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Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by neduro, Apr 3, 2008.
That's why he wanted AWD!
I've been lucky to have all the years of 530, right on through my current 2011, so I thought it would be interesting to add a post that compares them, for people trying to decide what to buy (new current vs. leftover vs. used).
Executive summary: Buy the most recent one you can. 2009 is a big improvement over 2008, the subsequent years are each a little better than before but not nearly as big a jump as 08/09.
First, RFS (2007 and previous) vs. XC4 (2008 and later singlecam). IMO, the new chassis is just plain better- it handles better, it is more comfortable, and it seems to be at least as durable. Some folks like the RFS motor for durability and low end torque, but I'm not really one of them. The RFS can be built in more ways with a variety of bore/ stroke combinations, but at the end of the day, the head is far inferior, the valves seem to be much shorter lived, and it is nowhere near as nice a motor to try to race. So, better chassis, better motor = clear advantage to the XC4 bikes.
Between the XC4 models, I got a dealer to run a comparison on part numbers for me- you can see the results in this gallery. Rather than picking it apart bit by bit, which is time that could be better used poking your eye out with a stick, the point is that there are many more changes from 2008 to 2009, than there are from 2009 to 2010 or 2010 to 2011.
IMO, this means you should get the most recent one you can afford, and maybe even avoid a 2008 unless someone is giving it away. The 2009 and more recent are more reliable, and more durable, and better performing than the 2008.
The new suspension (gold colored fork tubes) that came in 2009 is, in my opinion, light years better than anything before. It's really really good right out of the box, with only the potential addition of springs to suit your weight and use necessary. 2009 is great, 2010 is slightly more polished, 2011 is even slightly better than that. Put another way, If 2011 is a 10 on a scale of 10, 2010 is a 9.5, 2009 is a 9, and 2008 is about a 6.
The new frame that came in 2010 is not very different. In riding my 2009 and 2011 back to back, side by side, there just isn't that much between them. I would not let this make my purchasing decision.
A few other notes:
- The bikes seem to have very good valve finish- I have changed one shim in 7-800 hours of use. A friend has nearly 300 hours on his 2009, valves remain in spec. I have never seen an RFS that accomplished this.
- The biggest complaint is oil burning. It can be worn rings, it can be a bad valve guide seal, and I've heard of but never witnessed a bad seal in the cases between the engine and transmission. Because the sight glass is not a perfectly reliable way to see oil capacity (who knows why!) the best method is to measure what you put in and what you get out to know where you stand.
- The EXC bikes need to be rejetted/ uncorked to be practical for use. They simply aren't a realistic option as delivered, in terms of exhaust, jetting, and gearing.
- The EXC bikes have just as much potential as the XCWs. No dumbed down cam or carb... so if you are making a proper off-road bike with a plate, you can either buy an XCW and add to it, or an EXC and strip off. The latter is probably cheaper and has the added benefit that the DMV can't argue with your plate.
I've also had or ridden extensively all the displacements- 400, 450, 530- so I thought that'd would be worth commenting on too. All share the same chassis, and the same 95mm bore. The only difference is stroke- from 55.5mm on the 400, to 72mm on the 530.
The 400 is a sweetheart- smooth, linear, stronger than a 250 with useable torque down low, but nowhere near the surge of the 530. This is a great trailbike, but not as good a do-anything bike because you'll want lower gearing on it, which means it's singing at highway speeds. Mine has 13/52 and that feels about right. Unless traction is really good, it's just as quick as the bigger bikes, but you rev more to get it.
It feels light and manageable, and the delivery is so smooth that you save energy and drama on the trail. I like to say this bike makes me feel 10 feet tall and bulletproof, because it's just not as scary as the 530.
The 450 is stronger than the 400, smoother than the 530. I've spent the least time on this one, but anything I say will sound repetitive- it's smooth, it's strong, and it's comfortable. The 450 is clearly revvier than the 530, so if you like to keep your bike singing, this would be my choice. There is not that much between this bike and the 530, honestly, and if I found a great deal on one but not the other, I wouldn't hesitate to take it.
As you would expect with the longest stroke, the 530 is the gruntiest and strongest of the bunch. I don't shift much on singletrack- 2nd and 3rd gear are good for just about all speeds between 5 and 40mph, which is 90% of where I ride. 14/50 means that 70mph is a reasonable cruise speed, while 1st remains low enough for even very technical terrain at high elevation.
If you hold the 530 open for a 10 count, in any gear in any terrain, you will count 8-9-10 faster than you counted 1-2-3. It's really strong. If I could only own one motorcycle, this would be it, and I'd have no regrets about it.
Good write up Ned. I have been worried about longevity for some reason, being as how my beast has 10 whole hours on it, I guess it has another 790 in it....
I did the XC-W and added to it. Being a 2010 6 Days, I didn't add much, just a rear brake light switch and tag so far. I think in IL you can tag any KTM.
Between a broken hand, a long winter, and biblical rains I have not been riding.
KTM-Parts.com is having their annual Memorial Day sale, 20% if you sign up on their site. Time to by my big tank I guess.
"If I could only own one motorcycle, this would be it, and I'd have no regrets about it."
That is a pretty good endorsement I would say.
I think I know where my longevity fears come from, KTMTalk. If you only ever visited that site, you would never buy a KTM.
What is the capacity of the tank now?
Christini custom tank is 3.2 gallons (US), stock is 2.4? It has a bit wider profile, but the seat remains in stock position, easy to get forward still.
Nice, just a bit smaller than my Clockworks. I would love to have the conversion on my bike. Maybe one day...
Ned----what, if anything, can be done to convert the '08 forks to '09 spec? Is it a matter of changing internal parts on the forks or----? If not--is there anything that a backyard mechanic can do himself to improve the '08 suspension?
I'm not sure.
The coatings and wall thicknesses in the fork are different in the 2009 (and again later, but that was the big one) and I'm not sure to what degree these changes are what you feel as you ride.
Certainly, you could go to the 2009 shim stacks and see whether it's an improvement...
Thank you for the write up Ned. I just sold my 690 and am getting the 400 or 450. Has the 400 xcw been discontinued, I don't see it on KTM website for 2011. I see in Europe they make the 350EXC street legal, maybe for 2012 we will get the 350?
I would never have bought a 530 if that site did not exist.
I would never buy another KTM if they closed it down.
Gold colored fork tubes? I have a 2009 and the fork tubes are silver. How gold are they?
Gold, Silver, it's all good. Not black.
I think they did stop making the 400, but there are still some left around on dealers floors. Do some calling and you'll be able to get an 09 for cheap, and no reason not to.
FWIW, I waited to ride the 350 before I bought my 400. IMO, the 350 is an excellent WORCS/ GNCC/ Hare Scrambles bike. The motor is strong but cammy and high strung. The suspension is awesome for charging, not what I care for in a wide-band trail bike that I want to use for everything. When I find myself in whoops, I usually look for something to explore.
Can't claim to know everything about the Euro model, but they pretty much have to be street legal to be sold over there, so I would guess there's little difference to our 350 XCF.
Nice write-up. Threads like this one take on a life of their own and become the information go-to point for those looking to buy. You might consider throwing in a link to this summary somewhere on the first page so folks don't miss it buried on page 105.
I'm not dissing the site. There is a lot of good info over there for sure. My point was some guys just harp on the negatives. They go on and on about the separate oil chambers in the 530. They make it sound like the bike won't do 5 hours.
I remember one guy with a 300. He complained daily about jetting and the bike boiling over. My 300 was flawless.
Same thing with my 690 also, ADVrider included. If you follow the 690 mega thread, the 690 sounds like junk. Mine has been pretty much flawless.
Ned is a good example for all of us. He buys the bikes, rides em a lot and lets us know what works. Big thanks to Ned.
One of the best things you can do to the EXC (08-09 1/2) is to replace the stock triple clamps with the fixed 22mm offset SX forks.
You get a bit more steering lock and the bike just feels better.
I ride trails and road, no MX.
It'd be real interesting to hear your impressions on the brand new 2012 EXC 500 vs. EXC 530, because of your extensive history on the model range. Expecting to get a ride on 2012 model 500 soon?
Thanks for the comparison, Neduro. Your first hand experience on these matters is probably unmatched by anyone else here on ADVrider.
I do think your rating of the 08 as a "6" is a little harsh. Of course, since I have an 08 I'm biased. I've owned it since new and once properly setup is a great bike.
In any case, I think the most important thing to keep in mind for potential buyers (regardless of whether you are buying new or used or the year being considered) is that all of these bikes will need to be setup properly in order to run well. They are certainly not "Ready to Race" as delivered from the factory.
The following changes are pretty much essential and easily done:
Replace or modify stock rear fender (stock will interfere with the rear tire - I run the KTM "Euro" Fender)
Other things I have done which I highly recommend are:
Regear (stock is way too tall at 15/45 - I run 13/52)
Replace or modify stock silencer (stock is very restrictive and creates a lot of heat - I run the KTM Hard Parts FMF silencer)
Radiator fan (I run the KTM Hard Parts fan)
Upgraded stator (I run the KTM Hard Parts stator)
Upgraded waterpump impeller (I run the KTM Hard Parts impeller)
Newer cam (only applies to 2008 models)
I could go on, but the sun is shining and it's time to ride.
How can you tell a 2010 from a 08/09? Serial number?
The VIN will have an A in the 10th position for 2010 and a 9 for 2009, 8 for 2008, etc. Example: VBKEXN408AM000000.