The 'allure' of the WR's easy handling and amazing power delivery has me always thinking about another one.....and I've had (3) so far!
I could just never come to terms with the suspension, after many attempts to improve it.
The KTM 450XC-W is undoubtedly the the best bike out there right now, design and handling wise.
But I just don't like the idea of such an expensive and fragile bike. I think the bike is over-engineered, and under-assembled.
The WR seems by far the best 'compromise'. It's about 20lbs heavier, but indisputably more reliable.
Hell, a Lithium battery, pipe upgrade, and some Tubliss front and rear, and you will loose 10lbs in no time.
As a relatively new KTM owner, I have mixed feelings about it. If I were to compare my experience as a WR owner to my experience as a KTM owner, I would say that they are similar. Each bike has it shortcomings. But in the case of the KTM, it was the new motors that they put out starting in 2008.
Think of it this way... those 2005 - 2007 KTM 450/525 are beloved as much as the wr450 is. You will have to work hard to pry them out of the owners hands. Pretty good chassis and a motor whose reliability easily rivaled the wr450. I think they had that same motor for the past 7 years, so they were ready to change it. So they designed this new chassis (08-up) which is absolutely amazing. You really gotta ride it so see what the hype is all about. But instead of sticking with their old tried and true RFS motor, they put an all new motor in it (RF4). That motor has had some mixed reviews regarding its reliability. A small percentage failed, but those owners are a large percent of the talkers.
In truth, they had a couple basic designs, one was a twin cam, single sump race engine that has a couple of fixable issues to make it more reliable. The stock rings can wear out in as little as 60 hrs (like a two stroke) and the cylinder walls are easily damaged. It also has some issues with an occasionally faulty cam chain tensioner as well as some bad oil pumps. You know the fix for this is really an aftermarket piston/rings as well as about $250 in other parts. The valves never move and the bottom end will last forever. So for $400 and an afternoon, which is pennies in the grand scheme of things, you can have piece of mind and easily fix what's wrong with their RF4 motors and have something pretty darn reliable.
With their XC4 motors, it had a single cam design, but with dual oil chambers. A very small percentage had issues with oil migrating from the engine to the tranny, leaving the crank with low oil (yikes!) and causing problems. The other problem is that it burns oil at times, something solved by an aftermarket piston and new valve guides/seals. Again, small percentage of the bikes with problems which represent a large portion of the comments.
I wouldn't call the KTM fragile, I'd call it "new". They just need to stop changing it and refine what they have. But... the chassis on the KTM is so good, IMO, then its worth it to fix the problems.
, on the other hand, is working on their 12th year of that basic motor designed which started out in the yz400 years ago. Its tried and true and tested. Is so reliable that its hard to believe. However, the chassis is really not for aggressive riding. WHen you are racing, it feels old, outdated, doesn't turn well, doesn't stop well, is top heavy, etc... Its pretty versatile, but is not not race-y enough (new word, look it up!). So you gotta start doing things to lighten it up, upgrade the brakes, increase the midrange etc... After you've spent about a thousand dollars, you will realize that you've added the stuff that about brings it up to the level of the stock KTM chassis.
Perfect bike would be the wr450 engine in the KTM chassis. They don't make those, so I have one of each.
Lets hope that the new KTM and the new WR properly addresses both their shortcomings. I would love to have one bike which kinds does it all. But both the new KTM's and the WR450's are first year bikes. I think I'll let the teething problems sort themselves out first
Oh, the price of the two bikes is comparable. There's only about $1000 difference. If you upgrade the Yamaha
brakes to be as good as the KTM and you add a hydraulic clutch and triple clamp with a sharper steering angle, you will have spent $1000. The prices of those bikes, if similarly equipped, are about the same.
Edited by mauricedorris, March 15, 2012 - 08:46 AM.