KTM 525 exc VS. Honda CRF450X

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by Datan556, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. Datan556

    Datan556 Adventurer

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    Sitting with a choice now. Would like to hear from you fellow riders on the subject of which is the better bike.

    How does the 525 exc compare to the 450X?

    Heard that the KTM needs an aftermarket oil cooler as they tend to spit out oil when heating up after a long haul.

    And then the CRF450X gives you valve problems quite early!
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  2. OrangeYZ

    OrangeYZ Been here awhile

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    I got the KTM because they are street legal here, don't know if that applies or matters to you.

    525EXC has a wide ratio 6-speed, CRF450X has a 5-speed.

    If anything, the CRF will benefit more from an oil cooler more because it has less engine oil to burn away (engine and transmission are separate). I've done long trips (but not a lot of highway) and haven't lost enough oil to worry about.

    The CRF250R and X were the Hondas with valve problem reputations. That had a lot to do with the air filters being difficult to install correctly and dirt would get into the intake, wearing the valves out faster than they should.

    525s also have intake valve issues due to being made of soft metal. They run out of adjustment fast (200-300 hours) and have to be replaced. Replace with stainless valves and they last forever(ish).
    #2
  3. crazybrit

    crazybrit Long timer

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    Plenty have added a cooler for peace of mind but an equal number dual-sport the bike fine without it.

    The HT oil cooler gets discussed every so often on the KTM 525 EXC as an Adventure Bike thead, use "search this thread" for "cooler".

    This post on that thread links to an interesting post over @ktmtalk:
    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=14153991&postcount=2067
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  4. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    Ive got two friends with 450X's in their garage,both for sale with no takers. I know one of the guys puts lots of hours on bikes,rides regular and after the third full valve job on his 450X he quit riding it after the last rebuild.
    Its not just the 250X that goes through valves quick. Even with the stainless steel valves they dont last a real long time.

    Riding a 250X for more then 80 hours with out pulling the head isnt a great idea.
    Used Honda CRF's of any sort are a hard bike to sell. Honda should have updated the XR's and kept selling them.
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  5. Datan556

    Datan556 Adventurer

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    Hmmmm... makes me think now. I would much rather prefer a bigger thump and reselling the KTM (would be easier). I want to export the bike one day when we leave the middle east to Australia. And selling a KTM in Oz seems easier than the Honda , or turning it into a street legal motard. The valves issue on Honda made me wary of actually continuing with the bike. Ive read through a forum online CRF's Only and this matter always comes up(and that includes new models out of the box). The KTM at the moment needs a bit of attention but Id much rather spend time on that instead of worrying about a new bikes valves etc.

    Tanks so far the replies on this matter.
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  6. Off the grid

    Off the grid Seeker of the Unf

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    The Honda and KTM are worlds apart in terms of usage, build quality, and value.

    I've never heard of anyone putting on the types of mileage on a CRF that they do on an EXC, and the EXC does it with much better components, power, suspension and brakes.

    I'm curious who told you that the CRF was a worthy competitor to the EXC. :eek1
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  7. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer

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    Titanium valves are problematic in any engine when it comes to racking up the miles. Great for their light weight in race applications, not so great otherwise. As mentioned in a post above, for the long haul most opt to go stainless.

    I like the concept of separate oil for the tranny and engine, at least in theory. Yes it means less engine oil capacity but it also eliminates all the crap from the transmission and clutch from mixing with the engine oil. When it comes time to pull maintenance that requires more than just changing the oil I much prefer the more open layout of the KTMs.


    I agree on the mileage, but then it'smore difficult to get an X plated in most states here in the US. The CRF suspension is arguably better than the RFS era EXC IMHO, at least in stock trim. Brakes on the KTMs are great but it's not like the brakes on the Hondas are second rate. Power comes on differently between the two but peak HP numbers are damn close.

    I dig my 525 but it's not like the 450X is the bargin basement cousin of it. Would I trade? Probably not. LOL.
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  8. Off the grid

    Off the grid Seeker of the Unf

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    I'm not sure how you can compare KTMs tuneable WP suspension to Hondas parts-bin set. :lol3

    Japanese bikes simply cannot compare in critical areas like suspension and brakes due to price points having to be met. Hence, Hondas and the other big 4 from Japan have always gotten the bottom of the barrel parts-bin suspension and Euro bikes come with tunable WP Shocks and Marzocchi/WP forks, Brembo brakes, etc.

    A pretty big hiccup with the Honda is the 5-speed as well.
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  9. tHEtREV

    tHEtREV Captain Awesome

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    On the CRF, WR and RMX I thought they were supposed to be pretty bloody good.

    It would surprise me greatly if they were far from the mark at all.
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  10. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    Yah,the Showas on the 450X can be tuned to do anything,they're good boingers and tuned for aggressive riding out of the box.
    KTM's woods riding heritage usually means they try for soft/plush with enough valving to still go fast. Im 185 lbs and my 2011 530 is pretty close on springrates for me. Ive had KTM's since the late 70's,about 15 at last count and this 530 works better then any Ive had before. I still prefer the 300 for tight woods thrashing or even a 200 when I find a deal on a good one.
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  11. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    A young friend races at the A level in Hare scrambles racing,he does all his own maintenance on his CRF450,its a light bike,he goes real fast on it. He has figured out that 1 valve adjustment is about all you get on the valves. After that the special coating on the titanium valves goes away and they start sinking in the head.
    So he just replaces the valves before that happens,other wise you start wearing the valve seats out and its all downhill from there. He owns a Honda shop and worked at one through college so he has had access to parts at a good price.

    How can any company build a bike that has maintenance needs like that? Its not just Honda,all the ti valve F1 design super hot rod 4 strokes have low hour rebuild times in their owners manuals,sure they go fast and are a blast to ride.
    Ryan Villipoto's dad was along on a local dual purpose ride,he said the Kawi KX250-F engines have a 2 hour life,the cases can crack,the crank is shot,needs rebuild. That's with a top pro riding it.

    The average Joe wants something to ride,not spend tons of money on after a year of riding,it only hurts the sport and makes the manufacturers $ on parts sales. If I was still racing MX,Id be the guy on a 2 stroke,they're starting 2 stroke classes up as people are wanting it.
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  12. Ned1

    Ned1 Lend Me Yu Choppa

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  13. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer

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    They do make much longer lived versions for the average Joe that aren't designed for racing. DR-Z's, TT-R's, CRF L's etc. The issue is the demand isn't there and they don't put top shop bits on them from the factory in order to keep costs in line with what the majority of buyers want to spend. As for the average Joe who wants to race off-road or MX the issue is weight/performance/price. You can pick two, but almost never get all three.

    No matter how skilled or unskilled a rider might be when it comes time to write the check most are more interested in the spec sheet, performance reviews, and the price tag, not longevity. That's who the manufacturers build for, not the person that knows that for the vast majority it is ones skill set, not the bikes specs, that will determine the winners and losers.

    I'm perfectly willing to admit that I don't need a race bike. Hell I don't even race! LOL. But I enjoy them more than the heavy, slow, more dependable alternatives so I grudingly live with the higher maintenance costs.

    I'm with ya on the new smokers. I don't own one yet, but the simplisty, light weight, and lack of fragile valves trains certainly has an appeal. I wouldn't rule out having one. :)
    #13
  14. RyanR

    RyanR Been here awhile

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    I've had great luck with my 08 CRF250x. I have about 11,000 miles on mine. It has seen dunes, single track, dirt roads, back roads, highways, 75+ on the interstate, etc. I adjusted the valves around 1000 miles and they haven't moved since. From what I've read though as soon as the coating on the titanium intake valves starts to go it's replacement time as you might only get 1 more adjustment and it won't last long. From my experience it has been an incredibly reliable machine. Always fired right up and it's taken me lots of places and never left me stranded. I like the 250 for dual-sport purposes as it returns a solid 60+ MPG, with a 4 gal tank I can explore for days without worrying about gas.

    With that said I'm looking at the KTM's because of the wide ratio 6 speed. For dual sport riding the "wide ratio" 5 speed on the X model Honda's is still extremely narrow. If Honda would put a wide ratio 6 speed in their X model bikes I would keep buying them indefinitely.
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  15. Datan556

    Datan556 Adventurer

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    BTW im comparing a brand new CRF450x (2009, Honda was selling off their old stock for cheaper) to a second hand 520 KTM which will cost me around 1700 USD. :huh

    I know its daft but hey...obviously im paranoid about valves on new crf and now im thinking of getting this old 520 that needs some work.

    confusing thread


    Cant make up my mind
    #15
  16. Datan556

    Datan556 Adventurer

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    BTW im comparing a brand new CRF450x (2009, Honda was selling off their old stock for cheaper) to a second hand 520 KTM which will cost me around 1700 USD. :huh

    I know its daft but hey...obviously im paranoid about valves on new crf and now im thinking of getting this old 520 that needs some work.

    confusing thread


    Cant make up my mind:doh
    #16
  17. Off the grid

    Off the grid Seeker of the Unf

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    The used KTM will still be a better bike than the CRF. Buy the KTM, fix it up, farkle it and grin for years.
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  18. Datan556

    Datan556 Adventurer

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    grinning is all i want!:rofl
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  19. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    TT-R,DRZ,CRL have no relationship to a fire breathing MX 4 stroke,apples to oranges.They are heavy putt-putt bikes in comparison.

    Ive had KTM 2 strokes for woods riding for years,3 to 4 years on a piston is average for just trailriding,the newer ones are really nice,smooth and torquey as any 4 stroke with the nice 2 stroke rip on top.
    #19
  20. todd83-900t

    todd83-900t Been here awhile

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    Great question!

    For me I'll be looking really hard at the 450X as my next dual sport bike. I own a 05 450 EXC and at 220 hrs 5,500 miles I've replaced: the water pump seals twice, cam shaft, hydraulic clutch slave cylinder, front master cylinder and the valves (which is expected). All of those maladies keep reappearing on KTMTALK, so my bike isn't an anomaly. I rode a tour rental 450X down the whole enchilada of Baja and when I got off it had 600 hrs on it and that bike had been ridden HARD. Before that I spent 5 days on a rental 450X in Baja. No major issues with any of the 450X bikes on either trip. A little math: 6 bikes * 600 miles + 2 bikes * 1400 miles = 6000ish miles of trouble free 450X miles in Baja that I've witnessed. That said I doubt that my EXC could survive in that rental fleet without constant maintenance. There are a couple of tour operators that do use EXCs..........

    I chose the KTM over the Honda because of the ease of making it street legal, the 6 speed transmission and the wood factor. My wood has shrunk down to a twig over the KTM.

    Good luck with this decision!
    #20