The KTM line up can be a little confusing at first as their model numbers all seem very close to each other and the smallest differences can make a considerable change in the bike type. Of course, there are many different KTM models out there, but today we’ll just be focusing on the enduro off-road models, keeping this a little simpler and not involving the SX models, which are the motocross track bikes.


So, XC-W, EXC and XC, what’s the difference? Well, before we get into all the details, let’s look at the EXC and EX-W bikes first. These are just about the same, but the difference is whether it is street legal or not. The EXC is the legal bike, which comes with precisely the same features as the XC-W, but also include the headlight, taillight, mirrors and all the other things you need to ride it on the road.

In this article, we’ll only be looking at the XC and XC-W bikes as these are both entirely off-road. So, now we’ve already taken out one of the three and can get straight to the off-road motorcycles, which we’re most interested in.

Now, this is usually one of the most significant differences in free off-road bikes, especially when looking at the same brand, but different models. The KTM range is no exception as we see some significant changes with the XC and XC-W as well.

Firstly, the XC-W comes with the PDS suspension at the rear, which means the shock mounts directly to the swing arm and doesn’t go through it with linages as see with the MX bikes. The XC models come with the linkages, which already tells us it’s more for the super-cross off-road styles and even motocross.

With the PDS shock, you gain the advantage of having less under the bike to get stuck on rocks and logs as you go enduro whereas, on an MX track, you don’t worry about those things.

Even with the front forks, we see quite a significant change in the XC and XC-W range as the W model offers a softer front shock, which is once again perfect for enduro as it handles the bumps better. The XC model is once again more towards the MX track bike, providing a harder suspension that’s better and taking the punishment of big jumps and hard landings.


Now, when we look at what these names stand for, we see the XC means cross country while the W stands for full ratio gears. Therefore, to most the bikes are the same, but just different gearboxes, which isn’t entirely accurate as seen with the details above. MX bikes are close ratio gearboxes while the XC range is a semi-close ratio and the XC-W is a full ratio gearbox. Both the XC and XC-W offer 6-speed boxes, but in the case of the W, both the first and second gear is lower, making it easier to go slow and get a bit more technical.

KTM XC-W vs KTM XC – What’s the Difference?