2004 KTM 200sx
At the time I bought this bike, I had both the KX125 and KDX200, both great bikes, but I kind of wanted to combine them both into 1 bike for less maintenance and just to reduce garage clutter. Plus, with the opening of our local track in Raton, I was riding far more track than trail. The KDX was just sitting and I was starting to wish for a more powerful KX125. I've always been curious about KTM bikes, so I started shopping for a KTM200. Found this 200sx right away on ebay, and in New Mexico. I bid and won, drove 5 hours, and brought it home.
One of the first things I did was replace the stock graphics. I actually was just looking for a gripper seat but found this seat/graphics package on ebay and just went for the whole thing. When I got the bike home and started really inspecting it, I noticed a few things...it looked like the bike had been in a bad wreck because the front brake cable was bent and would not feed through the number plate guide, the handlebars were bent (Pro Tapers, too!), and there were deep scratches in the plastic. Everything looked good and straight, but I need to get some things fixed up, so I quickly installed a new brake cable, radiator guards, skid plate, handlebars, new front/rear tires, Twin Air air filters, and changed the fork oil.
KTM's have a link-less rear suspension, as you can see here.
KTM's also need to have the chain a little looser than you're probably used to. One of the previous owners didn't know this and ran the chain totally absolutely tight. This caused problems...(below).
If you run the chain too tight on a KTM, it will cause a crack at the countershaft sprocket. I'd asked the seller if the sprocket area leaked and was told "No." This area was very dirty when I got the bike and after I cleaned it up, I found this- a leak and obvious attempts to stop it (note the JB Weld on the shifter).
A shot from the top. This is after I took the clutch slave cylinder off to investigate (thus, the orange gasket sealant). I had never actually seen the crack before getting this bike and wasn't sure what to look for, but here it is. It's a little difficult to really see this crack w/out removing the countershaft sprocket (which involves loosening the rear wheel, dropping the chain, removing the chain guard, then the sprocket...), but you can see the evidence. Fortunately, it didn't leak too bad and I was only adding a little oil after each ride.
Above are just some general shots of the bike. The FMF pipe was very difficult to get fit and I suspect it might've been slightly tweaked. I never could get both exhaust gaskets to work and ended just using one and a lot of RTV sealant.
Out on the track, I found the KTM to be a lot of fun. Our track is a natural terrain type, w/ no stadium whoops (which I understand are the KTM's weak spot). The suspension worked good for me, especially after I changed the fork oil and used 7.5 wt oil. There were a few times when I landed funny while trying to do whips and the bike kicked and bucked but since it's so lightweight, I was able to get it under control. At one particular spot in the track, I could make the rear end "float" over a bump in a sweeper and it would drift out to the right a bit. But on the whole, the suspension was surprisingly adequate. The shining point of this bike is, of course, the engine. The engine is fantastic! Good strong power everywhere. It was easy to do low speed controlled wheelies (something I couldn't do on the KX125) and the bike was very easy to ride thru corners with the power just below the powerband and ready to go at any time. Likewise, the hydraulic clutch was good, although to be honest, I don't really have clutch issues with any of my bikes. The KTM was also surprisingly quiet- much quieter than the KX125 and just a little louder than the KDX.
I had a few issues with the riding position and frequently snagged my boots in the radiator shrouds in corners. The boot would catch and I'd have to lift it up to free it. Needless to say this made for some exciting turns until I figured out how to hold my leg so that it wouldn't catch. I also was getting some pretty severe vibration and cured most of it by re-mounting the pipe. When I got the bike, the pipe was touching the frame right behind the kickstarter. When I remounted it, most of the vibration went away. To further reduce it, I put some hard backpack sleeping pad foam under the handlebar mounts and that really helped. KTM has a reputation for build quality, but I didn't find it to be all that impressive. A lot of the plastic screws were stripped out and there were just enough quirky things about the bike to keep me from feeling really confident with it.
Here's the bike after a ride. I sat down one day and started adding up things and figured that by the time I replaced the chain and sprocket, piston/rings (since I had no idea what condition they were in), rebuilt the suspension bushings, fixed the cracked crankcase, and etc., that I'd need to sink about $1000 in the bike. Since I wasn't real confident with the KTM, I decided to sell it. Actually, I still had both the KX and KDX at this time and 3 dirt bikes was just way too many. What I decided to do was put all 3 up for sale and see what happened. If I sold the KX, I'd roll the money into the KTM and if I sold the KTM, I'd roll the money into the KX, maybe turning it into a KX144. Right at this time, I dropped into my local Yamaha dealer and found a brand-new left-over YZ450F on the floor. I really wasn't sure about the reliability of a big 4-stroke, but I did some math and figured that if I sold all 3 bikes, I'd have exactly enough money to get the YZ. This would allow me to start with a brand-new bike, with no issues. So, I put all 3 bikes up for sale and ended up selling both the KX and KTM w/in 12 hours of each other! I was really prepared to keep one or the other, but they both sold, so I let 'em sell. I bought the YZ450F and put the KDX on the dealer's floor. Keep in mind that I'd been trying to sell either the KX or KDX for about 3 months. Tues, I put the KDX on the floor, brought the YZ450F home and on Friday, the dealer called to tell me that the KDX had sold! For my asking price! So, w/in 2 weeks of first starting to even consider the YZ450F, I had it in my garage, totally paid for. Things can happen fast, sometimes!
I owned the KTM for just about 3 months. When it sold, I had mixed feelilngs. On the one hand, I was sorry to see it go, but on the other hand I was glad that I didn't have to mess with fixing it up. On the whole, though, I'm glad I got to ride it.
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