Ktm 500 as ultra lightweight ADV bike suspension?

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by rcers, Oct 2, 2020.

  1. rcers

    rcers Adventurer

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    First of all thanks to everybody who has contributed

    Finally took the new bike out for a 200+ mile backroad ride with lots of broken pavement/road patch’s and washboard gravel(on uphills) It’s very harsh,you can feel everything :(


    Am I correct in thinking that because of my weight,I’m already riding down in the stiff portion of the susp travel and with stiffer (correct) springs holding it up it will actually make it plusher?
    #21
  2. RideFreak

    RideFreak Torque Junky

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    Not likely when riding semi smooth stuff like rough dirt roads, it usually takes something larger like whoops to blow through the suspension. Did you play with the clickers? What your feeling is a lack of initial compliance which was common in the prev gens OC forks, I don't have Explor forks but I've rode them and they weren't much different, harsh on small stuff like bumps, washboard and broke up pavement. You could adjust the compression stack but I'd suggest taking it to a tuner. Like I said earlier, for what you're riding I'd shoot for plush and compliant, just to be clear, plush doesn't equate to soft. A more progressive tune to the compression stack would accomplish that.

    I would also test it again progressively backing off the compression damping, you'll likely get to a point where it will feel allot better but w/o changing the shim stack you will be blowing through the stroke on bigger stuff with the newly reduced compression damping.
    #22
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  3. timeOday

    timeOday Long timer

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    What is your tire pressure? I think people sometimes under-appreciate the role of PSI. Tire flex is actually the first and most responsive suspension that you have (even if it is only 1 or 2 inches of travel.) Try 18 psi. A bit low for on-road but that will exaggerate the effect a little.

    Also, before you get too deep into spending money on suspension, but there's a reason most people don't use this kind of bike for this kind of riding. Bigger, heavier bikes do have a smoother ride, which is nicer, until and unless you ride more rocky / sandy / muddy stuff.
    #23
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  4. rcers

    rcers Adventurer

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    I was running 20psi,that’s prob as low as I’m comfortable with cornering on road. I know will prob never get big bike plushness but gonna try for better. I debated for months and months on the whole 790,690,500 thing ????? Drove myself nuts thinking about it but eventually decided on the 500 and really fell in love with it yesterday for its power to weight ratio and just pure FUN blasting around in the country on a legal dirt bike :)
    I’m sure I will eventually get to the big bike phase of life (LOL) but for now I’m just not there. I’ve already got a 300xcw for dirt work so this is probably a in betweener.
    #24
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  5. Jan from Finland

    Jan from Finland Been here awhile

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    It's not about blowing through but initial harishness. If you crank too much preload, a stiffer spring can make a plusher ride. More preload is not the same as stiffer spring. Explanation here: https://www.cycleworld.com/sport-rider/technicalities-spring-rate-and-preload/
    #25
  6. RideFreak

    RideFreak Torque Junky

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    The EXPLOR, OC and CC forks are known for being harsh initially without work being done to them. The problem isn't the spring preload, it's the compression stack and a few other things, I'm no suspension expert but Ive ridden some decent working Explor forks that had nothing done but correct springs and a revalve done on the compression stack. The one I rode didn't have the initial harshness which is common on most KTM forks including the AERs. The EXPLOR is basically a redesign of KTMs CC fork which basically sucked and was expensive to make work well. Exlors are a big improvement but still suffer from that harshness, unfortunately springs alone won't fix it. A popular fix is the dal soggio kits for the Explor forks:

    https://slavensracing.com/shop/piston-upgrade-kit-wp-4cs-wp-xplor-forks-dal-soggio/
    #26
  7. JP4

    JP4 Thumper Geek

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    I've got a 790R and a new 500 EXC, and with the right clicker settings, I can get a far more plush ride out of the 500 on choppy dirt roads. I'm fortunate to fall within the weight range of the stock springs, so that probably helps. On both bikes I set high speed compression on the shock all the way out, which is only half a turn out from the the comfort setting. That makes a big difference. Up front I'm several clicks softer than the comfort setting as well on both compression and rebound. It's butter now on the chop. In not doing hard single track, so I can get away with extra plush settings. 20 psi is a lot of air pressure on a dirt bike tire and I'm guessing that's the main source of your harsh ride. Experiment with that a few psi at a time. It can be a pretty dramatic difference just going 4-5 psi.
    #27
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  8. JP4

    JP4 Thumper Geek

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    And + 1 on the True North motos rack. It's really well engineered and locally made. I haven't mounted mine up yet, but I'm impressed with the craftsmanship. I'll post some when I get it installed this week.
    #28
  9. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

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    My 500 does much better on small washboarded roads than my 690. On both I just put the proper spring on and set the sag. Clickers are set per manual for recreational riding.

    I haven't seen anybody say it and maybe it is a given, but you really need to balance the tires for street riding.

    I have my 500 geared low for trail riding. This makes it a PITA on pavement since I have to upshift to 5th or 6th gear coming off every stop sign.

    Yours might be the one case where leaving the gearing stock works best.
    #29
  10. Grreatdog

    Grreatdog Long timer Supporter

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    Having Protune rework my forks and spring them for my 200 pounds in riding gear made a huge difference. They are more compliant over trail hack and still stand up enough to not deflect off rocks or bottom on whoops and what small jumps I'm willing to try.

    If anything, they work even better slamming through dry, rocky creek beds (probably the hardest thing I do to them) while still feeling more plush over rocky two track. That tune up just made them work better all around. IIRC, the total cost with new springs was around $350.

    It was worth every penny to me. I haven't felt a need to touch the clickers. Whatever Corey did, the settings he told me to use match my riding very well.
    #30
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  11. rcers

    rcers Adventurer

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    Having springs put in next week then I will set sag and put clickers to manuals comfort settings. If that’s not a major improvement then will have them valved. I know 20 psi is way to much in the dirt but not sure I can trust much less than that on a paved twisty at 40+ Mph? Do others run less on pavement at those speeds?
    I plan on putting the rim locks on and balancing as soon as I burn thru the stock tires. Then maybe I will drop a couple more psi??
    #31
  12. Grreatdog

    Grreatdog Long timer Supporter

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    20 doesn't sound out of line to me. I run 15-20 front (usually 18 but depends on the tire) and 15 rear all the time. I have been at those numbers across three KTM's and over a decade of riding them.

    I don't like dicking around with air pressure between surfaces and that has always been a good compromise between street handling, soft terrain traction, and preventing rock pinch flats.
    #32
  13. rcers

    rcers Adventurer

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    I run as low as 4-5 psi rear with Bridgestone UHD tubes,2 rim locks,gummy tires on my 300xcw. Usually 7-8 psi front,UHD tube and 1 rim lock on Enduro like dual sport rides with excellent results. But,I’m also running full knobs and not pushing it on pavement. I want the 500 exc-f to be a fun, light weight, more exciting replacement for my DR650. I love my DR but it just doesn’t get the adrenaline flowing. I’ve ridden off road my entire life but the ADV kinda riding and setup is new to me. Thx for everyone’s input. Keep it coming.
    #33
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  14. Sidehil

    Sidehil On any Sunday

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    I did a re do spring on my 501 for long distance travel with lots of gear, seems way better, the old spring was the correct one for my 300, it seems way better, I just leave all the fine adjustments stock as I can not keep them straight:) just ride... a true north rack on my 501 will never come off, don’t race anyone but my self and I do enough damage as it is to myself:))) True North racks are awesome
    #34
  15. Carlos Thomas

    Carlos Thomas Fast not Furious

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    I don't think anyone has said it, so I will say it: "You should not put a rack on a KTM 500. Go rackless. Less weight." Also, regarding your mix of paved versus off-road, you will want to pay close attention to tires and oil changes. Regarding tires, I never ride by Beta 430 RR-S more than 18 psi. Off-road I am 14 to 16 psi. I use my bike as a true dual sport and have the gearing 13/48. Also with tires, if you have more off-road focused tires, I would not try to be aggressive and lay the bike down in the corners on the pavement.

    The KTM 500 is probably the best light-weight adventure bike ever built. You can take that around the world and not worry. You can go 70 MPH on the highway or tackle a steep rocky hill climb. The bike can do it all. Just don't over pack...keep things light and enjoy life more.

    fullsizeoutput_2058.jpeg
    #35
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  16. Fast1

    Fast1 Twisted Throttle

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    Here is another data point for you.

    FE501 running tubliss front and back

    Last 1850 mile week long ride in ID with a Goldentyre fatty front and a Sedona MX 208SR rear
    packed with camping gear, water, food, panniers (~25-30 lbs dependent on water/food) Rider weight geared 190 lbs

    offroad pressures:
    back 1-4 psi
    front 8-11 psi

    pavement at speeds above 50 mph for any duration over 5 or so miles
    back 12 psi
    front 15 psi

    Ran at 70-75 mph for 60 plus miles at street pressures on pavement (Lolo Highway) without issue.
    Played in the pavement corners in some remote areas at the same pressures while at nearly sumo set up speeds without issue. Corner grip was very impressive considering using knobs and loaded with camping gear.

    Have in the past ran at 70-75 mph on pavement with dirt pressures over 20 miles using similar set ups without issue. Front Goldentyre fatty center knobs would scallop quick with low dirt pressures. (edit: the new version of the GT Fatty has been updated with more substantial center knob spacing blocks) Rear Michelin Desert at 3 or 4 psi suffered no ill consequences.


    Want the bike to handle better:

    minimize weight
    keep the weight low on the moto
    position as much weight as possible in front of the rear axle and near the foot peg
    spring the rear shock and set pre-load to accommodate dressed rider weight and luggage weight

    IMG_0450.jpg

    IMG_0459.jpg
    #36
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  17. nzrian

    nzrian renegade master Supporter

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    Since we are talking tires, I am running tubliss front and rear on my 2019 500.

    About 8000 km on this setup, some long tar rides in amongst that, and no problems at all.

    I have the nomad adv rear rack and use wolfman E 12 and a dry bag for luggage.
    Minimalist packing for trips makes for a more enjoyable ride.

    IMG_20191229_161011.jpg


    IMG_20200209_122719.jpg
    #37
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  18. jm19328

    jm19328 2020 KTM 500 Exc

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    Stock 2020 suspension is very good! I use Tubliss and love it for many conditions. Adjust the springs to your weight and ride!
    #38
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  19. rcers

    rcers Adventurer

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    Just got it re-sprung for my weight few days ago now weighting for a chance to get it out,weather is the factor. Am considering Tubliss but for now gonna go the tried and true UHD tubes and rim locks I’ve used for ever. Really wanna try Tubliss but guess I’m just paranoid about trying something new (old school)?? Is Tubliss a lot lighter than the UHD setup?
    #39
  20. bananu7

    bananu7 Been here awhile

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    Complaining about the stock EXC suspension being "uncomfortable" is about as sensible as complaining about a GT3 race car fuel mileage. They've stiffened it for 2020 and it's meant to absorb drops, not be "plush" on the small stuff.

    The easiest change would probably be to simply put in very light (5W? 0W?) oil. The service manual calls for the first fork service at 15mth and first shock service at 30mth (probably very conservative, but that's what it says). Putting in thinner oil won't change the characteristics, but will make the suspension much more bouncy overall, which you might feel as "plushier". Getting it completely retuned will take not just much more money, but potentially much more time and effort, as the first iteration might not nail what you want exactly.

    The suspension is progressive, so yeah, in general having it sprung correctly is quite vital to it performing as designed. But I see that you got that done already.

    Which again depends on the setup. Maybe stock, yeah, but e.g. my 990 is about as stiff, thanks to the previous owner riding habits. What the big bike offers is much more stability and less upset because of your own weight balance. This effectively means you can be much more lazy as your mass is much less of a factor in the overall operation of the machine. People who order wider seats for the EXC seem to forget that it's supposed to be ridden standing up...

    FWIW I found the stock suspension pretty much on point. The comfort settings are a good starter, except for the fork which gets a tad too soft once you start jumping (although still has decent bottoming resistance). But I rode it on MX tracks and in enduro scenarios so far, not long-way pavement travel. For that I'd definitely put in a cush hub and get the gearing waaaaaaay taller. I put in the rubber 14 in front and it still lifts the wheel in 3rd with absolutely no issues.

    I'm also considering Tubliss for rally/travel scenarios, fixing a flat like on a tubeless really means a lot to me. I don't think it's that much lighter, but everyone talks about it feeling less "dampened" than the tubes. Probably only really noticeable once you start riding it harder.
    #40