THE KTM 300EXC TPI felt entirely normal. Press the start button, blip the throttle a few times, pull in the clutch, select first, ride away. First-second-third – brap, brap, brap – all normal. Wheelspin. Skid. Wheelie. Normal.
Normal, eh? Yet these TPI models are the big news of 2017. It’s taken KTM 14 years to get here. Fuel injection in four-strokes was comparatively easy, for two-strokes it’s taken over a decade longer to master. This is a remarkable feat that KTM have achieved – not quite putting man on the moon stuff, but for so long creating the fuel-injected two-stroke dirt bike been so near impossible. So it’s a bit curious that the feeling is ‘normal’, yet I’m almost certain KTM are celebrating that very fact.
BECAUSE NORMAL IS EXTRAORDINARY
Erzberg, the launch venue, is of course not normal. It’s something huge. A mountain eaten alive, rock-by-rock, given man’s hunger for iron ore – to make steel, to make stuff like these KTMs. This is also a place of legend, only not for the prodigious quantities of iron ore extracted, but for its brutal reputation for crushing men and machines. In the form of the Erzberg Rodeo extreme enduro this giant mine wreaks its revenge – most of the world’s population will at some point have seen film footage of enduro bikes, and riders, falling end-over-end down its precipitous slopes.
KTM have brought us to Erzberg because for all of its fearsomeness this is their playground, their two-stroke enduros have built a reputation based on being able to conquer this pitiless terrain. Prove that the TPI equipped EXCs can thrive here and we can pretty much be assured they’ll be good anywhere.
Only I’m not sure, as a clubman level rider, I’m as well equipped.
Fortunately, as said, when it comes to this new fuel-injected EXC, I have something of a magic parachute. As ever the 300EXC can deal with stuff other enduros can’t. The motor is amazing, the chassis just so well balanced. Normal 300EXC practice.
It’s only when given time to breathe (between mind-buzzingly huge hill climbs and descents) that you get to realize this is the new normal not the old normal. For the KTM EXC TPI experience is the same as the old EXC experience, only a little bit better.