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I've owned two KTM's im the past few years (200 XC-W and 250 XC-W) and I can attest that they're great bikes, but - I dunno - $2500 seems a bit expensive for an almost 17 year old bike. Even tho he has the reg so you can register it for the street (is that important?).
I paid $3800 for a 2008 XC-W that had an odo that backed up the mileage of on 241 miles. I had no problems whatsoever with that bike. BTW - the EXC line was changed to the XC-W line around 2006 so they are essentially the same bike.
PaulB has a 300 EXC so maybe he'll chime in. Me? I'd keep looking or get the guy to lower the price to around $1800 tops.
When I looked at it the price was $2500, but that is still too much for any '96 bike out there, even if the damn thing is still in the crate. That being said, I too would try to get the guy down by about a grand. KBB has the bike in "Excellent" condotion at $1510, and NADA has it at $1685 in the same condition, and this bike is at best "Very Good" rated.
Not only that, but it is going to need new tires due to tread wear ($150+/-) and maybe a few other things due to it sitting a great deal if what the owner claims is true. Having a bike sit can do as much damage as riding one in several aspects, so it needs looked at. Though, and as Paul said, a 300 is a great bike. I would have nothing less under me since having one, though I still love to wring the neck on my YZ125. At my height and weight I truly need the 300. Also, if you were previously worried about a 250, the 300 may be even more to handle though the power comes on much smoother. The 300 is a beast when opened and it does not take that much to do it either. Without good throttle and clutch manipulation you will have a true monster on your hands. I would be aware of that.
I did a look through the same Craigslist and found these too. Look at these below and see what you like or hate. Hahaha!
http://maine.craigslist.org/mcy/3375886592.html (Cjeck this out from top to bottom, but may be nice)
http://maine.craigslist.org/bar/3372032980.html (The YZ looks pretty rough, but it may only be that it was not well maintained. You can probably talk the guy down to under a grand and spend maybe a few hundred to get her back to peak condition. The CR he tends to hide a bit, so it may be worse. Worst casefor the YZ, you are out $500 extra and a total of $1500 total for the YZ, if you can talk him down to a grand for the bike, to get it back to tip top. Still a good deal really.)
http://maine.craigslist.org/mcy/3399773588.html (Talk him down to around $3000 grand and go for it.)
http://maine.craigslist.org/mcy/3445531552.html (I would go for the stock bike and try for no more than $1800 for it, but it looks pretty solid really from here.)
http://maine.craigslist.org/mcy/3359038642.html (Looks pretty rough, but like before, the price is not bad and you will not be out a great deal to get it back to peak condition if it has been halfway maintained.)
http://maine.craigslist.org/mcy/3406671102.html (Bike looks solid, but the price is too high. A 2000 model SX should only be at about $1200 tops if you ask me, not $2000.)
http://maine.craigslist.org/mcy/3408964630.html (Looks pretty straight, but it is a 250 and the price needs to come down.)
I hope some of those help you out a bit, and some are rough around the edges to say the least, but may only need a few hundred to get them back to full on ready to go. Just my $0.02 here. Just remember I went on the aspects you said before that money was not an option, so I took that into consideration as well to repair any issue.
Bleed has plenty of time on his hands to help you...
Have you visited his blog yet? LOL
What ever you do tomorrow northwoods, make sure you go to Bleeds blog. Then he'll have at least 3 or 4 hits... LOL
Still no mention of me slagging off on a 300. You are NOT the Kiwi I know. Hahaha!
That's boring now. If you wanna ride junk, who am I to stop you... LOL
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