|10-07-2003, 01:08 PM||#29|
Joined: Jul 2001
Location: San Francisco, USA
My first comment is that the KTM is by far the best of the 4 for off-riding. Not a big surprise there, but the gap is larger that you may think and I only tried it off-road with loaded Jesse bags on it!
The biggest difference might come from the shocks that are just awesome! And again, I don’t even know how to use the multiple ways to adjust them. Obstacle after obstacle, I became more and more impressed with them. I don’t know about jumping but for everything else they can handle it perfectly. Jimmy Lewis was right in saying that even the non-S will have the same great quality, the only real difference being the clearance. You can go confidently above rocks and boulders, letting the bike do its job and you’ll be over the obstacle before you even know it. I seriously think that in that regard it’s very close to a real enduro bike.
The chassis is also very impressive! For a long time the KTM enduro were in general very stable (like being “on a rail”), which is obviously a quality but were somehow lacking agility and maneuverability. Looking at the long swing arm and imagining the inertia of a big twin I was a bit afraid to find the same behavior on the 950 which would be great for the big spaces of the Dakar for example but not so much for technical stuff. Although I didn’t do any single track yet, I was happily surprise by the very good compromise this chassis offers: very stable and agile in the same time. The only thing is that, for very slow speed maneuverability it would nice to be able to turn more the handlebars.
The combination of great shocks, chassis and high clearance is what makes the 950 so efficient in rocks. I know that, on Sunday, I would have destroyed the bash plates of the 1150GS or Strom in more than one occasion and maybe crashed too. There was no trouble with the 950! I had no chance to try it in deep sand so I don’t know how good it will be there.
The engine is wonderful on pavement and actually very usable off-road too. Since the power is only “brutal” over 6,000 RPM (red line: 9,500) you can navigate off-road from 3 to 5 K with great ease and enough torque for most of the situations. The gearing is a bit too high but certainly not as bad as the GS or Strom and it never was an issue even in tough hill climbing. Having a smooth wet clutch was also extremely useful there.
The weight is on par with the 650 and the Strom but the 950 feels inexplicably lighter. I guess it’s because the bike is very reactive and that the off-riding position is much better than the Strom for example.
So far, only good stuff for the big Katoom! However, even KTM cannot change the physical laws and I reached the limits of the bike (or mines) in a stiff hill climbing with rocks and very loose sand all around. The combination of a heavy weight (vs a dirt bike) and street oriented tires didn’t give the bike enough traction to go further up.
Speaking about tires, the Scorpions are really decent on the pavement and are not too bad off-road if the ground is not too loose: overall an okay compromise even if I would drop them immediately if the TKC80 were available.
My ride reports
Jean-Luc screwed with this post 10-07-2003 at 01:49 PM
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