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KTM Debuts 2011 350exc-f Race Team Bikes
So did you catch this, the models KTM is racing in Europe?
To Link or not to link, that is the question
This past weekend David Knight debuted the new European version on the 350, the EXC-f model. Knighter finished second at the Spanish Indoor enduro. This Euro only model differs significantly from the US spec bikes chassis because it does not have the new linkage. It is an “old” style PDS shock frame.
I can’t help but think that this is perpetuating KTM’s muddy explanation of which models get PDS and which bikes get linkage. How is it that everyone in the states will race linkage bikes and all other enduro racers around the world will apparently ride PDS sprung bikes?
One of the original criticisms of the move to linkage was that it was merely a caving under to consumer pressure. Of course the more correct explanation is that KTM is committed to succeeding in Supercross and the PDS system just isn’t at its best in that environment.
The way I see the problem now is that KTM has painted themselves into a corner. The original justification was that PDS was best for offroad, while linkage better suits to the demands of motocross. Now the new US spec XC-f 250 and 350 off road models have arrived here and the explanation for their linkage is that the XC-f line has always been derived from the SX-f models.
Next we see the debut of the same basic mode in Euro spec EXC-f trim and it has a PDS frame. That will be the model that will be raced on the world enduro scene. So David Knight and Johnny Aubert get PDS while Caselli, Brown and Mullins get linkage.
Somewhere in the very near future there will be a new 450XC-f model bike also. KTM is tight lipped on what it will be, either just a warmed over SX model or an all new motor and chassis. I am betting on an all new design.
So what are we as consumers supposed to think? It is a question that is not easy to resolve as it is becoming very clear that the linkage has some great performance characteristics. Ultimately it isn’t so much about absolute performance. It is about having a clear corporate message. I think KTM better choose a horse and stick to it. Otherwise they are facing a marketing dilemma that is going to be hard to clean up.