KTM sees a gap in between 125 cc and 250 cc two-stroke dirt bikes and that’s what the 200 XC is here to fill in with a successful combination between lightness and agility with serious get up and go. Adequate both for enduro riding and for track racing, the new model manages to represent the next step for those riding the 125s and the 250s simply because it blows away from the two thanks to the superior power-to-weight ratio.
What’s best about the 2009 KTM 200 XC is that the price is in accordance with the bike’s position in the Austrian lineup so we’re dealing with a quite possible best bang for the buck candidate.
Because it’s the little things that make such a bike better, KTM worked to improve handling while also reducing overall weight without changing much in what the engine is concerned. They made no concessions and added their best 125cc dirt bike central double-cradle-type 25CrMo4 frame, which increases the seat height from 36.42 inches to 38.78 inches now characterizing all KTM motocross and enduro models. The ground clearance remained at the more than decent 15.35 inches level while the rake and the wheelbase suffered no modifications whatsoever.
Like on the previous model year, two pairs of Excel wheels are available (18- or 21-inch) and they’re both supported by WP suspensions, a 1.89-inch USD front unit and a monoshock PDS rear one, offering 11.81, respectively 13.19 inches of wheel travel.
The brakes are provided by Brembo and consist in a single 10.24-inch disc with double piston up front and an 8.66-inch disc working with a single piston at the rear. These two could be found on the previous model year, but they’re now supposed to perform better due to the 9.28 pounds overall weight decrease.
Also, the 193cc, liquid-cooled, single-cylinder, two-stroke engine featuring TVC twin valve control now has less weight to carry and this contributes at meeting the creation purpose of the bike. There’s no e-starter although this is supposed to be an enduro bike too, but at least you’ll never hear someone complain about the six-speed gearbox, which only unveils the best of it on the trails.
The proper engine tuning is achieved not only with the Keihin PWK 36 S AG carburetor, but through the aluminum 250 SX exhaust. Two-strokes are particularly known for their strong mid-range torque and that’s why you’ll most likely hear it coming than actually see it.
Back in 2000, KTM launched their all-new 200 EXC, a two-stroke dirt bike that soon became beloved (especially in Europe) thanks to the 45 horses developed by the 193 cc motor and the only 222.7 pounds that needed to be carried around (rider excluded, of course). The engine was liquid-cooled and mated to a six-speed tranny from the very beginning and no electric starter was available.
In 2002, we could already talk about the WP suspensions and Brembo brakes while weight remained the same.
The wheelbase of the 2004 model year was increased from 57.5 inches to 57.9 inches in a successful attempt of making the 200 EXC handle sharper.
By the time the 200 EXC was replaced by the 200 XC (2008) – before the name change, better said – we could talk of a highly advanced trail two-stroke machine that shared everything with the 2009 model year, unless the previous mentioned upgrades.
2009 KTM 200 XC
Having gradually evolved along years, the 2009 KTM 200 XC ends up being one of the sharpest, most aggressive looking dirt bikes now present in KTM’s lineup. Sharing most features with its 450/505 XC-F four-stroke bigger siblings, the bike offers no clue of being powered by a fairly small engine, unless the two-stroke specific exhaust.
Starting with the angular and yet refined front fender, the mud guards and hand guards, continuing with the body panels hugging the 2.9 gallons tank, the narrow seat, side number plates and finishing with the extremely sharp rear fender , this thing looks like ready both to race and to dominate the trails.
As mentioned above, KTM offers the possibility to choose between wheels measuring either 18 or 21 inches in diameter. The Excel units are either way black painted and so are the mud guards, seat and frame, all contrasting with the KTM Orange as well as with the aluminum bits and pieces.
The aggressive decals also line up the 2009 KTM 200 XC next to much more potent machines so, before taking it for a test run, we were simply hoping that it won’t disappoint.
KTM aimed towards making the 200 XC a sharper cornering dirt bike and that feels from the very first 100 yards traveled on it. We’re quite familiar with two-strokes so we got on this new model pretty confident that there isn’t much to surprise us, but even when rolling down the trails in first gear you can actually feel the bike reacting with much greater response to every single handlebar correction. That’s a clear indicator of the 125 cc – like cornering abilities so we instantly gained confidence and started leaning from side to side in an attempt to uncover some much needed week points, especially if planning to write a review about the bike you’re riding. We must say that the KTM 200 XC enjoys going fast around corners and remains stable and reassuring even when opening the throttle in an attempt to get the rear wheel spinning and spread some dirt on the camera. It’s kind of funny as the significantly higher seat shouldn’t allow that, but we enjoyed it anyway.
The riding position is very close to that offered by a motocross bike and that’s also the style in which the 200 XC invites you to ride it. The engine is there to back it up with plenty of mid-range torque and a healthy powerband topping way above the point where most riders would normally shift into higher gear. That is mostly due to the powerful engine sound, but it’s good to know that there’s plenty where that came from.
Because the engine is mated to a six-speed gearbox, the 200 XC will offer a top speed (approximately 100 mph) comparable to that of the 250 or even 300 XC, bikes which are fitted with the same five-speed unit. Our tester’s tranny was quite precise and we never managed to miss a gear despite the fact that the small revver requires quite a bit of gear changing action in order to keep providing the best of it. That means a lot to ask from the clutch, which is operated hydraulically, but we haven’t come to the conclusion that this is a weak point in any matter.
2009 KTM 200 XC
The only thing that will soon determine the rider to beg for a short stop is the narrow seat which ends up feeling like a blade if spending too much time on it while riding at a relaxing pace. Also, the fact that it is now positioned even higher contributes at providing the harsh treatment that boring riders almost deserve.
At least the suspensions will soften the ride a little bit as they manage to offer the proper bump absorption virtually at all times. That’s because the bike is so light and this is the kind of equipment that you will find on the biggest and heaviest models in this class. Landings are very enjoyable and the bike simply enjoys jumping its way across everything that might resemble a motocross track.
The Brembo brakes are highly effective as well and equip bigger models, just like the suspensions do. Once wormed up, both the front and the rear unit will provide the proper feedback before corners while stopping power is always enough, even with the petal-style discs covered in mud. But so will be the entire bike after a sort ride on it.
Starting at $6,998, the MSRP also positions the 2009 model year in between the 125 cc and the 250 cc KTM alternatives, contributing at making the bike stand out as an all around uncompromising middle solution.
For what it was created, the 2009 KTM 200 XC is an outstanding bike which might sound like addressing specifically to entry-level riders, but it will prove efficient long after having paid the bucks and that’s what makes it such a good bang.