KTM Freeride 350: light is right

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This new KTM Freeride 350 weighs just 99.5kg/219lbs without fuel, which changes absolutely everything you thought you knew about dirt performance. That weight comes not from a kiddie-size mini dirt bike, but a street-legal enduro fitted with high-spec components like fully-adjustable, USD, 43mm WP forks. Together with all the other cleverness, that should open up the sport to more new riders and generally just make taking to the trails much easier for everyone. Of all the EICMA bikes, this is the one I’m most excited about.

A clever thing
: the exhaust routes under the engine, but between the frame tubes, then out two exits within the width of the tail section. You’ll have to try very hard to damage that.

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 KTM Freeride E electric dirt bike. That common specification is no coincidence, this 350 and those electrics were likely developed together. Shared R&D + shared components = lower cost. No price has yet been set.

Another clever thing: the footpegs are mounted to an eccentric adjuster allowing you to move them fore and aft to alter ergonomics, traction and handling.

YouTube Preview ImageThis is freestyle trials master Julien Dupont. Nice job hiring him for the Freeride’s ad campaign.

The 350 four-stroke is in a fairly mild state-of-tune, developing just 23bhp. That’s no bad thing on a bike targeted at less experienced riders; maintenance intervals and intensity should be far lower than other more powerful, but also more high-strung KTM race bikes. More power should also be easy to find, each exhaust can contains a catalytic converter. Ditch that and you’ll save a healthy amount of weight while gaining appreciable power.

Yet another clever thing: a bar-mounted switch allows you to swap engine maps on the fly. This makes the bike simultaneously accessible to n00bs, responsive for faster riders and allows anyone to select good fuel economy or max power as needed.

KTM adopted a very practical approach to designing this bike. The seat is designed to be sat on over long distances, extra steering lock was built in for tight traffic or trails, contact patches between bike and rider have had their area maximized. The seat is a relatively low 35.2 inches, a height that keeps the bike accessible without making it too small.

Beginning with the 350 EXC-F motor, KTM engineers decreased the size of the airbox, swapped Ti valves for steel, ditched the kick starter, crank cases are now made from lighter die-cast aluminum. The result is lower power, but a healthy torque curve. Again, emphasis on the accessible. A new hydraulic clutch should have an extra-light throw.

The Freeride 350 isn’t designed to win an expert enduro, it’s designed to offer a less serious, more fun alternative without losing much in the way of capability. In making dirt riding accessible, it looks absolutely perfect.

  • http://www.anotherdamndj.com evilbahumut

    I hear what you’re saying about the accessibility Wes, but did they give an estimate on price? KTM usually prices themselves in that “exclusive” category consistently and constantly.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      If there was a price it’d be in the article. KTM has been competing very, very hard on prices lately…

    • http://vtbmwmov.org Eben

      I’m thinking the same thing. It sounds great, but with plenty of used WR250R’s selling for around $4K pretty regularly and XT225′s for half of that, it needs a newbie price tag if it’s going to appeal to actual dual-sport newbies.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        I’d like to see it come in around $7k.

        • http://vtbmwmov.org Eben

          If it’s closer to $6K, I think they could make it work.

  • ike6116

    That video is awesome. Also this bike is awesome.

    • tomwito


  • Will Y

    Just waiting on a number to put in this cheque I have written to KTM…

  • DoctorNine

    If you can’t have fun on a bike like this, you can’t have fun.

  • Frosty_spl

    Is it the equivalent of a Xr 230? Will it keep experts entertained?

    *edit* just watched the video, looks pretty sick!

  • dux

    I sure hope it has a long top gear! It could be my next dual sport

  • Beale

    It reminds me of a modern take on the old Honda TL250 trials bikes.

  • http://plugbike.com/ skadamo

    Still wondering how they are cutting 13 lbs of weight from the 350 SX-F while adding stator, wiring and headlight, etc.

    Looks like a damn good time!

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

      Significantly smaller and lighter duty (though still quality) suspension and chassis. This thing isn’t designed for 70 ft triples or desert racing. Case in point, it runs 43mm forks with (I’m guessing) 7-8″ of travel vs the 48mm forks with 12″ of travel spec’d on the big bikes.

      Probably tons of fun for the majority of riders that will never take the big hits the pros do… maybe even more fun than the big bikes.

      • http://plugbike.com/ skadamo

        Pretty amazing that you can shave that much weight designing from the ground up.

        That shorter travel is probably tuned in a way that no one will miss the big travel MX suspension. I guess you could send your forks and shock in to be tuned this way but probably won’t get the same quality.

        I like where this is going even more now.

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

          Yeah, the HFL text is actually kind of off. This actually IS a mini dirt bike – it doesn’t use full size wheels, tires, etc. But anyone who’s dicked around on an XR100 knows they’re an absolute blast, and would make for ridiculously trialsy fun if they were street legal.

          • Sean Smith

            Hm, my XR100 is street legal. It’s got a racing pedigree too ;)

  • Jørn Hindklev

    Any guess for serviceintervals for this thing? Can it also be used for commuting monday to friday?

  • Ben

    I’m all for light weight, but my 20 year old air cooled suzuki DR350S has 30 hp– 7 more than this lump.

  • markbvt

    Holy crap, I want one!

  • David Dawson

    Can’t wait to see what the gearing looks like and how high the electrical output is. If it can do highway with reasonable comfort and power my heated jacket, along with better than decent woods performance, I think I’ve found the replacement for my WR250R.

  • tomwito

    I want one, but I also want it in the same location as that video. Where is that, Austria? Those are serious trails.

  • Denzel

    I am a sucker for this type of marketing… Get this bike and look what you can do with it… the fact I’m not Julien doesn’t really register…

  • Samuel

    I can’t wait to see how the guys at advrider.com manage to slap panniers on this thing and ride it from Casablanca to Cape Town.

    When there are already thousands of posts on there about the WR250R, you know one of those crazies is going to put the ADV twist on this machine.

  • Taco

    That video is cool. However a 35in seat height: FAIL. How’s my short stubby ass gonna swing a leg over this bike and get both feet on the ground?

    • Claus

      Taco, how will u get on an EXC?

  • incon

    Await $$$ & service times.