There has never been a better way to start mastering those trails than with the 2009 KTM 105 XC, an enduro ride characterized by lightness,enhanced agility, as well as by even more of the two-stroke power that made this bike unique in the first place. KTM engineers worked their magic on this new model year while designers made sure it will stand out wherever you ride.
Compared to four-stroke engines, two-stroke ones are more powerful, but also require their fair share of refinements as the years go by. This year, it’s the turn of the 104.9 cc, single-cylinder, two-stroke motor to feature improved flow rates, an optimized piston including new keystone rings and a new V-Force 3 membrane unit. These upgrades are all about increasing the power and torque of the small engine, which had already turned the smallest XC model into a blast from the very first year of manufacturing.
The six-speed gearbox had also much to do with that so it carries on being mated to the entry-level bike’s powerplant with great success, as you’ll later see. Engine response comes from the same Keihin PWK 28 carburetor, which together with the aluminum 85 SX exhaust ensures an even power spread all across the rpm range.
With the chassis being totally new and yet very similar to what you’d get on the previous model year, we can only guess that KTM worked to refine the frame, WP suspensions and the already top notch brakes, but that was reserved for us to find during the test ride.
The bike weighs overall 149.9 pounds (without fuel) and has a 1.32 gallons tank so it’s all about a very good power-to-weight ratio even though this thing is supposed to help beginners learn how to ride…well, haven’t they done that on 50 cc bikes?
Last year, the 105 XC had come to replace KTM’s 85 XC model and we’re already witnessing an upgrade so who knows what’s next.
Destined to beginners, the bike won’t make a big impression in comparison to 125 cc two-stroke competitors although, in the right hands, it won’t have problems keeping the pace with those.
The 2009 Kawasaki KX 100 is a fierce competitor for the XC simply because it is built for motocross. Yet, features such as the liquid-cooled 99 cc, two-stroke single-cylinder engine, the six-speed transmission and comparable chassis determine us to position these bikes one next to the other. Featuring the same Keihin PWK28 carburetor as on the Austrian bike and weighing only 156.5 pounds, the Kawi stands by our side in that matter.
Apart from the engine upgrades and chassis refinements, KTM also changes into better the way that the 105 XC looks. We’re not talking about radical bodywork modifications, but about the adding of the 2009 decals while slightly sharpening the overall appearance. The bike sure needed that as the wheelbase of only 50.79 inches isn’t quite what you’d expect from a bike which’s seat is positioned at 35.43 inches from the ground.
Very high mounted, the fenders look like veritable motocross units, but so do the mud guards, the narrow seat and small gas tank hugged by the aggressive body panels. From the right rider side, the engine is masked by the SX exhaust and this is also what will set the bike apart from four-stroke ones on the trails.
Depending on the rider’s height, he can choose between 16- and 19-inch wheels, which aren’t blacked out like on the rest of the XC models. The bike’s dominating color is Orange (even on the mud guards and hand guards) and this contrasts with the black frame and fork legs, seat and gas tank as well as with aluminum bits.
Our test bike did had the 19-inch pair of wheels as it was to be ridden by a full-sized rider (me) and we were soon to realize that there isn’t much to ask from it as long as not being ridden by the appropriate guy.
The engine does manage to impress with an even spread of power all across the rpm range. Despite the fact that I weigh 5 pounds more than the bike itself, it unveiled a strong low-end followed by a consistent mid-range and a never ending top-end. Sure, the six-speed transmission helped and the bike started feeling a little boring (for the fat me) at around 75 mph.
Most of the fun had on it was during sharp corners when doing all possible to lose grip of the rear tire. It’s all about keeping the thing in second gear and gradually opening the throttle until finding out where precisely the rear wheel starts spinning madly and then repeat that for as long as possible before shifting into higher gear and trying it again along a curve that actually allows you to see where you’re going.
Being so light, the 105 XC offers responsive handling and that’s what we most appreciate at this bike, considering that riders who are just starting out are finding their ways on it. Throwing the thing around from side to side is the easiest thing as the motocross-like ergonomics offer the rider proper control over the bike and allow him to receive feedback from the road.
Because of my weight, the 10.83 inches of front wheel travel and the 11.8 inches of rear wheel travel didn’t prove enough during the short jumping session that we experienced as the forks would have bottomed out with each hard landing, but soaking up bumps is no problem for the 105 XC. For my taste, the suspensions are too soft, not like what you’d deal with on a veritable motocross bike.
Despite the short ride, I’ve come to appreciate the top notch braking equipment displaying two petal-style discs, the one up front measuring 220 mm and the rear one 200 mm. Stopping power is always enough no matter how much the rider actually weighs, the only condition being to find a grippy surface to stop on so that at least the bike would get out that first ride with no scratch.
Highly reliable and meeting the strict requirements of KTM’s XC off-road competition lineup, the 105 starts at a base MSRP of $5,598.
Although launched just a year ago, the KTM 105 XC already receives its fair share of improvements from all points of view. Mechanics are more potent and reliable, the chassis is refinement itself and the bodywork is now up to date and representing a totally integrated model.
Engine and Transmission
Engine type: Single cylinder, 2-stroke
Displacement: 104.9 cc
Bore x stroke: 52/48.95 mm (2.05/1.93")
Transmission: 6 gears
Carburetor: Keihin PWK 28
Lubrication: Mixture oil lubrication 1:40
Transmission oil: 15W50
Primary drive: 19:66
Final drive: 14:49
Cooling: Liquid cooled
Clutch: Wet multi-disc clutch, operated hydraulically
Ignition: Moric digital 2M1
Chassis and Dimensions
Frame: Central double-cradle-type 25CrMo4
Subframe: Aluminium 7020
Handlebar: Aluminium Ø 28/22 mm (1.10/0.87")
Front suspension: WP USD Ø 43 mm (1.69")
Rear suspension: WP monoshock PDS
Suspension travel front/rear: 275/300 mm (10.83/11.8")
Brakes, front/rear: Disc brakes 220/200 mm (8.66/7.87")
Rims, front/rear: 1.60 x 19"; 1.85 x 16"
Tires, front/rear: 70/100-19"; 90/100-16"
Chain: 1/2 x 5/16" O-Ring
Main silencer: Aluminium 85 SX
Steering head angle: 66°
Wheel base: 1290±10 mm (50.79±0.39")
Ground clearance (unloaded): 415 mm (16.34")
Seat height: 900 mm (35.43")
Tank capacity: approx. 5 liters (1.32 gal)
Weight (no fuel): approx. 68 kg (149.9 lbs)