450 and 500 four strokes have been the go-to powerplants for snow bikers, but the 350 certainly is interesting and there are some early adopters.
We’ve been riding 450s and 500s for the last few years – and they are very different. For clarity of communication, the bikes were 2013 KTM 500s (Mongo & Donkey) and a 2014 KTM 450 SX-F Factory (Sancho).
The 500 is an easier bike to ride given the low end torque. It’s more forgiving for new riders, and perhaps a bit easier to ride in really tight trees. What it lacks are the high-end revs, and a bit more top end power, that the 450 offers.
The 500 makes its power in the bottom end, topping out at approximately 9,500rpm, where the 450 generates its power in the mid to top end of its range, with a top end of approximately 12,500rpm. Big difference!
“I rode a 500 for my first season then I moved to the KTM 450 SX-F. I prefer the 450. I have to be a bit more careful with my clutch work at low RPM, and I have to ride the clutch more under power than if I am riding a 500, but I like what the higher revs have to offer. At the end of the day, I feel like I have more overall horsepower getting put to the ground – as long as I am keeping the bike in its sweet spot.”
“I’ve riden Scott’s 450 a decent amount, and I still like my 500 a bit better. I know the power is always going to be there, so I can focus more on the terrain ahead and the challenging lines that I want to take. I also periodically take out relatively new riders and I’ll put them on the 500 every time. The 500 is easier to ride yet plenty of bike for serious mountain Snow MX riders. Plus, it’s a bombproof engine that lasts a very long time.”
What About the 350s?
Great question! We’ve seen them, but only few and far between. Initial reports are great, but we really need to ride one before we can offer any real insight. Thankfully, Scott and Andrew are being joined by Warren Palmer of Okanagan Drone Productions this riding season as a core crew member. Warren will be riding the 3rd Swedish Twin, a 2016 Husqvarna 350 with a 2017 Timbersled LT 137 LE (Limited Edition). It should be fun to compare it directly with the 2017 Husqvarna 450 with the exact same track.
- The 350 will be a bit lighter (scale), and feel even lighter (riding).
- The 450 will have more low end grunt and be more forgiving with respect to gear selection.
- At the top end, they could have the same amount of power.
We can’t wait to find out more.
We’ll likely keep editing and updating this article over time so it becomes a good knowledge base. Do you have some thoughts and insights to share? See the comments section below.