KTM 530 EXCR- More better!

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by neduro, Apr 3, 2008.

  1. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    2008 KTM 530 EXCR- More better!

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    When I step back for a moment and think about what I most enjoy on motorcycles, the answer is clear: Long days of hard riding with good friends. Those are the days that I clearly remember in the middle of January when it seems like I'll never be in a high alpine meadow again, those are the days that stand out through the years.

    My goal this season is to get more of those days in. I have a vague idea of taking it a step further, and doing a big dirt tour around the Southwest from friend to friend, but that hasn't taken shape yet... what is clear is that the perfect bike for these kinds of days wears many hats. It's competent in very technical situations, it's comfortable for easy but sustained sections, it's reliable, and it is capable of holding a good pace in just about anything, without being so committed that it demands a fast pace to work properly.

    Like many trailriders, I'm a bit of a luddite, a little reluctant to bite on new technology until it is proven. But, I was ready to replace my 4-stroke, and I couldn't see buying an 07 RFS to replace my 05, which I have dialed in so well and I'd just be repeating the same work to wind up in the same place. The decision process of what to get has a few tiers for me.

    In my eyes, the beauty of KTM off-road bikes is how well they work for hardcore off-roading, the kind of stuff that has slippery roots and high elevation snow all in the same day as deep sand and bermed hardpack. All of the japanese bikes I've owned or ridden wind up either too hard edged, unhappy unless they are being ridden at race pace, and delivering power too harshly, or too soft, having gained flab and showing a fleshy underbelly when pushed. The off-brand Euro stuff (Sherco, Gas Gas, etc) has promise, but questions of parts availability, lack of a local dealer, lack of being quite "finished", and a lack of aftermarket support push them from the front of the list.

    KTM's hit a target, where they retain an edge and hold up to racepace, but don't demand it, and at the same time have the amenities that get you up the mountain 10 hours into the day in the middle of a driving rainstorm. There seems to be a KTM DNA that offers useful torque, good power, and planted chassis, as everything I've owned that was from Austria fit that bill. So that's why the bike is orange.

    Then, between models, the process of elimination continued. I knew I wanted the single cam motor, not a 450 or 505 XC-F, because I've ridden them and they struck me as more of a WORCS race type bike than something I'd ride all day through varied conditions. I have a 2-stroke that I'm happy to race, so I was looking for something a bit further toward "do it all" than the XC-F's are. That gets me to a 450 or 530 EXCR or XCRW, any of which I would have been happy with. I compared part numbers for cams, pistons, and so on, and they are the same between the EXCRs and XCRW's, so when I could get a 530 EXCR and everything else was sold out, that's what I wound up with.

    So, here it begins:

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    This bike is new from the ground up- an updated frame and chassis, different suspension, the XC4 single cam replacement for the old RFS motors, and a bunch of detail differences like improved sidestands and brake cable routing and etc etc etc.

    I have about 600 miles on the bike now, so before I get into setup and so on, I will say this: The new chassis is absolutely an improvement over the old. I'm usually a bit skeptical when people start talking about how they can feel frame flex and so on, but back to back rides on an oval tubed RFS with the new XC4 leaves no doubt in my mind-- the frame is stiffer and the geometry is better and it all is a real-world benefit.

    The motor is also an improvement. The gearbox shifts great even before break in (and better after) and the power delivery is very smooth. I have to withhold some amount of judgement until I try the bike with a different pipe- the stocker is very very quiet and doesn't let the motor breath properly. I've ordered an Akropovic that should give me something like 91-92 db (still quiet) but a bunch more horses than stock. Time will tell.

    The only fly in the ointment is the suspension. When new, it's brutally harsh. With about 5 hours, it had loosened up a great deal, and was very good for everything except a certain kind of square edge where it remains prone to deflection. I will definitely be doing a revalve and getting it sorted out, the good news is it doesn't need much and the spring rates are about right stock.

    KTM has clearly taken a step forward with the new bikes, and I'm excited to get this thing figured out. Mine has had several good long days that I'll remember for some time to come... it is filling its role as a memory maker quite nicely already.

    Next up: Bike preparation and setup.
    #1
  2. DirtDad

    DirtDad Green Chile Guru

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    Looking forward to reading about your project. I currently own a 05 300 EXC. Just starting to get back into dirt riding again after too long of a break. I want to do some mods to the 300 to make it a little more maneagable for my ridiing skills. Been very interested in the 530. I would love to have it as a second tool for the short rides of pavement to the riding areas. My 300 is the first KTM I have owned. I must say that it is by far the best dirt bike I have ridden so far. I just need to bring my skills back up to par, to make full use of the machine. Then I might sell a couple of bikes in the garage and get a 530.

    Oh, you should consider coming out to NM, sometime for a rider clinic. I am sure you have ridden down here. Very nice place to ride dirt bikes. :evil
    #2
  3. CodyY

    CodyY ADVenture Capitalist

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    Having ridden the majority of the KTM line over the last couple years (ridden, not owned) The 530 is the true SWISS ARMY KNIFE of dirtbikes.

    If there was any financial way to do so, i'd have an 08 530xcrw and an 08 300xc-we in the garage. Unlike Ned, I'm a nobody, but they truly are that good with the new frame and motor tweaks.

    The bikes are so good, it it makes this "C rider" into a solid "B rider".
    #3
  4. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    I haven't been off this thing long enough to update the thread, 1400 miles/ 50 hours or so and counting.

    Anyway, setup.

    I got it home only to be attacked by a giant funny talking texan.

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    First thing was to rip off all the smog stuff:

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    In general, it's just unplugging carb breathers from wherever they go and dangling out the bottom like usual, but there's one vacuum line coming from the manifold that needs to be blocked. The easiest way is to pull the barbed fitting out and replace it with a correct length bolt.

    Off with you!
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    Be gone!
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    All in all, much less involved in desmogging than I anticipated/ feared. Just track each line back to it's source and make sure that nothing with vacuum goes to the atmosphere.

    Pyn wanted to look at the valves so we opened it up right away.

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    Very nice and easy to work on, much better than the RFS in this regard. For what it's worth, in 1400 miles of flogging, mine haven't moved yet, which is also better than the RFS.

    The stock sidestand is ducati-tastic in terms of folding up when pressure is released. That had to go. Take a shorter bolt like the one that is in there, (a sprocket mounting bolt is the correct length) and simply remove the spacer. Wallah! A normal kickstand.

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    There's a bit of a rat's nest behind the headlight. I unplugged everything I didn't want then worked backwords to restore functionality. I ditched the turn signal pod, key, and associated crap, and then jumped two spots to turn the lights on when running and make the starter work any time.

    Here are the two jumpers:
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    While I had everything apart, I put on the first upgrade, a Scott's steering damper- "the magic gold box".

    I've tried all the different GPR's, and the WER, and I think the Scotts is head and shoulders above them in terms of performance and function. I've heard of too many failures from Emig and RTT to consider them...

    Greased both steering head bearings a bit more than from the factory:

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    I didn't take a picture, but you should also loctite the bolts that hold the bar mounts to the upper triple clamp.

    Mounted the damper post and damper and torqued everything down.

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    The second upgrade was also from Scotts, a sharkfin for the rear disk. After bending a disk in Vegas to Reno a few years back, I no longer consider this optional. Pro moto billet makes one that mounts to the stock brake carrier, but the Scotts piece is way beefier and I think the pick of the litter.

    Mmmm. Billet. :tb

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    While the rear wheel is off, I also put on a rational gear ratio- 15/45 is a joke for offroad. 14/48 fits with the stock chain length and is useable everywhere, and relaxed at 70mph, I've recently added a link to go to 14/50.

    With a larger sprocket you'll need to flip the insert shown to make the chain guide line up correctly.

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    More soon...
    #4
  5. darmahman

    darmahman "Illogically Deluded"

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    :clap :freaky
    #5
  6. 2whlrcr

    2whlrcr gooligan

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    I've got a 450 EXC and have only been able to put about nine hours on it so far. I love the bike for it's handling and useable power, but I'm reserving judgement on it's dependability. I've had a leaky master cylinder, leaky cam chain tensioner and am questioning if my oil seal is allowing the oil from the tranny to migrate to the motor side?

    Minor issues so far and they have been covered under warranty. The worst part is, it takes the dealer two to three weeks each time waiting for parts. I just had the valves reshimmed and again a two week wait. The bike has been in the shop, more than my garage.

    I'm like you, I bought this as my trailbike, CO vacation bike and other rides where a plate is handy. I've got another bike to race. Have you had any of the other "issues" that seem to be all over the internet?
    #6
  7. Mark_Redrock

    Mark_Redrock My Ears are Ringing

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    Congradulations on the 530 man!! :clap

    I just picked up my 530 a few weeks ago. I've only got a few hundred miles on the bike yet, but I'm having an absolute blast on it.

    I went with the 14/50 gear combo and it's great. I haven't found myself hunting for a higher gear at faster speeds with that setup.

    I replaced my seat with the EE seat and for the price it's great (130 with the pan). I'll send off my stocker to Renzaco to get my long term seat made before too long. (Can't decide to do the seat first, or the steering dampner).

    What I found amazing was that after the bikes canister removed, and unplugged just how much raw power it has. It's just downright scary!
    #7
  8. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    Thus far, mine's been perfect, but I'm keeping a close eye on it. I hate buying the first of a new motor, from any manufacturer...

    The exhaust I ordered just showed up, so I can't wait to see how she runs with a little less restriction... I didn't want to cut the stocker up as it's so quiet and I really like having that as an option.

    :thumb
    #8
  9. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    I've been so busy riding, I haven't had a chance to post about mods! I'm going to take Hilslamer's approach and do a little bit at a time.

    The most exciting mod, by far, is adding an Akrapovic Exhaust:

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    This is out of the hard parts catalog, and it's a beautiful piece. It adds a ton of power, gets a lot of heat away from the motor, and is still really quiet. Not quite as stealthy as stock, but by no means loud. Very light, too...

    Me Likee... :raabia
    #9
  10. creeper

    creeper Still alive...

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    :poser
    #10
  11. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    :razor
    #11
  12. Denn10

    Denn10 Been here awhile

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    tlaking to a buddy that i know from work who used to race for KTM desert here in CA he said he blew up 3 new 08s before he switched and started riding for Hengeveld honda team. Any reports of these exc street legal models that are suspect, the problem he said was something to do with the new dual cam setup. I have long wondered if i should get rid of my XR and CBR600 and get a 525/530 plated and have 2 sets of tires for dirt and street 17's.

    btw nice pics and writeup :thumbsup:
    #12
  13. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    That's funny, the dual cams have been bombproof around here.

    I'm up to about 3100 kilometers, (so, just shy of 2000 miles) and it's been flawless thus far.

    I hate buying first year motors, but I like this one so much I'm willing to take the risk.
    #13
  14. woodsrider

    woodsrider .........................

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    Nice work there, Ned....enjoy that new scooter!
    #14
  15. v8turbo

    v8turbo When in Doubt.... Gas it.

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    Nothing like a fully farkled New Bike..... (Larger Tank not in yet...on order)

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    #15
  16. Pete156

    Pete156 I love to eat!

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    Sounds like all the ingredients of a perfect pipe.
    #16
  17. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    Jumping around chronologically, here's all the stuff that came off in my prep:

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    Which when you think about it, going from a California Smog Certified street legal vehicle, to a full-on offroad racebike (err, I mean streetbike, officer), is not very much. KTM did a great job of spec'ing- not much baloney to dispose of.

    Another item I added, of course, was a skidplate. I put on an Enduro Engineering one, because it was available quickly and easily, and while it's OK, I'm not impressed. For one thing, I had to modify it to change the oil without removing the plate:

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    And you still can't see the oil level very clearly.

    The protection it offers is, in my opinion, no better than average, which is to say much better than nothing at all but not so far along as "good". I had a rock kick up off my front wheel and break the bottom of my clutch cover, many plates would not have protected that either, but it didn't serve to endear me to the plate.

    So, when Wonky from the UK called and offered to trade a plate from adventure-spec for a few copies of my DVD, I said sure. I haven't seen the plate yet, but based on the others shown on their site, I'm optimistic. A full review will follow here...
    #17
  18. woodsrider

    woodsrider .........................

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    Yeah, I wasn't too wild with the EE plate either, Ned. It was the first plate available for the 2008s, so I bought one (actually a Flatland) right after I got my 450 last August. Very agricultural in appearance, can't access the oil filter (as you noted), can't see the oil sight glass and generally lackluster coverage. I replaced mine with a Hyde Racing unit, but the "teflon copolymer" (i.e., hi-zoot plastic) construction is a bit of a worry. I would still like to find a thick carbon fiber unit. I believe that E-Line and P3 have one available, but I'm not too excited about buying one sight unseen.
    #18
  19. Denn10

    Denn10 Been here awhile

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    it wasnt meant to be a joke! wanted to know if this is a thing that only offroad racing and the stress on that may be the factor as most street ridden bikes are nowhere ridden as hard as an offroad desert racing bike. I dont know alot of specifics about the bike and whats been done he (aka Matt Eddy factory KTM offroad) told me. He said that hes tossed 2 or 3 engines on the new dual cam bikes.
    #19
  20. 03x2

    03x2 Adventurer

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    The 530 EXC is a single cam. I love mine, but I don't know if I would pay
    the 2009 price of $9500.00.
    #20