirt bikes. That common specification is no coincidence, this 350 and those upcoming electrics were likely developed together. Shared R&D + shared components = lower cost. Come to think of it, it’s about time we heard something about those electric KTMs and the EICMA show is coming up next month…


This electric Freeride uses an identical frame, swingarm and self-supporting seat/tail.

Of this new Freeride 350, KTM says, “The aim was to create a bike on offroad wheels that could master the same challenges as a KTM EXC, but with significantly less effort and energy. So the Freeride 350 is a playful and feather light Enduro to really enjoy and no extreme competition machine.”

That’s not to say the bike isn’t capable, KTM addresses that fear by stating, “the Freeride 350 meets the expectations of a genuine KTM even during a hard ride on tough terrain.”

And discussing its potential market, KTM says, “the Freeride 350, available in Spring 2012, is an invitation to all those who have until now had no contact with this fascinating sport. Never has it been easier to get into riding an Enduro.”

And that seems like a currently unaddressed sweet spot in the market to us. Take me, for example. I’ve always dabbled in dirt bikes, but have never seriously pursued riding them on a regular basis. As a result I’m not what you’d call…good. I’d really, really like to get good, but there’s not a lot of a bikes out there that could help me. Smaller capacity KTMs aren’t road legal or would rattle apart even on short street rides, while the big 450s are simply too fucking scary. As someone new to the sport, the cost of getting involved is also intimidating. 40-hour engine tear downs add up. Small dual sports like the Yamaha WR250R aren’t quite as capable as I’d like while being tipping the scales at just enough weight (292lbs) to be intimidating on really difficult terrain (or at least difficult enough to scare this street rider).

Here’s a quick performance comparison to other accessible dirt bikes. The three aren’t exactly direct competitors as the KTM is more of an enduro than a dual sport, but this’ll help provide context.

Suzuki DR-Z400S
Power 40bhp
Weight 144kg
BHP:KG .278

Yamaha WR250R
Power 28bhp
Weight 135kg
BHP:KG .207

KTM Freeride 350
Power 24bhp
Weight 99kg
Power-to-Weight .242

The light weight of the Freeride combined with an easy-to-use, flexible, low-maintenance four-stroke at, presumably, an accessible price and quality components just sounds perfect. Easy enough to get fast on and fast enough to ride hard once I am fast. Grant and Sean are snickering right now. If this Freeride is the bike I think it is, I’ll buy one as soon as it arrives on these shores.

That motor looks very, very similar on the exterior to that used by the KTM 350 EXC-F, but here makes only 24bhp and is equipped with two exhausts to bring down noise and emissions for the road. In comparison, the KTM 125 Duke makes 15bhp and weighs 282lbs. Returning again to the concept of sharing R&D, KTM has already gone through the expense and process of making this motor street legal and setting up production processes for it. With other 350s — the North America bound KTM 350 Duke and KTM Moto3 350 — on the horizon, it could make sense to share this motor across multiple platforms.

  • wascostreet

    This is exactly what I’m looking for, and for the same reasons. I may actually knuckle down and buy a *new* motorcycle next year. Can’t wait for more details!

  • Ben

    So it makes about the same power as the WR250R? I’m bummed. I was hoping for the power of the DRZ with the weight of a WR.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      24 reliable horsepower at 99kg? This thing isn’t going to be slow.

      • Ben

        It’s not going to be fast either. Throw a 200 pound rider on top of each bike and the hp/kg becomes nearly Identical. I guess I’ll be keeping my 400 EXC and WR250R for awhile.

        • Dennis

          Indeed!

          Calculating power to weight ratio without including a rider and gear would be like, well, calculating total cost of ownership without counting tires, maintenance, gear and insurance for the rider and the bike. *cough* Wes *cough*

          • Coreyvwc

            Then don’t be 200 pounds?

            • Dennis

              Then do the math with a rider who only weights 150 pounds with gear. The point holds.

            • Ben

              I’m from Wisconsin. We’re corn fed.

              • tomwito

                Don’t forget the cheese!

          • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

            Doing it sans rider is simply the simplest and most objective comparison. Numbers will never present a complete picture. For instance, I’m hoping for fat power and torque curves from the KTM, which could help make up for its relative lack of power next to the WR.

            • DoctorNine

              True. The other part of maneuverability that we need to emphasize here, is the physical size of the machine. Since it is so dimensionally small, it will be able to go on trails that would be difficult, even for the Suzuki that you compare it to above. This thing is little larger than a heavy mountain bike. That will pay huge dividends in capabilities, which the simple power/weight ratio comparison doesn’t capture.

  • Thomas

    Here’s to hopping the subframe is strong enough/ or can be reinforced enough to take some luggage. Sounds like this would be the ultimate transamerican trail bike.

    • http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=305107 stickfigure

      Having just ridden the western half of the TAT 2-up on a 990, I can confidently say that a bike this small would *not* be great for the trail. The overwhelming majority of the TAT is high-speed dirt and gravel, with a few sandy sections here and there to keep it interesting.

      Maybe the part east of CO is different, but I’d say the perfect bike for the TAT is a Husky TE630 or KTM 690E. The TAT “adventure” is overstated.

      This Freeride sounds like a cool bike though.

  • Ceolwulf

    It’ll be pretty disappointing if the Moto3 only makes 24hp …

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    I am glad I am not the only one who things 450s are terrifying.

    • DoctorNine

      Always remember, if you choose a steed with cojones that are distinctly bigger than yours, things can get out of hand very quickly. Learning how to use the spurs is best done on a smaller mount, because trying that stuff on a bigger beast may result in unintended surgery for the rider. Just saying.

      • pplassm

        Meh. I ride a 525. Bwahaha!

        • raphmay

          4-stokes are not terrifying….ride a 380 EXC 2-stroke, or better still a KX500, CR500 or IT490 if you want to know what terror or dirt feels like

          • pplassm

            I’ve owned all of those. The 380 was the most terrifying. In the woods, anyway. The IT was a pussycat. Had to put a YZ piston in it and cut 10mm out of the head pipe to make it pull. KX was cumbersome. CR was/is the best of the bunch.

  • george_fla

    Hey Ducati, this is how you combine steel and alum. parts to make a eye pleasing frame. Please take note and restore some dignity to the “Monster” name.
    Does this mean that KTM will not be releasing the 350EXC in street legal trim here in the USA?

    • pplassm

      I thought it was on their 2012 release sheet.

      • george_fla

        It is but ill believe it when they hit our shores and are out for the taking. lol

  • jeremy

    Husqvarna TE250?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      A dedicated race bike that’s not street legal and requires hefty maintenance.

      • http://vtbmwmov.org Eben

        The TE250 and TE310 are street-legal. They might require more maintenance, but you can definitely put a plate on them out-of-the-box, even in California.

        • Frosty_spl

          Yep, my dad just got a TE250. Sweet little bike.

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          I think that comparison misses the positioning of this particular bike. After all, KTM already has 250 enduros, MX bikes etc.

          Accessibility comes from simplicity, the light weight, the relatively mild tune of the engine. This isn’t meant to be raced, it’s meant to be enjoyed.

  • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D

    Screw dirt riding, that thing is light enough to carry into your apartment at night! That right there is worth the price of entry.

  • markbvt

    Want!

  • Beale

    Will the street legal version be available in the US?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Since the US availability is based on that leaked dealer meeting slide, it’s hard to say. KTM NA may very well decide not to homologate it for US roads, but I hope they do.

    • pplassm

      KTM already announced a 350EXC that will be available before the end of the year. This bike is different, however.

  • Devin

    If you had to take a guess, what would you say the top end freeway speed would be?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      1. This isn’t a dedicated dual-sport a la WR250R. That means it won’t be geared so high and its chassis geometry may not be great for high-speed stability. That WR is already pretty…loose.

      2. The WR250R pulls about 96mph.

  • Beale

    I’m digging the old school looking dual downtube frame.

  • Kyle

    if this is the engine they’re gonna use for the 350 Duke whats the power to weight we’re looking at then? And also do bikes release like cars in that the 2013 model year will actually come out in 2012?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      There simply isn’t the data to answer that question.

      Yes, bike model years are typically launched in the previous year. So, for example, Adey is attending the 2012 R1 launch for us today and the bike will go on sale very soon.

  • http://twitter.com/metabomber Jesse

    While not the intent of the manufacture, I suspect this would make a bad ass motard.

    • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

      I was thinking the same… How would the commute be? Like flicking a big BMX between traffic, over curbs, unstoppable!

      • ursus

        Motard! At this low bike weight, combining the weight of the rider will have more affect on the overall power:weight ratio.
        The “KTM 350 Duke” and “Moto3″ links are not resolving.

  • http://mansgottado.tumblr.com/ gregorbean

    I’m curious what’s giving you guys the impression it’s going to be such an “accessible” price? And what ballpark are you thinking, price-wise, like $6000-7000 for the street model?

  • http://www.faster-faster.com fasterfaster

    218lbs is fucking insane. Huge props to KTM. To hit that kind of weight with any street legal bike is revolutionary. To do it with a 350F is just bonkers.

    • Scott-jay

      Lightweight and motorcycle belong together.

  • Jon B.

    Street Legal in CA and $5,500 or less and I’ll own my second KTM since my long-since-grenaded LC4 supermoto.

    • http://www.faster-faster.com fasterfaster

      Wouldn’t hold my breath on that price. The WR250X is $1000 more than that, and this is higher-end than the yammie.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        But, the Yen is very strong right now and KTM is being VERY competitive on pricing. I hope it’s $7k or less.

        • Jon B.

          Even 6,500.

  • http://www.amarokconsultants.com michael uhlarik

    New small motorcycles? That are light and reasonably priced? And they are desirable?

    God is Great!

    • Tobias Hermansson

      Hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more like it!

  • http://www.faster-faster.com fasterfaster

    One more note. It’s not actually the exact same frame as the electric freeride. The front steel tube frame is different – check the lower frame rails. That may mean different wheelbase and steering geometry as well… Any numbers from KTM?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Saw that. Not sure those aren’t sheilds on the electrics down tubes. No more info sadly, just 2 pics and a “hey, we made this!”

  • soban881

    This just went to the top of my list for future replacement of a DR350se… perfect size and perfect target audience. I think there is definitely a market for people looking for a modest trailbike – stratospheric power to weight isn’t everything. It’s light, and as long as it’s got some grunt, it’s all good. Sure, the DRZ-400 has more power, but having ridden through sand on one of those, I would gladly take the loss of some hp and >40kg.

  • stefano

    man on man this would would conquer nyc…err i mean those trails i might ride on

    • miles

      +1 with slicks and a pipe. Do it KTM NA.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cheese302 Cheese302

    been thinking my next adition to the stable would be a street legal off roader, so this may work. Looking forward to more news on this.

  • http://www.tripleclamp.net Sasha Pave

    I wonder if the engine could be brought up to spec to match the sxf engine? Or at least closer.

    Bravo to ktm for introducing a new category! This bike has huge potential.

  • zero

    Yeah, I was just thinking that this would be an awesome NYC bike. Ditch the knobbies for a good all-weather tire, put on sliders for when someone inevitably knocks it over and go.

    At 200lbs, I’m pretty sure I could move this down my building’s front steps and lock it with the bicycles. Take that, alternate side of the street parking!

  • http://plugbike.com/ skadamo

    Reminds me of the Scorpa T-Ride. I’d T one up. Looks like a blast.