Test Ride: KTM 200EXC

Words: Shane Bruton/Andrew Boss   Photos: Richard Seck

Intro, by Editor ‘arris

Let us know if you’d like to see some more of this on CMG.

Always willing to try anything once (or several times if we like it), we figured that we’d try a test ride that focuses purely on an off-road bike, or two. KTM were game, we had a couple of dirt bike riders willing to do the job and the splendid people at Offroad Cycle and ATV (Port Hope, Ontario – 905-885-7278) were more than happy to facilitate the bikes and the use of their test track.

However, we’d like to know if we have an audience with the CMG readership regarding dirt bike coverage. In order to try and keep it of interest to non-hardcore dirt riders, it’s been written towards the average motorcyclist . This is part one of a two part series with the KTM’s 200EXC and 400 EXC competition/enduro bikes – part two will be posted in a couple of weeks.

For feedback, please email me directly at editor@cmgonline.com.

Cheers!

First View, by Shane Bruton

CMG test riders treat their loaners with great respect.

After several weeks of dates, bikes and meeting places being changed, and me beginning to think that this damn test ride was never gonna happen. I finally received a call from fellow test rider, Andrew “Please quit roosting me” Boss.

We would pick the 200 EXC and the 400 EXC KTM’s at Offroad Cycle and ATV in Port Hope, ON and then spend the day in the Ganaraska Forest, doing our best Mike Lafferty imitations (who? Editor ‘arris).

I contemplated submitting my ride report as – mud slingin’, grass tearin’, dirt roostin’, big wheelie havin’, sore arm getting’, big air takin’, on dime stoppin’, rock climbin’ all around freakin’ awesome enduro weapon. But then I thought, KTM was nice enough to allow us to make fools out of ourselves on their bikes I “should” write a reasonable summary of my thoughts on these two bikes. Not to mention that Editor ‘arris might have a word or two to say about that….

Since we had the bikes for only part of one day, we had to make the best with what we had.

We picked the bikes up at 10:00 a.m. and spent the first couple of hours blasting around the MX track that is on-site at the bike shop. This time allowed for a warm up, to get first impressions of each of the machines, not to mention some good acts of hooliganism before we headed to the trails.

Ring-a-ding-ding.

My test bike for the day was the 200 EXC along with a couple rips on the 400 for comparo reasons (The 400 is in part two by the way, as well as a quick comparo wrap up – to be posted in a couple of weeks – Editor ‘arris).

With the first kick of the engine and twist of the throttle you immediately notice how tight and responsive the 193cc, liquid cooled, 2-stoke engine is. Hot or cold, the engine always started easily and typically on the first kick, even after stalling the engine. When the engine was stone cold, a little bit of choke to get it started was all that was required. Once started and warmed up for a couple of minutes the bike ran smoothly and flawlessly.

My first impression, after turning a short lap of the track was – holy crap this puppy hauls! I was thoroughly impressed with the amount of power the little 200 puts to the ground and how controllable it was. Lofting the front wheel to clear objects, or just for the sake of saving tread on the front tire, was effortless in practically any gear…. just twist the throttle and hold on. We did not have the opportunity to measure top speed, but if you’re trying to make up time on a stretch of road in an enduro – no problemo!

The six-speed wide ratio gearbox allows you plunk along in the tight bush or to go stupid fast on the wide-open forest access roads. One of the greatest attributes of this machine is its ability to make power at low rpm’s. This machine was designed for enduro and trail use, and as a result it doesn’t require insane engine speeds to keep in the power band, like most other 2-stroke bikes. This makes controlling the bike through tight, technical sections of trail very easy and even lugging the engine in the low gears isn’t problematic.

Taking air is easy to do.

The fully adjustable 43mm WP USD front suspension and the link-less rear-end suspended by WP PDS shock make up some of the best stock suspension available today. This bike would soak up everything you threw at it and then beg for more. Whether you’re taking air, riding the whoops or you just nailed a baby-head sized rock at speed the suspension reacts very nicely and keeps you pointed in the correct direction.

Even during a few spirited laps on the unofficial CMG test track, the bike sailed through the sand whoops without the rear end slapping around or getting out of shape. Speaking of out of shape, Andrew…..nuff said! I did notice some head shake on both of the bikes, at elevated speed, through loose terrain (rocks, sand etc.) and think a steering damper would be a welcome upgrade.

I had so much fun riding this bike that it was difficult to look past the good stuff and find some negative points. Actually, it wasn’t until driving to work the next day that I realised one major complaint…man, my ass hurts! I guess with all the fun and excitement I didn’t realise somebody switched the seat for a 2×4…..damn that seat is hard.

Some other small points, but worth mentioning:

What’s with the lame excuse for a side stand? Don’t worry, because EVERY KTM dealer keeps the side stand bolts in stock, although KTM claim to have reinforced it for 2002!
Where’s the tapered bars?
But by far my biggest complaint with testing the 200 EXC was that I had to ride my KDX home, and now I’m ruined for life.

Shane practices his Andrew-roosting techniques.

Technically speaking, there really isn’t any true competition for the KTM 200 EXC. Before you get all bent out of shape, let me qualify this statement. The only other, readily available, 2-stroke, enduro/ trail bike is the Kawasaki KDX 200/220. Although the KDX is a very capable bike the two really can’t be compared.

The KTM is a little more than the price of the KDX, but the quality of components and stock performance is not even close. In stock forms, the KDX is a trail bike that can be made into a race bike, and the KTM is a race bike that can also be used to burn around your local forest on the weekends.

This is an incredible enduro bike, that is race ready out-of-the-box. Very few dirt bikes offer Brembo brakes, hydraulic clutch, WP suspension, X-ring chain and aluminum bars as standard equipment. This bad-boy makes serious power and is a mere 214 lbs (dry) as a package. Big power, low weight, and good handling – there is no wonder why there seem to be so many of these bikes showing up at enduros lately. A wise man once said, “you get what you pay for” and the 200 EXC is no exception!

Second View – Andrew Boss

Admiring the front fender.

Start up the 200 and you get a bike that feels light like a 125 and pulls like a 250 – Never a bad combination. Throttle response is crisp and the motor is flexible enough to lug down a bit without embarrassing yourself when you crack the throttle.

Ridden on the pipe and the 200 two stroke provides an exhilarating ‘point and shoot’ type of ride that allows you to admire the unique shape of KTM’s front fender almost any time you like. Riding four strokes for so long now, I forgot I couldn’t just lug into corners without pulling in the clutch, leading to a few stallings.

Headshake was never a problem for me. I suggest Shane save the money on a steering damper and invest in steel weights instead. If you think his arms are skinny, your eyes will water when you see him in shorts.

Kawasaki’s KDX220 has the market share for midsize two-stroke play-bikes, thanks to its significantly lower price. The 200EXC’s light weight, quality components and excellent power makes it more of a competition bike and a better bet for the serious enduro rider.

Some additional detailed shots …

WP front end
Rider view
Svelt hydraulic clutch
WP rear suspension
Rear brake

 

Bike

KTM 200 EXC

MSL

$8,299.00

Displacement

193 cc

Engine type

Two stroke single, liquid cooled

Carburetion

Keihin PWK38

Final drive

Six speed, chain drive

Tires, front

90/90 – 21

Tires, rear

120/90 – 18

Brakes, front

Single 260 mm disc with twin piston calipers

Brakes, rear

Single 220 mm disc with single piston caliper

Seat height

925 mm (36.4″)

Wheelbase

1461 +-10 mm (57.5 +-0.4″)

Dry weight

101 Kg (222.7lbs) (claimed)

Canadian colours

Orange/black

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