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Old 10-21-2014, 04:21 PM   #1
47cdc OP
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Joined: Jul 2013
Location: Santa Fe NM
Oddometer: 44
KTM 550 EXC or KTM 350 EXC-F??

Wanting to do more fun dirt riding and looking between these two bikes That's the 500 or 350 (not the 550). I'm new to the dirt but not to bikes at all. Also, I'm 6'4 and 205 so I've been leaning toward the 500. Any thoughts on this decision would be appreciated.
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Old 10-21-2014, 04:26 PM   #2
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You may be best served reading the threads on this subject over in the Thumpers forum... lots of chat there about the pros/cons of both the 500 & 350.
'11 Gas Gas EC250 | '06 KTM 950 Adv | '79 Laverda 1200
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Old 10-21-2014, 04:36 PM   #3
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Location: West Tn, USA
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I've had both the 520 and the 500. What type of riding and where are you going to ride? My first impression is because of your size, 500. It's very powerful yet smooth down low. With a Rekluse it will go anywhere. I'd also check out Thumpertalk and KTMTalk. I'll try to dig up a thread I posted on one of them that might help.
'08 990 Adventure Orange of course
'00 520 EXC
'14 500 XCW

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Old 10-21-2014, 05:19 PM   #4
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Try to ride them both. If you do more two track and highway, get the 500. More single track get the 350.

I have the 500, but now I would have bought the 350. The 14 model is much improved.
"Dad, can I get a motorcycle when I grow up?"
"Son, you can't do both"
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Old 10-21-2014, 05:22 PM   #5
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Location: West Tn, USA
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I have no problems with 500 in tight stuff. That is about all I ride. Steers and turns great. Not to say the 350 wouldn't do better but I just like having the power on tap when I need it.
I'm 6'1" 215lbs. I ride at a B Class hare scramble pace and feel the stock suspension is pretty darn good. After setting the sag, all I changed was to add a bit of rebound damping in the rear. May go up a bit on compression in the forks or add a bit more preload, but we'll see.
'08 990 Adventure Orange of course
'00 520 EXC
'14 500 XCW

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Old 10-21-2014, 09:40 PM   #6
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Definitely a 500 I'm my opinion unless you are riding really tight woods and prefer the smaller bike with better traction but that you have to really keep in the right gear. For anyone 200+ I recommend a 450 or higher for most riding.

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Old 10-22-2014, 06:33 AM   #7
Joined: Dec 2013
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
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I have a 500 and have never wished i had the 350 over it. I ride lots of technical 1st,2nd gear trails and everything in between with lots of mud roots wet rocks and the 500 eats it up fine. Maybe if i was actually racing in the tight stuff the 350 would be less tiring at the end of a full day but for the average person looking to have fun, i think the 500 is the way to go IMO...SOHC is nice and power wheelies is 6th gear is a plus too
2013 xcw 500 - plated
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Old 10-22-2014, 06:54 AM   #8
Joined: Apr 2014
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SOHC is nice and power wheelies is 6th gear is a plus too

They do that stock? In sixth gear? Even the exc? Impressive..
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Old 10-22-2014, 06:58 AM   #9
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Location: Montrose, PA.
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I've only ridden the 500, but found the low end to be awesome and forgiving. I hear the 350 is a little peakier, and more rewarding for the rider that's whipping through super-tight stuff at crazy speed. The 500 probably isn't quite as nimble due to the bigger spinning parts and gyroscopic effects, but it feels plenty maneuverable to me.

Being new to dirt, I'd think the ability of the 500 to chug through stuff would be more valuable than the edgier 350. I'd have to guess that the 350 is a bike better appreciated by an experienced rider.
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Old 10-22-2014, 07:47 AM   #10
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Location: West Tn, USA
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Mine is the XC-W and you can basically turn the EXC into an XC-W easily by removing the emissions crap, re-mapping(although the ECU may be locked now on the EXC), and gearing the EXC down a bit. Yeah front end comes up at will on the XC-W :) . In technical steep uphills, sometimes too much but a Rekluse tames that. I find little use for 1st gear with the Rekluse.

Oh, and there is no, none, zilch snatchy throttle like the 990. But beware a little jarring from the trail will get you in trouble because the throttle response is so fast. Keep a good bit of slack in the throttle cables :)
'08 990 Adventure Orange of course
'00 520 EXC
'14 500 XCW

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Old 10-26-2014, 10:15 PM   #11
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Location: Calgary
Oddometer: 472
I owned a 500EXC and recently bought the 350EXC for the riding I do. The 500 is a great bike. It's got a lot of power and will climb like crazy. I bought the 350 after riding a buddy's and I preferred it in tight, technical riding with a lot of vertical. It has less top end and torque than the 500 but is more manageable and less of a handful. But that said, the 350 has plenty of power for bigger guys. The bike rips but you have to use more throttle and because of that it really is fun, quick, and light. You can really throw the bike around. If you're doing open desert, quad or forestry roads with the odd trail thrown in, then I'd say get the 500. If most of your riding is single track then get the 350.

However, if you buy a 500 and find it's too much bike for you, you'll have little trouble selling it. They're in demand. I sold my 500 in 4 days after I bought the 350. The 350's don't last long either. Both are very popular bikes
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Old 10-27-2014, 04:37 AM   #12
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Location: NC
Oddometer: 596
I was in the same boat as you find yourself.

A week ago this past Saturday, I went to my KTM dealer. Rode the '15 350 EXC-F demo, on and off road. In tight, twisties amongst small pine trees, it was quick and nimble. Throttle response was spot and not over powering. I intend to go to 14/50 with new chain in next few weeks.

The 500 EXC is a rocket ship off road. There is a lot of power behind the throttle and very easy to get overwhelmed in tight single track if you get on the throttle a bit too much. If you can keep the front wheel in contact, the 500 will climb about any high angle ascent.

I bought the 350 EXC-F. It has all the power and torque I need.

Now the bad news...
Got the brand new 350 home last Thursday. Started going through it per the Wee Beasty thread. Finally cranked it up Friday afternoon. Oil immediately started dripping out of the bottom two Torx bolts on the left side of the engine case. Both bolts were tight.

Loaded 350 into back of truck and dropped it off at the dealer Saturday morning for warranty work. And I have still not ridden my new scoot!

Unfortunately, dealer did not have gasket in stock. Hopefully brown truck will deliver the gasket by weeks end.
2015 KTM 690 ENDURO R
2015 KTM 350 EXC-F
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