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Old 09-29-2012, 08:58 AM   #1
matt33 OP
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Need a little push to buy a KTM 500 EXC over a WR250R

I've been trying to resist the urge to get another street legal dirt oriented bike for several months. This urge continues to grow and I've accepted that the only cure is to buy another bike. I currently have no motorcycle and I can only justify one for the foreseeable future. My last bike was a 2008 Yamaha WR250R. I sold it in 2010 to buy a Jeep, but I've missed having a bike ever since. I love reading the ride reports here and I hope to add my humble contributions down the road.

Initially, I was going to buy another WRR; the one I had was a good bike. I loved the reliability and low maintenance, but sometimes I wished it had more power and less weight. A couple of months ago, I came across a KTM 500 EXC at a local shop (was sold). It seems like the answer to my prayers. It's roughly twice the horsepower of the WRR and weighs about 30 pounds less. The main thing holding me back is the price. My KTM dealer is willing to sell me one for $9,700 ($200 off MSRP). He has another 500 EXC coming in two weeks; to this point he has pre-sold all of the ones he has received. He suggested if I want the next 500 he gets, I call him with a $300 deposit ASAP.

I'm close to putting a deposit on the KTM, but I just read that the warranty is only 6 months. That sucks because winter is coming soon and I won't have a chance to rack up some real miles until next spring. My wife and I are planning to start a family soon and she is OK with me buying a bike right now. I fear if I wait until spring to buy, I might have missed my window of opportunity to buy. I could get another WRR, but no dealers around here will have any in-stock until late November. Surprisingly, the Yamaha dealers in my region don't seem willing to come off of the WRR's $6,700 MSRP and on top of that, I'll need to change the tires, tail-light, handlebars, and a few other things which will bring the total price a little north of $7k. I keep checking craigslist for used WRR's or KTM's, but there isn't much out there within 100 miles.

Most of my rides will be day trips of 100 miles or less through a maze of dirt roads and some single track. Pavement use will be about 25%. Bottom line, I need a little push and/or guidance from the you guys.

matt33 screwed with this post 09-29-2012 at 11:22 AM Reason: more info
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Old 09-29-2012, 09:06 AM   #2
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Make no mistake, the KTMs are race bikes. They're awesome in the woods, and very fast. But they do require regular maintenance, and they don't even pretend to be comfortable.

If you don't mind the entry price and turning wrenches, and you want an amazing dirt bike, definitely get the KTM. If you want a low maintenance (but still very capable) play bike or commuter that you just gas and ride, you may want to stick with with the Yammie.

Disclaimer: I own a 525 EXC, have ridden a 530 EXC and WR250X/R. I haven't ridden the new 500's, but I plan on buying one next year.
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Old 09-29-2012, 09:51 AM   #3
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My son bought his first dual sport last spring with a new 350 EXC-F. He did a couple practice events and raced it in the Mexican 1000. He said he should have bought the 500 as top speed with the 350 was only mid 90's on the playa. He needed a little more speed. He claims he'll show up next spring with a 500.

I have a WRR. There is no comparison. The KTM is the real deal. The WRR is a nice dual sport and very practical, but it's not a KTM. The new KTMs are very high fit/finish these days. If you are going to race it, then yes it will have a lot of maintenance, but not like a motocrosser. If you are going to ride it as a play bike, I think it will give you a lot more playing than the Yamaha will.

No doubt, though. The new thumpers are expensive to rebuild no matter what brand it is.
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Old 09-29-2012, 11:39 AM   #4
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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.
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Old 09-29-2012, 11:53 AM   #5
matt33 OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gryphon12 View Post
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.

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Old 06-02-2014, 09:47 PM   #6
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Good luck with your decision - it is fun problem to ponder.

I think you will at least need to buy extra: seat, sprockets front an back, better hand guards, radiator guards, and perhaps the ignition upgrade to dirt bike mapping.

Quote:
Originally Posted by matt33 View Post
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.
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Old 09-30-2012, 06:17 AM   #7
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Very thoughtful post here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gryphon12 View Post
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.
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Old 09-30-2012, 02:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gryphon12 View Post
But I need a DS, not a race bike. (My total solution would be a WR450R if Yamaha would ever make one.)
Gryphon, great post overall but there is no way Yamaha can make a WR450R. People keep forgetting that the WR250R is one cylinder from a four-cylinder Yamaha street bike, and actually detuned from its parent engine. That's why it's so reliable. The 450 is a purpose built dirt bike and if Yamaha tried to turn that engine into something street legal, it would be either much heavier or much slower and probably both.

Yamaha could make a WR450R from a clean sheet of paper, but it would not compete with a KTM for weight or engine performance. If you're just looking for a bigger, heavier, more powerful WR250R, that's a possibility.
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Old 09-30-2012, 02:23 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by montesa_vr View Post
Gryphon, great post overall but there is no way Yamaha can make a WR450R. People keep forgetting that the WR250R is one cylinder from a four-cylinder Yamaha street bike, and actually detuned from its parent engine. That's why it's so reliable. The 450 is a purpose built dirt bike and if Yamaha tried to turn that engine into something street legal, it would be either much heavier or much slower and probably both.

Yamaha could make a WR450R from a clean sheet of paper, but it would not compete with a KTM for weight or engine performance. If you're just looking for a bigger, heavier, more powerful WR250R, that's a possibility.
I don't know, montesa...KTM is doing something similar with the "Freeride" model, aren't they? They don't really break down all the components from everything I've seen to date, but it's based on the DOHC 350EXC...just heavily tweaked down on the stress level...or at least so it appears...a 24hp rating would seem to confirm that. Everything I see on the WR450"F" indicates that it's a durable, reliable engine as it is. If Yamaha did a similar detune for max torque and power in the low revs, it seems like a possible candidate. Apparently the "clean sheet of paper" approach is kind of expensive, I guess as evidenced by the "stolen" cylinder from an older R1 on the WR250R. Still, the Japanese seem the least likely to think there's a market for this bike. I'm even amazed that KTM seems to be pursuing the Freeride model.
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Old 09-29-2012, 01:24 PM   #10
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" A couple of months ago, I came across a KTM 500 EXC at a local shop (was sold). It seems like the answer to my prayers."

Go ahead with it then. That wr250r is never going to be an exc, but it does some things very well, as you know. They are two very different motorcycles.
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Old 09-29-2012, 02:26 PM   #11
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That wr250r is never going to be an exc, but it does some things very well, as you know. They are two very different motorcycles.
The cevat is that the EXC can do the things the WRR does (except for the 26k valve checks) but the WRR will never be able to do the things the EXC can do.
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Old 09-29-2012, 06:35 PM   #12
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The cevat is that the EXC can do the things the WRR does (except for the 26k valve checks) but the WRR will never be able to do the things the EXC can do.
Only my opinion, riding is 80% the rider & 20% the bike
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Old 09-30-2012, 09:09 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by AZ TOM View Post
Only my opinion, riding is 80% the rider & 20% the bike
I used to say the same thing back when I only rode Yamahas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tachedoutoffroad View Post
.... Still have the higher maintaince, but as soon as you get in something nasty, you don't care about the easy oil changes and valve check.....
Yep. Funny how when you are sweating and whipped from busting your ass down a miserable, rocky, almost vertical trail and you are still facing an even uglier climb back out you don't give a damn about oil changes and valve check intervals.

But then again, if you even have to ask about two bikes that are so entirely different I don't know if the KTM is the right choice. The 25% pavement would sell me on the EXC. But then I consider having to slide a feeler gauge under a valve a fair trade for the extra power and top shelf suspension. I learned a long time ago that no matter how long the service intervals are or who made the bike you still end up working on it every singe time you hammer one offroad.
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Old 09-30-2012, 03:38 PM   #14
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[QUOTE=Grreatdog;19712642]I used to say the same thing back when I only rode Yamahas.



Great line from an Orange point of view
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Old 11-15-2012, 11:40 AM   #15
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service free machine???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grreatdog View Post
I used to say the same thing back when I only rode Yamahas.



Yep. Funny how when you are sweating and whipped from busting your ass down a miserable, rocky, almost vertical trail and you are still facing an even uglier climb back out you don't give a damn about oil changes and valve check intervals.

But then again, if you even have to ask about two bikes that are so entirely different I don't know if the KTM is the right choice. The 25% pavement would sell me on the EXC. But then I consider having to slide a feeler gauge under a valve a fair trade for the extra power and top shelf suspension. I learned a long time ago that no matter how long the service intervals are or who made the bike you still end up working on it every singe time you hammer one offroad.
I dont want to sound cocky, all dirt bikes are great and its a matter of opinion what one likes. I have had Xr 600's for all my riding life (22yrs) I've hammered it ripped chains off it doin wheelies but never needed routine valve and tricky stuff. Just change the oil evewry 1500 km and its as reliable as a guide dog!
Well, technology is great! but when it lets you down, yr dead in the water!! though like every thing, its always a matter of if you like it buy it
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