Buying a 16 500 EXC. Some questions.

Hey all, looks like I'm buying a 2016 500 EXC. I haven't ridden off-road in 4 years due to a separated shoulder, so excited to get back. My last bike was a 2009 YZ450 that I had set up for woods riding which I loved!. I've read that the 500 EXC will be quite a different from my YZ (mostly good). I'm not an MX guy, but I do like to hit jumps, and occasionally go to the track just for fun, and I've read that the suspension on the EXC will disappoint here, true? I'm 165 lbs sans gear, and a moderately aggressive rider. Will I need new springs front and rear? If so, and recommendations? I plan on doing the desmog and the dealer is adding a euro tune for me. I will also be re-gearing it as well. Should I go 14-50, or 14-48? I will do some highway, no more than 120km/h and I don't want it screaming. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

You're my weight and I ride moto on occasion with mine, a 2014 500exc. Long story short, with stock suspension you can get around the track fine and hit all the jumps, but you will be slower than on an mx bike. If you keep that in your mind, it's plenty good enough to have fun on all day.

Gearing wise, I'm running 15/52 which is most similar to your choice of 14/48, top speed won't be a problem. 5th and 6th gears are tall, 120kmh is about 75mph which will be effortless with that gearing. I am guessing you'll like 14/48 better on the track. This thing has loads of torque and the taller gearing will let you stay in 3rd gear longer on the track without really giving up anything in the woods, IMHO anyway.

It's a fantastic bike, the most flexible bike I've ever ridden.

I'm just looking to hit the track for fun, and not be bottoming the bike out. My YZ was great on the track, but kinda stiff off road.

The EXC is fantastic off-road, I personally don't want to trade any of that off road performance for better on track performance, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. For me it only bottoms noticeably if I come up short, if you're clearing everything then it doesn't bottom harshly, at least where I ride. It is very soft, but the bottoming is much better than I was expecting given how soft it is.

You think stiffer springs would help, or just play with the compression and rebound?

Suspension is so personal preference, I would say ride it stock and see what you think. If you stiffen it up for the track it will surely be detrimental in the single track off road.

At your weight you're in the sweet spot for the bike's stock springs, so don't worry there. Plenty of settings to adjust and personalize. Don't overthink the suspension compared to the YZ - a tuned PDS can keep up on the track just fine, it'll just be a bit rougher on only the high jumps. On trails, it is a better feel, and the steel frame is more forgiving. As for gearing, 14-48 is probably a great setup, but I'm not sure if you'll be able to use your stock 118 link chain without the axle being located too far forward on the adjuster (which you do NOT want), so consider that. I went with 13/48 which works perfectly for the stock chain. 13/48 will be at mid-revs in 6th at 120km/hr so it is definitely a bit more offroad oriented, however if you plan to keep knobby tires on it, you'll quickly find that you don't want to be going 120km/hr on the pavement anyways (a bit scary). Mine came EU tuned and works great. Love the bike!

Edited by LS1Steve

Congrats on your decision.

As others have stated, your weight should be fine for the stock bike.

If the dealer is doing the EU tune, verify he checks and adjusts the TPS as it may or may not be a little low (I don't know about the NA bikes up your way. It is an issue on the US bikes. Or buy the tool and verify its right forever.

Pull the screen out of the silencer.

I'd recommend a 116 link chain and then either the 48 or 50. Both work good. You'll be fine on the highway for the length of time you stated. Stock is 114 links and not recommended for 48 and won't work on 50.

Swap out the rear plate holder with one of many options out there. A fresh knob and the track will eat the stock EXC plate holder.

When you desmog and pull the canister be sure to pull the plug out of the fuel drain hose down by the shift lever so the tank can breathe.

Pull the front mask off at some point (after you get some hours on it) and check out the rats nest behind it. Look for anything chaffing and zip tie it up or tape it before you have issues. Do the same with under the seat.

Keep your eye on your shift lever rubbing the casing. If it does, just grind a little off the corner of the lever where its hitting. Don't even have to remove the lever.

Dump the stock mirrors.

Safety wire the skid plate QD.

When you pick it up, ask for all the stuff that comes with the bike. Should be the rubber clutch/brake dust cover boots and two bolts/nuts for the levers for when you add handguards and pull the stock guards off, shorter kickstand bolt and shoulder, plugs for fuel tank and line when removed, and a couple other odds and ends I forget.

Set up the suspension by the book when you get it home. Clickers should be good, but on two new 500's I've found at least one clicker way way out of adjustment that got by the factory and dealer when I got home.

Good luck.

Thanks guys. I plan on a different folding mirror for sure, along with some rad guards, and a Sicass rear plate holder and flush signals. I always go through the manual and confirm all the stock settings are set, so I should be good there. Is it a pain to remove the muffler screen on the 16's? I heard they are welded in there now...

Is it a pain to remove the muffler screen on the 16's? I heard they are welded in there now...

Just to be clear, you are removing the perforated bits, not the screen. The screen is the spark arrestor. I used a hole saw on mine to remove the perforated thingys. Went slow then cleaned it up with a rotary file. Looks unmodified.

^Is there a DIY for this? I've read that most guys remove the screen off the end of the exhaust...

You can use a socket extension to knock it out. Google around and you'll see a HowTo with pictures.

I took a punch and hammer and smacked it. But, I smacked it right into the silencer. no issues, just pulled the can off and it fell right out.

So this is the screen at the end of the pipe then? Just confirming. I'm sure my dremel skills can handle it.

It's just sandwiched in there, you can cut it out but it's easier to knock it out. The screen part isn't welded.

Good to know. Thanks guys.

Should I go 14-48 or 14-50 for gearing? I need good on road, and good off road. I don't think I'll be doing super tight single track due to my previous shoulder injury.

Gearing will be a personal thing, not much difference between the two. I went with 14/50 as my go to open desert gearing and I use it in GP Desert Races as well. It cruises highway fine for short distances. The seat puts my butt to sleep long before 14/50 will hurt the bike on slab.

The motor has so much torque that you're not going to notice a big power difference between the two.  If you ride moto then I vote for 14/48 because it will make 3rd gear more usable on the track, you'll be shifting less. 

Thanks guys. I plan on a different folding mirror for sure, along with some rad guards, and a Sicass rear plate holder and flush signals. I always go through the manual and confirm all the stock settings are set, so I should be good there. Is it a pain to remove the muffler screen on the 16's? I heard they are welded in there now...

I originally grabbed a Sicass rear, but found that I didn't really like it and returned it. The plate basically points to the sky, and the brake light is not nearly as bright/visible as the stock one. I also returned the flush signals. I ended up liking the look of the front and rear signals being the same, and didn't think they looked bad on the bike with a properly trimmed fender (and were certainly more functional).


Since you mention you have a Dremel, its worth a shot to cut up the stock fender to your liking, before ordering a replacement. It's free, and you might just like it! I relocated the plate upward to where the top is just under the brakelight, and used some bolt LED lights to illuminate the plate. Looks great, and at only the cost of a small bit of elbow grease. Pics to come. 

Edited by LS1Steve

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