Bikes 6 Jun 2023

Tested: 2024 KTM EXC-F range reviews the new 2024 KTM EXC-F models.

With 95 percent new components, anticipation levels are high surrounding the performance of the 2024 KTM EXC-F enduro range, and the bikes certainly don’t disappoint. Home of the infamous Roof of Africa, the global media launch took place in Lesotho, where MotoOnline Tested each of the four models.

Key updates in the 2024 KTM EXC-F range include an all-new frame, revolutionary closed-cartridge suspension, refined bodywork and an LED headlight. The optimal quickshifter function and fuseless off-road control unit (OCU) are also neat touches, with Detailed providing a more extensive technical rundown.

Arriving at the Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village, the start place of our 128km testing loop, one thing that was immediately prevalent was just how much elevation we would be facing on the ride. Lesotho ranks as one of the highest countries on average in the world, so the seven-hour loop was sure to demanding on both rider and bike. Challenge accepted.

Seeing the EXC-F range in the flesh initially, my first impression was ‘these bikes mean business’. The bodywork refinements are immediately noticeable with added contact surfaces, the handlebar-mounted map switches are tidy and OCU located under the seat is trick with no messy wiring.

One thing that stands out in the aesthetics is that the new 8.5 litre tank gives the impression that it sticks out past the radiator shrouds, however, this didn’t prove to be an issue while riding and it never caused anything to become caught.

Starting off with the smallest capacity bike in the range, the 250 EXC-F, and with this platform I was particularly interested in how the latest 249.92cc powerplant would perform, notably featuring an increased 81mm bore and reduced 48.5mm stroke for the 2024 model.

Image: Sebas Romero.

I started in the softer map (white) and found myself immediately searching for more torque and bottom-end. That’s not to be overly critical of the white map, I believe KTM has done a great job at making these bikes suitable to a wide range of users and the softer map really helps smooth out the power right through the range and make it ultra-user friendly.

However, the rocky, technical climbs we were presented with coupled with the sheer height of the elevation we were riding at (well over 2000m at times) meant the green map really allowed the engine to showcase more of its potential, providing the added power needed to assist in hoping up and over some of the more sizeable and vertically inclined objects.

I found that, like a number of 250 four-strokes, that the 2024 KTM 250 EXC-F didn’t mind being revved out, but I was impressed with the torque and power down low that it offered in the green map for an engine of its size.

One element that I found particularly fun on this model was navigating some of the steep descents. While it is slightly heavier than its predecessor, the geometry, new chassis and the new closed cartridge WP XACT-USD forks provided a balanced and stable feel when trying to keep traction in both the front and rear tyres.

The Brembo braking system on both ends provided high levels of feedback and control, and this was really put to the test when we descended steeply downhill across a variety of hard and loose rock surfaces.

Moving to the KTM 350 EXC-F, and I rode this bike twice, for about 10km on each occasion. After going through a range of technical, rocky climbs, tight, twisty turns, and faster-flowing sections, my initial feeling was that this platform lives up to its reputation of being a true all-rounder. This was confirmed in my second stint on this machine after riding each of the models within the 2024 KTM EXC-F range.

Image: Sebas Romero.

Its 349.7cc engine produces roughly nine more horsepower than the 2024 KTM 250 EXC-F, and if I had to pinpoint where the increase in power was most noticeable it would be in transition from the bottom-end to mid-range.

The added power helped the bike glide up the rocky ascents a bit better, also boasting that little extra punch to help up some of the steeper obstacles. There was a slight noticeable difference in the weight compared to the 250 EXC-F while riding, but the 350 EXC-F still provides high levels of flickability to help navigate some of the tighter turns or special tests with ease.

Again with 350 EXC-F – and with all of the models within the 2024 EXC-F range – I found myself quickly switching to the green and more aggressive map, greatly due to the nature and profile of where we were testing.

I also put the new optional quickshifter function to the test on this model, activated by the push of the button on the handlebar map switch. Essentially it allows for a clutchless upshift between second and sixth gear, also eliminating the need to chop the throttle.

A great level of pressure on the lever was required to get this to work at high rpms, however, in the lower to mid rev range was where it was worked best. It was a lot of fun short shifting through the gearbox on our road ride home and even through some of the faster connecting trails while trying to catch my breath.

While I didn’t find myself using the quickshifter through any of the tighter or more technical sections, I do believe it is an added benefit for longer rides. One shift where you don’t have to worry about the clutch or chopping the throttle doesn’t make a massive difference, but when you are riding for a whole day like we did, any little factors or features that can save you energy add up in the long run add up. Plus, it sounds really cool and is a lot of fun to use on some of the less technical sections.

In terms of elements that help or restrict longer rides, the new ergonomics are a positive. The increased contact area gives your more area of leverage around the tanks, making easier to grip and control the bike in a variety of settings. The Brembo hydraulic clutch, however, was heavier on the four strokes than it was on the two-strokes, and I found my left hand tiring after extended durations controlling the clutch through technical uphill sections.

Image: Sebas Romero.

Next up is the 450 EXC-F, and the first time I rode this bike was immediately after lunch when we were faced with a combination of fast and technical rocky climbs that were moderate in elevation.

Hitting the first section of rocks I was amazed with how well it glided over them, making them easier to ride than I thought they should have been. I found the power of the 350 EXC-F sufficient enough to tackle a range of obstacles and challenges, but the 57hp of the 450cc engine was certainly a welcome increase when needing to lift the front wheel quickly up terrain that got steeper quickly.

KTM incorporated an anti-squat chassis concept to the PDS (no linkage) to the 2024 KTM EXC-F range, providing favourable characteristics time and time again through the 128km loop.

A key target of this concept was to help keep the front-end more planted, particularly while accelerating hard up steep inclines. I thought it best to mention as we are discussing the more powerful bikes within the range, because even while tackling some near vertical sections I had complete confidence to accelerate hard in the green and more aggressive map without looping out.

This certainly didn’t come as a compromise to rear grip, as there was definitely a sufficient amount to tackle the hardest of sections, the bike more capable than I was. There were often times while climbing I would instinctively go to pull the clutch in slightly and I would have to remind myself just how planted the front-end was and how hard I could accelerate without needing to worry.

The new hyddro-formed, laser cut, and robot-welded frame used across the range was designed with specifically calculated parameters of longitudinal and torsional flex. What amazed me, on the 450 EXC-F and each model was how the frame could feel so rigid and planted, yet provide great levels of feel.

A key component to this is the new closed cartridge WP front forks, which provided a plush feel that seemed to absorb obstacles quite well. Perhaps for a professional-level rider a stiffer setting or valving would be required, but for the average rider considering we were testing on some quite challenging terrain, I strongly believe they will answer a wide-range of demands.

Finally, the highest capacity model in the range, the 500 EXC-F. Admittedly, this was the model I spent the least amount of time on during the test, but the kilometres I did bank on this platform were enjoyable. Weighing in at 108kg (without fuel) and churning out a very useable 64hp, the 2024 KTM 500 EXC-F glides over medium speed and moderately tough sections with ease.

Image: Sebas Romero.

Some may be critical of it being a tougher bike to ride for an extended period, but out of the entire range it handled the medium-speed second and third gear rocky sections the best. It also provided immense enjoyment in the faster sections where you could really open it up and stretch out the true top-end of its legs.

In terms of comparing it to, say the 450 EXC-F, the 500 felt as if it were slightly more gradual to rev. But don’t let that fool you, the extra 60cc capacity certainly provides its benefits and is ultra smooth and useable, I would say even more than the 450. Its increased, relative smoothness is more than compensated by the additional seven horsepower and the extra kilogram in weight was only marginally noticeable in super-tight sections.

Throughout the day the conditions were near perfect, with rain the day before leaving the ground with close to optimum grip levels. Across the entire range, I was very impressed with how hard I could accelerate on the flat or even off-camber turns.

The conditions did help in this regard, but the combination of the well-balanced geometry and the closed cartridge WP XACT front forks and WP XPLOR PDS shock working great on their respective ends exaggerated just how great the conditions were and limited the need for traction control as an assist.

Overall, the global media launch for the 2024 KTM EXC-F range in Lesotho was an amazing experience, with the local community very supportive and meeting us throughout flatter parts of the ride to provide a high five or cheers of support. From breathtaking surroundings to a challenging, yet rewarding loop, each of the models within the range proved highly capable in their own right and up to the task of what was a demanding route.

If I had to pick a favourite, I would go with the KTM 350 EXC-F, as it maintained the versatility that it’s renowned for, with a mixture of impressive handling, rideability and ergonomic improvements for 2024. That said, the range certainly caters for all levels and is arguably more ‘Ready To Race’ than ever.


Engine type (250 EXC-F): 249.92cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore/stroke (250 EXC-F): 81 mm x 48.5mm
Engine type (350 EXC-F): 349.7cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore/stroke (350 EXC-F): 88mm x 57.5mm
Engine type (450 EXC-F): 449.9cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore/stroke (450 EXC-F): 95mm x 63.4mm
Engine type (500 EXC-F): 510.9cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore/stroke (500 EXC-F): 95mm x 72mm
Transmission: Six-speed
Starter: Electric
Clutch: Wet multi-disc DDS clutch, Brembo hydraulics
Tank capacity: 8.5 litres
Front suspension: WP XACT-USD fork, 48 mm, 300mm travel
Rear suspension: WP Xplor PDS shock absorber, 310mm travel
Front brake: Brembo two-piston calliper 260mm
Rear brake: Brembo one-piston calliper 220mm
Weight (250 EXC-F): 106.2kg (without fuel)
Weight (350 EXC-F): Not listed.
Weight (450 EXC-F): 107.4kg (without fuel)
Weight (500 EXC-F): 108.4kg (without fuel)
Availability: September 2023 onwards
Further information: