KTM Setup Thread...

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by neduro, Jan 23, 2005.

  1. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    I've got a bunch of time to kill, so I figured I'd get started on a thread I've been meaning to do for a while.

    In my experience, KTM's in general are very responsive to subtle changes in setup. I have only owned 2-stroke 300's, but in my time with these (excellent!) bikes, I've picked up a few things that I think are helpful. Much of this will apply to any KTM, some of it is specific to the 2T's.

    Please chime in with your own suggestions... There seem to be a fair number of KTM off-road bikes around!

    For lack of any better ideas, I'll just start at the front and work my way back, beginning with generic stuff and then a seperate reply for 2T's.

    Front end:

    In my experience, the front end is extremely fussy about how it is aligned for smooth suspension actuation. The first thing to do is test stiction- on a flat surface, without touching the brakes, lay your palms flat on the handlebars and push down. If the forks are well set up, you should be able to make a very small movement with minimal force. If the front end is sticky, you'll use quite a bit of force for a fairly large movement. If your forks test out alright, great. Most don't.

    To fix this, first loosen everything on the front end except the actual axle, including the axle pinch bolts:

    [​IMG]

    the triple pinch bolts (both top and bottom):

    [​IMG]

    and the upper stem nut, and the bolt in the upper triple clamp that grabs the stem:

    [​IMG]

    Now, with everything finger loose, pump the forks through their stroke a few times. You may observe the fork lowers resettling on the axle, and the triples shifting around to bring the forks parallel. This is often necessary after even a low speed tipover, as the handlebars and wheel can put a lot of torque on the forks in the triples.

    Once things are better aligned, start by tightening the axle pinches, then the upper triple pinches and stem, then the lower triple. On the lower triple, overtightening will cause binding in the fork, so be very sparing with torque. I get them both touching, then give them 1/8th turn increments alternately between bolts until there's just enough tension I don't think they will fall out.

    If you've done this right, you should be able to get very small suspension movement from the test outlined earlier. The 03 and newer front end is MUCH better than the 00-02 41mm forks as far as alignment goes- that bigger, teflon coated axle really helps.

    Other fork setup:

    - Bleed the forks regularly via the phillips on top. The WP's build up a lot of pressure fairly quickly, and I believe that frequent bleeding gives better fork action as well as improving fork seal life. My 03 is still on original seals.

    - If the seals do start to weep a bit, work the dust wipers down with a flatblade, and then run a piece of paper around inside the fork seal. Often, the seals weap if the wiper edge gets twisted, and you can fix that with paper without replacing the seals. When you reinstall the dust wipers, put a thin line of white lithium grease above the wiper. This seems to help keep outside stuff where it belongs.

    - Change the fork oil fairly often. It's a 20-30 minute job, and you'll get all kinds of crap out of your valving that will make the bushings last longer and the action more compliant. Remember to set the oil level between 110 and 130 mm with no oil between the inner and outer walls (pump the outer up and down after bleeding the cartridge to ensure that no oil is between the outer, female slider and the inner, male slider).

    And that's about all I can think of for forks.

    Front brakes:
    - The KTM pads seem to give good performance and wear reasonably well. As a bonus, when you get them hot, you can make them howl like banshees, which is enjoyable in a race for disorienting and passing others.
    - Zip tie the brake lever back if you've been using the brakes hard, and any accumlated air will bleed out on it's own overnight.

    Front wheel:
    - The spokes on 01's and 02's suck, as has been frequently discussed. My 03 has had no issues.
    - For mixed terrain and durability, I really like the Kenda Millville front. It's cheap, lasts pretty well, and is awesome in both sand and rocks. I also like the Dunlop 755 front, the Michelin M12 and the Bridgestone 401. The only tire I've disliked was the Pirelli MT44, and not because it performed badly but because I ripped all the side knobs off it in short order.


    Can't think what else on the front end. Next installment: chassis bulletproofing, generic to KTM off-road bikes, then 2-stroke specific, then rear end.
    #1
  2. gaspipe

    gaspipe Wandering Soul Super Moderator

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    Great write up, Neduro!

    :thumb
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  3. Arch

    Arch Incurable Gearhead

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    Minor data point: LC4 Adventures have had these 48 mm WP forks since '01. Same part number for the axle, I believe.
    #3
  4. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    I don't know exactly what of this will translate to the LC4's, but most of it applies to the RFS 4T's and all of it to the 2T's...

    Skidplate: The Devol skidplate is far and away the one of choice for the 2T's. Rather than micky-mouse hooks, it uses a piece of flatbar across the framerails with holes drilled (sort of visible below). Seems to stay in place very well, provides good protection, and not too pricey. :thumb

    [​IMG]

    Stay away from both the KTM hardparts plate, and the enduro engineering plate. Both are undersized and made from thin material.

    Enduro Engineering sells a kit to relocate the CDI out of harms way, under the tank. In it's original position on the frame near the steering head, it is vulnerable to crash damage in odd scenarios, and if the steering stop bolt ever vibrates out, the forks will hit it and ruin it. And putting it under the tank allows you to dial in some more steering lock. Money well spent.

    [​IMG]

    The front brake line will cut into the clutch line, if given the chance.

    [​IMG]

    My solution is low tech- I just put some fuel line around the clutch line and keep an eye on it.

    [​IMG]

    I also wrap the brake line/odo wires in some of that expandable plastic sheath (visible in the photo above) to protect against chafing. Seems to work.

    The shock location on the 2003/2004 bikes flat out sucks:

    [​IMG]

    My boot rubs heavily enough to wear through the shock body in about 1500 miles. GRRRRR! Had to buy a new shock:

    [​IMG]

    On the plus side, I got one off Mike Lafferty's bike right when he broke himself, and it's magic. Whatever special sauce they use seems to have made it into this thing... solution is to buy the e-line carbon guard for $40. No issues since installing one.

    Speaking of e-line, their carbon pipe guards are the best solution I've found. I've tried both Pro Circuit and FMF Gnarly pipes, and prefer stock for the way it makes power... and the e-line guard has protected it in some horrific hits. :thumb

    Now for a big one. All KTM's I've seen have a thermostat housing right behind the radiators like this:

    [​IMG]

    On this bike, it hasn't done much, but in many cases the corner will rub into the radiator over time and cause leakage. My solution is to safety wire it back to the tank mounting point, so that it just can't QUITE touch. This is worth a look, on both 2 and 4 strokes!

    Speaking of, that plastic "Y" fitting on top of the motor is a weak link. Whenever you do a top end, inspect it for cracks or other signs of wear. If it breaks, you'll have no coolant in a hurry and it's a good way to ruin your motor and your day.

    The kickstand is another weak point, in that it is not designed to bear any load more than the bike, and it's easy to break the mounting bolt.

    [​IMG]

    My suggestions: loctite the bolt, and keep an eye that it stays tight. If it loosens, you'll break it off very easily. Put tri-flow (bicycle teflon lube) on the kickstand to keep the action free- one application will last quite a while. Finally, use the little rubber strap provided to hold the kickstand up when not in use- my experience has been that the bolt will not tend to loosen if the kickstand is supported by the strap.

    Unlike Jap bikes, my KTM swingarm pivots have always been reasonably well greased from the factory. The Heim Joint and the upper shock mount needle bearing will eventually wear out, but the original KTM parts seem to last well and are not unreasonably priced IMHO. On very high mileage bikes, the mudflap hanging down in front of the rear wheel will begin to eat into the swingarm aluminum- several companies make guards to help prevent this.

    The Enduro Engineering Sharkfin (brake disk guard) is cheap and effective. Good insurance for the rear disk. The bolts like to vibrate out, so loctite them (or weld the bastard on if you want to be sure...).

    Can't think what else for the chassis... Dirtrider will no doubt be correcting me here shortly...
    #4
  5. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    Good catch!

    I could be wrong, but I thought the 01/02 SX's that had 48mm forks had the little axle, and it wasn't until 03 that anything got the bigger axle. But maybe that's just MX bikes, or maybe I'm just flat wrong. In any case, a minor point, except when buying wheels...
    #5
  6. creeper

    creeper Still alive...

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    Hey Neduro...

    Nice overview of "things to stare at". :thumb
    If you have the time, and want to put out the effort, can I suggest a more detailed guide or outline of a "quick and easy" fork oil change? I think that quite a few folks would benefit from one. :nod

    Creep
    #6
  7. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    Sure, except I just did it, so it'll be a little while before I have need again.

    Besides, there may be a new orange beast in my garage very soon... :wink:
    #7
  8. Arch

    Arch Incurable Gearhead

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    Yea, the ADV got the 48mm goods a year (at least) ahead of some of the others.

    Nice thread, btw. I'm gonna share it with my 300EXC flogging bud. He loves 'em and here's his latest..

    [​IMG]

    He's a big guy, REALLY fast, and has everything valved & sprung to suit. A real setup and maintenance freak. Even cleans it madly in between the dirt/mud dunkings. :D Anyway, what a great motorcycle.

    Another bud has it really bad. Among other brands, he owns a 200exc, 450exc & Duke. You never know what he's gonna show up on, but he's another excellent enduro rider who's ate up with the details of good setup. You'd love a garage session over here!

    FWIW, I think I'd prefer the 200 over all of 'em for tight woods, just 'cause I'm least likely to get maimed with 100 less cc. :rofl
    #8
  9. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    Agree. If I wasn't a fatass (195 lbs) and didn't live at elevation, I'd be on a 200. Shoot, I'd be on a 200 if I just lived down lower- they have all the power anyone needs at reasonable elevations. My riding is mostly between 9 and 12k feet, though, and they are short of breath up there. So is the 300, but less so. :D

    I'm sure I'd enjoy a garage session down there as well. You guys ever come to the TESCEC Enduros? I hit some of the North Texas ones...
    #9
  10. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    First, let me start with why ride a 2-stroke, and why a 300 in particular.

    1) Reliability and durability and cost of running: To my knowledge, there is no other bike that is as performance oriented as the KTM 2-strokes (light weight, premium components) that has anywhere near the reliability they show. I ride a lot, and I ride pretty hard, and they take it like they were designed for it (because they were). No monkeying around with unrefined systems, the bottom ends last forever (a friend, Fast with a capital F, has a 2000 380 e/xc that he rides as much as I ride mine. He's done a top end a year and has yet to see the inside of the bottom end).

    Doing a top end on the 2-strokes costs about $150-250, depending on OEM or aftermarket piston, and takes a couple of hours (or 20 minutes if you are an ISDE racer). The modern 4-strokes, especially those from Japan, have a shorter top-end life than the KTM's do, and the job costs at least $500. Not to mention, if something goes wrong on the 4-strokes, you're into $1500 by the time you start replacing everything that needs it... 2-strokes have about 4 moving parts, so it's pretty hard to break them.

    So, given that brake pads, chains/sprockets/tires are the same as anything else, the overall cost of owning and racing a 2T KTM is basically cheaper than anything else out there. The 2T Jap MX bikes are just not as durable- trannies, bottom ends, and top ends are all underbuilt compared to the KTM stuff (though certainly workable).

    2) Weight and rotating mass: The 2 strokes are light and they feel it. The 4 strokes are heavier and try to disguise it... but what they can't disguise is all that rotating mass. Step back and forth from a 2 stroke to a 4, and you'll instantly feel the difference of having a several pound gyro (crank and valvetrain) spinning at reasonable RPM's.

    3) It's damn fun. It is zippy and playful and makes you feel like a hero, even when you are a gear high or a gear low, even when you miss the apex and have to pick it up with your foot, even when you stall it. It starts easily, always, and the motor can be ridden aggressively at the start of a race or chilled out at the end of a long day of trailriding, and it's happy either way.

    [​IMG]

    :rabia

    Now then, on to setup:

    The weak point of the motor, for sure, is the exhaust mounting. It's mickey mouse and it's basically impossible to avoid all leakage:

    [​IMG]

    There are a couple of tricks to minimizing it, though:
    - Clean everything really well with carb cleaner, which is the only thing that cuts spooge very well.
    - Check pipe alignment- if one side is cocked out, it will never mate well. Use a broom handle inserted into the pipe to "convince" it to go straight.
    - Line the pipe with hi-temp RTV sealant before assembly. Watch it come out the exhaust for the next 2 rides. :D
    - Double spring it if you can't get it hung quite right.

    As I said earlier, I prefer the stock pipe on the 00-03 300 motor to any alternative I've found. And the eline pipe guard is the ticket for protecting it.

    The stock silencer is good, and when fresh, will test at around 89 dba (which is quiet!). I also have an FMF Q, which is a touch louder... but offers less leverage in the case of an "issue" for tweaking the exhaust system. And I think it looks better. I run them both, and can tell no power difference between them.

    Carefully clean the junction between the expansion chamber and the exhaust pipe. Assemble with no sealants or zip ties on the rubber gasket- they don't seem to help. If it is a good fit on both ends, it shouldn't leak. If you have to torque it into place, be prepared to spend some time cleaning. DAMHIK.

    The KTM's are unique in coming with a jetting chart. It's conservative, but not overly so. If I have a debate for which box I fit into (it's a temp/elevation matrix), I err to the lean. This will be a good starting point and you won't seize the bike. Some folks like to go to a #7 slide cutaway and run the N85D/E needles, some folks run some of the newer needle tapers... I find that the KTM book gets me close and leaves me confident that I won't blow it up, and that's worth something. Summer jetting for HIGH elevation (8k +) is NOZI/3rd, 40/162, about 1 turn on the A/S. Winter is NOZH/3rd, 45/175, 1 turn. Whenever I rejet (which is a lot) I write what's in there with a sharpie on the side of the float bowl. It'll wash off with gas and it means you never remember wrong and leave summer high elevation jetting in for a winter ride at sea level.

    The OEM Mahle Forged Pistons last a long damn time. Wiseco Cast pistons are a bit lighter and rev easier. Note that KTM provides 2 different sizes of cylinders- they are very close, but your original piston will have a "1" or "2" stamped in the head. If you go OEM, get a matching piston. If you go aftermarket, they aren't precise enough to care.

    I have been running no-toil products in the air cleaner for a long time with good success. I'm sure the petro stuff would have worked fine too, but no-toil is much nicer to work with.

    I have an enduro engineering clutch slave protector. It's got a lot of marks from chain slap. No idea if any of those slaps would have hurt the stock unit... but I'm glad I didn't find out. Another $20 well spent.

    The bike comes with a crappy guard between the chain and tire, which falls off shortly after you start riding the bike. Preemptively take it off, and use some silicon to seal the holes so you don't fill your swingarm with water and sand.
    #10
  11. Arch

    Arch Incurable Gearhead

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    The guys hit Colorado (Rampart) at least a couple of times a year, but I haven't made it up there with them as other types of rides/trips tend to take up all of my time off. One of these days, though. You're fortunate to be living up there, Neduro. Excepting the membership spots, small trails & such, we're pretty much down to a few national forest ride areas when it comes to woods riding. Of course far west Texas has some awesome dual-sporting, but it's about 600 miles from driveway to base camp.

    Anyway, I'll see ya up there sometime. :nod
    #11
  12. meat popsicle

    meat popsicle Ignostic

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    Thanks Ned, I had a get off on my bike recently but I didn't know some of the details you posted for truing the front end. I will run this by the bike when I gets a chance! :thumb
    #12
  13. dirtrider

    dirtrider Dusty Adventurer

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    I just got your PM as I was in Denver until last night. Awesome thread! As soon as I get caught up on my work, I'll add to it. :deal
    #13
  14. Gregg Wannabe

    Gregg Wannabe Just killing time

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    Great stuff Ned and others keep it coming. Unfortunately, I have nothing to add to this thread, I can only take. I do have a question though.

    I noticed in your photos that your cover has been dented in and it looks like it was creased by the brake lever bolt. This happened to me as well during a spill where the brake lever bent in and rode up creasing my cover almost to the point of going through. I was thinking about grinding down the sharp stuff on the inside of the lever or even welding on a small glider plate (say, a 1 1/2 inch square piece of metal) to the inside of the lever or even sticking a small piece of plastic on the case so the lever would glide on the case instead of going through. Any ideas?
    #14
  15. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    On the two strokes, the cover is recessed stock. Mine has a scratch where the brake lever touched it (as you correctly pointed at), but it is not dented.

    Honestly, it wasn't a problem on either of my 300's, so I haven't put much thought into what to change. Let me consider it.

    I'm looking forward to Dirtrider's comments. As someone who rides a lot, is obviously mechanically inclined, and works in a shop and therefore gets to see what goes wrong... I'm interested for what he can add.

    :thumb
    #15
  16. dirtrider

    dirtrider Dusty Adventurer

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    As always, Ned covered the details very well.

    I am on my 2nd 300 EXC with the first being a 96. The 96 recieved a piston every other year and the bottom end had never been touched when I sold it in 2002 and is still going strong.

    I just put the first new piston in my 02 this summer. The original looked pretty good, but had some minor scoring. The bottom end has never been touched.

    The spokes can be a problem on earlier models, but if they are checked once in a while they become a non issue. To check them correctly, spokes should be torqued with a tool like THIS. We purchased one for the shop and we check every new bike that is assembled. It's incredible how many new bikes NEED this done. I take it home to check both of my bikes often.

    I've tried many different tires and for the type of riding I do, the Michelin S12's seem to work the best. They were also a top choice in either Dirt Rider or Dirt Bike magazine not too long ago as the best off road (not MX) tire available. The softer compound doesn't last as long as some others, but the traction they provide is worth it.

    I've been using E-Line products for years and I've had excellent luck with their carbon/kevlar pipe guards and skid plates.
    [​IMG]

    In 4 years of using their products, I've only cracked one pipe guard and the hit was so drastic that I had to replace the pipe too. At the time, I installed an FMF Gnarly pipe. The Gnarly is double wall so it's stronger and quieter than most aftermarket pipes and I found that it increased the bottom and mid range but hurt the top end. As the bike is ridden 95% of the time on technical single track, the loss of top end over rev was unimportant. I also run an FMF Turbine Core II silencer with spark arrestor as a crash took out my original. It is slightly louder than stock but lighter. If the original hadn't been ruined, I would still be using it as the improvement in weight or performance would not have been worth the money.

    I've had customers complain about the seat height being too tall. I learned a quick fix from the KTM Supercross team. 10mm can be cut from the rear subframe than rewelded to lower the seat height. You can't cut out any more as the rear tire could contact the inside of the fender at full compression. For riders that like a taller bike, the SDG tall soft seat is awesome.

    Ned had mentioned the slave cylinder guard already, but I would also like to mention that it is very important as a thrown or broken chain not only breaks the cylinder, but can also damage the crank case. I use a billet KTM model.
    [​IMG]

    An axle pull is also a good idea as getting the axle out for a flat tire in the woods can be tough with limited tools.
    [​IMG]

    Early on in my ownership, I broke one of the stock pegs. I switched to Moose pegs and have yet to break one. They also have a deeper serration and hold my boots better.

    Gearing is a personal preferance and can be changed for different riding styles. For the tight woods we have here, I've found that 13/52 works perfect. It does limit my top speed to 72mph, but the low end response and lugability :wink: is perfect for tight switchbacks or obstacles in the trail.
    [​IMG]

    Of course any serious woods bike is incomplete without hand quards and a rear rotor guard.

    Like Ned, I ruined my chain guide right away and replaced it with a serious one from Fredette. It's taken a huge beating, but it's still there. I have had to straighten it a couple of times.

    Although I'm not overly tall, I do prefer a taller bar for standing. I currently have FMF 909's on the bike which are taller than stock and very comfortable when standing.

    The stock odometer on the 02 and earlier models was a carry over from an early 80's Can Am so I replaced it with a digital model from Trail Tech just like THIS one.

    She's treated me well! :nod
    [​IMG]
    #16
  17. AusieRob

    AusieRob Just Gas It!!

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    Thanks neduro, great stuff. :thumb
    #17
  18. meat popsicle

    meat popsicle Ignostic

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    Bump for the KTM RFS (RTS?) riders... :smooch
    #18
  19. Trailsurfer

    Trailsurfer Adventurer

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    This is really great, useful information on these bikes. Do you guys do any MX on the 300? I am thinking about trying a 2-stroke again for MX (and some trial riding) and would like your opinion since you have allot of time on the 300.

    I am a tall, over 40 (close to 50) vet. And I have a bitchen 72 CZ400 for vintage racing so I still ride 2-strokes.

    Thanks!
    #19
  20. potatoho

    potatoho Cheese and Rice!

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    Nashua Stretch & Seal silicone tape works pretty good for the two stroke pipe connect. Takes a little effort, but no drying time and it doesn't leak even with a crooked fit. Wrap maybe 4 layers and then snug a loop of safety wire on it. I also put one layer along the edge of the female flange before assembly, or sometimes I'll assemble with ultra copper if I have time.

    [​IMG]
    #20