Following a successful showcase of world titles (126 in the enduro category), the Austrian firm has shown us with its new EXC’24 models why it is one of the leading brands in the off-road market. With a spectacular presentation on South African soil, we were able to witness the new revolution of the orange bikes in the enduro modality, which, with this latest update, have been renewed by 95% compared to the previous season
Words By: Daniel Hernández
LESOTHO, THE PERFECT LABORATORY
When you receive an invitation from KTM to go to Lesotho, a small country located in the south of the African continent, more than 11,000 kilometers away from Spain, at 1,800 meters of altitude and 24 hours of endless flights, it is difficult to understand the reason for a presentation with great logistics but surrounded by the precarious conditions of the country. Well, once the tests are over, we can affirm that, among the different presentations that we have carried out in the editorial office of Onboard, this has been one of the most special of all those we have attended so far. From the excellent organization of the KTM staff to the hospitality of the African residents, smiling in every corner of the huge mountains of the South African territory. And to this, we must add the more than 180 kilometers of route that we were able to enjoy, with a multitude of features in the terrain, and that was the icing on the cake of a truly special presentation.
Personally, my enduro experience is not very extensive, since I consider myself more of a motocross rider. Anyway, some times I do some outings on the trails with fellow amateurs. Well, in the varied route marked by the KTM organization, I had to do my best to overcome the rocky climbs, rivers, sandy sections, downhill slides with sliding stones, time trials between trees and, as if that were not enough, a group of several expert riders led by the experienced French rider Jhonny Aubert (two-time world champion). In short, there were more than 6 hours riding the seven 2 stroke and 4 stroke in a perfect laboratory to test the new EXC gearboxes.
WHERE SHOULD I START?
8:00 am. Giaccomo Ziapoli, the cappo of the presentation and an influential part in the development of the new EXC, tells us: “Guys, in the morning it’s your turn to take the 4T for group 2, you can choose the bike you want”. With good memories of other presentations with the 350cc – for its solid character and good riding – I don’t hesitate to get on it as a first contact with a long and productive day of testing.
Let’s say that the first part of the ride was a bit calmer: wide tracks with little difficulty, except for a couple of first climbs with loose rocks that I head to challenge, in what will be the first face-to-face between the EXC and the extreme terrain of Lesotho. I just put it in second gear and keep the gas constant for continued traction while putting my body on alert for the typical rocky lurches that make you lose your balance. Well, here’s my first wow! I was amazed with the stability and traction of the technical rock climbs, not only of the three and a half but of all the 2024 models that I had the opportunity to test. Here the new chassis, totally modified, the new revolutionary closed cartridge suspension and the new electronic technology were especially noticeable, and it is now considered one of the most developed brands in this aspect.
And speaking of suspension, both the EXC and EXC-F are equipped with an all-new 48mm WP XACT closed cartridge spring fork, featuring a new intermediate valve piston that optimizes oil flow within the cartridge. For the rear axle, reliance continues to be placed on the PDS system, now updated and optimized to work more smoothly with the new chassis concept, and coupled to a new WP XPLOR PDS shock absorber. Both suspensions are fully adjustable in compression damping and rebound damping by hand controls, without the need for tools, and with preload easily adjustable at the rear.
Of course, each engine has different characteristics, with the small engines, such as the 150cc 2-stroke or 250cc 4-stroke, being the most agile in twisty areas, such as time trials or narrow, twisty trails. But in general, the 350cc, 450cc and 30cc 2T were the most requested of the group for their powerful and balanced powertrain combined with the agility of the new chassis.
Also, part of the subframe has been modified, so that in case of a hard fall, in which the rear part can be affected, there is now less risk of damage, as it has been designed in two pieces with polyamide and reinforced aluminum to avoid further damage in this area. The electronic components, including the all-new off-road control unit, are fully integrated into it for easy access and improved protection.
Other details to be taken into account after its modification affect the front fender, now with mud-repellent fins to prevent mud from reaching the rider or the radiators. New 8.3-liter (4T) and 8.9-liter (2T) fuel tanks have also been made of transparent polyethylene (XPE) for easy fuel level control.
During presentations, the brands show the most significant changes made to the models through graphs and images. On this occasion, with a 2-stroke and 4-stroke engine cut to the bone, the KTM technicians and engineers were showing us in situ the deepest intimacies of the 2-stroke and 4-stroke.
In the case of the 2-strokes, they abandon the TPI (Transfer Port Injection) system for the new TBI (Throttle Body Injection). With this system, we provide ultra-smooth levels of power delivery at the carburetor level, eliminating the need to readjust the carburetion according to altitude. Something that, as we mentioned earlier, was one of the highlights of the performance of all EXC and EXC-F framesets.
The design of the reed intake has also been updated, with new plastic fins on the outside to improve the sealing of the intake duct. This avoids excess fuel on extreme uphill or downhill stretches, which could lead to overly rich carburetion. A beneficial side effect of the new electronic fuel injection and engine control unit is the implementation of the new electronic exhaust gas control, which allows two different engine maps, selectable via an optional map change switch. We had several opportunities to test the two options, and we can assure you that the change is quite significant between the two.
As far as the 4-stroke engines are concerned, on this 2024 they are characterized by massive torque at low revs and explosive delivery at high revs. The center of gravity has been improved by tilting the engine back a second and repositioning the attack pinion 3mm lower. This mass centralization and weight reduction have improved the anti-squat behavior of the chassis, optimizing traction on extreme inclines and corner exit.
SIX DAYS EDITION:
As usual, KTM also makes available the special Six Days editions, this time sporting the colors of Argentina, the country where the riders will go between November 6 and 11 to compete in this tough and mythical event. The KTM EXC and EXC-F Six Days are distinguished by an extended list of high-end components as standard, as well as a high-gloss orange powder-coated chassis, closed cartridge suspension, refined bodywork and exclusive graphics, plus a long list of special parts. These special editions are available in all displacements except the EXC 150cc.