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Old 09-29-2012, 09:58 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 12:22 PM Reason: more info
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Old 09-29-2012, 10:06 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, 10:51 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, 12:39 PM   #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, 12:53 PM   #5
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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.

matt33 screwed with this post 09-29-2012 at 01:04 PM
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Old 09-29-2012, 02:24 PM   #6
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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, 03:26 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by what broke now View Post
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, 03:30 PM   #8
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I am very pleased with my WRR, and would buy it again, BUT you had one and sold it. Bike are supposed to stir something in you, unlike like a washing machine, or a Camry.

If you want the KTM, but buy another WRR, I bet you'll regret it.

I agree with the post above, the 350EXC is worth a look.

You are a guy with a baby on the way, and as no bike is "done" when you bring it home, why not buy lightly used, and save some money? A 1 or 2 year old KTM EXC (hopefully with some accessories!) costs a whole lot less than $9,700.
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Old 09-29-2012, 03:58 PM   #9
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Agree with some of the responses about that street legal 350 EXC-F. That might be about the best all around street legal bike in the KTM lineup. I'd rather have a street legal 350 Freeride, but we don't have that option yet. Frankly I prefer this DOHC engine over the other designs.
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Old 09-29-2012, 04:05 PM   #10
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Just remember the Ktm isn't a dual sport, its a dirt bike with a plate.
Its also a bike that begs to be ridden hard, you generally don't go out putting around and exploring on them.
It really depends what mode you want to be in.
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Old 09-29-2012, 04:15 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by GAS GUY View Post
Just remember the Ktm isn't a dual sport, its a dirt bike with a plate.
Its also a bike that begs to be ridden hard, you generally don't go out putting around and exploring on them.
It really depends what mode you want to be in.
I see this assessment quite a bit, but I've been riding a fair amount with many KTM guys who have 450 EXC's and such, and those bikes seems to be capable of just tooling around on the many 2-track routes I've ridden with them on. I've even jumped on one of them occasionally, and while they're not as tame as my highly modded KLX250/300S, they're not fire breathing, snorting beasts. I think the 500 series comes closer to that because of a slightly harder hit, but even then not terrible.
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Old 09-29-2012, 04:28 PM   #12
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Echo what Jon said, you had the WR but sold it for a reason. I think if you get another you may be kicking yourself even though it's a capable DS. Been there... done that.
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Old 09-29-2012, 04:36 PM   #13
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I see this assessment quite a bit, but I've been riding a fair amount with many KTM guys who have 450 EXC's and such, and those bikes seems to be capable of just tooling around on the many 2-track routes I've ridden with them on. I've even jumped on one of them occasionally, and while they're not as tame as my highly modded KLX250/300S, they're not fire breathing, snorting beasts. I think the 500 series comes closer to that because of a slightly harder hit, but even then not terrible.
Yeah, they are definatly capable, I'm just saying its a different feel.
I know when I'm on my Ktm I'm in a different mode than when on a true dual sport.
And my adrenaline is usually flowing for a few hours later too , after riding the Ktm !! Lol !!
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Old 09-29-2012, 06:08 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by GAS GUY View Post
Yeah, they are definatly capable, I'm just saying its a different feel.
I know when I'm on my Ktm I'm in a different mode than when on a true dual sport.
And my adrenaline is usually flowing for a few hours later too , after riding the Ktm !! Lol !!
I see a lot of guys riding them like this. But many also ride em like I do....fat, old and slow. With the fan you can tractor along at walking speed.

My KTM with the tall seat, lowered pegs and bar risers was very comfortable.
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Old 09-29-2012, 06:49 PM   #15
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I have been bouncing this exact question around for about 6 weeks. I have read everything I could about both...know each of their strengths and weaknesses. I was hoping to pick one of them up in early September but it now looks like it will be during the winter.

I know which one will make me drool and I also know which one would be the smarter choice but I still don't know which one I will get. Either way, once the snow melts, I expect to be roosting!
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