KTM 500 - Less is more?

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by neduro, Oct 14, 2012.

  1. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    After many years of happy XC4 ownership, I decided it was time to take the plunge* to one of the new fuel injected bikes.

    [​IMG]

    I'm a luddite at heart, so I tried to hold out, but when I got to demo a 13 450XCW for a week at the CO600, it was just flat better than my beloved XC4 450XCW in every way. Better chassis, better power, better throttle response, better fuel economy, just plain better. All of my attempts to find shortcomings were met with a good answer. I was forced to conclude that new is better than old, with one caveat which I'll get to.

    Next year, I want to do some enduro racing. I feel like my speed has been stagnant for years, but after riding with some AA guys here in CO this summer, I see what I need to do to improve and I want to work at it. There's nothing worse than trying to go fast on something you know isn't the best you can have... which led me to a new bike.

    I'm going to leave it almost totally stone stock. The bike works so well as delivered, that I'm not going to mess with the usual suspects- no steering damper, no exhaust system, no big tank, no computers or lights or anything. I want to go fast, and the bike will do that in stock form. Without a mile-long list of bolt-ons, this could be a short thread! There are, however, a few items that belong on any bike I own, I'll get to those in subsequent posts.

    Now for the caveat. I still think FI is more complicated, and more failure prone, than carbs. I still have an XC4 (made up of Dakar leftovers), and when I go on big loops to the middle of BFE (like Baja, or places in Nevada or Utah), I'll use that.

    I hope this thread can turn into a repository of info on the new bikes, I'll add everything I learn, feel free to chime in as well with a question or a lesson learned.


    *I got one of the first 500s last year, and unlike apparently everyone else in the world, did not like it. The chassis was great, but my motor was rough and stall-prone to the point that the dealership wound up taking it back. After hours of testing fuel pumps, injectors, and ECUs, it turned out to be a bad spark plug cap. Oh how we all laughed. Something like that could happen to any bike, of any age... unfair to hold it against FI although I certainly did for a time!
    #1
  2. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    Now, a few of the things that I am adding to this bike.

    1) Dirt Tricks Drivetrain:

    [​IMG]

    The sprocket on top in this pic has over 20,000 miles of dirt on it. The one on the bottom is brand new. There is appreciable wear at the tip of the tooth, but the spacing of the teeth hasn't changed one bit, meaning that chain life is way better (as it's not getting stretched across incorrect tooth gaps) as well as sprocket life.

    I also got their new countershaft dome washer, which solves an issue I've had for years, where it's impossible to correctly torque the countershaft bolt without deforming the washer. Installed, time will tell, but I'm optimistic!

    [​IMG]

    If you ride a lot, this stuff pays for itself, and there aren't a lot of things you can say that about!

    2) Motion Pro Litelocks:

    Not a big deal, but these are so light I no longer bother to balance my wheel. Which makes me happy.

    [​IMG]

    The liteloc is the blue one on the left- the body of it weighs practically nothing so the total weight is just the shaft of the bolt.

    3) MEFO Mousses:

    I'm over having air in my tires. By going to a mousse, I no longer have to carry tube/ pump/ tire levers/ axle tools. In addition, mousses open up new lines, where I can just smack a rock at the start of a section and skip the rest. And, they protect the rim- air will just squish out of the way to either side, where the mousse is captive at the point of impact and prevents flat spots in the rims.

    [​IMG]

    All the hubalu about how hard they are to change is BS, IMO. I think they are easier than a tube, with proper technique, because you don't have to worry about pinching a tube. The offroadchampions tire changer is the truth, but you can do it with only tire irons quite simply as well.

    The MEFO product is substantially better than Michelin, IMO. I have run them both side by side, and the MEFO significantly outlasts the Michelin, and the profile is more suitable for non-Michelin tires. Both require proper attention (grease on install in particular).

    4) STR fork bleeders.

    I've tried them all, and these are the best. They don't leak (like many of the cheaper brands), they don't come apart when you wash the bike (KTM hardparts), they don't let water in as the top is an overhung button, and they serve their function perfectly.

    [​IMG]

    5) AP Racing PRF Brake Fluid:

    Does. Not. Boil. Kicks the crap out of Motul or any of the other high-end products I've tried. If you use the brakes hard, and have trouble with boiling, this stuff will fix it.

    [​IMG]

    6) Another trick, that's free, is opening up the turning radius. On the older bikes, you could just take the steering stop bolts out, it would hit the radiator and, depending on what tank, the plastic of the tank but they would just deflect.

    On the new bike, you can remove the R/S one entirely as pictured below, but the LS one has to stay with the nut underneath to avoid hitting the ECU. I may see if I can use something else and get myself a little more freedom...

    [​IMG]

    And that's about it. I'm not running real handguards for the moment, because I like the feeling of being able to wrap my hand out at the end of the bar. I'm not messing with the suspension or the mapping or anything else... I'm just going to ride the s&(t out of it for a while.
    #2
  3. clapped_r6

    clapped_r6 The Spoad Warrior

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    :lurk
    #3
  4. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    [​IMG]

    7) For the places I ride, I also feel skidplate protection is a necessity. I've come to prefer plastic to aluminum- it slides along instead of sticking, and deflects rather than bends. I liked the stock KTM plate on the XC4, but the one on the new frames doesn't seem as sturdy. So I bought a Hyde Racing one, which was a bit of a PITA to install as the front hooks don't stay put.

    [​IMG]

    To make it easier in the future, I cleaned the frame well, and smeared the hooks in silicone before installing. Maybe it'll keep them in position, time will tell.

    I do like the coverage of the Hyde, fingers crossed there.

    8) Every bike needs a Doubletake Mirror! I love having a mirror, even on a bike I rarely use on the street- it's nice to be able to keep track of riding buddies, and the DTM folds out of the way so it has no drawback when not in use. OK, I'm biased, I invented them. :deal

    Here it is, folded, on my old 300:

    [​IMG]
    #4
  5. LukasM

    LukasM Long timer

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    Nice write-up as usual Ned, good to see you finally embracing the 21st century with FI.... I kid, I kid! :lol3

    First thing I do on every KTM is to remove those ugly pointy square bolts on both sides that like to take chunks out of the lower triple clamp.

    Now here is my tip for you, bet you won't have to run to the hardware store for this one: take a rear sprocket bolt and use a die to thread the shank all the way. Now when you put that all the way into the hole on the frame, your forks should just clear the ECU/regulator without restricting the turning radius, and it leaves a nice rounded bolt head without any sharp edges as a stop that won't damage your triple clamps.

    The newer torx head sprocket bolts like the one in the middle are the best because they are even flatter than the old ones.

    [​IMG]
    #5
  6. crankshaft

    crankshaft Guns are for pussies

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    I rode one for the first time this weekend in some New England single track and it was amazing, not anything like the old 525 or the 530. I was absolutely amazed actually. I rode my 390 berg, a 200 KTM and the 500 and liked the 500 the best. Congrats on your new bike Ned, I'm chuckling at the fact that you finally gave up on beating the carb drum and joined us in the modern age:lol3
    #6
  7. header

    header Chris

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    Woo a Ned thread! These are the best.

    Will there be more trail/action shots??

    :lurk
    #7
  8. Geek

    Geek oot & aboot

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    #8
  9. dirtdiver

    dirtdiver Long timer

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    Im sure that this will be a great resource for the rest of us! Go Ned!


    :1drink
    #9
  10. c.vestal

    c.vestal Rally On

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    :lurk
    #10
  11. Tooltech

    Tooltech Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    White Salmon, WA
    I really like my new 2013 KTM 500 EXC ( even though it smokes a little on cold start ). I am using it for Enduro Adventure Touring. My 990 ADV-R was just too heavy for me to handle off the road.

    http://s1222.photobucket.com/albums/dd497/tooltechstw/

    These pictures are my progress to date. Next items will be: seat, power plug, soft luggage, lighting...:clap
    #11
  12. Y E T I

    Y E T I No Talent Ass Clown

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    :becca I just got my 450 exc-r. Now I gotta shell out mo' money. :bluduh



    :lol3 Hey Ned, why no steering damper on this bike? Not doing some of the other stuff I can understand, but no steering damper? :huh
    #12
  13. jesusgatos

    jesusgatos fishing with dynamite

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    So what are the differences between the 12 and 13 models that got you back on one of these bikes? Did they sort out the problems with the fuel injection that you were having?
    #13
  14. Mudguts

    Mudguts when in doubt GAS IT

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    I've had my 500 for a year now ,it's hands down the best bike I've ever had , just a set of springs for my lard arse
    And a bit of bling and that's all I'm dong to it ,

    I do think about how I could mount the 690rr tanks thou, I spose I'll have to mock it up just to see :evil
    #14
  15. Y E T I

    Y E T I No Talent Ass Clown

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    From post #1 above:

    #15
  16. KrustyKustom

    KrustyKustom Lets Go....

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2005
    Oddometer:
    650
    Location:
    Desert-away from people...
    My 500 came in last weekend. Bike feels crazy light, like a 200 2t, clutch is awesome, FI throttle response is great.

    [​IMG]

    Big jump from my well sorted 07 RFS.
    #16
  17. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    Im still back at the first post,thrilled to learn about the new bikes but how does a new spark plug cap turn out to be so jacked up? Dont recall ever hearing of a new bike with a bad cap to the point that it barely runs right?
    Just curious.
    #17
  18. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    Its only about 30 some lbs heavier then a newish 200,barely notice that.
    #18
  19. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    Well, I agree, it seemed strange. That's why it took so long to find. I'm not sure what the actual issue was- the cap was well seated on the wire (which I checked) and on the plug (which I checked)- apparently there's a resistor in the cap which was faulty, and which meant that it was not sparking sometimes.

    Be that as it may, swapped spark plug cap and the bike was right. So, there you have it.

    12 vs 13: not a lot on paper, and I hesitate to comment on engine performance since mine wasn't healthy when I had it. It seems like the new bike is a little more polished, they always seem that way year on year I find. But, no major differences that would spur me to buy one over the other.

    Steering damper: I'm a firm believer for high speed stuff. But my focus for this bike will be going fast in tight trails, and I don't think the chassis needs one.
    #19
  20. Y E T I

    Y E T I No Talent Ass Clown

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    Ah, that makes sense. Different swords for different opponents. :turkish


    (or something like that)
    #20