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Help setting up a KTM 525 EXC to a larger rider

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I just got a good deal on a 2003 525 EXC. The bike has had two previous owners and it appears that it has been well maintained and not abused. I am 6'2" and about 280 pounds. Even though I am a big guy I am an aggressive, experienced rider. I'm 46 years old and have been riding for most of my life. I decided on the KTM because of my size. I loved my DR-Z 400E but it was just a little shy on power for me. I gave the DR-Z to my son for Christmas.

Anyway, I rode the KTM for the first time yesterday. The power of this bike was everything I expected plus some. Here are the couple of minor issues I found otherwise:

Apparently the original owner was also a big guy and needed stiffer suspension. He swapped the stock EXC front forks with someone who had an SX. This same owner also installed Applied brand upper and lower triple clamps. I'm not sure what type of springs or what the spring rate is. When I rode, I did not bottom out but there was about 1 1/2"-2" of sag. During hard riding, the front end performed OK but it did feel a little heavy. When I hit small washboard whoops, the front end might as well have been solid. I actually had to slow down because the shaking blurred my vision. This washboard was small and I would not have even felt it on my DR-Z.

I know nothing about the Applied brand triple clamps. It looks like the front end is raked out a little more than it should be. Is there something I can do to make the front end a little more nimble. Also, where do I start with the front suspension. I'm assuming that I will probably need new springs, seals and oil but I'm not sure how to get the stiffness I need and still do away with that washboard vibration.

The second issue is the distance between the foot pegs and the seat could be a little greater. I feel like my knees are too high and it takes too much effort to stand. The seat is stock and might as well be filled with concrete. I found a tall seat made with comfort foam for about $100. I also found a set of adjustable foot pegs that can lower my footing by 3/4" or so.

Any ideas?

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Javier at Trail Tricks can do magic to your suspension. Don't think twice and send in your forks and shock for work. Even better if you are near to drop off the whole bike and he will do his magic:thumbsup:

I just bought the Fastway pegs and really like them. Running them in the lower position and I have the ProTaper EVO Windham (99mm rise) bend bars. This made my bike so nice when standing or sitting:thumbsup:

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Hey Steve, this is Mike. How was Hollister? Wish I could have gone with you guys.

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I'm about your size, and going from the soft DRZ setup to the KTM can be a real rude experience.

I went with .48KG springs in the front, oil level 130mm down. Rebound 16 clicks out, compression around 12 out.

Hollister? I ride Hollister from time to time, it always kicks my butt when it's dry.

I live in Crockett and have an extra set of 48's in my garage, you welcome to them, N/C.

Bring a six pack, 2 qts of 5wt fork oil (Maxima blue label or Motul expert work well for the price) & we'll swap'm out.

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I too am about your size and use to ride a DRZ. I run the .50s in the front of mine. At first it was almost impossible to ride. I set the sag which required me to remove the two larger preload spacers and then I dropped the forks one line in the triple clamps. I backed the compression all the way out and in1 from stock on the rebound. I also set the sag on the shock. What a difference that all made! I love my KTM now, but now I wonder what it would be like after a trip to Javier at Trail Tricks.

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I too am about your size and use to ride a DRZ. I run the .50s in the front of mine. At first it was almost impossible to ride. I set the sag which required me to remove the two larger preload spacers and then I dropped the forks one line in the triple clamps. I backed the compression all the way out and in1 from stock on the rebound. I also set the sag on the shock. What a difference that all made! I love my KTM now, but now I wonder what it would be like after a trip to Javier at Trail Tricks.

You can adjust the suspension yourself and you will get results, but until someone that does 500+ KTM's a year touches it you won't truley know how good it gets :busted: Javier knows KTM's like no other. I went from hating my KTM and getting the fillings in my teeth to fall out through the rocks, to feeling like this about my bike :mad::p:moon: Hands down some of the best money I have ever spent on my bike.

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I wonder what year SX forks it has?? 2003 was probubly KTMs worst year for forks, any suspension shop can fix them, it has something to do with two bushings instead of 3 or???

Too much rake is the result of too much sag in the rear, you and I need to go up on rear spring rates over stock by at least one size. You can crank up the preload on the stock spring and the bike will steer a lot better but when you go fast it will be spending too much time too low int he travel so to make it right you need more spring rate.

I am not a fan of lowering pegs! It too often is followed by a foot injury. Raising the seat is a much better answer

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I knew I would get the answers here. It sounds like Javier at Trail Tricks is the suspension answer. I looked up their web site and plan on calling after the holiday. While I'm saving up the money and recovering from Christmas, I'll mess with my rear preload and front fork adjustments.

Thanks for the offer of the springs TireBiter. I might take you up on that. I think I'll take a preload tool and a screwdriver on my next ride and see if I can make it work for me until I can get to Trail Tricks. I don't go to Hollister often but if you see me there, I'll be driving a bright red, lifted Chevy Duramax with personalized plates that include the digits "K9." I'm usually pulling a 32' KZ Sportsman toy box 5th wheel. You can't miss me. Anyway if you see me, I'll be good for that beer. Were usually at Pi Pi'd, Forrest Hill, Stonyford and as much as I hate it, Carnegie, (I broke my shoulder there).

I ordered the tall comfort seat, the Fastway Pegs and the tall Pro Taper bars from my local shop today.

It sounds like all of the advice I got was sound. That's what I love about this sport, good people.

Thank you all. The offer of a cold one goes to all of you if you see me out there.

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Thanks for the offer of the springs TireBiter. I might take you up on that. I think I'll take a preload tool and a screwdriver on my next ride and see if I can make it work for me until I can get to Trail Tricks. I don't go to Hollister often but if you see me there, I'll be driving a bright red, lifted Chevy Duramax with personalized plates that include the digits "K9." I'm usually pulling a 32' KZ Sportsman toy box 5th wheel. You can't miss me. Anyway if you see me, I'll be good for that beer. Were usually at Pi Pi'd, Forrest Hill, Stonyford and as much as I hate it, Carnegie, (I broke my shoulder there).

I went with a progressive rear spring- 9.0~11.5 from Factory connection (FCW-H), works goood with the 03/04 shock. If you don't change the rear spring along with the front, yer just spinning your wheels- gotta do both at the same time to get both ends working in unison...Mach1 in Vallejo usually has'm in stock.

http://www.factoryconnection.com/SpringCharts/2008/ktmShock.htm

I ride FH all the time, look for a bigass ol' bald mofo..:busted:

Thinkin' about hittin' Cow on Newyear's day.. If there open..:moon:

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you will need 10.0 or greater rear, the front springs are hard to identify so you may just have to replace them. The rear spring has its rate painted on it. The front should sag 75-80mm with the rider on board with ride gear. Get some help and check that. 1 to 1.5" is only 25-38mm so it may be WAY too stiff. Did you get the GUTS brand seat, they are the best.

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I am 235lbs with out gear 6.1 B rider riding mostly desert once in a blue moon some outdoors MX I like the high speed set up my self.

Langson -2 progressive rear spring lots of sag I think it set at 120mm sag, revalved rear axle moved all the way back for the longest wheel base I can get out of the bike tripple trees set a 20mm off set fork tube flush I think they were 48 front springs revavled.

The bike very plush I do bottom it out but this is though G-outs and high speed big stuff bike turns good very stable over the whoops just stay on the gas jump the bike big no big crazy stuff just old school rolling type jumps if you screw up you not going to die doing so.

Run a good front tire and a good rear tire as for the seat stock it's still kinda hard but I learned to live with it stock pegs Renthal twin wall bars I think they are KW bend black I like the cross bar.

Remember New bike take time to get use to to and get dialed in for you.

I have my KTM for 8 months now still tweeking in I goin to get a e-axle or 22mm off set tripple clamps, nexted to bike almost there real close.

Like I said my bike set up for high speed desert sandy stuff.

But this is a killer desert bike.

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Hey Lotsof...

I have helped a few KTM riders with front fork issues by setting up their rear shock properly! The 03 has a top out spring in the rear shock which must NOT be compressed by too much preload which WILL happen if the spring is too weak for your size. You will need a 10.0 + spring with only 2 or 3 mm of preload to get that bike right. Set your static sag at approx 45mm and make sure you can push the wheel down about 1/2" with the bike on a stand. That will be the top out spring working properly. You will be amazed how much this will help the front end and steering feel.

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I have my KTM for 8 months now still tweeking in I goin to get a e-axle or 22mm off set tripple clamps, nexted to bike almost there real close.

Like I said my bike set up for high speed desert sandy stuff.

But this is a killer desert bike.

For better high speed stability and sand riding, do not go to a 22mm offset triple clamp. You would be better off going in the other direction, i.e. to an 18mm offset which will provide for an increased amount of 'trail' for more high speed stability.

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Hey Lotsof...

I have helped a few KTM riders with front fork issues by setting up their rear shock properly! The 03 has a top out spring in the rear shock which must NOT be compressed by too much preload which WILL happen if the spring is too weak for your size. You will need a 10.0 + spring with only 2 or 3 mm of preload to get that bike right. Set your static sag at approx 45mm and make sure you can push the wheel down about 1/2" with the bike on a stand. That will be the top out spring working properly. You will be amazed how much this will help the front end and steering feel.

What he said.

With the 03's & 04's, the preload is critical.

Read on..

The "GOLDEN RULE" is extremely important on the 2003-2004 models. First of all you need to understand that the shock has a topout spring which compresses if you have too much preload on the shock spring. This will cause the shock to vary in length. So check all your numbers with every adjustment. Start with 45-50 mm static sag. Any more than this and you will have collapsed the topout spring rendering it useless and your bike will be riding stinkbug because your overall shock length will be too long. If you have the correct spring rate your rider sag will be about 115mm ( + - 5mm ) . I weigh 176lbs and used a 9.2kg shock spring on mine. Very plush and controlled. You will have your rebound set at about 14-15 clicks out from full in. Compression about 3-5clicks in from full out. Set your fork sag at about 75-80mm rider sag. IF you weigh more than 180 or so lbs then go up on your fork spring rate.

Hope this helps.

Setting SAG on 03/04 KTM

1) Put bike on repair stand, measure from axle to mark on rear fender. This is an extended number (like 600mm or something). Don't put foot on rear wheel but let weight of wheel extend it .

2) Then measure with bike on ground under its own weight, bike centered. This is static sag. This should work out to be about 45-50mm (difference between extended and on wheels).

3) Now sit on bike with gear at most common point on seat. Or stand balanced (have a friend balance you). Have another friend take all measurements. This is rider sag.

4) Difference between extended and with rider should be 115-120mm. Even 125mm for short riders.

This is the "GOLDEN RULE" . It applies only to 03-04 KTMs

Again, static should be in the 45-50mm range and rider sag should be in the 115-120mm range. If you are outside this range, you need different spring.

Correct rider sag, too much static sag = spring too stiff.

Correct rider sag, too little static sag = spring too soft.

Correct static sag, too much rider sag = spring too soft.

Correct static sag, too little rider sag = spring too stiff.

Back way off your compression settings and increase your fork rebound by 3 and rear shock by 8 clicks. Go ride and if you can bottom\spike then increase compression another click or so until it goes away.

Top Out Spring Explanation ? 03/04 KTM

The top out spring stops the shock from extending fully. Just before full extension the spring will slow the extension. Kind of the opposite of the rubber bumper on the shock shaft to slow the final bit of compression. Both stop metal to metal contact so to speak.

When you pre-load, the external shock spring tries to fully extend the shock. If you use a ?normal? (pre 03) amount of preload it over powers the internal top-out spring. This is why you use only a turn or so of pre-load for 03/04.

Check top-out "action" by putting bike on a stand. With the wheel unweighted push down on the swing arm, it?s very subtle so don?t push real hard. If you have the pre-03 ?normal? amount of pre-load, the swing arm will not move down any further. Back off the pre-load until you are able to push the swing arm down slightly farther. The reason it now moves farther is the top-out spring is no longer fully compressed by the shock spring anymore. Now the top-out spring is functioning normally (03/04 bikes).

It seems the only way to keep the top-out spring active is to run very little pre-load. This in turn gives you a higher (than previous year bikes) race sag.

This next step is VERY IMPORTANT. This is the PROPER WAY to install forks. ATTENTION – if improperly installed, the forks can’t work to their full potential. First install the left fork (left is determined as if you were sitting on the bike) into the triple clamps. (A little WD 40 sprayed on the fork tubes will make them slide in easier.) The measurement you took before you removed the forks will allow you to reinstall the left fork at the proper height. VERY IMPORTANT – Torque the pinch bolts to factory specs. Next, install the right fork in the triple clamp at approximately the same height as the left fork and LIGHTLY tighten ONLY ONE of the pinch bolts. This next step is CRITICAL –install the axle into the forks, grab the axle between the left and right fork, and begin rotating the axle. As you rotate the axle, loosen the pinch bolt on the right fork and move the right fork up and down until you locate the place where the axle turns most freely. Now, at this position, torque the pinch bolts to factory specs. Install the wheel and brakes, and tighten the axle and/or axle nut. Torque the axle pinch bolts on the LEFT FORK ONLY. Now, you need to work the forks up and down. The best way is to tie the cycle down in/on your trailer, or ride the cycle SLOWLY up and down the driveway, and pump the front brake level several times, making the forks move deep into the travel. Now you can TORQUE the RIGHT axle pinch bolts.

That shit is GOSPEL for the 3's & 4's..

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I tryed 18 off set the bike was bad very bad it would head shake at high speeds and it would wander very bad also it did it once going over a high speed rolling jump at 90+ MPH I though I was going down when I gotten home I swicth it back to 20 offset it help alot.

If 20 offset helps out but not 100% yet the 22 offset should fix all my high speed head shake and front end wandering wanting to follow sand ruts ect.

Also if the 22 off set fixes the head shake I can start puting some more preload back in to the rear spring and I can also shorten up the wheel base if it makes it to lazy in the turns.

For better high speed stability and sand riding, do not go to a 22mm offset triple clamp. You would be better off going in the other direction, i.e. to an 18mm offset which will provide for an increased amount of 'trail' for more high speed stability.

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I tryed 18 off set the bike was bad very bad it would head shake at high speeds and it would wander very bad also it did it once going over a high speed rolling jump at 90+ MPH I though I was going down when I gotten home I swicth it back to 20 offset it help a lot.

This doesn't make sense if everything else was the same other than triple clamp offset. The 18mm offset intrinsically has more self centering trail than the 20mm and especially the 22mm offset. It's all built in to the steering geometry.

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What I readed is basicly the Kawaski's Honda's, Yamaha's Ect have less steering head angle to them, which intern gives them more offset that give them better high speed handling but they don't turn no where as good it the tight stuff as a KTM will.

But when the CRF450 came out I think in 2002 ownners were putting triple trees with 20 mm off set I think they came OEM with 24 offset to get them to turn.

I had a 1994 Honda CR250 but in 1993 the same bike had steeper head angle at the frame to them it would turn on a Dime but had bad head shake at high speeds But Jerremy MC Graph loved those bikes and frames but in 1994 they added 1 or 2 degrees in the frame to make them better at high speed and in 1995 they added some more dergess to the frame it gave the bike better high speed but the turnning on a dime was not as good.

Lot of pepole don't know that MC used the same 1993 frame untill he went to Suzuki in 1997 he would not ride that aluminum frame of death they came out in 1997 if you ever rode one thoses frames sucked plus they changed the intake track that ruined the power band of the fantastic motors of before.

What I understand the older KTM's did not turn very good but very stable at higher speeds untill they gave the frames a very steep head angle to get them to turn on a dime where it seems most of the riders do single track tight woods type riding in show room stock set up.

Thats basicly what I be doing giving the bike some added offset to get the bike handle at higher speeds

This doesn't make sense if everything else was the same other than triple clamp offset. The 18mm offset intrinsically has more self centering trail than the 20mm and especially the 22mm offset. It's all built in to the steering geometry.

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