Originally Posted by Gryphon12
I'm responding here because I feel your pain. I'm torn, too. But I need a DS, not a race bike. (My total solution would be a WR450R if Yamaha would ever make one.) Here are a few questions that I've asked myself:
Day rides of 100 miles? Mostly dirt roads and some single track? To me, that screams WRR. Most WRR fans get used to the power and adjust their riding style accordingly. You've had one. Can you do that?
If your are going KTM, I think you should look at the 350 EXC, not the 500. The 500 has monster torque and by the end of the day, can be tiring to ride. Pantah's son only needed the 500 to exceed 90 mph (target was 110 mph to be competitive as he explained in another thread) in a 1000-mile desert race. Americans get hooked on bigger is better. I've never believed that, and I still don't. (To be fair, the 500 is SOHC, and the 350 is DOHC, so valves on the 350 are a bit more complicated.) They weigh almost the same. The 500's outsell the 350's - maybe the 350's are more available? Read both the 350 and 500 threads on this site.
Yes, KTM's require less frequent maintenance if you are not racing. However, they are race engines with high hp/liter, and much more highly-stressed components. Regardless of how you ride, they require more TLC than the Yamaha. The biggest difference may actually be the suspension. Will you use the KTM's capabilities? KTM's are also lighter because they have weaker subframes and don't carry big alternators. Is that OK with you? If so, go for it.
Finally, you will also end up spending money to customize the KTM. You will (evenutally) put on a different seat, may want different or higher bars, handguards, larger tank, etc. Tires are a wear item on both bikes.
I've considered a lot of what you put in your post. The 500 EXC has a radiator fan (no fan in the 350 from what I've read) and a stronger/firmer rear spring which should be better for me (180 lbs plus gear). The two dealers I've spoke with both anticipate 500's coming soon, but no 350's in the short term. In theory, I was thinking that the torquey 500 show allow me to keep rev's down which may help the 500cc engine last a bit longer? In addition, there's only a couple hundred $ difference between the two, the 500 just seems more appealing to me because it bridges a further gap vs. the WRR.
Regarding the WRR's power; it was adequate, but just barely. On road, I definitely would have liked more, but I didn't ride on pavement all that much. I had no problems with the WRR suspension. In terms of weight, I thought the KTM was significantly lighter? I could be wrong though because many published weights I see are with no fluids.
Good point about the KTM seat. However, other than that it appears good to go out of the box. I consider the stuff I need to add to the Yamaha essential right away.