XR650R to a KTM....Maybe

Discussion in 'Crazy-Awesome almost Dakar racers (950/990cc)' started by CollinsB, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. CollinsB

    CollinsB Been here awhile

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    Sold the XR650R (BRP) ....and now looking for a replacement. At 6'4" 220lbs, ...the XR650R was awesome. I'm just ready for a change.

    Not too familiar with the KTM's, but looking for reliablity and something that fits me. It seems anyone who owns a KTM has a love affair with it. The Honda was crazy reliable and that for me is key... Im open to suggestions.
    #1
  2. marcwestbmw

    marcwestbmw Walkin' Mans Friend

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    My riding buddy has always been an XR man. 600's then 650's. I convinced him to buy a 950 Super Enduro after I purchased a 950 AdvS. Best decisions we ever made. We both love our bikes. He rides his SE like he did the XR650. Desert, mountains, single track, and cross country blasting to boot.

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    #2
  3. CollinsB

    CollinsB Been here awhile

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    Hmm.... hadn't thought about an SE, nor have I really looked at one up close. I believe it would not be a far a stretch from the XR. Good call...I'll check those out.
    I do my own wrenching, prefer a Carbed bike, as well as something that doesnt require a huge amount of fiddling to dial in.
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  4. dogsslober

    dogsslober No neck tie, Ti neck

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    I have a XR650R and a SE. Love them both.I think the SE is a great "big" guy dirt bike. Throw a side stand bracket,Dr. Beans kit on the fuel pump and ride.
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  5. CollinsB

    CollinsB Been here awhile

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    Fuel pump kit? Trying to avoid a bike where I need to fix what the factory couldnt get right.
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  6. dogsslober

    dogsslober No neck tie, Ti neck

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    cheap and easy fix. If that will stop you. Then the KTM is not for you. Three time the miles on my KTM than my Honda. Best big bike I've ever had.
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  7. grinns

    grinns Semper Fi

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    I probably wouldn't look at ktm then. They ride awesome, but defiantly require a little lovin.
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  8. Ramv

    Ramv Been here awhile

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    KTM builds some great bikes. You MAY need to do a few simple after market mods ( I haven't at 8000 miles on my SE) but compared to the problems that Hondas have these things are rock solid. ( I am speaking from Xr80, XL250,Xr350 experience, All had way more problems than my KTM. My VTR was reliable but really poorly equipped stock compared to the KTM). The only downside I see to the SE is pure physical size. Some days I wish I was on a 300 instead but I am under 200 lb in gear.
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  9. marcwestbmw

    marcwestbmw Walkin' Mans Friend

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    You run a stock carb on the XR650? How about exhaust, cam, etc. ever wear your arse out kicking it after a dump? My point being all bikes have their quirks. If you pass on a 950, that's OK. It just means more for us.:D


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    #9
  10. Helipilot

    Helipilot Been here awhile

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    Why not just have both the XR650L and the KTM 990. Both bikes have their fine points. I have owned three XR's since they came out and love the bike for it's simplicity and the ability to grunt up a hill without a lot of tire spinning and thrashing about. I bought a new KTM 990 this spring and love it. But it is a different bike that I will need to get used to riding. It is great on pavement and gravel roads/trails but I think it is too heavy for technical single track. I plan to do a lot of camping on it and have done a lot on my XR's and it was all great fun and adventure. I plan to start the farkling process on the 990 this winter and spring. My XR is just where I want it and suits my riding style to a "T". I am keeping them both.:D

    Good luck in your decision.
    #10
  11. CollinsB

    CollinsB Been here awhile

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    The 950 may not be ideal for my needs... It may be a little too beastly for trail and desert riding.
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  12. Doug Matson

    Doug Matson Long timer

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    Go for the new KTM EXC 500 Street legal and everybody raves about it. Doesn't need any mods just ride it.
    #12
  13. CollinsB

    CollinsB Been here awhile

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    The EXC 500 is appealing...
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  14. Steveman

    Steveman Been here awhile

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    If reliability counts KTM is the wrong bike to go for. Thats for sure. Having a BRP kicker my own plus having two KTM's (690 and 350) myself I really can tell you to go for something different.
    I had alltogether 30 bikes (only one used one!) and 5 of them where KTM's. These were the only 5 which failed out in the woods far from home. None of the Japs bikes ever failed. Never ever, and I ride since ages...

    Another possibility is to buy a new KTM 690 and ride it for a year only as commuter or weekend bike. Then after everything which can fail has failed and all the errors my Austrian fellows have made during assembling have been straightened they are darn good bikes. Going with a new KTM on a long trip is playing Russian Roulette.

    Cheers
    Steve
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  15. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    are KTM reliability that bad? what typically goes wrong?
    they can't be more expensive than BMW for parts...
    will be doing all my own wrenching so no labor costs.
    #15
  16. Steveman

    Steveman Been here awhile

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    Well, that needs more explanation otherwise KTM fans will flame me :evil
    Maybe you realized that I am Austrian and I am not so far from the KTM factory. And honestly I am a fan, but I am also able to see things realistic. This comes with the years. In general the bikes and especially the components KTM uses are really good.

    But nevertheless they had to make cuts in the past. And it is clear that these cuts affect the operational expenses (opex) a lot.
    And if you ever will visit the factory you will be surprised that in the assembling you may hear different languages but no German. Meaning in the assembling line they have a lot of foreign laborers. Please belive me that I am not a racist and all I want to say is that there is a difference between workers earning 23 bucks per hour and those which are happy with 9. I work in industry since ages and this does affect quality.
    Talking about quality I think that this is KTM's weakest point: a bad quality control. I have to admit that one of my best friends works for KTM and so I get some information others may not get, especially as this guy does handle customer complaints. He, as a KTM employee says that KTM is too arrogant vs their customers. They leave everything up to their dealers. If you got a good dealer you are lucky, if not you are screwed.

    So if something goes wrong it is mostly not a big deal, but if you stuck out in the woods even small problems like a bad ground cable can be a mess. The engines, transmissions, suspensions, frames have outstanding qualities, no doubt. Never experienced a serious problem. But its all that small issues that are annoying. If you are interested I tell you what went wrong with my KTM's and you will be surprised that its been only minor things, but with the effect that I could not get the batsrads running away from home...

    Parts are cheaper than BMW and if you are a good mechanic you will fix all the tiny problems in no time. This is why I have still two of them (and also I have a Beemer). Doing my own service and repair is not a problem for me but may be a no-no for others...

    Cheers
    Steve
    #16
  17. Atreyou

    Atreyou Having Fun

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    Hi there, for what it is worth I owned a 2005 BRP and a 2004 950S for two and a half years and rode them every single day in punishing Tanzania with not a qualified mechanic in sight. I took them on extended trips in the bush and rode the 950 unsupported through eleven countries in east and southern Africa. I pushed them very hard. I did my best to maintain them with tools I was able to bring into the country, and with the assistance of well-meaning local mechanics. I also surfed this website religiously for valuable information.

    Nevertheless, they were never running as well as they could have and the suspension was never dialed in properly. I even found out that my 950 was sold to me with standard front suspension, which means I had been riding it with completely mismatched front and rear travel, which affected steering, bump absorption, you name it. Fortunately, Pyndon was able to visit me and sort both bikes out before I sold them and moved to Juba, South Sudan.

    Despite my circumstances, both bikes were incredible performers and extremely reliable. For me it would boil down to this.

    If you want something different and more powerful, go for the KTM. The Adventure is a shockingly good bike off road, you can jump it and I mean really jump it, roost the next county over and make yourself shit your nice Klim pants real quick. On dirt roads (with suspension dialed) you can ride 120 kph standing up, pinching the tank with your knees, one-handed like you are standing in line at a grocery register. It is insane. I dreaded long stretches of mud and sand on this bike though - especially when loaded. You have to be really, really good to not struggle a lot with it in those conditions. And of course, it would not be my first choice for technical single track.

    It is much smoother for longer rides than a thumper. You can carry a passenger and so much shit on this bike and still perform off-road and then transition to scraping boots on turns in the mountains. It really is an unbelievable machine. I rode my 950 for 9,000 kilometers unsupported over the course of 4.5 weeks through 7 countries (Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and Zambia) with my GF on the back and about twice as much weight in luggage as permitted by the owner's manual. Searing heat, rain, dirt, rocks, silt - you name it.

    As far as reliability, the fuel out here is horrible and the only oil available is car oil. The radiator had tap water in it. I was running a battery and voltage regulator from a Yamaha 660 (battery is about half the power). I never had the valves checked or the carb adjusted. I had put it back together after a horrific wreck three and a half months earlier. The deck was stacked against the KTM. Nonetheless, the only problem I had on this trip was a flat rear tire and a dinged up front rim. I rode the bike for a full year before taking it on another trip (solo this time) through Tanzania, Rwanda, a small part of Congo, Uganda, and Kenya. Three weeks, all conditions. Only problem was clutch slave cylinder busting off of the case on the last day due to my own stupidity (chain was way too loose). Some guys and I were able to weld and Macgyver things back into place and I rode from Nakuru, Kenya, to Arusha, Tanzania in a day, pulling over every 45 minutes to add two liters of oil.

    Pyndon came over and rebuilt the entire engine with new cases, complete cylinder heads, and we added his race-tuned suspension from one of his bikes to bring it to full S height. At the time of sale, it was pulling like a train with full compression and the suspension was a dream. You could not sink this bike. I actually found it more reliable than my BRP.

    Maybe I was lucky, or maybe my reliability concerns are much more spartan than those of others (engine runs, brakes work, bike rolls, it turns on, it is not falling apart on me), but I really found it to be an incredibly reliable bike. I bought it with 30,000 miles on it so many bugs may have been worked out by then. Also, when I received it, it had a Facet fuel pump conversion.

    If you find a bike you just turn on and don't have to worry about, let me know! :)

    Hope this helped!
    #17
  18. Steveman

    Steveman Been here awhile

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    See, thats what I am talking about :1drink
    Thanks for your report, I am still a patriot :D
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  19. Atreyou

    Atreyou Having Fun

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    Haha - yes, my reply should definitely be read in concert with Steveman's insider perspective. It was meant to complement, not contradict his assertions. :) The conclusion may be that if you find a used, sorted 950 Adventure, you might end up a very, very happy man.

    I am not sure my post above would exist if I had brought over a brand new one!
    #19
  20. Doug Matson

    Doug Matson Long timer

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    I have had many XR's, DR's, 2smokes and what ever but my 03' KTM 450 EXC that I have had now for 10 yrs has been the best dirt bike i have ever had. Never let me down in the dirt, I just replaced the water pump seal because it was starting to seep, took 30 mins and cost very little. Even though it is a dual sport I don't ride it much on the street but it is not babied in the dirt. All my friends used to make fun of the e-start when i first got it and now they all have gone orange and none of them want to go back to what they were on. Pic of bike in it's element last week.
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