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KTM XCW150 2019 Vs EXC150 Tpi 2020


Early 2019, after many years on 300’s, I decided to change a little bit, and bought XCW150 2019 model.

Tiny little bike, very light, very nimble and VERY fast when ride as it should be. All 150’s (and 200’s in the time) frames used to be identical to the 125’s frame –smaller and shorter wheelbase compare to the 250/300. Weight-wise, the 19 dry weight is only 201 Lbs! this is MX bike league weight…with lights off, CF pipe guard, Plastic skid plate and tank full of gas, this bike run 220 Lbs ready to race! Just incredible.

Took me few rides to get the grip on how and what. Its basically the opposite of the 300. While on the 300 you can be lazy, you can do some gear selection mistakes and to be somehow clumsy. The 19 on the other hand, have zero tolerance policy. Go gear too high? It will bog and die. You won’t keep your finger on the clutch and help the engine to be in the power band? It will bog and die, you try to lug it with having a finger on the clutch? It will die.

In short, if you want to move it right, you need to work for it. WFO many times and lot of gear and clutch work. If done right, it will reward you with amazing speed, and the ability to turn on the dime like no other. In other words, it makes me feel (and behave) like a teenager again. Awesome!

My 19 got minor mods. RK-TECH head insert and SC2 carb. While the head insert give minor performance boost, the SC2 is there mostly to avoid the need of constant jetting as I’m traveling a lot and ride in big temperatures and altitudes range. So basically, stock bike.

What I like on the 150 19? The light weight, the amazing agility, the power when hold wide open, the ease of lifting the front wheel.

What I didn’t like on the 150 19? Not too much torque down low (why? Why they stopped making the 200??), bike can be nervous at high speed, need a lot of attention all the time. Doesn’t like to start with the E-start when cold.

Bottom line? A bike that make me smile like an idiot time and time again. He might luck some grunt but didn’t stop me going anywhere just yet. Yes, I love it!


Late 18, rumors start to flow around about KTM doing the 150 Tpi. Same rumors said it will be something very different, it will be a game changer!

When KTM finally released the bike, I went and checked the tech specs and every article around, to try to understand beforehand what they did and what to expect.

So basically, the same transition that went with the 250/300 moving to the Tpi era, happened here again – They took the 19 engine, replace the cylinder with Tpi setup, added power to the stator, added oil injection system, sensors and fuel pump. Another critical and major change is the expansion chamber that went from SX style to Enduro style, very similar to the big brothers.

Other details that attract my eyes was the wheelbase that grow 11mm compare to the 19 and now identical to the 250/300. Apparently, the 150 Tpi does not share the 125 frames anymore but rather have the same frame of the 250 with just higher lower cradle as the small engine require less space. At least the ground clearance is very good!

With all the additional pumps, oil tank, sensors, pipe and the new frame, the dry weight went into the 213 lbs range…that’s a big difference compare to the 201 lbs of the 19.

We bought the Tpi thinking it will replace my wife bike, 250 2017 model. Before she could even test it, I install my 19 suspensions and wheels, and went out for a good ride to understand what is what. The ride was technical Sprint Enduro training of 3 hours, lots of 1-3 gears with short straights of high speed and few “Hard Enduro” sections in between.

Once seating on the bike it felt VERY different. It felt big and heavy. It felt roomy. It felt very much like my wife 250!

Start is instant. Unlike the 19, E-start turn the engine cold without any issues. Unlike the big Tpi’s, the kick start fires the bike easily, almost as easy as on the 19. Short push on the button when the bike is cold, and it goes right into quite idle. As I’m familiar with other Tpi’s, I let it idle for couple of minutes before start moving to give her a good warm up.

Click into 1st, clutch goes out and…..not too much happened! Bike run very smooth, incredibly linear and I have some dejavou feeling, but I couldn’t put the finger where that feeling come from just yet.

Compare to the 19, it’s dead slow, or at least felt that way. The acceleration is super linear and very controlled, the bike won’t lift the front just like that, but just create very broad and useful power everywhere. Did I just say “wide useful power band” on a 150 2 stroke?? Yes, I did!

I don’t know if is the Tpi mapping to “blame” (I have the latest map loaded) or the Enduro pipe, probably both have their share of creating that engine behavior. After a short while it hits me! This power band is just like the Beta X-trainer with the original pipe! Very useful, very linear, zero excitement engine, that is!

If I’ll get the time, I’ll try to improvise something and put the 19 pipe on, just to see what happened! It must be improvised as the 20 models have whole new frame and mounts points.

All that been said, it is easy bike to ride. The longer (and heavier) frame, create stable bike. Together with that engine, the bike is very forgiving! Maybe not 300 forgiving, you still better be in the right gear, but you won’t get severely punished with every small mistake. It is however requiring more effort to lean into corner and in general, to move the bike around especially in very technical riding. Going steep uphill is easier as well with the linear power and longer wheelbase, as the bike doesn’t want to stand up all the time like the 19.

Into the small extreme sections, its harder to lift the front into and over obstacles, but again, the stable frame allow you to rail into rocks section and the bike stay dead straight (remember that I used my 19 suspension? With the 20 original components it probably be even better!). With the perfectly clean fueling, low rpm crawling is much easier as well, and its actually hard to stall.

Mid training session when I realize that I might be riding faster on the Tpi than on my 19, regardless (or maybe because of?) the power disadvantage. The stable frame with the non-threatening power, allow you just hold the gas WFO for very long time without getting any crazy behavior. Not only riding faster per say, but for longer time as well, as the lack of need of constant high level of attention help you to keep fresh for longer.

After 3 hours of straight full-on riding, gas light came on while clock shows that only 45 miles passed. Finding later that the fuel tank capacity went down from 2.51 gallon to only 2.25 gallon. Day later we rode the 19 and the Tpi back to back in the same riding conditions and fuel consumption was roughly the same. Pity that actual range went down while on the big Tpi’s it went up.

What I like on the 150 Tpi? Easy starting, clean fueling without messing around with anything, low end grunt, no premix needed. Very stable and confidence inspiring frame.

What I didn’t like on the 150 Tpi? Physically big, heavy, hard to lift the front, dual throttle cables, very high maintenance cost (book state piston change every 40 hours! Whaaat???)

Bottom line? Very nice bike, my wife loves it and already said goodbye to the 250. And for me? I will stay with the smile generator 19 (and order new piston for the Tpi already)

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