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SportsGuy 07-17-2012 09:55 AM

I have to wonder, if you just left your bike alone, would it be more reliable?
This thought stems from the fact there seems to be endless debate on the reliability of some bikes. I read everything about the KTM 690 Enduro R before I bought it. Then I bought it, brand new.

Still the chatter continues, and this doens't only apply to the KTM here...

And I'm left to wonder... if you just left your bike stock, would your reliability be better?

Sure, a fuel pump can die, a TPS can die, etc. But if the factory set up a bike to run for X number of miles before needing maintenance, and you start swapping ECU programs, altering fueling rates, changing exhaust cans, altering back pressure and removing the cat in the process, I have to it reasonable to think any of this *could* affect the overall reliability of the bike in question. (I say yes...) I mean, a lot of dosh was spent on developing the thing in the first place, and ostensibly by smart-ish folks at the factory, based on years of experience and tens of thousands of preproduction test miles.

My bike runs leans to meet federal emission Its still got gobs of power (IMO).

The one thing I haven't done to my 2009 FJR is fiddle with the emissions system, the ecu programming or the engine in any way. Changed the seat, improved the suspesion for my weight, added triple clamp risers, a new windscreen, fuse block, extra lights, and on and on...but haven't futzed with the engine or exhaust. Stock, it's easily enough for my needs.

Now, this isn't intended as a rant against folks modding their bikes (I've modded Jeeps for offroading, cars for autocross, etc. myself), but...

I am curious to hear from folks who've opted to simply ride what the factory built and their experiences around reliability, regardless of brand.

I know most bikes have inbuilt flaws, and it makes sense to correct those (KLR doohickey anyone?). But I see seemingly everyone swaping the fatcory exhaust on their 690 enduros "because they're so hot"... Well, there IS a cat in there. Locally I've seen a few riders (some I've met and respect) still running the stock exhaust, yet they happily put mods into other areas of the bike (as shall I - pannier racks, bar risers, tank bag, windscreen, etc.). I asked them about the exhaust heat and they universally said basically the same thing - its an exhaust, it'll get hot.

This got me wondering if you swapped the exhaust, thus eliminating the cat, and "possibly" requiring a remap, have you set yourself on a course of having to frig with too much, vs the factory settings, cascading into other issues.

Time will tell if the 690 is reliable for me. I was pleasantly surprised by the great fuel economy. But there seems to be a real divide on this point of relibaility on this particular model. Taking into consdieration that the Internet plays host to more negative opinions than positive opinions, I figure the truest test is to arm myself with a couple spares and ride the bejesus out of the thing. :D

scottmac 07-17-2012 10:03 AM

You can easily do that with a Yamaha WR250R/X. Change the oil every couple of thousand miles, keep the
chain clean, bearings greased and take a peek at the valve clearances when you hit 25,000 miles.

Switchblade315 07-17-2012 10:18 AM

it's not a thumper but my 01 FZ-1 has 92k miles on it and it's bone stock.

Thumperama 07-17-2012 10:24 AM

Modding them is part of the fun of ownership. In the case of my 2011 TE 630 Husky, an aftermarket exhaust (dropped 17 lbs) and a JD efi tuner made a dramatic difference in the performance of the bike. All the polution control parts were choking the motor in order to meet euro air standards. I've added factory "off road" exhausts and their corresponding ECU programs on all my Triumphs and they have each made very noticable improvements in drivability and performance.

If leaving it alone works for you, then great, but for others (like myself).....not so much.

devo2002 07-17-2012 10:25 AM

I'm a firm believer of "if it ain't broke dont fix it". If its broken then upgrade

Foot dragger 07-17-2012 10:39 AM

You mean kinda like the permanent jetting threads on DR650's? Once the airbox is hacked,the slide is drilled,the pipe is changed a couple times,special carbs are installed,then the jetting begins and can continue till the bike is sold.
Some say their bike runs perfect,some dont. My DR is totally bone stock, carb/exhaust wise anyway.
A 400 lb DR650 really doesnt make a great dirt bike no matter how much tinsel or ornaments are strung from it,theres no way to hide a flexy heavy frame and bottom feeder bargain bin parts build.

Many spend $$$$$$$$$ on them and love the things dearly,mine has stock carb/exhaust and works great,for what it is,push it hard enough and you will end up wearing it for a hat. Of course the farkles on the suspension and comfort add up but the bike is useless with out them.

WARRIORPRINCEJJ 07-17-2012 10:56 AM

Like a coupla' my friends, I have ruined a perfectly good motorcycle by doing all the "necessary" mods that the "experts" recommended.

It's funny/coincidental that you posted this thread. Recently, I have found myself pondering the same question, on a few occasions. Whenever I think of some of my old bikes (some that I absolutely loathed), I've found myself wondering how many of the problems, that I experienced, were of my own doing. In other words, I've wondered what the ownership experience woulda' been like if I had just left the fukker alone.

I only own one bike, right now (hopefully, not for long). And, that bike is anvil reliable. So, unless something goes wrong, there won't be much that I'll change. Who the hell am I to second-guess the engineer who designed it, and supervised its production. My new motto...

"If it ain't broke..."


VikB 07-17-2012 10:57 AM


Originally Posted by SportsGuy (Post 19149890)

And I'm left to wonder... if you just left your bike stock, would your reliability be better?

I can't say for sure, but I certainly don't buy a bike and then plan extensive engine mods. If I want more power I would buy a more powerful bike to start with. I enjoy the riding not the wrenching!...:evil

That's just me....:norton

As another poster stated - if something breaks or wears out for sure I'll look at an upgrade when I'm sorting out the problem....:clap

Pantah 07-17-2012 11:04 AM

I think you know me from the large 690 thread. Congratulations on your purchase of the most powerful thumper in production. I am leaving mine stock, other than some comfort items. Up until my Yam 250r, all my bikes have had aftermarket mods. Most went well, but I was never happy with the fueling of my 2004 KTM 950. Akro's, cannister removal and such left me with a crude running motorcycle for 7 years and 60k miles.

Meanwhile, the Yamaha runs really great and I attibute it to a well designed motor and FI system. Plus it's quiet. I want the same out of my 690.

I realize the muffler is heavy, but it doesn't seem hotter than others and hasn't melted anything. The only heat I feel is my left lower leg from the header routing. And then only if I ride in shorts.

But what I want most is good fueling like my Yamaha. I turned my ECU to #1 for motor break-in and smoother throttling in the city. It was great for a few weeks, but then started dying at idle occasionally. I did the throttle twist cure, and that worked. No more stalling. Turn on key; roll the throttle slowly to the stop and back. Turn off key.

If they ever make good maps for an Akrapovic muffler, I might get one. Or maybe install a power commander and have it mapped on a dyno like any race bike. But then I would also want to remove all the emissions stuff, which introduces new fueling variables.

No, I'll leave it stone stock for a year then decide. Mine is mostly a street bike anyways, so I want it to run the way it was designed.

Snakepilot has a new one also. He installed Akro muffler and has had no issues.

I found the Scotts steering damper a very nice improvement. I use a slightly stiffer basic setting than standard. I am half way through a lowering link installation. It will require me to shorten the side stand .75 inch. I added the wind screen, power outlets, sheepskin and have a Wolfman luggage system ready to install too.

First large trip will be MotoGP Indy next month. Couple thousand miles round trip.

Incredulous 07-17-2012 02:52 PM

I think a lot of people that don't know what they are doing screw up their bikes by doing mods they don't understand and do not have the skill to pull it off.

Kommando 07-17-2012 03:20 PM


Originally Posted by Incredulous (Post 19152080)
I think a lot of people that don't know what they are doing screw up their bikes by doing mods they don't understand and do not have the skill to pull it off.


If you know what you're doing, you can re-engineer an entire bike if you have to. I've blown apart several stock parts on several different vehicles before modding them with something better.

If you don't know what you're doing with a carburetor, don't make other mods that can't be undone if/when you want to put the bike back to stock. On a DR, this means that you take the airbox lid off while tuning. You DON'T cut the airbox until you've got it dialed in pretty good, OR you locate a spare airbox first.

If you're swapping springs and valving, you save your stock parts and record/photo the stock settings before disassembling anything.

If you don't know what you're doing, leave it to somebody who does, or don't mess with it. If you can't follow this guideline, expect problems. Otherwise, have at it.

plugeye 07-17-2012 03:35 PM

wonder no more.
your absolutely right
i've left this one alone & its great, dr350
with a flat CR had the dr650 tank off more times than i could ever remember

Foot dragger 07-17-2012 03:52 PM

I do know a couple people that will buy a 9500.00 bike,and before they so much as take it out of the garage,another 4000.00 is spent on suspension tuning,bling parts,trickery,and general foofooraw,all with out so much as turning a wheel to see what the bike does or doesnt need.

Then later,sure enough,the things that misbehave or break out on the trail in the middle of no where are those Special items. Its almost like the original factory engineers knew what they are doing for general useage and longevity.
Special exhausts burn their packing out,then the canister overheats and goes to pieces,during a multi day trip,all for 449.00 extra price over stock. Special carbs and tuning that are perfect at sea level belch black smoke at 9000 feet and suck gas like its nothing. These are some of the more common hop ups that can suck,but look cool and make noise.

VikB 07-17-2012 04:05 PM


Originally Posted by Kommando (Post 19152286)
If you don't know what you're doing, leave it to somebody who does, or don't mess with it. If you can't follow this guideline, expect problems. Otherwise, have at it.

Good point. I think bike owners fall into 3 categories:

1) Know they don't know what they are doing modding their bikes

2) Know what they are doing modding their bikes

3) Think they know what they are doing, but actually don't get it 100%

I suspect the first two categories of riders have the most reliable bikes...:evil

RedRaptor22 07-17-2012 04:09 PM

Well in the case of mine I think it was absolutely needed to make the Xr650l live and function properly, from the factory it was so incredibly lean that offroading required running a gear low and spinning it up like a sportbike just to make sure the power was constant, otherwise that god aweful smog pump could cause it to burp and die like a sick walrus while your trying to chug it around a trail or parking lot.

As far as reliablity goes I know lots who have plenty of miles with the "required" mods, and I know at least one person who's never done anything but ride selling one with only 6k miles that has a hole scorched through the piston, I presume it's because his was tuned like mine when it was new.

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