This was my first impression of the KTM 200 January 26th 1998
and my followup evaluation two years later:

Doc Wong's '98 KTM 200 EXC first ride report!


Got a chance to break in the 200 this weekend and put about 5 hours on it. Thought I'd share my experience:

Suspension and handling: So far too new to truly evaluate but it is and does handle like a 125! The bike is extra skinny and I feel like I could throw it around like no other bike I've had. I found it very confidence inspiring. Turns fast and easy and I could hit bumps, rocks and other trail obstacles without the bike getting me into trouble.

Motor: Quite incredible for a 200 cc motor. Though I haven't really explored the top part of the powerband, it seems to have pull quite well. What really surprised me was the amount of low end. I tested it on a particularly tight root infested up hill single track. I was quite surprised when I was able to ride it in first gear, lugging the motor. It just kept on pulling and pulling. I couldn't believe it.

Range: I'm checking it out, but I suspect that I got the small 2.4 gallon motor. I only went 45 miles when I ran out of gas. I was leaking gas from either a sticky float bowl or improperly set float bowl though.

Seat: Made of wood. Serves me right, I should be standing more.

Comparisons based on my experiences

With my '95 KTM 300: Made the 300 feel like a slow turning Cadallic. But the 300 motor is hard to beat in the tight stuff. The 200 is definitely a zappier, revier motor and may be a slight disadvantage in less tractable conditions but more on this later.

With my '97 KTM 360: Makes the 360 feel like the Titanic. The brochures on the 360 say that the bike weights 220 lbs. Which is the same as the preceeding years....they lie! The bike feels like it weighs a ton (~240 lbs). I personally ride the 200 faster than the 360 because it's so much easier to manage.

With my friend's '97 CR 250: Feels smaller than the 250 and has more low end. Of course the midrange and top end does not compare with the CR motor. I'm sure the CR would climb big hills (we've got big ones out here in California) better, but the 200 on tight, slippery single track would work better.

With my buddy's '92 KDX 200: Turns quicker and much more precise than the KDX and much more confidence inspiring. The KDX though is more plush and user friendly. The KTM is much more at home going faster with more agressive riding. The motor of the KTM feels more like a 250 than a 200, so it has gobs more power than the KDX.

Oh yea, I can actually lift the 200 Scott Summers style. ;-)

So on my next ride, I'll explore the top end, do some hill climbing and generally abuse the bike more and see how it goes.

I find myself riding much more agressively on this bike. So far I absolutely love the bike.

FYI, I'm 45 years old, B level enduro rider, moderately fast with a love for tight nasty trails with plenty of trees, rocks, roots, etc. I also ride trials and have a '96 KTM 300 and did have a '97 KTM 360 which I sold. The '97 360 was too big, too heavy for my tastes and kind of riding. I'm 5' 7", 180 lbs, so not being a big guy the smaller 200 really suits me.

December 1999 evaluation:

Now that I've had many rides to explore the attributes of this bike, I can easily say it's the best bike for me thus far! The bike continues to handle like a small 125 with almost the power of a 250. I climb hills on this bike better than with my 300 or 360! This bike rips! As a result, I'm selling my KTM 300, something I thought I'd never do.

What can make me get rid of the KTM 200? A KTM 400 electric start that weighs 210 lbs! ;-)

Ride well!

Doc Wong

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