KTM 520 EXC, to ride or not to ride??


I am currently riding a 98 wr400f, never had a days problem, always started first time, never broken anything that wasnt my fault. I am now looking at buying a 2001 KTM 520 EXC. Rode a friends some time back, cant beat that performance.

I have heard many stories about broken motors and expensive parts.

Any advice to a first time KTM owner, is this a do or a dont.

From what I have read, KTM parts can be higher and lower than the Big 4. It just depends on which part it is.

As for reliability, I thought the KTM's were no less dependable than our WR's...(???)

I really would like to throw a leg over one!

My YZ 400 was not as reliable as your's. General concensous is the 420 kit and head mods were a bad idea, making it unreliable (broken rod one time, dropped valve another). My '01 KTM 520 EXC has so far been reliable.

It is more work to maintain than the YZ was. I have always changed my oil after every ride or two, as I used to ride an air cooled XR 350 that ran hotter than anything I've ever seen. I just carried it over to the YZ and now the Katoom. The extra work is the extra filter and two screens. Not really a big deal. I also end up pulling the skid plate every time I change the oil, as with it on the oil misses the hole and makes a mess.

As for the bike, it feels different than the YZ did. It is taller, and the suspension needs help. I bought my YZ from an expert desert racer. It was heavily modified for desert racing, to the tune of $10,000 + ( i got it for $4000.00). The suspension was the best i've ever ridden. It ate the desert for lunch, slow stuff, fast stuff, big or little, no problem. The stock KTM stuff is great for slow stuff, too soft for big stuff. I do not MX, so no jumps. Just a lot of desert trail and wash riding. Big whoops and g-outs kill it ( I did get springs to match my weight). I have had the shock re-valved, and was not happy at first, but then found out the adjustment knob for compression works backwards. The shock is fantastic now. After spending $7500.00 for the bike, ans about $1000.oo in aftermarket stuff so far, I will have to wait to re-valve the front. For now I have upped the oil level and gone to 10wt and the big stuff is better, the small stuff kinda sucks though.

My decision to buy the KTM was one of frustration with the reliability of my YZ. Second was the e-start. My YZ was only hard to start after crashing during a desert race. Already dead tired, in a hurry and need to clear out a flooded YZ...not my idea of fun. One thing I will say about the YZ is it will run for quite some time on it's side, the ktm dies pretty quick.

BTW "The big 4" KTM is now #4...sorry Suzuki lovers.

[ November 25, 2001: Message edited by: YZ400Court ]

Rory, I had axactly the same situation as you. My WR runs great. But, I think once you try the Katoom you will not be dissapointed. Its is a really fun bike to ride. You will definately need a stablizer though. Good luck, Paul :)

Dont ride the 520 unless you are prepared to buy one. I had an 00 WR400 and test rode a KTM400EXC. I bought it on the spot without a second guess. I have had ZERO regrets on buying the EXC and several of my buddies have made the switch to the "dark side" from WRs.

I hope Mike doesn't mind that I quoted him here.

"Monty, Paul & myself went riding today up at Stonyford. The conditions were brutal. Rain, snow, wind. Extreme conditions. The main creeks were uncrossable so we avoided those. We rode towards one mountaintop and got caught in some serious snow. The hands and feet were numb. Paulie was kind enough to let me ride his WR, thanks again Paulie. He also let me ride his new KTM 520 for about 10 miles! That bike is AWESOME! It felt like a mountain bike compared to my WR. And if anyone thinks the magic button is overrated, believe me it isn't. Don't mean to bang the orange drum but I think I know the color of my next bike! All in all a fun ride. Didn't get to hook up with Bill (SFO), maybe next time".



Paul, wish I could of been there. I like to ride in extreme conditions with my buddies every now and then. I have yet to let Unkle Moose or Michael ride my KTM and that's probable why they are still on Yamaha's like Scotty said.

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now