|08-12-2002, 07:01 AM||#1|
Joined: Feb 2002
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
1st impression: KLR vs KTM
Mars and I went for a little ride on Sunday. He made me ride his new Katoom. Well, lemme tellya, everybody says the first thing you notice about the bike is how tall it is. Baloney. The first thing you notice about the bike is the motor. What a mill!. Come off idle and it's crankin' four grand. That's over 45 mph in third on a sand road. Open the throttle from there and the rear tire spins. Oh, and this bike has a wheel sprocket four teeth smaller than stock. With the standard sprocket, these things must be all burnouts and wheelies. I can't tell you anything more about rpm or speed because I was too busy trying to pay attention to where I was drivin' this guy's spotless, shiny, alubox-clad, orange and silver missile. I felt a lot more vibration than on the KLR, especially throught the seat, frame and pegs. More a buzz than a shake. The KTM revs so high and so quickly that it seems more like a twin than a single. If this is the new face of thumpers, we need another name. This is nothing like an old single, say, a BSA 441.
The next thing I noticed was how firm the suspension is. I expected a supple, compliant but well-damped ride. What I got was a firmly compliant well-damped ride. Crisp. Eager to respond to steering input. Very controllable. In other words, oriented towards going fast rather than comfort, but quite comfortable.
What's with that clutch? John tells me that the long travel required for the clutch lever is a known bug. And you have to use it, too. Unlike my KLR, or an XR, the Katoom gearbox wants full clutch disengagement before offering a different gear.
The biggest surprise the KTM's minuscule visual profile from the saddle. That front end that looks so enormous from the side almost disappears from view once you're on the bike. The cockpit is more cramped than the KLR. The bulge-type handlebar felt identical to the Windham replica Renthal I have on the KLR, but the KTM puts you much closer to it. The entire grip-saddle-peg triangle is smaller, and the pegs and saddle are higher relative to the ground and the handlebars compared to the KLR. I can't say I noticed the saddle at all, but then I was only on the bike for a short time. Haven't been feeling altogether on my game, so I didn't want to push my luck on John's beautiful still-new bike.
For reference, John, who owns two KLRs, said he found my bike to be one of the best set-up, smoothest, and most powerful KLRs he'd ridden. Aw, shucks, I just put RaceTech cartridge emulators in the forks with 10wt oil, yanked all the extra crap off the bike (well, most of it), and set the shock on soft. The motor is stone stock, but I keep it revving. And change the oil every 3,000 miles.
Thanks, Mars, for the eval of my KLR, and for the chance to ride a bike I've dreamed about. Quite a machine.
Here, John inspects my KLR, amazed that cheap junk can work so well:
Still for sale: 1988 BMW R100GS saddle: the Bumblebee seat
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