KTM 450/530 EXC Dual Sports an oxymoron?

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by Milagro, Dec 3, 2007.

  1. Milagro

    Milagro Been here awhile

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    Hi all,

    I hope I don't get flamed by the KTM faithful, but here goes!

    I, like so many others, are searching for my next D/S and the KTM 450/530 EXC's seem to come up in conversation as a possibility. The only question is that these bikes look like KTM's full-on dirt offerings with lights and turn signals! They certainly don't resemble the general compromise that we are all used to seeing (DR, DRZ, XRL etc) and yet they seem to be quietly marketed as something you can routinely take on the street.

    Does this really make sense? Are there KTM riders out there that put reasonable mileage on these knobbie-shod offerings from Austria?

    I can see trailering to a base location (say Silverton, CO for example) and using the street-legal aspects to link dirt trails, but it just seems to me that a more street-friendly Japanese option would be better if longer pavement stretches are part of the plan.

    Are you EXC riders trailering and riding the dirt? Are you taking off the knobbies and replacing them with D/S tires (seems like a silly thing to do on the EXC) or are you just letting the knobbies be damned and changing them on a monthly basis?

    Thanks to all for the input. These look like great bikes. I just want to be sure that they can be really used like the standard D/S (say 50/50 dirt/street).

    Thanks!:D

    DD
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  2. tn-steve

    tn-steve Addicted

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    Very good question. I had the same thoughts and concerns, and have been looking more towards the KTM 690 and the Husqvarna TE610. I suppose it really comes down to how much dirt/road you plan to use it for. For me, I need something a little more road worthy than I thought the 450/525 would be.
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  3. KenR

    KenR Long timer

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    I don't view these excellent offerings from KTM as true 'dual-purpose' bikes, rather they're a way to ride legally in a great deal of locations that would prohibit the same machine without the plate.

    I've got a plated 450EXC (I installed a Baja Designs dual sport kit to get the tag) and find it most useful when connecting trail sections together by roads that would require a license plate.

    For me, if I have to ride on pavement more than about ten miles to get to a riding area, the 450 is going in the truck. If I'm going to be running paved and unpaved roads all day, commuting around town, etc. I'll be on a 640 which is more enjoyable for that type of riding anyway.
    #3
  4. St_rydr

    St_rydr Strider

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    Kinda says it all besides the maintence aspect, I really think you nailed it.
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  5. Milagro

    Milagro Been here awhile

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    Thanks guys.

    I had a feeling that the main purpose of these bikes is to link trails and you provided the verfication!

    No such thing as the perfect bike!

    DD
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  6. advjackass

    advjackass orange crusher

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    i beg to differ. i have a 525 exc plated as well and i do end up putting it in the truck if i need to get to an area more than 20 or so miles away. however, i feal it is one of the only true dual sport bikes. this is a bike you can take on technical single track and then if one has too could ride unlimited blacktop. it might not be the most comfortable bike on the road but it can go anywere in the mountains that bikes are allowed to go and alot of places they should not be. i have had the 625 sxc, 950 adv, and now have a se and while these are great bikes i have no interest in taking them on technicle single track. so i think the real question is what is your definition of "dual purpose"? let's face it you could ride a harley on most forest roads but that does not qualfy that bke as a dual sport! my 2 cents
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  7. BCC

    BCC I know better

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    I did buy my excr 530 as a street legal dirt bike. I have a 12gs adv for the other stuff. However, with less extreme tires, the ktm would be more of a dual sport.

    The frequent oil changes are an issue. But they are not difficult to do.

    I really had trouble deciding between a 650 XChallenge (318 lbs) or the KTM (250 lbs). The lower weight, the aftermarket and the greater bias for dirt finally got me to the KTM vs the warranty, FI and comfort of the BMW.

    Oh, and it biffs much better than I do. Though I'm sure the BMW would too.
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  8. montesa_vr

    montesa_vr Legend in his own mind

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    I can understand why a rider would choose a DR, DRZ, or XRL for the street on the basis of the maintenance requirements, or concerns about the lack of a cush drive in the rear hub on pavement, or concerns about boilover without a cooling fan.

    However, for the life of me, I can't begin to comprehend why a KTM 530 EXCR would be any less comfortable on the street than a Honda XRL650. The only specific complaint I've read is the seat is painful on the street. OK, so you spend the money on a Renazco (put one on the XRL too, just to be fair.) Now, which one is more comfortable on the street?

    Same tires, same gearing, same single cylinder vibration, same lack of wind protection -- tell me please, how is the KTM impossible to tolerate for more than 20 miles and the XRL is a street bike?

    And by the way, I don't know exactly what you mean by "quietly marketed as something you can routinely take on the street," but I'd say the opposite is true. KTM, both factory and dealers, have discouraged routine street riding on these models, specifically pointing to the small sixth gear, lack of cush drive, etc.
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  9. KenR

    KenR Long timer

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    It's all semantics anyway, isn't it? My point is that while the KTM EXC is certainly capable of being ridden on paved roads, there are other bikes within and outside of the KTM product line that are better suited to that part of the dual-sport task, particularly if you're a 50/50 (dirt/pavement) rider. This becomes especially an issue with regard to maintenence intervals.

    Would I ride a 450 or 530 from Texas to Utah? No way, but I jumped at the opportunity to do it on the 640. Take the big LC4 on technical single track? Do-able perhaps, but not my first choice.

    It comes down to personal choice and there is no right or wrong answer here. To me, there is no perfect, single do-all motorcycle. That's why I have several different bikes in the garage. The most versatile in my stable is the 640, but I wouldn't give up the 450, 950 or trials bike for what they do either.

    Still, my interpretation of the original posters question was does the EXC line up with the DRZ and others in terms of dual sport pavement suitability? As big of an Orange Bleeder as I am, I'd have to say no.
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  10. montesa_vr

    montesa_vr Legend in his own mind

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    Why, maintenance issues aside? What makes the 640 more comfortable, and would it be impossible to correct on the 530?

    Why, maintenance issues aside?
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  11. Albie

    Albie Kool Aid poisoner

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    Compromise is for marriage. :lol3 I DO want a full on dirt bike with lights. Anyone that thnks a DRZ makes a better dual sport bike then an EXC is nuts. My DRZ motor is screaming at 70 MPH on the hiway with street friendly gearing. My 450 EXC is actually lugging at 70 and I've gone down 1 on the front and up 2 on the back. Sure, they EXC's are gonna be more intimidating power wise then something like a DR, DRZ or even the XRL. I'm by no means an expert rider but the power seems more then managable to me. And the suspension is lightyears ahead of those tame D/S bikes and then add to that the much lighter weight makes the bike much easier to ride in the hard stuff. The one place where a bike like the EXC gives up ground is more frequent maintenance intervals.
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  12. KenR

    KenR Long timer

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    Any number of things could be 'corrected' on the 530 to make it more comfortable for extended pavement riding, but why go to the trouble and expense?

    The 640 Adventure has some (albeit limited) wind protection, a cush hub, bigger front brake, larger cooling system, a luggage rack, more oil capacity, a larger battery, a higher output stator and better lights than the EXC.

    Seats are similarly awful. :D

    I choose to truck my street legal 450 to riding areas mainly to keep hours/miles of the engine and save the tires for what they're best at - dirt.
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  13. Rusty Rocket

    Rusty Rocket Life behind "Bars"

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    They are dualsports, but just at the dirt end of the spectrum. KLR's are at the street end of the spectrum and most everything else is in between. Most of the people I ride with have been waiting for a street legal "full dirtbike" for years. Now we have some. The TE450/510's are right there also.
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  14. Milagro

    Milagro Been here awhile

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    Thanks again all,

    I didn't mean to imply that an EXC owner couldn't put D/S tires on and ride it for distance on the steet, it just seems like you would be compromising the bikes performance capabilities.

    There is a reason that they come with dirt tires. If you replace them with D/S tires, are you still getting the benefit of the bike's high performance capabilities?

    Anybody out there riding one of these with a D/S (street-friendly) tire? Is it still the same bike?

    Thanks,:D

    DD
    #14
  15. montesa_vr

    montesa_vr Legend in his own mind

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    So the 640 has functional advantages on the street of more powerful and or fade-resistance brakes, a superior electrical system, and standard luggage capability. OK, point taken.

    I'm not trying to argue that the EXCR models are practical dual sports in their present state. Rather, my point is that KTM could tweak them into practical dual sports and still be way ahead of the competition in weight and power. How much weight could it add to put another quart of oil in the frame, add a cooling fan and catch bottle, and put on the cush hub?
    #15
  16. KenR

    KenR Long timer

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    Agree - the EXC's could be made much more pavement-worthy with these changes, but you're still left with a valvetrain that requires relatively (at least in comparison with other DS bikes) frequent adjustments. That's no big deal on a trail bike, but on the road one can easily start racking up lots of hours and miles (at high RPM).

    I can't address maintenence intervals of the new engine design; maybe they're less frequent, but I think they've gone to a bucket/shim arrangment so the PITA factor might've gone up as well.

    I'm excited to see what KTM will be doing with the re-designed LC4 engine. To me, that's where the real potential lies for a truly high performance dual sport / dual purpose bike. What ever they come up with likely still won't be as great as an EXC in technical single track, but may make sense for a more pavement biased rider.
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  17. montesa_vr

    montesa_vr Legend in his own mind

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    Yes, seems like the biggest gripe about the 640 adventure has been the vibration. My only hesitation on the 690 is that the motard six-speed is pretty narrow, and if that carries over to the dual sport version it would be a major disappointment. Can't get current owner's manuals yet from the KTM web site, so I'm not sure about the ratios on the new 690 Enduro.
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  18. Sheep Shagger

    Sheep Shagger Show me your fleece

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    As others have said, it depends on how much of a compromise you want to take, but personally, apart from maintainance, I only see compromise with the others. (XR's DR's etc)
    My 525 EXC has seen a bunch of miles and some 4 to 7 day trips, I can easily carry what I need on a DIY rack, can easily knock down 500 interstate miles in one shot if I need to, and I take no compromise when riding offroad (big point for me). It's 100 miles for me to get to any ware decent off-road, and my EXC has only ever seen my truck when I have been meeting friends 1k or more miles away.
    Have a WR450 that's road legal as well, but wouldn't / couldn't do the road miles on that bike that I do on my EXC.

    Also, unlike others, I'd take my EXC over any LC4 engine bike for the road, LC4 would be better if you want more electricity for accessories, or carry more stuff (stronger subframe), but personally if I was after a LC4 (engine bike) or a DRZ, XR, I'd be seriously looking at the TE610, or wait and see what the new 690 LC4 is really like. I think the TE is the best of the bunch in the LC4, DRZ, XR, KLR type bikes.

    The EXC engine is silky smooth compared to any of the above as well (can't comment on the 690), and that make a lot of difference when trying to knock out some road miles, it's smoother (vibration wise) than my 990 Adventure.

    You do need to make some changes, like change the seat (all bikes), and add a rad fan $80 KTM part, they make for this purpos. Others run Oil coolers & cush hub. But if you are prepared to do frequent oil changes and check valves regularly, the bike & engine is great, also so simple to work on.
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  19. Para504

    Para504 Spam, Spam, bacon & Spam!

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    LOL - that is seriously hardcore... I wouldn't dream of doing that with my EXC. The 1/2+ week offroad & backroads would be a blast but you couldn't pay me to ride the exc on the highway for any distance. Slab sucks, especially on a trail bike. If that was my only bike, so be it, but I'd find ways around slab if humanly possible. I like the EXC's for being able to ride "aggressively" offroad / handle technical terrain & still be able to zip around on backroads without getting unduly hassled by the po-po. A lot of it comes down to the rider's ability, tolerance for pain/discomfort, and interests. For me, I'm right in line with KenR's postings on this.
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  20. paochow

    paochow Bye bye desert

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    As a former DRZ owner, the only real advantages the DRZ has over my current 530 is maintenance intervals and being a bit heavier and less affected by wind on the highway. Other than that the 530 pretty much is more capable in terms of power, suspension, gearing, ergonomics (although the stock seats suck on both bikes), handling, etc. I usually ride mine 15-20 miles to get to the trails as I did on the DRZ.

    As for tires, I just bought two sets of Scorpion Pro's to use, although they don't get the mileage of a set of MT21's or 606's they don't compromise offroad handling as much.

    Would I take the bike on a Copper Canyon trip (1300+mi)? No, I already did that once on the DRZ and had a horrible time on the 450mi/day pavement stretches. I bought a 990 Adventure for that kind of long distance adventuring. The 530 fills the same role as the DRZ did- day trip dual sport/adventure riding. It just works so much better off road that it feels like cheating.
    #20