HEADS UP!!!

Site upgrade in progress... Core site functions are working, but some non-critical features/functions will be temporarily unavailable while we work to restore them over the next couple of weeks.

Please post any bugs you encounter, but before you do, check to see if it's already listed.

Thanks for your patience while we work to improve the community.

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
slowbike

Is a KTM 500 or 530 EXC dual sport bike really the right bike for my riding?

36 posts in this topic

When I say "the right bike" I'm referencing the life expectancy before needing engine work.... not "is it the right bike for the terrain I ride in, or my level of expertise in riding."

I'm considering buying a 450 EXC, 530 EXC , or 2012 500 EXC to compliment or possibly replace my current bike, which is a DR-Z400S. I hammer the DRZ pretty hard at times, though I am not what I'd call an expert rider, but pretty decent.

What I'm wondering, is longevity of a KTM.

Right now I typically ride 1200-1400 miles a year, only during the summer months.

I ride one dual sport event, and ride the course about 3 times, and then do other recreational riding when I go camping during the summer, which could be a combination of forest roads, jeep trails or technical single track trail

I don't mind normal maintenance, but is a KTM 4 stroke something I'm going to have to plan on rebuilding the top end every few years?

I'm basing the above comment on what I hear people talk about online... not that "they have done it to their bike," but what they hear from others, as well as what is recommended in the owner's manual.

I've put about 7600 miles on my DRZ since 2006 and it has many miles of life left in it. Previously, I had put 16k miles on a 97 DR350, and 12K+ miles on a 94 DR350.

Edited by slowbike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You could also have a look at the 390 and 450 FE Husaberg. At least there are traces of yellow in the sticker set:banana:

Underneath the blue paint they are quite compatible with KTM.

I also come from a DRZ, have about 1.000 problem free miles on the Berg. These 'new' engines with shim-under-bucket valve systems are stone reliable. The EFI system might develop problems, but that is (highly probable) due to contaminated fuel (bacteria) which live on the edge of the water and fuel in your tank. Some people have it and some don't.

You can buy some enzymes that will eat the bacteria. The residues of these bacteria will gradually clog your fuel pump and will give the pump a hard time. And will make it run lean...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
... The EFI system might develop problems, but that is (highly probable) due to contaminated fuel (bacteria) which live on the edge of the water and fuel in your tank.

You can buy some enzymes that will eat the bacteria. The residues of the bacteria will gradually clog your fuel pump and will give the pump a hard time. And will make it run lean...

I have been reading here and over at KTMTalk about fuel injection and additional filtering. I've also seen several instances with riding buddies having issues with the 10% ethanol mix in the fuel they bought.... then I got schooled on "phase separation."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, it is an ethanol problem, because before the days of ethanol we didn't see any of those problems. Here in Europe we have E5 and E10 gasolines, which have 5% or 10% ethanol base.

The thing here in Europe is that the E5 doesn't need any announcement at the pump, where as the E10 does. It appears that the E5 is already with us for about two years, but our carb based bikes would simply burn together with their residues. They would cough a bit, which we would call a 'flame out'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I replaced my DRZ with a 450exc 2 years ago. There a few big advantages that come with lighter weight and more horsepower but there is a price. The KTM is much easier to ride (especially in tougher circumstances) however after 150 hours on the meter I had to redo the top end (piston, guides) and now at 350 hours am using 100 ml of oil per ride (3-4 hours). I am told that is acceptable but will do the top again anyway. Still having a far better time with great handling, braking , etc and power whenever you twist it up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No one has yet presented a single reason to me why drz would be more reliable than a ktm apart from ktm having more power. In normal commuting use at least the rfs lasts 20-30tkm before any work is required and that's what those high mileage drz's are doing. Take it to race track and you can expect a fraction of that but same goes for drz, especially if they have some hop-ups.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let me add this. I have just spent time riding the KTM 500 back to back with the 450 and a 530. I think the 450 is by far a better all around bike. The 500 is great in the open terrain, but can't match the super sweet power delivery of the 450 in anything technical. If you go KTM, get the 450.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I own a DRZ and I just got rid of a KTM 250xc-f. I bought both used with low miles. The KTM was the biggest peice of crap I ever owned. Although I must admit it never left me stranded. I also ride the dirty face and other dualsport events in the area and personaly do not feel KTM is reliable enough for my type of riding. Many people I ride with have good luck with the KTM, but they are high maintenence. Get used to your KTM falling over in the parking lot when the kickstand fails, over and over.:smirk:

If you were looking to buy a DRZ, would you be asking on TT if they are reliable?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I

If you were looking to buy a DRZ, would you be asking on TT if they are reliable?

I already own a DRZ, it's a KTM I'm looking at buying.

It's not really the reliability aspect I'm concerned with on a bike, it's the longevity.

If a bike is going to need a top end rebuild after 150 hours or so, it's not a bike I want.

When I'm out trail riding, doing a dual sport event, or whatever, I typically spend 8 hours or so riding, and about 1300 miles a year. That works out to be 162 hours of motor run time (if I were to actually be riding that full 8 hours). That could mean a top end rebuild once a year, if the motor gets to the point of using oil, or running bad due to ring and piston wear, and needs a top end overhaul every 150 hours or so.

KTMs need more frequent oil changes, which I can deal with, but a top end rebuild once every year or two is a bit over the top for me. Is that frequent of a rebuild what people are experiencing?

The DRZ - put gas in it, change the oil, RIDE, repeat, year after year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For the RFS generation bikes, particularly 05-07, we would run those well over 200 hours before thinking about going into the top end. On those, the intake valves would be the first indication of needing a tear down. Between myself and the guys I ride with, we have had at least a dozen on those bikes and not a dud in the group.

On the new generation 2012 FI bikes, no one really has enough time to know the life expectancy yet.

I am not sure there is any particular reason that the oil change frequencies would be significantly different from the DRZ. The new gen bikes do seem to keep the oil much cleaner looking.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am not sure there is any particular reason that the oil change frequencies would be significantly different from the DRZ. The new gen bikes do seem to keep the oil much cleaner looking.

I try to change the oil in the DRZ between 500 and 700 miles. Once I've let it go to about 1000 miles.

Generally I change the oil twice every riding season. I ride from June-October. Sometimes I make it out in May.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The DRZ - put gas in it, change the oil, RIDE, repeat, year after year.

'Ready to Race' means something different.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Slowbike: I ride the same way you do as about as many miles and I just picked up a gently used '10 KTM 530, for the 2012 riding season. I have all the same concerns as you with rebuilds, oil burning, and the like. Only time will tell how this is really going to work out for me. I've been on a DRZ for a number of years and plan of keeping it around. However, the KTM is 50lbs lighter and makes more power. Just picking the bike off the kickstand there is a noticeable difference in weight. I'm hoping that translates into more fun on the trail. If the KTM proves to not be as reliable as I want and needs rebuilds too often, it goes away. From people that I've talked with, I'm not all that worried about it. I think the bike will last a long time for the type of riding that you are talking about. You don't know unless you try.

Good luck on your decision.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In between the Husa and the DRZ I rode a 2009 RMZ 450. The injection was so effective that the injection spray reached the cylinder walls and was torn into the engine oil.

Too much fuel in your oil will in the long run damage your engine. So don't forget to check your injection powered KTM for fuel fumes in your oil.

This stinking oil was the reason I ditched the RMZ. The Husa changed oil smells normal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In between the Husa and the DRZ I rode a 2009 RMZ 450. The injection was so effective that the injection spray reached the cylinder walls and was torn into the engine oil.

Too much fuel in your oil will in the long run damage your engine. So don't forget to check your injection powered KTM for fuel fumes in your oil.

This stinking oil was the reason I ditched the RMZ. The Husa changed oil smells normal.

Race bikes (also ktm) only have one compression ring, I think drz has two? This causes the oil to contaminate a bit quicker and more gas in the oil. Especially the injected mx bikes dump huge amounts of gas in some situations (way more than carburettors) to cylinder and that causes oil to smell like gas. The injected exc bikes should be different because they are not tuned for mx and have several maps. Also they should be rather fuel efficient, unlike mx bikes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Overall the KTM will be more maintenance for sure, as someone already stated they are not tagged "ready to race" for nothing. Looking at the overall miles you are doing per year plus the fact that a few hundred of them are street miles I would stay away. The KTM/Husaberg/Husky dual sports are tuned more for dirt duty with the basics to get them past the EPA, they lack cush drives (trans/hub) and vibrate pretty bad at higher speeds (unbalanced wheels). That being said I have ridden a friends DRZ400 many times and would never consider owning one, there is no comparison between the two bikes. The KTM is hardcore woods weapon but the price for that is more wrenching at shorter intervals. On the other hand the grin ear to ear when riding the KTM makes up for all the extra work over the DRZ.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

EXC can be made very street friendly, in fact I think it's the most pleasant streetbike there is. Add sm-wheels, taller gearing and that's pretty much it. Pure street use is rather light for the bike and they do last, at least mine have lasted well. All the failures are due to my own tuning, although cranks could be harder but they do last in stock exc trim.

I would not even consider commuting on any other bike but my current 560 (525) exc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I rode my friends EXC 450 home and in two hours I had a sour arse. I can ride the Husa 390 all day and don't feel a thing. Are these buddy seats different?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have an '05 KTM 525 and a '07 DRZ-S. I'd say you pose a tough question. I've had the DR-Z since it was new. It has 12,500 miles on it now. It's seen a combination of highspeed asphalt runs where the throttle stayed pinned for extended periods of time, putzing around on gravel back roads, and an occasional trip into technical terrain. Still runs good, plenty of oil changes, one valve check at 12k miles (It had 2 valves ever so slightly tighter than spec).

I've only had the 525 for a few months. It led a hard life before I picked it up but after straighteneing the subframe, checking all pivot points, adjusting the valves, and beefing up the stator, etc, etc, it has been a reliable mount so far, and much more fun to ride!

So the question is.... Does your DR-Z leave you wanting more? Do you find yourself in situations where you have to pick up the bike now and then during a days outing? Do you find yourself not going places you'd like to go but the bike seems just a wee bit to unweildy? If so a big bore EXC might be just the ticket! Otherwise stick with the DR-Z, cheap and reliable, even when abused.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The KTM/Husaberg/Husky dual sports are tuned more for dirt duty with the basics to get them past the EPA, they lack cush drives (trans/hub) and vibrate pretty bad at higher speeds (unbalanced wheels).

Note that KTM and Husaberg have very smooth engines and also have damped (cushed) clutch baskets plus they have the added benefits of nice versatile wide ratio 6 speed transmissions. Obviously all wheels require proper balancing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0