2014 OFF-ROAD BUYER'S GUIDE

 
(11/7/2013)
HUSABERG FE501
In the corporate shell game that saw KTM first purchase Husaberg and then Husqvarna, there has been a blurring of some models. The Husaberg 501 is very similar to the Husqvarna FE501 and the KTM 500XC-W. The ’Berg has a composite airbox/subframe and a 4CS fork. This will probably be the last year for the Husaberg name.
Price: $9949.

 

KTM 500XC-W/450XC-W
Many riders consider this the best large-displacement trail bike in the world. The single-overhead-cam, fuel-injected motor was so good that it became the basis for Ryan Dungey’s works motocross bike when Dungey first came to KTM two years ago. This model is trail-oriented and uses no linkage for the rear suspension.
Price: $9849/$9649.

BETA 498RR/450RR
This company has made dramatic progress in the last 10 years—that’s how long it’s been since the Italian trials firm got into the off-road bike business. The new 498RR and 450RR models still have good old-fashion carburetors and a kick-start backup for the electric starter. For 2014, the bikes get a bigger fuel tank, a stiffer frame and a number of other updates.
Prices: $9399/$9199.

 

HONDA CRF450X
Despite being unchanged for another year, the Honda CRF450X remains the hottest bike in the SCORE Baja 1000 where it seems unbeatable. The electric-start, carbureted X is well-behaved. We expect it to be replaced by a fuel-injected version next year, but we’ve said that before.
Price: $8440.

HUSQVARNA FE501
This is very similar to the 2014 Husaberg FE501, but with one key difference. The rear end uses the linkage and geometry from the KTM XC and SX line of race bikes rather than the no-linkage PDS design used on the 'Bergs and KTM XC-Ws. The damping and spring rates are lighter than those of the linkage-model KTMs in order to appeal to the off-road crowd. The pricing and availability will come later in the year after the current crop of Bergs and Huskys is gone. Price: TBA

KTM 450XC-F
This bike shouldn’t be confused with the XC-W. Despite having a similar motor, the XC (without the “W” on the end) is more race-oriented. It’s actually more similar to the SX motocross version, with linkage rear suspension and no EPA emission settings. The XC is a cross between a motocrosser and an off-road bike.
Price: $9649.

 

TM 250E/450E
These two are the flagship of a very small fleet. The TM 250E and 450E are fuel-injected, electric-start off-road bikes with a hand-crafted aluminum frame and a long list of beautiful details. TM is such a small company that these bikes are rare, even in Italy. The bikes are imported as closed-course racers and aren’t eligible for a California green sticker.
Price: TBA.

YAMAHA WR450F
Yamaha updated the WR in late 2012 with a new aluminum frame and a fuel-injected motor. The WR still uses the five-valve motor and actually has more in common with the FZR450 quad than with the current YZ450F motocrosser. The bike is EPA legal but can easily be modified for racing with Yamaha’s optional ECU.
Price: $8290.

 

BETA 400RR/350RR
Even though these two bikes have very similar motors, they have quite different personalities. The 350 is quicker-revving and is preferred for racing extreme enduros and EnduroCross. The 400 is for longer trail rides and has more torque. The 350 actually has a longer stroke than the 400. Both get a new frame and a larger fuel tank for 2014.
Prices: $8999/$8999.

HUSABERG FE350
If you like this bike, you can have it with any one of three different names. The Husaberg FE350 and the Husqvarna 350 are both based on the KTM 350XC-W, but with variations in the airbox, suspension and bodywork. All are great trail bikes and come with diaphragm clutches, electric start and kickstarter backups.
Price: $9549.

 

HUSQVARNA FE350/FE250
The plan is for Husqvarna to eventually replace Husaberg in the KTM corporate structure. For now, though, there is some confusion because the three lines have different dealer networks. The Husky 350 and 250 are very similar to the Husaberg 350 and 250 four-strokes, which are very similar to the KTM W-models.
Prices: TBA.

KTM 350XCF-W
KTM seems to offer some very similar bikes, but of the models that carry the KTM logo, the 350XCF-W and 350XC-F are quite different. The W is designed more for the trail rider and is EPA approved for emissions. The W also has no-link rear suspension and a diaphragm clutch. This year the W motor gets many of the changes that we saw on the MX bike in 2013.
Price: $9499.

 

KTM 350XC-F
This bike is an off-road racer, a blood relative of the 350SX motocross bike. It has a coil-spring clutch, linkage-style rear suspension,ki and a fork that is basically the same as the motocross version but with a softer spring rate. There’s no kickstarter, so you have to be sure the battery is charged before you head to the trails.
Price: $9499.

HUSQVARNA TXC310/TXC250
These are the best bikes that the Italian Husky factory in Varese ever produced. The 310, in particular, kept Husky in the winner’s circle in both World Enduro and EnduroCross. Both bikes will remain in the lineup for now, but the future of the Italian-made Husqvarnas is questionable. These bikes are not green-sticker legal in California.
Prices: TBA.

 

GAS GAS 300XC/250XC
This is a small Spanish maker that specializes in two-strokes for the very toughest conditions. Two years ago, the chassis was completely redesigned, but the bike gained weight. For 2014, Gas Gas has finished the job, reduced the weight and paid more attention to the suspension’s performance. The 250 and 300 are identical aside from bore. There’s an electric-start option on the 300.
Price: TBA.

 

HUSABERG TE300/TE250
We chose the two-stroke TE300 as the 2013 Bike of the Year for a very self-serving reason: It excels at the type of riding we like most. It’s great in twisty, tight trails, and it never complains that we aren’t strong enough or talented enough. In fact, it’s so forgiving that it makes us stronger and more talented. The 250 is a faster-revving version of the same thing.
Prices: $8649/$8349.

 

HUSQVARNA TE300/TE250
In the three-way entanglement between Husqvarna, Husaberg and KTM, these bikes are the Husqvarna versions of the Husaberg TEs and the KTM XC-Ws. They are outrageously good electric-start two-strokes for tough trails and ugly conditions. These are Austrian made, not to be confused with the Italian Husky 300 two-stroke, which had become outdated.
Prices: TBA.

KTM 300XC-W
This bike is the basis for both the Husqvarna and Husaberg 300cc two-strokes for 2014. That’s okay; it’s a truly great motorcycle, worthy of duplication. The W is a trail-conquering machine with PDS, no-link rear suspension and a diaphragm clutch. For 2014, the bike gets new bodywork, a new front-brake master cylinder and a number of other changes.
Price: $8499.

KTM 300XC/250XC
For these models, KTM combined the electric-start two-stroke motors with motocross-style frames. The result is a trail bike that isn’t afraid of the track. The 300 and 250 motors have different personalities, but both are fast enough for the track and torquey enough for off-road. The suspension is similar to the SX configuration, with linkage in the rear but softer springs.
Prices: $8499/$8299.

SHERCO 300SEF
We’ve seen a few of these exotic Spanish/French off-road bikes leak into the country, and they look good. The motor is a fuel-injected, four-valve four-stroke with electric start. There is also a 250cc version and even a motocrosser. The versions here have WP suspension and a number of name brand components. The importer is the U.S. Gas Gas connection as well.
Price: TBA.

 

SHERCO 300/250 2T
Sherco is best known for trials bikes but has followed the same path as Beta and Gas Gas, getting into the off-road market as well. The Spanish company will be making its electric-start two-strokes in its French plant. It still uses a carburetor, has WP suspension and there’s no kickstarter. The bike will be available as a 250 and as a 300.
Prices: TBA.

TM 300E/250E 2T
TM’s two-strokes are old-school and hi-tech at the same time. The motors for the 250 and 300 have classic technology with ball-ramp-actuated power valves, case-reed valves and Mikuni carburetors. The frames, on the other hand, are aluminum with a perimeter configuration, which is as cutting edge as they come. Production numbers are very limited.
Prices: TBA.

 

KTM 250XCF-W
For 2014, this model received more attention than any other bike in the KTM off-road line. The motor got many of the components that we saw on the 250 motocross bike last year, which is a powerhouse. Unlike the MX bike, the W has a six-speed gearbox, a kickstarter and a heavier crank. Like the other “W” models, it has PDS no-link rear suspension.
Price: $8599.

BETA 300RR/250RR
We were stunned with the quality and performance of the newly arrived Beta two-strokes last year. They return with larger fuel capacity and a few other changes, but they still feature an electric starter integrated within the cases, Sachs suspension and very high-quality components. The 250 is revvier; the 300 is smoother—your choice, same MSRP.
Prices: $7999/$7999.

HUSABERG FE250
The ‘Berg FE250 underwent big changes for 2014, which will most likely be its last year under the Husaberg name. The motor is now based more closely on the KTM 250SX-F motocross bike. The key differences are its bigger crank, kickstarter and six-speed gearbox. The FE chassis has link-less rear suspension and a WP 4CS fork that has rebound and compression damping in separate legs.
Price: $8649.

KTM 250XC-F
If you want a motocross bike with softer suspension and more range, this bike is for you. The KTM XC models are designed for fast trail riding, off-road racing and the occasional venture onto a motocross track. The 250XC-F gets a five-speed gearbox this year, which replaces the six-speed. It revs to 14,000 rpm, so shifting can be delayed a long time.
Price: $8599.

KTM 250XC-W
This is a modern classic. KTM’s 250cc two-stroke off-road bike had an unbroken winning streak in the Dirt Bike 250 Enduro shootout for something like 15 years—until we simply stopped doing it. The bike is still around today, but with electric starting, a diaphragm clutch, a modern WP fork and no-link rear suspension.
Price: $8299.

KTM 200XC-W
With four-strokes, fuel injection and digital brains getting all the attention, the pure, simple effectiveness of the two-stroke KTM 200 can easily be overlooked. This motorcycle is still one of the very best for conquering tough trails and demands very little from the rider. Now it has an electric starter—even purists won’t object to that.
Price: $7599.

KTM 150XC
The small-displacement off-road bike has never been a rich category in America. The KTM 150XC breaks that tradition. It’s based on a 125 motocross bike, but its larger bore and stroke give it just enough extra power to make it fun on the trail. Oddly enough, it isn’t kids who line up for the 150. It’s their dads.
Price: $7199.

HONDA CRF230F
Honda’s 230F trail bike motor has a strong resemblance to the XLs, XRs and even SL models of Honda’s past. That’s good, because the current Honda empire was built on the reliability of those engines. The 230 is a carbureted, air-cooled two-valver, but it has electric start, and that makes it a hit with the current generation of new riders. No kickstarter.
Price: $4170.

 

YAMAHA TT-R230
Prices don’t have to go up every year. Yamaha’s beginner-friendly TT-R230 is still holding its 2013 price, which was only $50 more than in 2012. This is an electric-start four-stroke with a reasonable seat height, a manual clutch and a five-speed gearbox. The motor has been around so long it probably powered a chariot.
Price: $3990.

 For the 2014 MX bike buyer's guide, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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WARNING: Much of the action depict­ed in this magazine is potentially dan­gerous. Virtually all of the riders seen in our photos are experienced ex­perts or professionals. Do not at­tempt to duplicate any stunts that are be­yond your own capabilities. Always wear the appropriate safety gear.

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