Yamaha vs. KTM

First off, I've always been a Yamaha guy. First bike was a PW80. The old man has a 1971 250 that stills runs although he doesn't. Anyways, I rode my buddies KTM 450 the other day and loved it. I've never ridden a WR450 so I couldn't say if it's better but the KTM is a great woods bike. Anyone else ridden one or even the 525 for that matter? What did you think?

ive rode an 02 wr 426 and the 525 and a doctored 426 is an excellent bike for the desert.imo it is better but i havent rode the 525 as much as the wr.the wr that i rode could be desert or motoed-awesome bike.iwould only guess the 450 would be leaps and bounds better than the 426

I currently own a KTM 520exc and a heavily modded YZ426. I've owned a Wr426 and a Wr400, also ridden a WR450, and have always been a Yamaha man....... until I bought the KTM. As much as I love the Yamaha's the KTM is just amazing. The motor is smooth and very strong, the suspension is plush, and it is just much more race ready bone stock than a WR with mods. KTM's even have 2 oil filters :banghead:, steel braided brake lines, loads of titanium and aluminum components, hydraulic clutch, and a build quality with lots of attention to detail. I'm not slamming the WR because I think they are great bikes too and I don't think any WR owners hate their bikes by any means. But I'd bet that most people who own a KTM and a Yamaha would probably tend to lean towards keeping the KTM if they had to sell one of them...... Like me :lol:

Anyone interested in a excellent condition YZ426 (bored to 450) with tons of mods let me know... it's for sale :applause:


The 520-525 KTM's are amazing machines. No other motor like it.

I had a KTM 525 SX after my YZ426F, but went back to blue 450.

525 pros: smooth strong power, turns well, quality components and bike just looks good still after hours of riding. The Magura juice clutch was great after the stiff 426 clutch pull, but Yamahas from 2004 and on don't need a juice clutch. I also liked the easy access airfilter. The bike is slim and feels light.

525 cons: poor and difficult adjustable suspension (2003), tendency for headshake, engine is not as bullet proof as Yamaha's, many newer ones have engine bearing problems and motor construction is in general not as solid as Y. I've seen both engines torn down and the difference is visible. Oil and filter changes could have been a bit less troublesome with all the filters and screens, and you should be very careful not to overtighten the bottom drain plug. 2003 525 had a bit too light flywheel and stalled easy and was sometimes hard to start. They also had some valve breaking issues due to poor quality titanium.

2004 was improved in many ways, heavier flywheel, better suspension, 20 mm longer swingarm, better titanium valves.

The new 2006 KTMs look awesome and a 450 or 525 SX or EXC is a good bike, but YZs and WRs are simply bullet proof.

I'd say that either one is probably better then all the other brands.

All and all, its like comparing a KDX200/220 to a KTM EXC200/250. The KDX is bullet proof but is not nearly as race ready as the KTM and build quality shows it. I mean the suspension comes factory crappy, with fork springs that are too soft and a shock spring that is too stiff. The EXC is a race bike, simple as that, theres a reason why all the top dogs use them and husabergs are also great too. Just pick your favorite because what you pay for, you get. You want a race bike? KTM is your bet, you want a very good bullet proof bike, but isent as capable, a Yamaha is your bet. And the bikes are soo close, when it comes down to it, its the rider that makes the difference.

My old room-mate has a 04' 450 sx went riding with him a lot last summer and the bike was nice but every now and then he had one hell of a time gettn' that thing to start. I rode it a couple of times and it was so much different than my 04' 450 YZF you can't even compare them. The handling was way different. I felt like I was on a smaller bike while on the sx but the headshake was really bad. It is all what you are used to. :banghead:

I own both, a 01 Yamaha yz426 and a 03 ktm 525exc.... depends on what KIND OF RIDING you are doing IMHO. I love both bikes...The control is much better on the ktm, due to the 6 speed trans and that the 426 is a beast.... but i love em both...If you want control & a total blast to ride = KTM If you want performance, and less maint' = Yamaha. Just my 2 cents..........

one of my buddies bought a brand new ktm 250sx in 03 and had nothing but problems with it. that bike had something fall off every time he rode it, spokes always came loose,he was a maintenance nut,used loctite and ran his spokes on a regular basis,he finally got rid of it after 6 months and said never again.

I currently own a 2005 KTM 525 MXC, and a 2006 Yamaha YZ 450F. They are totally different animals.

The KTM is more stable across the chop, yet the suspension tends to deflect off of rocks instead of absorbing them, and at ultra high speed (sixth gear speeds that the YZF never gets to) it has problems with head shake.

The Yamaha is 30 lbs lighter, but feels 50 lbs lighter, and turns on a dime compared to the KTM. I have yet to even touch one of the clickers or adjust the race sag on my Yamaha, and it is perfect for my 210 lbs. I did raise the forks in the triple clamps to the first line, but that is all. On the KTM I spent a lot of time tuning the suspension. I changed to fork springs that were .48 instead of the stock .40, and I changed the rear spring to a variable rate 8.0 - 11 KG spring, and dialed in race sag, fork height, and every clicker to get it working well. If the KTM is dialed in perfectly the suspension is awesome, but if you are off just 1 position on a clicker, or 1/8" on race sag it will change from a flawless perfect ride to a fighting it all day long kind of ride. The KTM suspension can be made to work very well, but it has a very narrow window, and if you're out of that window it isn't as good as a Yamaha YZF is right off the showroom floor.

KTM has better build quality, and uses much better components, and has more durable plastic that stays looking new for a long long time.

My KTM 525 would overheat on slow first gear mountain goat trails. The YZF doesn't overheat at all on the same trails. If it weren't for the overheating issue on my 525 I would have never bought the YZF, I was happy with the KTM 525. The 525 has more power and better power than the YZF by the way, and is faster through the gears.

I've ridden a 2006 KTM 450XC and my 2006 YZ450f back to back on two MX tracks (not really the KTM XCs focus, but still..) and a nice 6 or 7 mile trail loop...

The KTM is quite nice to ride in the woods. The suspension is very plush and compliant, but didn't bottom out or do anything weird. It was, really, quite fun to ride in the woods and inspires confidence. On the MX tracks, it does feel a bit heavier, but not terribly. The suspension doesnt work as well for MX, but it isnt set up for it. Its very stable and turns just fine. I don't really like the way the front brake on this certain bike is... just not enough initial bite for me, but i think i could change that up with some different pads or some adjustment at the lever. They do have plenty of power, i just found i had to pull the lever in a long way to get to the power if that makes sense. If you race offroad, at least around here, KTM is much better - it really isnt even close - at supporting the sport at the races.

When I got off the KTM and back on my YZ, i was instantly reminded where the YZ is better; the MOTOR department is all YZ, period. The YZ just straight up rips compared to the XC, and does so with smoother power delivery. The YZ also turns easier and is much easier to ride on the MX track (though, again, the YZ is set up for it and the KTM is not) at a much faster pace.

Im quite happy with my YZ and wouldnt trade it for ANY bike i could reasonably buy on the market because it's perfect for what I want a bike to do. If i was a woods racer, I would be racing a KTM i think, mainly b/c the support is there, but for me and where i ride the YZ is it.

I don't know about power on the 525, but, I had a buddy with a 05 450exc, and my 05 WR450 would flat smoke him, in a dirt drag race! On the street with a 48t on the back of my bike, we would both tap out at around 92mph with him in the lead (6 speed gear box was goos for something!). Aside from that, his bike had several issues with quality during the 7 months he owned it. He currently rides a yz250 and says he will never buy another brand!

The KTM EXC engines are different than the MXC or XC engines, and are "detuned" to be more managable in tight terrain. Even a 450 XC will beat a 450 EXC.

I had a 2003 KTM525exc, and I don't think I'll buy another KTM. It had really bad headshake(even on the road doing 160kph; I test rode a KTM950 once and it did 200kph easily with no sign of headshake!) and I was never really happy with the handling and suspension. I had the suspension revalved and a telescopic needle (to make it more progressive) put in the shock, but still didn't like it. The shock bottoms out harshly(I blamed it on the no-linkage design). The top chain slider wore through in the first month. I could never get it to power-slide comfortably(maybe that was due to the heavier enduro flywheel).

My three main riding buddies all have KTM's and love them, but my YZF is clearly a better bike when the going gets tough(especially whoops), it feels so much lighter and handles way better, and smokes them all.

The KTM served me well, but I eventually outgrew it and wanted something better; I love my YZF450.

ive rode my friends 250 sx-f and i own an 06 450 and there is NO COMPARISON. the yz handles so much better, has less vibration, and the suspension is leaps and bounds better then the WP stuff. The new WR (07) is going to be equipped with the aluminum frame and i would imagine the SSS KYB suspension. be paitent and wait for the new yamaha. note: all my comparisons are done on a motocross track, but for the woods, the new ktm 450 is going to have the lazy man starter.

To All,

Very impressive write ups. I love my Yamaha 426 and from the sound of things, waiting for a 2007 or 2008 WR450 might be the way to go.

Definietely... A aluminum frame WR450 with the happy button. May have to trade up my 400:-)

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