The Best Woods Bike Shootout


61 replies to this topic
  • mikem

Posted January 30, 2007 - 12:20 PM

#1

Heard about this test and article held at a local riding area. Thought it was one of the best articles on the subject I've ever seen. No, I don't work for KTM or for the Riding Area. I wish the mags did more of this kind of thing in their shootouts:

WOODS BIKE SHOOTOUT - Jan 28, 2007

Wouldn't it be interesting to do a real world woods bike shootout? Something never done before, that would really give us some answers? The age old “which bike is best in the woods” argument is just as strong today as it ever was, and you can usually hear it anytime woods riders get together for a little bench racing. It's all about which brand and size is best, and whether or not a 2-stroke or 4-stroke is best. Like a KDX200 vs. a KTM 200XCW vs. a WR250F. Take your pick of brand, size, strokes. A pretty good argument can be made for all of them.

The playing field is changing, however, with the excellent woods specific bikes now available from KTM. The argument is no longer always about different brands and how they stack up. Now the argument can often be centered around which KTM is better - a 2-stroke or 4-stroke KTM, small displacement or large displacement. Depending on who you talk to, the KTM's are King, or they have crap suspension, or they handle great, or they won't turn, or they are junk compared to the Jap bikes, and the list goes on and on. Ask nine riders and you will get nine different answers. Or will you? What if you put a group of nine riders together in a woods bike shootout with their own bikes, and the 2007 KTM woods specific bikes – the XCW series – to see just how things would sort out? Would we learn anything worthwhile? There's only one way to find out.

OK, that sounds great - a real world woods bike shootout like no one has done before! A group of riders on their personally prepared bikes and the new KTM woods bikes, but that's a tall order. Who is going to pull it off and where would you hold a shootout like that? Well, there is no place better than the north Georgia mountains to test a woods bike, and there is no riding place in Georgia better than Highland Park . Many of the riders that frequent Highland Park often ask “what make s a KTM so good? Why do so many people buy KTM's for woods riding?” So Highland Park and KTM World founder Paul Wright decided to do a real world woods bike test with nine riders and 13 motorcycles. The bikes in the test were a mix of personal bikes owned by the nine test riders, and four 2007 KTM XCW models



A top rated, fun, and thoroughly challenging off-road park, Highland Park (HighlandParkResort.com) is located near historic Cedartown , GA. A favorite destination for dirt bike enthusiasts from all over the East Coast, Highland Park has trails rated from one to five diamonds, and the trail map says the four diamond trails are “expert only”. Five diamond trails are for “Supermen, fresh tires only”. Oh, and add 2 diamonds if conditions are wet! This is not your typical ho-hum riding area. There are easy and moderate trials, but the hardest trails are a challenge for even the most seasoned woods riders.

Getting to Highland Park is a scenic drive out into the north Georgia hills, down a one lane road, and just when you think the road cannot get any worse, the so-called pavement ends and it becomes a dirt road. After a quarter mile on the narrow and winding dirt road, just as you are absolutely sure you made a wrong turn somewhere, you come upon the privacy fencing and sign at the Highland Park entrance. Turning in the graveled drive takes you past a pond and up the drive where you come through a stand of pines and it suddenly opens up into a large registration parking area and you see a to see building - far bigger than you expected - that has a distinct country theme with natural cedar tree posts holding up the tin porch roof. Very cool.

Once inside you discover a large wood walled showroom absolutely filled with dirt bike goodies, and there are new KTM's everywhere. KTM accessories are also everywhere – exhausts, sweatshirts, key chains, jackets, skid pans, hats, wallets, you name it. To the rear is a long wooden parts counter with rows of tall parts shelving behind it, filled with KTM parts. You see, Highland Park is also home to KTM World (ktmworld.com), one of the largest KTM facilities anywhere. Highland Park and KTM World compliment each other, and you can stop in to go riding, buy a KTM, rent a KTM for the day, get your bike's suspension serviced, pick up some new riding gear, and a lot more. Truly a unique place for off-road enthusiasts.

KTM World provided four 2007 KTM woods bikes, a 200XCW, 250XCW, 300XCW, and 400XCW, pulled right out of the rental fleet. They were all showroom stock except for the nice Scott's steering dampers. The rental bikes were very nice, perfectly prepped, and had new or almost new Pirelli intermediates at both ends. Very nice. And you can just drive up 7 days a week and rent these bikes? Man, that is simply amazing, and the cost is far less than you would imagine.

Highland Park provided the testing facility and organized nine woods riders to come out on a brisk Sunday morning in January to ride their own bikes and the four 2007 KTM's. The test riders are all competent riders, ages 33 to 49, with skill levels ranging from C up to A, and most race now or have raced in the past. The test riders personal bikes included a built 480cc Honda CRF450 set up for woods use, a more standard CRF450, a Kawasaki KDX220, Yamaha WR400F, and a Honda CR250R set up for woods use, plus a 06 KTM 250XC, an 05 and 06 KTM 450 EXC , and a 06 KTM 400 EXC .

Commenting on the test, Wright explained “the idea was to ride the much improved 2007 KTM's just like anyone can buy, and see how they faired against nine well prepared bikes owned by the test riders, including some pretty nice one and two year old KTM's. I wanted big bikes, small bikes, 2-strokes, and 4-strokes, plus riders with various skill levels to make this test as real as it gets, and the results as real as it gets.”

When asked about the test loop riders would have to negotiate, Wright said “I put together a good 8 mile loop with varying terrain. A special test section, some fast dirt roads, a mix of tight single track and faster trails, and a hill climb or two. We needed a little bit of everything to really test the riders and the machines.”

The shootout began with a riders meeting, then everyone went outside to the start/finish area and all test riders were given a questionnaire to complete just before going out for a their first test loop. Questions ranged from “What size bike do prefer for woods use” to “Which bike do you think you will ride fastest”, and “Do you prefer 2-strokes or 4-strokes”. Each rider would do the approximately 8 mile loop on his own bike, then a loop on each of the 2007 KTM's, then a final loop on their own bike, with the first and last loop on their personal bikes averaged together.

Riders left in 5 minute intervals, and each test loop was timed, but the riders were never allowed to see their times! When asked about this, Wright explained “I want the riders to ride each bike as best they can, and give us good feedback on the questionnaires after each test ride, without knowledge of which bike they rode fastest. I want to compile data that is not biased by the rider knowing he did well or poorly on any particular bike, including his own. I thought it best to keep their times secret until after the testing and all questionnaires were completed. We may find some very interesting results by the end of the day!”

TEST RESULTS
We are going to come right out and tell you the results were more than just interesting. They were eye-popping. In the initial questionnaire, 7 of the 9 riders said they thought a 4-stoke was best, and more than half thought an open class bike was best. A few went with a 250, and no one thought a 200 was best. When asked which bike they would ride fastest, most thought they would be fastest on their own bike, rather than a KTM they had never ridden before, and 33% thought they would be fastest on the 2007 KTM 400XCW. Seven of the nine riders also thought they would likely be fastest on a 4-stroke rather than a 2-stroke. They were, to a person, absolutely wrong.

The test results showed that every single person rode a 2007 KTM faster than their own bike, even with no previous experience on the KTM. All but one rider rode ALL FOUR 2007 KTMs faster than they rode their own bike. The exception was one rider that already owned a KTM, and he was still faster on three of the four 2007 KTMs than he was on his own bike. And in that one case, the rider's lap time on his own 450 KTM was only 6 seconds faster than the time he posted on the 2007 KTM 200.

Let's go over that again, because the results are astonishing. All of the nine test riders went faster on every 2007 KTM in the test, 2-stroke, 4-stroke, 200cc to 400cc, than they did on their own bike, with the single exception being one rider going a mere 6 seconds faster on his own KTM one time while testing the four 2007 KTM XCW woods specific bikes. That definitely raised an eyebrow or two as the test results were tabulated.

After each test lap, the riders had to rate each of the 2007 KTM's. Categories to rate included suspension, motor, handling/turning, and brakes. Riders were also asked if they liked the bike, if they felt comfortable on it, and if they thought they could ride it well. On average, amongst all nine riders, the 2007 KTM's received consistent high marks in every category. Of interest, the morning started off rather slick and muddy, but by the end of the day, there was some dust in the air in a few places. All testers rated the excellent intermediate Pirelli tires very high in the “Tire effectiveness” category, which considering the changing traction conditions over the course, and over the course of the day, is pretty impressive. Hats off to Pirelli for a true all-terrain tire that every rider in the test thought worked very well.

Despite the riders saying they thought a four stroke was best, the 2007 KTM 300XCW was the top rated bike in the shootout, with a score of 97.6 from the questionnaires filled out by the riders after a lap on the 300. The clock said one rider went fastest on the 300, and 4 riders went second fastest on the 300. Every rider was impressed with the 300, and not a single rider one turned a slow time on the KTM 300. Comments were typically about “super light weight for an open class bike” and “amazingly smooth power delivery”. We know from experience the KTM 300XCW is a great bike that is easy to like, and every test rider confirmed it.

Everyone in our group of riders loved the KTM 400XCW, it was very highly rated by all testers, coming in second to the KTM 300 with a score of 95.1. Test riders commented that the 400 was easy to ride and felt very comfortable to them right away, with very compliant suspension and great handling everywhere except the tightest trails. Despite the very positive comments and high ratings, the KTM 400 was only fastest for one of the riders. Most riders posted their third or fourth fastest lap time on the 400, but judging from their comments, they obviously enjoyed every minute of it!

The 2007 KTM 250XCW came in with a score of 94.5, as rated by the test riders after their lap on the well liked 250. The riders had nothing but praise for the overall package offered by the 250 KTM, and all but one of the riders posted good lap times on it. The 250 came in as the second or third fastest bike for many of the test riders, but 33% of the riders picked it as the bike they felt they rode the fastest in the shootout. Comments on the KTM 250 were often about how well it did everything and anything, and it was the second most popular choice in the “Which bike would you buy” category.

Most riders said they really liked the KTM 200, and it scored high marks when riders were asked “which bike do you feel most comfortable on”, “Which bike was best in tight woods”, and the KTM 200XCW was number one in the “Which bike would you buy” category. Contrary to these positive answers, our riders rated the 200 lowest of the group in feedback and feel, power, suspension, and how well the bike stayed planted. Most testers felt it was underpowered and lacked adequate suspension to really go fast. The 2-stroke KTM 200XCW had an average rating of 92.30 from our riders. Remember that in the initial questionnaire, riders said 4-strokes were best, open class bike were best, and not a single rider said they thought they would like the 200 best. However, five of the nine riders turned their fastest lap of the day on the KTM 200, and a sixth rider was only a few seconds from recording his best lap on the 200! Several riders went 2 to 3 minutes faster on the 200 than their own bike, and one rider cut a lap time 4 minutes faster on the KTM 200 compared to their own bike.

Consider that our average rider weighed 196.88 lbs, far too heavy for the stock suspension on the ultra light 200, and every single test rider owned a bike bigger than the 200cc KTM, most owning a 450 four stroke, but they still went fastest on the KTM 200XCW the first time they ever rode it!

CONCLUSION
With test results showing every rider went faster their first time ever riding the 2007 KTM's than they did on their own bike, even with no suspension changes for the average rider weight of 197 lbs, you have to wonder how fast they would be on a 2007 KTM, especially the KTM 200, with the suspension set up for their weight.

Then again, maybe there is not too much to wonder about. There would likely be more riders in our group winning their class at the local Enduro or Hare Scramble, or at least whipping up on their buddies on the next trail ride.. Did we answer the question of which brand and which size bike, 2-stroke or 4-stroke is best? Despite popular belief that a big 4-stroke is best, the stop watch does not lie, and our test showed the 2-stroke KTM 200 makes most riders a hero, right out of the box, first ride, and the KTM 300 is right on it's heels for making a hero out of a typical rider.

Pictures coming soon!



MANY THANKS TO OUR TEST RIDERS:
Eric Jackson
Don Maurer
Chuck Ingram
David Chapman
Mark Klein
Steve Anderson
Paul Rushlow
Brant Sanderlin
Eddie Faulkner


Back to home page

  • Mx Life293

Posted January 30, 2007 - 12:55 PM

#2

they should wait for kawi's 450 off road bik to come out and do a shoot out for best 450 off road bike... kawis 450 looks NIICE!

  • 450X22

Posted January 30, 2007 - 12:59 PM

#3

Now if the test was held in California my KTM XCF315W would be the winner.

  • aikiman22

Posted January 30, 2007 - 01:13 PM

#4

The whole thing sounds like KTM propoganda to me.

  • burgunder

Posted January 30, 2007 - 01:16 PM

#5

Mx Life293 ---- what?

mikem ---- Very, very good post. I just goes to show what people think and what is actually true are two completely different things. I think a lot of it has to do with the industry promoting the big 4 strokes. People truely think that you "need" a modern 450 to be fast. It is simply not true. Just look at the post following yours.

"wait for kawi's 450 off road bik to come out and do a shoot out for best 450 off road bike"

The misconception is that the 450 4 strokes are the fastest. I am sure that the Kawisaki 450fx is a nice bike, but i would be willing to bet that most people would be faster on a 200-300cc 2 stroke. Thanks you for posting this. It was very informative.

  • Cozza

Posted January 30, 2007 - 01:21 PM

#6

Mike, great article, very informative!!

  • Danceswithtrees

Posted January 30, 2007 - 01:40 PM

#7

I'm very surprised they didn't have a 250 XCF-W given the popularity of the bike and 250f's in general. I think the results would have been a little different if it had been included in the group.

  • 450X22

Posted January 30, 2007 - 01:46 PM

#8

I'm very surprised they didn't have a 250 XCF-W given the popularity of the bike and 250f's in general. I think the results would have been a little different if it had been included in the group.


KTM has quit advertizing/promoting the XCF250(W)s because they can't build enough.

  • YZ426F Rider

Posted January 30, 2007 - 01:54 PM

#9

I think the KTM XC-W's are great bikes...but the bikes they tested them against are hardly cream-of-the-crop woods bikes. I mean c'mon...they tested '07 KTMs against a WR400 for christsakes! Wow...faster lap times on a brand new 300XC-W than a 1999 WR400! Duh.

  • mikem

Posted January 30, 2007 - 02:26 PM

#10

I know one of the riders who rode in the test and called him for some verification. He said he thought the test was very legit. He said the promoter worked hard to include equal sections of wide open fireroads, tight knarly sections and a couple of wicked hill climb sections. He said they all rode the bikes in different orders so there was no order bias. He said no test is perfect, but this one was put together very well and there is no funny business in the results. He rides a highly modified CRF450.
He said the only two out of date bikes were the WR400 and the KDX. The rest were fairly recent bikes and several had significant mods. He said that even if you take out the data regarding the non-KTM bikes, the results were still very informative in his opinion.

  • greeny

Posted January 30, 2007 - 02:33 PM

#11

if it wasnt your bike wouldnt you ride it harder????

  • NWetRider

Posted January 30, 2007 - 03:00 PM

#12

So the riders were not allowed to know their actual times, only KTM World founder Paul Wright. Then he told them told they were all fastest on 07 KTM's.

Maybe Mr. Wright is a very honest man but someone with no interest in promoting 07 KTM's should have done the time keeping.

  • mikem

Posted January 30, 2007 - 03:18 PM

#13

NWetRider:

You bring up some good info and points. I heard the same thing today - he does own the local KTM dealership near the riding area. But, the KTM only results, if you take out the other bikes, seem interesting to me by themselves. My friend who rides a highly modified CRF450 and was part of the test said he feels like his bike can beat most of the stock KTM 4 strokes, but one thing he is sure of: He was definately fastest overall on the KTM200 and he would have never guessed that before the test.

FYI - I ride a Yamaha and don't know Mr. Wright personally. My friend says he is a highly regarded individual in the industry and local dirt bike community around here.

  • NWetRider

Posted January 30, 2007 - 03:28 PM

#14

NWetRider:

You bring up some good info and points. I heard the same thing today - he does own the local KTM dealership near the riding area. But, the KTM only results, if you take out the other bikes, seem interesting to me by themselves. My friend who rides a highly modified CRF450 and was part of the test said he feels like his bike can beat most of the stock KTM 4 strokes, but one thing he is sure of: He was definately fastest overall on the KTM200 and he would have never guessed that before the test.

FYI - I ride a Yamaha and don't know Mr. Wright personally. My friend says he is a highly regarded individual in the industry and local dirt bike community around here.


I don't doubt the results so much but think some effort should have gone into removing any conflicts of interest. I bet most people are faster on smaller bikes then they have. I would like to see this test with the additions of KTM's 250f, Hondas CRF 250x, a Gasgas 2t, Husky 4t, a yz250 and maybe even a 125 of some sort.

  • rideblueforever

Posted January 30, 2007 - 03:36 PM

#15

The whole thing sounds like KTM propoganda to me.


yup, i agree. a wr400? How about putting a yamaha that wasnt ancient in the mix. Notice no YZ250, or a YZ250f in the test. Why? Well because things would then not work out in KTM's favor when everyone picks and turns in better time on the yamahas.
Damn, I hate KTM. They remind me of amway or something. A big pyramid of propaganda, only the top people make out(manufacturer) while the brainwashed users(yup, you orange riders) suffer with a crap product and try to push more of said crap product on other people. :ride:

  • FLboy

Posted January 30, 2007 - 03:46 PM

#16

yup, i agree. a wr400? How about putting a yamaha that wasnt ancient in the mix. Notice no YZ250, or a YZ250f in the test. Why? Well because things would then not work out in KTM's favor when everyone picks and turns in better time on the yamahas.
Damn, I hate KTM. They remind me of amway or something. A big pyramid of propaganda, only the top people make out(manufacturer) while the brainwashed users(yup, you orange riders) suffer with a crap product and try to push more of said crap product on other people. :ride:


You have to be kidding??? With that much hate for KTM spewing out... I'd say you are a closet KTM lover. No need to hide it... it's okay.

  • mikem

Posted January 30, 2007 - 03:48 PM

#17

Here a link to the thread on the Georgia Off-road forum where the test riders are discussing the results. Might be interesting reading to those in the details. I agree. I would like to see some other smaller bikes tested also. Such as 250f's and other 250 two strokes.

http://www.georgiaof...der=asc&start=0

Here is a link to the original thread where Mr. Wright and other riders were discussing the test and inviting riders. Sounds like his main goal was to test 4 stroke vs. 2 stroke (and of course get some good PR for his riding area and dealership).

http://www.georgiaof...pic.php?t=20266

  • burgunder

Posted January 30, 2007 - 04:09 PM

#18

I ride a 05 yz125, just sold a 03 yz250f both set up for Harescramble style riding. I am a die hard Yamaha rider, and will "rideblueforever" and I can say that even I think a stock KTM (woods) bike is better than any Stock Yamaha made. Everybody that gets a WR has to modifiy it into a yz (grey wire, throttle stop). There is even a web site on how to do it. A Ktm is set up for woods riding were MX bikes are not. And, does anybody really fing it hard to believe that 450f's are not fast in the tight woods. I thought the article was great and I think more information like this, the better we are.

Rideblueforever, I think you are a closet KTM lover.:ride:

  • Drfletcherdc

Posted January 30, 2007 - 04:48 PM

#19

I had a KTM 300 EXC. I hated it. I had the suspension done and it still sucked. I ended up getting a YZ 250 set up for supercross and it blew away the KTM 300. I am amazed that people flash toward the pretty colors the way they do despite the inherent flaws of the KTM. Some people like to buy bikes with built in excuses.

  • wheels7

Posted January 30, 2007 - 05:07 PM

#20

thats why i bought my gasgas 300xc rather than the ktm 300. Dare to be different, (like all the ktm guys i guess, isnt that why they buy them because they are different?)





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