USA DRZ400E off road only to a KTM 500 EXC-F

Look before you leap. New motorcycles can be plated depending on the state and how the Manufacturers Statement of Origin (MSO) is written.  If your state wants federal compliance, just lights and blinders won't do it. The MSO needs to indicate it is federal compliant. There is no new 2 stroke in existence that is federal compliant.  As for 4 strokes, look at the MSO.  KTM EXC models (and Husky clones) are compliant. Beta, Gas Gas, Shirco 4 strokes I'm not sure.  Almost anything can be licensed in WA since the rules were changed.  CA not so much. NJ no idea. Most western states no problem.

Bought a 2015 ktm exc 500   a couple of years ago ,  I would call myself slow intermediate rider  age 59

this is what I did with the 500

Rode it on the motocross track, ( heavy, a little sluggish throttle and suspension too soft).... but it still did a decent job

Rode it in Baja (awesome bike in the sand and open areas and decent on the rocks)  got it up to 111 miles per hour on a Mexican highway (yes on knobby)

Rode it on very tight single track woods and hills (too heavy, first gear too tall).... but still did the job, but freaking heavy to lift over down trees and that sort of thing.

Super good on second and third gear type trails thru the woods.

Used it as a duel sport and rode pavement , gravel and dirt in Southern California.... awesome bike, come home on the freeway if you want. (also rode it at Cahuilla creek mx)

Sold it to my buddy,   he put a snow bike kit on it and also has super motard wheels and tires for it.  (he says not the very best snow bike but close, he upgraded to a ktm 450 for that)

You can do anything on the 500   ( just adjust the TPS and maybe put a pipe on it )   

It wont do everything perfect but it will do a lot , very well




I’m really happy with my 500 Ktm,Has 11000 miles uses no oil.60-70 mpg,Stock Exaust (took Akrpovic off)Set tps 6.4 and ride it like you stole it.Dealers discount them this time of year.

I have 2 2014 500EXCs.  They're great bikes, they do it all very well. Only down side IMO is initial cost. One of my bikes has 60 hours and 1500 miles (I bought it new) and the other bike has 220 hours and 5000 mikes (bought it used for friends to ride), the 5000 mile one feels every bit as strong as the one with 60 hours. I was impressed by that. Its not the perfect bike for super tight single track or motocross (but it can do both of those things reasonably well) and it excels at everything else. The Beta I'm sure is a great bike as well but Beta isn't mainstream enough yet for my preference, yet. I would like to ride one someday. 

5 hours ago, kcomst said:

Saying the S model is gutless compared to the E model isn't saying that much because both need a new exhaust system to wake them up. A 400S with full Yoshimura exhaust and JD jetting kit adds so much power to the S, that it's just slightly less than the E model with the same setup.

The S needs cams, Carb and a pipe to make the power the E makes with just a pipe. 34hp VS 42hp is not slightly less. :bonk:



I can say from experience, the DRZ400S with Yoshimura exhaust and JD jetting compared to the DRZ400S with stock exhaust/jetting is like day and night. You can drive a 500 hp Chevy pickup or add 200 more hp with supercharger. That doesn't make the 500 hp Chevy something to ignore. I see nothing to argue about here. 

Are you riding like a little old lady? If all you need is to pick up groceries then it should last you forever, good choice :) 

6 hours ago, rebar said:

Those bikes are all way to big and heavy for offroad IMO.  But Im a little guy with a big D


Excellent point and I totally agree. The KTM 500 is way too big for serious offroad technical riding like we do here in Utah and w. Colorado. It's only good for guys who want to be able to say they have something bigger than a 450 when the truth is, they can't utilize all the power in a 450. In fact the best KTM for the kind of riding I do is a 200 2-stroke. It feels like a MTB but doesn't rip up the tall hill climbs like a 450, it's main drawback. But I ride my son's 300 because he insists, while he rides the 450. 

If you like easily doing roll on willies in fifth gear at 55 miles an hour then your KTM EXC 500 is the best choice. As far as the KTM being too lean that’s a bunch of crap runs perfect right out of the box. As for my 2017 yes I did the desmog and bumped up the voltage on the TPS, Opened the exhaust and Pulled the reeds out of the airbox, but the sucker screams.Good luck.

If I can figure out how to plate my drz somehow that will be my final decision 

I got the KTM 500 EXC. I didn't desmog it just rode it. I live in CT and ride NY, MA and NJ. I don't even think about the money I spent. Cheaper than a boat, golfing, bar, or a wife. Buy it you'll love it!!

If I can figure out how to plate my drz somehow that will be my final decision 

If you are content riding a DRZ then why not pick up an S? Find a nice, clean used bike and go to work. If you peel off all the steel brackets for reflector, head light, taillight ect, you can get back down to the E's weight level. Power is easy to find with this motor. Add a 434cc bigbore, MRD exhaust, 41MM FCR-MX carburator, Web 540/540 cams and a Dynatek programmable ignition and will have the same, if not a little more power than the 07 RMZ450 you mentioned in the other post. Just the pipe, a set of Hotcams and a 39mm FCR will get you to your E's level.

16 hours ago, danfarson said:

Register (not title) the DRZ400E in Vermont for $48 per year.   I did that with my 'E' because I moved to Illinois, which won't register bikes that started life as 'trail' bikes.  Very trouble-free process.

Fill this out with your New Jersey address, use NJ drivers license number in place of Vermont drivers license number.    Read through the instructions for the VD-119 form at


9 hours ago, superdutyscaler said:

If I can figure out how to plate my drz somehow that will be my final decision 

See danfarson’s post above. Vermont and South Dakota allow you to do this.

I got the KTM 500 EXC. I didn't desmog it just rode it. I live in CT and ride NY, MA and NJ. I don't even think about the money I spent. Cheaper than a boat, golfing, bar, or a wife. Buy it you'll love it!!

2 hours ago, Diverdown said:


2017 Husky FE501 (100% road legal) , in 100% stock trim, with the exception of TPS adjustment to 6.4 and 49 tooth rear sprocket.  This bike is damn near the perfect bike for pretty much anything I've thrown at it.  From insanely tight single track, mountain goat trails to wide open FSRs, to gravel pits/jumps.  I haven't rode it on the MX track yet but I expect it to haul the mail just fine and dandy.  Great damn bike for offroad dirt bike use.  I riding in the Okanagan in BC Canada

The FE 501 is the cousin to the 500, just has linkage rear suspension instead of PDS.  I have a 2017 350XCF, 2010 450YZF, 2014 350 SXF and a 2004 CRF230 plus a couple other of bikes at my disposal and this bike (fe501) out dirt bikes all of those bikes in every situation, with shit street legal tires on it no less.  In my mind there is no question it's a great dirt bike, at 243 pounds without gas its still lighter then yamaha 450 and only a few pounds heavier then the 350's.  Biggest complaint is the stock seat is garbage. 

Where you might notice some difference with the DRZ is on the highway in high winds, that light weight does come at a cost, but that's easily fixed, add some racks, storage and camping gear and it'll feel just as light as the ol' Z.  ;)

obviously if you already have a bike then nothing is going to be cheaper then using the one you have but if buying new the 500/501 are awesome choices.  As for reliability, the KTM/Huskies I would argue are bullet proof, well put together and well thought out, don't require the level of maintenance that the nay sayers on the internet would have you believe.  Change the oil and and air filters and you're good to.  my 2014 has 250 trouble free hours on it.  I hear if you do have problems KTM really stands behind their products even if out of warranty. They are also good value too you can get new 2017s out the door for about $10k plus tax (in canadian pesos) 1 year lightly used ones for around $7-8k.  Considering what you get for that money they are still very good value for the money.  Comparing to the local Honda/Yamaha dealers want $11k for the WR and CR comparatives with lesser equipment.  


I can agree with everybody here. Simply way too many variables. Any bike is gonna need some work, especially suspension.


Unless of course it's a used bike, and already has suspension done. And coincidentally the PO weighs the same as you.


The list could go on & on & on...





After what you've all said I'm going to try and get the bike "legal" through Vermont or South Dakota like mentioned above. For what I need (drive from house to trails) it's perfect, it has full exhaust 3x3 mod, jetted from eddies recomenditions and the bike has been perfect since I rolled her off the showroom floor in 2003. And then ill still habe my rmz450 for the tract....if it doesn't work I WILL BE BUYING THE KTM 500 within the next month and trading or selling my other two bikes 

And the E is way more powerful than the S or SM. Better carb, better factory exhaust, better cams, and higher compression...ive driven a S with exhaust (I don't know what else though) and it felt like a 100cc kids bike conpared to my E 

23 hours ago, kcomst said:

I can say from experience, the DRZ400S with Yoshimura exhaust and JD jetting compared to the DRZ400S with stock exhaust/jetting is like day and night. I see nothing to argue about here. 

Nope, no argument necessary, the dyno curve tells all there is to tell. I had an S with stock cams some time ago. I am talking from experience. :smirk:

Couple things.  I walked into the DMV in VA with an offroad title for my 450 sxf and walked out with a street title no problem.  Most states have a simple process to convert a dirt bike to street.  Depending on what documents you have it may get more complicated and you might need to already have a state trooper inspection and a few other things.  Just check your states DMV for requirements.  If you have a bill of sale from out of state it has to first be title off road in that state(in most cases) before it can be transferred.  If thats the case you will likely need a full inspection and all the requirements to title it.  VA requires DOT tires, lights, horn(doesn't have to be DOT), gauge, one mirror(doesn't have to be DOT), Kick stand(doesn't have to be DOT) and a frame tag with GVRW on it....  This will all be on the form.  

Here is the conversion form in VA

Here if you meet all the requirements they can change the use of a bike from off to on road.


I did a quick search for NJ and didn't instantly see anything.  But the app for a title doesn't say you can't convert one.  Says that it meets all requirements and is not setup for Off highway use...  To me that says if you get all the applicable parts they want you could legally claim its setup.  I don't know how it is there but the VA dmv was super helpful to me.  I tried to title two bikes.  Was successful with one and not the other based on the paperwork i had. At no point was i told no.  I was provided the applicable forms and even told what i could do to expedite the process.  Worth a shot before going the back channel route.

On the DRZ S vs E thing there are a handful of power parts than an E has.  Single layer base gasket(12.2 vs 11.1:1 CR), FCR39 carb, Cams(similar to the hotcams stage1), larger header pipe and muffler without that silly little restrictor in it.  I had an S that i put the E base gasket on, opened up the airbox, FCR39, E cams, MRD exhaust, Kick start and a few other things.  Power wise it was ok but still very heavy...  I removed passenger pegs, bar ends, stock mirrors, stock gauge(pretty heavy), pulled the lights off, cut the subframe(E subframe is different than S also FYI) but even at that it was still 300lbs....  You will never get to the weight level of the new Enduros.  KTM 250 exc is like 230lbs ready to ride with lights i think.....  If your DRZ does the job do what you can to title it.  If you find an S model you can easily swap your parts to it if thats what you wanted to do.  The S will have a metal gas tank with a vac operated fuel valve with reserve while the E will have a plastic tank with on/off.


On the topic of the KTM 500.  If you are looking for a trail bike that only hits the road to connect trails then id suggest the beta 250 or 300 Xtrainer.  Tag stock, a bit cheaper than the RR or 4t bikes(i think they are like $7500 new), 300cc two stroke, light with good grunt.  If you want to stay with a 4 stroke i would look for a used 350exc.  500 is a handful off road unless you are in the wide open trails, dunes, desert etc.  


KTM 500 vs Husky 501 Vs Beta 500.  Id go Husky personally.  Husky is a little heavier but they use the linkage suspension while the KTM exc models use PDS.  i have had PDS bikes and prefer the linkage personally.  The Beta is the only one that is still carbbed FYI.  Also it comes stock with the Trail Tech voyager.  i have one and its nice but don't let that drive you to the bike.  you can buy it and put it on any bike for a few hundred if you want.


South Dakota will let you title anything but note that you could still have the issue of transferring it to NJ.  SD is the only state that you can title something in (that i know of) and not have it as your home address.  Guys out in Cali do that but i have heard if you try to transfer the title to your home state it gets flagged.  If NJ really won't let title your DRZ keep that in mind that the transfer still needs to go through the DMV.  

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