Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Opinions: 426 vs 520 vs 650

Recommended Posts

Seeking opinions from all the sages on this board regarding the above mentioned bikes. We do about 85/15% mix of desert/mx riding here in SoCal. Questions are:

- Any glaring reliability issues or horror stories?

- Problems getting (and keeping) green sticker?

- Which needs fewest mods to set up right?

- Which is easiest to live with and requires least maintenance? (This might leave the KTM out)

The green sticker 520s are nice but one dealer we talked to was getting $9000 for them! :) Any info would be appreciated!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

426 hits with a bang! (no green sticker???)

520 hits your wallet! (green sticker)

650 hits the scales! (green sticker)

I have a plated 426, one of my riding buddies (with TOOOOO much $$$) has a 650 that he rides in dez/flat rides, and a 520 for tight trail work. (The 650 was gotten b/4 the 520 came to be). I'm very happy with the 426 every where he goes, and in most cases I'm in front and never far behind, just behind the dust. We have never raced flat out so I don't know how fast top speed is on the KTM.

I change my oil & filter every 3 rides. Only problem was a tooth off forth gear. Have about 6000 to 8000 miles on it and it just wants more! I don't envey your situation. Good luck!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've ridden all 3, and raced the YZ and KTM (desert).

Reliability issues:

YZ My yz has broken a rod in one race, and dropped a valve in another. The YZ would wear me out trying to start it after a crash. That led me to the KTM. Another friend desert raced the same YZ for over a year with out ever having a breakdown, although he lost a race or two while trying to start the bike after a crash. Yet another friend (the fastest of all of us) has several transmission failures on his YZ, this led him to the XR 650.

KTM: I've had it for 6 months now and have had zero problems. Starts right up, even after a crash. Has most of the cool stuff I paid extra for on the YZ...no skid plate though.

XR: I know several people who desert race the XR with zero mechanical problems.

Fewest mods to set up:

YZ I like tapered bars, juice clutch, 18" rear and steering stabilizer. The Scotts top and bottom triple clamp with 5mm offset, damper and bars was about $1000.00. 18" wheel a couple hundred, skid plate, big tank, juice clutch, shark fin.....it adds up fast.

KTM: Bar mounts and tower were all I bought from Scotts, about $140.00, I used the stabilizer I had. Taper bars, juice clutch, 18" rear standard. Skid plate, shark fin extra. MXC tank used for $125.00.

XR: Honda power up kit is a couple hundred bucks, bars, triple clamp and stabilizer tower extra. Big tank from IMS...They seem pretty easy to sweet talk into a tank for free...of certainlly a great discount if you race.


YZ: I change the oil every 2 rides or every race. Shim under bucket valve adjusts suck. I was told by Yamaha and stroker to replace the rod every race season.

KTM: The oil changes are more critical, as it does not hold very much. 2 screens, 2 filters and a plug. Valve adjust is pretty easy with adjustable tappets. Air filter super easy to change.

XR: NOt sure, I never serviced one.

I am 300# + so I have to get the suspension worked on any bike I ride. The YZ seemed better than the KTM which was better than the XR's I've ridden. The XR's were always undersprung for me.

Overall I rate the KTM top because of the button and the arm straightening power. Panic starting during a race kills me on the YZ. Second would be the YZ, although the reliability was not there for me. Starting it sucked. Third the XR as it weighs more than me...I can not see myself racing a bike that weighs more than me. The XR got a great engine, now the chassis needs to catch up.

As for the green sticker, let me just say how happy I am that I do not live in the "Peoples Republic of California".

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Take a look at the new Husabergs they have a 650 that is faster than anything i have seen to date. As far as reliability goes the Husaberg did the Colorado 500 about 1000 actual miles with zero problems. The Husaberg will walk all over any 520 and weighs about the same.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a 426 with an Eric Gore big bore kit.

I ride with some reasonably fast guys with 520's.

Before the mods I would get pulled out of corners, but now gear selection is less critical and I consider the playing field to be leveled in the hp realm.

Yz's will always feel the same I am convinced. If you rode a 79, 82, 95 yz you will drop right on a yz/wr and feel right at home.

If you like to ride a agressive style the characteristics of the yz will reward you.

When my 520 buddies ride my bike they all comment on the great turning and suspension.

It can be a grumpy starter and in super technical situations stalling is an issue.

I would consider the Honda for desert racing and after wittnessing Scott Summers on a 600 I know you can do anything with one if you have the will.

I think the rod issues are negated by the big bore because I don't spin the motor at all any more.

The reliabilty will be tested when I roll through baja in two weeks for 1200 miles.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

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

Reply with:

Sign in to follow this