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Written: November 13th, 2002
Written by: Harry Ritter Contact
The Cannondale guy (Darrel, from Columbia River Cannondale/etc.) called thismorning to confirm, and showed up right on time. I had the 520 out runningaround the meadow, so I'd be warmed up and ready to compare the bikes.
I'd say they are pretty similar.
Starting: The morning of the test ride was cool and clear. A little too coolat 25ºF. My KTM wouldn't start with the E-starter, this has never happenedbefore. All day, even after it was warmed up, no luck with the happy button.The kickstarter is ludicrously easy, but the electric deal would just crank.A little slower than usual, but it wouldn't start. Generally one stroke onthe kickstarter brought things to life. The Cannondale, on the other hand,started every time in about 3 turns. It doesn't start instantly because thefuel injection has to come up to pressure. The first time, the last time,the time after I fell: crankity-crankity-boom! off she goes. The E-starterbarks when you push the button, really turns things over with authority. Iunderstand that if the battery gets below 9 volts it won't start because thecomputer won't fire the injectors. You can bump start it then, by spinningthings up and pressing the E-start button at the same time. With nokickstarter to fall back on, I'll be watching the battery maintenance verycarefully, and replacing it annually.Added: I buzz around on my meadow quite a bit, lot’s of turning it off andrestarting. After the ‘no start’ incident I put the battery on the charger.It’s right back to the crankity-boom thing.
Weight: the C'dale wins by 1 pound, coming in at 251 wet, no fuel. Scaleswere calibrated with free weights from my workout stuff. I thought my KTMweighed 250, but that was before I calibrated the scales. Actual would be252.
Power: the KTM has more. Duh. Not a whole lot more, but more. It is moreexplosive, especially down low. The C'dale pulls hard, but without the'bang' when you are chugging the motor. Seems to rev more, and more quickly.The Cannondale does sound cool, has that intake noise when at wide openthrottle. The C440 loses out on some HP due to the S/A long silencer; theX440 silencer fits, and makes more ponies. Either bike is certainly an ‘Open’ class bike. If both riders do everything right, the KTM will take thestart. It’s easier to do everything right on the ‘dale. On the other side ofthe coin, the ‘dale will take other maps. It had the X440s map in it, whichis supposed to be the most aggressive of the ‘approved’ maps. The KTM justdoes what it does. No more, no less.
Handling: The 'dale does inspire confidence. I was leaning further on itthan I have on my KTM. I dropped the 'dale once, but that was due to therear brake; it was set high and is sensitive, and I have a droopy right footdue to a street bike incident. I run my rear brake very low. I didn’trealize I was brake sliding until too late.
Suspension: again, similar. The KTM is harsher in the little stuff, but hasthe monster springs in it. The 'dale is all stock, but didn't bottom when Iwent 5 or 6 feet high and landed on the flat. Either bike, dial it in foryour style/weight, and you’re good to go. There is more potential in theOhlins, in my opinion.
Ergos: The ‘dale is in fact ‘Karen Carpenter’ thin. The KTM, however, isonly slightly thicker. The office on the ‘dale had me pretty much right athome, but my set-up is very different from most folks. I think I’ll be a lothappier when I have one and adjust the bars/brakes/shifter. The saddleheight was about an inch, maybe an inch and a half lower on the ‘dale, butwe weren’t certain that the sag had been set. Should have been, Darrel and Iweigh about the same.
Vibration: similar. I thought the 'dale was smoother, then rode the KTMagain and it didn't seem as rough as I remembered. It's a wash, neither bikeis electric, neither vibrates significantly.
Looks: both bikes are beautiful, and exude trickness and speed. I don’t evenmind the orange on the KTM, since I put the black fenders on.
Misc: The ‘dale seemed lighter. Not so much when riding, but when I droppedit and picked it back up, it didn’t seem heavy at all. Maybe it’s that lowCG thing? Whatever, I like it!
Bottom line: The KTM has been traded in, the good folks at Columbia RiverHonda gave me what I wanted for it and made me a deal on the very bike Irode in this test. I'll be posting more and sending in Pix in a week or two.I don't pick up the 'dale until tomorrow. But I'm ready NOW! ;-)
Harry, "Harry Moto"