ktm 350exc vs 500exc vs wr250r

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by wizz, Sep 13, 2012.

  1. wizz

    wizz Up a creek......

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    Thought I had it figured out. Was about to grab a wr250r when i decided to stop by the ktm dealer.
    Now im back in the proverbial land of indecision.

    Im lookin for a street legal dirt bike that i can develop my skills on and eventually to ride the tat with.
    Im coming off an xr650r, which felt pretty big on the tight stuff. im not the greatest dirt rider but i want
    to get a bike that ill be happy with for a long time, which includes the time improving my skills as well
    as when they are more fully developed. Im on the north coast of cali where we have a
    plethera of dirt connected by pavement, and i am not interested in trucking my bike.

    Tat capabilty and comfort on long days are very high on the list. i would rather not feel like i just
    finished mowin the lawn after riding long stretchs (one of the reasons i sold the xr). i have a multistrada
    for street and less than paved roads, so i reckon im lookin for 60/40 dirt/street that wont kill me on the
    latter and really enjoyable (not a pig) on the former, and will be a blast on the tat.

    I know all 3 are fully capable, which keeps me on the fence as to pulling the trigger.
    Husky is not an option as there are no dealers near me, otherwise theyd be on the list as well.

    thoughts:ear thanks for any input yall have:D

    wizz
    #1
  2. wizz

    wizz Up a creek......

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    I should add that one of the reasons im inquiring is i cannot ride the ktms. no demos at the dealer.:bluduh
    #2
  3. rpet

    rpet Awesometown

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    I would love to own either KTM mentioned, but nothing in your description (60/40, TAT) calls for anything but WR or DR in my opinion.

    If I was shredding Norcal trails with a bit of pavement in between, the EXCs seem to be optimal.

    Why don't you get a used 2008 KTM RFS EXC and a used WR250R... two bikes for same price as a new EXC, and you would have the perfect bike for both uses?

    One last thing... a KTM 500 doesn't seem the right tool for improving offroad skills. I think you get that bike when your skills are finely honed.
    #3
  4. crazybrit

    crazybrit Long timer

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    because no such bike exists. last year of the RFS was 2007.

    I have a 2007 450 EXC. I rode it on the CO-OR part of the TAT (2400 miles). Sorry no experience of the new 350/500.

    I'll say one thing, the RFS isn't a vibey bike (compared to say an LC4) but the WR250R is incredibly smooth in comparison. I personally didn't like the WR because it was too smooth - sounds crazy I know - but I like to know I'm riding a dirt bike.

    Given your description of where you are currently and what you want to do, I think the WR250 sounds ideal. If you get a used one you'll be easily able to sell it without taking much of a hit in a couple years if you decide you want to get the KTM.

    Good luck on the TAT, you'll have much fun :thumb
    #4
  5. Off the grid

    Off the grid Seeker of the Unf

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    That buzzing in your earhole, NorCal.
    Good advice.
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  6. Tooltech

    Tooltech Been here awhile

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    I am not a real good off road rider and as such I blunder into situations that are forgiven by huge amounts of low end torque. Just remember that the huge high end torque can kill you...quickly! I like the KTM 500 EXC ( just bought it ) and I liked my KTM 530 ( the new 500 EXC is much better with the EFI ).:eek1
    #6
  7. It'sNotTheBike

    It'sNotTheBike Banned

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    I suggest you consider a KTM 690 Enduro. It weighs close to the same as a WR250R, but has a
    lot more power and torque, and it has ( for a big single ) a very smooth engine. Add a Renazco seat
    and some means of carrying more fuel, and you'd have your TAT bike and a bike you could ride pavement
    on rather than trucking it. The 2012 model is significantly improved over previous years, so if the budget
    permits I suggest buying a 2012 bike rather than an older one.

    It is my firm opinion that a WR250R does not have enough reserve power for safe highway riding. Sure, the bike
    will go 75mph, but at that speed it doesn't have the reserve power that a 690 Enduro or a KTM 525 ( or 450 )
    EXC will have. And reserve power can make all the difference on a paved road if a "situation" develops and you
    need to put some distance between yourself and other vehicles quickly for safety reasons. Your requirement of
    riding rather than trucking the bike means that unless you are going to only ride on secondary roads that a bike with
    more power will be nice to have, if you don't want to feel like a sitting duck every time you ride on the highway.

    I recommend you do what it takes to find people who will allow you to ride their bike for a short test ride.
    Without riding a bike there is no way you can know which bike you will be happiest with. The hassle of
    finding someone who will let you take a short ride on their bike is less than the hassle of buying a bike
    you end up unhappy with and need to sell. Buy the guy who lets you ride his bike a case of beer or a bottle
    of booze or a lunch or something :-)



    As an aside I think KTM USA is blowing it big time. If more people could test ride a KTM
    the salesman wouldn't need to say a word, because the bikes will literally sell themselves with a test ride.


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    #7
  8. wizz

    wizz Up a creek......

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    crazybrit: i was pretty much sold on the wr thinking it fit everything im lookin for
    as well, but im tired of the weight of the xr and the wr is even heavier.
    the ktms are lighter than both the xr and wr

    i really am sick of wrestling pigs offroad, which lead me to consider the ktm. i only
    see a 6 lb differnce between the two. why would one choose the 350 over the 500
    or vice versa?
    #8
  9. wizz

    wizz Up a creek......

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    its not the bike: thanks for the reply. i did consider the 690 but like i said im sick of the weight which has me leaning
    away from the wr. i have the multi 620 so the 690 is too i inbetween dirt and street. i also share your
    concerns for situational power. a bike needs somethin left at 70mph imo.

    i guess im really wonderin how all these bikes compare too the xr? i dont see much of a diffrence between the 350 and 500 other than power and a few lbs.
    #9
  10. crazybrit

    crazybrit Long timer

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    How does the subframe strength of the KTM and WR compare. Can you carry more luggage weight on the WR? I suspect the WR is more robust. I mention it just because of your TAT trip, I used the Giant Loop Coyote on my 450, it's perfect for the KTM but we stayed in motels on the TAT and I had zero spare room in the bag. To camp using this setup you need to be a very efficient/lightweight packer (see Wachs packing list/pictures). You'll also need to do more maintenance (oil changes) during the TAT on the KTM. The 3000 mile oil change interval on the WR would be nice. This said, that TAT is just one trip so it's probably wise to choose your bike based on the other 95% of your riding :D

    As far as the 350/500 differences, the bike/weight is pretty much the same except for the motor. if you want to ride more tight trails the 350 would get the nod. More fast open terrain, the 500. Typically the smaller motor bikes "feel" lighter on the tight trails.

    There are a few 350/500 threads here in Thumpers. Sounds like you're talking yourself towards the KTM, I've not heard a single person dislike theirs yet.

    Good luck, sucks to be in the position you are in :lol3
    #10
  11. It'sNotTheBike

    It'sNotTheBike Banned

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    Of your stated choices I'd buy the 500 EXC then. You can always add a throttle cam if the bike needs to be tamed for
    low speed tight trails, but you cannot make the 350 have more power so easily, and we seem to agree that extra power
    is nice to have on pavement.

    The KTMs will be obviously lighter than the XR, and the KTMs have a six speed transmission ( on EXCs )
    which is a nice thing to have. Also the suspension on the KTM is simply better than the Honda suspension.

    Add an HT oil cooler, a larger fuel tank, lightweight luggage and minimalist gear so you don't ask too much
    of the subframe, and you will have to recalibrate your fun meter because it will be pegged
    all the time :-)

    I also think a 2007 525 EXC is worth considering, especially because it is not a first-year model and I am wary of
    first year KTMs based on KTM's past history. Note that the 2007 is the first year the EXC was unimpeachably street
    legal from the factory, so it is more desirable than an earlier model year EXC if you want to be sure to avoid DMV hassles
    in the future.


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    #11
  12. crazybrit

    crazybrit Long timer

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    What kind of "situation" is this. I guess I've never had one where the power of the WR250 wouldn't be sufficient. If you tend to get into these "situations" often perhaps the bike and it's power output isn't what you should be troubleshooting.
    #12
  13. Attico

    Attico Wrong way 'round

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    I know how you feel.

    I currently have a WR250R, modded to make it better/lighter. It has a megabomb/PC4, fuel prog, gearing, fat bars, 606s, etc...

    I recently rode a 530 and a g450x and I LOVED the power of those bikes. The suspension on each was very different. The g loved to rail and drift and was really stable while the 530 had suspension that would save you if you did something stupid. It was agile and felt very alive.

    My WR was so much better all around than those, and the main reason was the seat, the vibe free ride, the ease of riding it.

    It is so much work to get the WR going fast. Always rowing through the gearbox, up and down all the time. You get on these other bikes and you can click it in third and ride all day. That is really the only fault the WR has. On the "between trail" sections, I was easily the happiest person there. If you're planning longer distances, the WR has them both beat.

    I wish the 450 and 530 were more forgiving in the maintenance dept, I'd have one in a minute. I think everyone wishes for a WR450R, I just wish the WR had another 20hp.

    The weight never bothered me. It didn't feel heavier than either of the two others.

    I can tell you the 690 is a bitch. It feels heavier and it won't turn. That bike is well suited to desert riding. In the tight stuff, the frame limits the turning radius significantly.
    #13
  14. It'sNotTheBike

    It'sNotTheBike Banned

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    Come ride on the I-440 belt line around Raleigh NC and see what you think when some idiot in a cage is 4 feet off
    your rear fender at 80 mph and your only option is to accelerate up to a higher speed or pray you do not need to slow
    down quickly, because all the other lanes are packed with vehicles so it is literally impossible to pull into another lane.
    If you have a bike with more power you can more quickly put distance between yourself and such cagers. You might say
    I could avoid the cager by not riding in the fast lane but you would be incorrect because all the lanes are full
    of drivers who will tailgate you. If you need to ride on such roads, and I occasionally do, it is nice to have more power
    than you would typically otherwise "need" on a dual sport bike.

    My preference is to own a bike with more power than the Yamaha . You seem like an educated fellow, and surely
    you can understand that a preference is not an absolute but rather a subjective thing, and as such there is no "right"
    answer, but only an answer which is right for the person who has stated the preference.

    The drivers in the Raleigh area are not like the drivers in Stumptown. People in Portland tend to drive in a much more
    civilized fashion than people in North Carolina do. You might be shocked at how people in North Carolina drive,
    it is very different from what you can expect in other parts of the US. Driving around Portland is much less frightening
    than it is in certain parts of North Carolina where I now live. I lived in Portland for ten years so I know whereof I speak.
    FYI I had an apartment near OHSU and I drove around the city quite a bit. I miss the higher level of civility one experiences
    in the Portland area quite a lot.



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    #14
  15. crazybrit

    crazybrit Long timer

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    Ok, I hear what you're saying for your location but the OP lives in the "north coast of cali where we have a plethera of dirt connected by pavement". Seems like a very different driving environment than Raliegh or even Portland. Of course he would need the power to outrun the cartel employees manning the Humbolt County marijuana plantations :wink:

    When I reply here I try to answer the question the OP posted based on the specific criteria they list. My own personal situation is usually going to be different than the OPs .... if in this case I answered based on my own personal situation I'd have just said "get the KTM" :lol3
    #15
  16. It'sNotTheBike

    It'sNotTheBike Banned

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    I think the OP needs a good map so he doesn't get too close to one of those cartel-operated grow-ops :evil

    People can disappear near such things. I was on Maui some years ago and was instructed by a local not to walk
    down a certain trail because there were caves near the trail in which meth labs were operating, and the people
    involved would have been happy to kill me and feed me to the wild pigs.

    I hear you on the different environment where the OP lives. Maybe a WR-R would suit him just fine. But he has been
    riding an XR-R so he is not entirely unfamiliar with having some power, and maybe he might want similar power
    but less weight. But that's just speculation on my part. Of course only he knows what he really wants, and even then he
    might not know until he goes through a few bikes. We've all done that, I reckon.

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  17. It'sNotTheBike

    It'sNotTheBike Banned

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    The real world maintenance on a EXC that is not being raced every weekend
    is not as labor-intensive as some who have not owned one of the bikes seem to believe.
    This has been debated endlessly and the people who have actually owned the bikes
    seem to agree that when the bike is not raced it doesn't need to be maintained
    like a race bike does. It is true that the WR-R needs less attention to the valves,
    but other than that there's not a vast difference in the maintenance required for the two
    different bikes, unless you consider a 20 minute oil change to be a big hassle.

    What you get in exchange for a bit more maintenance work is a lot more power, and significantly
    better suspension. You pays your money and you takes your choice, like the man said.

    Honestly I do not understand why someone would be less "miserable" on a long paved transit
    section when riding a WR-R instead of a KTM EXC. I have ridden both bikes and I don't
    feel that there is a significant difference in comfort, provided the KTM doesn't have the stock
    seat which is indeed horrible. If we are restricted to the bikes remaining 100% stock ( who does that ? )
    then I would certainly give the nod to the Yamaha in the seat department. But I think stuff like whether your wheels
    are balanced and whether the bike has a good steering damper makes a bigger difference in comfort than the difference
    between the WR-R and an EXC on paved sections. Now, if I could have a magic bike which transformed into a 950
    SM when I hit pavement and back into an EXC when I hit single track, I'd pay extra for that !


    It will be interesting to see what the OP chooses.


    I hope he lets us know.


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    #17
  18. wizz

    wizz Up a creek......

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    typically the "cartell grows" are operated by immigrants who are tryin to make a better living than they could somewhere else, not hard core criminals of the juarez variety, so ive never found too much of a concern. if you stumble on a patch, turn around and leave. most people dont wont trouble. i was way more nervous in the north georgia backwoods. had some run-ins there i could have done without.
    im sure the wr has plenty of power, but even here on the boondocks of the north coast having the abilty to easily roll on the throttle to pass logging/gravel/pulp trucks in order to avoid hazards that are constantly flyin off of said trucks is nice, plus its a nice feelin on the multi to always be able to grab throttle no matter the speed. the wr appeals because of long maintenance intervals, but i dont wont to downgrade from the xr. i wont a bike at least as dirt worthy if not more, is that the case with the wr. are oil changes the only real maintenace differnce between ktm and wr? i guess i keep thinking im really after a new dirtbike with a tag to replace the xr. thanks for all the replies.
    itsnotthebike: you hit the nail on the head- similar power, less weight
    #18
  19. It'sNotTheBike

    It'sNotTheBike Banned

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    The oil changes are not the main issue. The main issue is checking the valve clearances. The Yamaha has
    an amazingly long service interval for valve checks, and a longer interval for oil changes too. The KTM
    intervals are much shorter. In practice the KTM valves do not always need to be adjusted, but it is important
    to make sure you don't ride the bike much with the valves out of spec. If a KTM has
    Kibblewhite ( aftermarket ) valves installed the valves tend to stay in spec for significantly longer than with the stock valves.


    If you get a bike made in 2008 or newer the valves require a shim to
    be changed as part of the adjustment procedure. A KTM with an RFS engine uses a screw and locknut for valve
    adjustment, so you don't need to go buy some parts in order to adjust the valves.

    I think you need to ride a KTM and a WR-R back to back. You'll know which bike you want to ride
    home on within an hour. The Yamaha will be less hassle than a KTM, but the KTM provides a riding
    experience that for some of us means we are willing to deal with a bit of extra maintenance. Only you
    know whether the tradeoff is worth it for you.


    Consider this : do you imagine you will sit back at the end of a day of riding and smile thinking about how little
    work the bike needs, or is it more likely that you might sit back and smile thinking about how much fun you
    had riding that day ? Now, if you ride both bikes and you decide riding the Yamaha will make you happy, then
    it's a no-brainer and you should get the Yamaha. But the two bikes are different enough that you owe it to yourself
    to ride them both.


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    #19
  20. It'sNotTheBike

    It'sNotTheBike Banned

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    I didn't see your above sentence until just now.

    If you want similar power you will have a project on your hands trying to
    get it from the Yamaha and it will cost enough money to get there that you will be
    approaching the price of a KTM which won't need engine mods to achieve even more power.

    The KTM 500 EXC will have more power and a lot less weight. I think the KTM 350
    power will be close to a bone-stock ( restricted ) XR650R engine, but might feel
    like less because there is no replacement for displacement and that Honda
    engine makes good torque, which is what we really feel when we ride a dirt bike.


    Me, I might look for a nice 2007 525 EXC in order to save some money, because the
    last of the RFS-engine KTMs are very sweet bikes and they are very reliable when they
    have been properly maintained.



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    #20