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Any opinions on the 400EXC?

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I'm looking at getting a bike soon and was set on a CRF250X but am taking a good look around before making a purchase. I've read good things recently about the 400EXC being an excellent woods bike for an intermediate level rider. Most of my riding will be tighter stuff with no racing and I probably am an average / intermediate rider so it sounds like possibly a good fit.

I don't know anything about KTM's as far as they're history, amount of maintenance required, reliablity and such; never owned one or know anyone who has. I do know they cost a lot more than a CRF250X, like around a grand more, so that definately plays into the equation. But if there are many pluses in this bike's favor I may consider it.

Any helpful information is very much appreciated!


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They work very well, handle good, great ultra wide range of gears, power that will do it all but not intimidate you.

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I have had several 400's, although upgraded to 453 but that would give you a upgrade path should you desire more power in the future. The 06 400 is best of breed and should give you exactly what you are looking for with just a few minor changes that any bike would require (jetting, springs, handguards, etc) the power is smooth and brisk with enough flywheel to the engine to make nasty trails easy. Maintenance is one place that the KTM will have it all over the Honda, number one will be top end life, the 400 will last years and the stainless valves that can be adjusted in short time compared to shims/Ti valves and once you use a hydro clutch you will be hooked and don't even try to compare air filter maintenance, my buddies with CRF's cuss every time they have to do the oragamy move, linkage bearing maint is..........well nonexistant.

Look very closely at the KTM and the Honda and you will start to notice quite a few details that makes life easy and with the premium components used it makes up the price difference in a hurry.

One more thing, KTM parts are in some cases less expensive than Honda parts.


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Wes is correct. As many pros have proven, the KTM's are ready to race, just put on handguards, your preferred tires or whatever and win National races. Like all race bikes, if your weight falls outside of the norm, spring changes may be required.

Check out Dirt Rider's June issue and look at the amounts of money invested into the KTM 450 EXC ($107) versus say the Honda CRF250x turned 302 ($6007). Next compare their performance, the stock KTM smashed the CRF. Compare all 12 of the "highly modified" bikes and draw your own conclusions. That box stock KTM did pretty well with just a new front tire and handguards!

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We raced a 525 EX/C and a 400 EX/C in the 12 Hours of Glen Helen a few years ago and the 400 was faster lap after lap than the 525 in a 12 mile GP course. Easy to ride, short stroke motor that rev'd fast. I really liked it. If you decide you want more power, put a 450 SX head and piston in it. KTM plays with bore and stroke combos. The 400 EX/C is a short stroke motor, the 450 EXC is a stroked 400. The 525 EXC is a stroked 450. The SX motors are short stroke larger bore engines. The XC uses an SX motor and a 6 speed gear box. For riding out west, the 400 may not be the ticket but an east coast woods bike, you betcha...

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I bought an 06 400exc last March and could not be happier. This is coming off an XR250 that I loved. Here is a post I put on KTMtalk: Between all the rain we have been getting in Nor Cal I have managed to put 4 hours on my new bike I took home on 3/25. On 3/26 I rode it for 1.7 hours trying to take it sorta easy. Found that compared to my XR 250 the suspension was light years better (duh) and the power was, well, you all know the answer to that one.

Knowing my next ride was going to take me over the 3 hour mark, I changed the oil. Found a tiny bit of metal, nothing serious. 4 or so inches of rain later I take her out last Thursday. By the 3 hour mark I am officially putting her to the test. My conclusions so far:

- TONS of power, very predictable and linear. Will lug and tractor up anything, will

lug and tractor up anything which is what I like.

- The suspension is certainly stiffer than what I'm used to. Haven't started to dial it

in yet. No real complaints in that department, and I sure wasn't bottoming it out

like I did all the time with the XR.

- The brakes. Holy crap. What brakes. I like them. a couple times I almost went

over the bars, but got used to them.

- The wide ratio tranny is something I am not used to. Found myself thinking I

should downshift when I was in first. Even though it climbs like an F 14 on extremely steep decents second was a

bit fast and first had the rear wheel locking up. The stock gearing was a 14/50

so I put on a 13/52 in it's place. Tried to take her out after the new sprockets

were installed but gues what - rain, and it was too snotty. More on that after the

next ride.

- First valve adjust after 4 hours of riding. PITA, ended up disconnecting hoses to

left radiator, this after fighting it for a half hour. Disconnecting that side of the

radiator was no big deal, will just do it in the future. Found all valves a bit tight

did the adjustment using a combination of DJH method and feeler guage just to

get the feel of how things felt. I know the valves are better adjusted now be-

cause the engine fires on the first crank as opposed to cranking several times


- Second oil change did not reveal any suprises except for the fact that during the

first oil change I installed the short oil screen (bottom) upside down and it came

out a bit twisted. A new one is on the way.

Bottom line is that I'm extremely happy with the bike and can't wait to see how the new gearing makes it feel.

And also this:Thought I'd comment on the characteristics of the 400 since the changeover ot a 13/52 combination from the stock 14/50. Finally got her back out yesterday for a few hours. On singletrack, most of my riding is in second gear. with the 14/50 I was lugging a bit much, especially on trails with lots of potholes. Those trails are much easier, and I am much faster with better handling with the new setup. But the acid test was this: On a particular steep hillclimb near the top there is an outcropping that you have to manuever around with lots of loose dirt and rocks. The trail leading up to this has ruts so you have to watch you speed. With the old combination second was a bit tall, first was winding a bit much, so you had to be in second, and shift to first at the critical part of the climb etc. With the new combination it allows you to be in second the whole way up, easily going over the rutted part and you can finesse past and around the nose at the top allowing the rear tire to find traction without spinning it and losing everything. It really closed the gap between the lower gears IMO.

And finally:I was on the fence as far as which bike I was gonna buy. Husky TE 250, 450, or 400 exc. When I read the March 06 shootout between all the E start 450s that's what pushed me toward the 400, if you read between the lines it was the best all around bike in their opinion. There are alot of better riders than me out there, but I can hold my own - and my 400 has all the balls I need and then some. I would like to ride a 450exc just to compare the two. Also I figure I could bump her up to a 450 if I ever get bored. (yea right)

There ya go - Any questionz??????

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Thanks everyone for your very detailed and helpful input. The more I read about this bike the more I like it! I'll have to check out a couple of places in my state (NJ) and see what the availability and real selling price is. A particular description I read about this bike was it was called "the perfected XR400", which does sound like a great northeastern woods trail bike!

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I've been racing 250f's in enduro's for the last few years and have liked them very much, but a few months ago I rode a KTM400exc for the first time and was blown away. I'm considering getting one this summer, but am concerned that the 400 might tire me out more than the 250f. Does anyone have an opinion on this?

BTW, I've tried the 290 kit in my yz250f and hated it. The power just doesn't feel right. So that option is kind of off the table for me.

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Great question BI. I ride a 250f as well and found the KTM 400 to have the most usable power for my style riding. My concern is the weight of the bike. At over 250lbs I could definitely feel the difference and think it might wear me down more in a 2 hour race, not to mention trying to hoist it up after a spill on a snotty hill. I also ride/race an occasional MX. Won't own another 4 stroke without a button either.

Right now I'm leaning toward a 300 XC because of the weight factor and it's luggability for a 2 stroke, but feel the 400's power better suites my style.

Hmmm, decisions, decisions.....

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Yep I guess were in the same boat. My friend went from an older KTM400 to a crf250 and says the 400 wore him down more. But he has more of a jerky riding style. Mine is more smooth so maybe it wouldn't matter as much.

I rode one lap on a 5 mile single track trail on a 2002 KTM400 and loved it.

To bad I can't just go race one for a day and really see how it works for me before pulling the trigger.

Everyone thinks I'm crazy but I actually might get one and take the e-start and battery off. Cranking a 4-stroke has never been a problem for me and I almost never stall.

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