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KTMs in hi speed desert?


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hi guys, i ride a ktm exc 400 and for singletrack and the occasional motocross track its awesome, because you don't go that fast. but when i take it to the wide open desert i find it very nervous at high speeds. i dont really like it there, but i have no choice because all my friends are going.

i'm comparing it to the drz 400 which is rock solid in the desert but right now has a flat tire so i cant use it.

how should i ride the ktm? stand up all the time? do i adjust the suspension? any tips? thanks 👍

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ol desert racer here

ride to "your comfort level"...if you're nervous---back off---till you are comfortable

honestly not alot of seat racing in the desert...best to "flow with your bike" in a stance using the balls of your feet on those pegs and your arms & legs as additional suspension---you'll need um

sprockets for higher speed calm a bike so long as you've the torque to take those hills on too

your friends are there for ya...bottom line...ask them not internet

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hi guys, i ride a ktm exc 400 and for singletrack and the occasional motocross track its awesome, because you don't go that fast. but when i take it to the wide open desert i find it very nervous at high speeds. i dont really like it there, but i have no choice because all my friends are going.

i'm comparing it to the drz 400 which is rock solid in the desert but right now has a flat tire so i cant use it.

how should i ride the ktm? stand up all the time? do i adjust the suspension? any tips? thanks 👍

Your '06 400 EXC should be a stable platform for desert riding. If you are riding single track and you have it turning well you probably have it set up tight on the sag and spring pre-load. You can do several things: First you can drop the fork tubes down so the tops of the tubes are even with the top of the triple clamps. Next you can relax the pre-load on the shock spring a small amount to increase the sag just a little. That will lower the rear end a bit and make the bike a bit more stable. Make sure you mark or measure both settings so you can return the bike to where you like it for your regular riding. Those things along with riding a little looser on the bike will help you enjoy the desert and have fun. RB

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Man, I can kinda see where you're coming from, but the second I hit the whoops for any extended period of time I find the 4 hundo far superior to the Z. When it's straight and fast without hits the Z is slighly better because of the added weight. If you do alot of desert then you might want a steering stabilizer after you get the suspension set up. just bought my 400 but I have yet to put on the SS until I can figure this thing out.

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i agree with rickbrnl, drop the sag a bit, push the forks down a bit till they are flush with the triple clamps. another help is to tighten up the steering head bearings a bit. i like them really free for track stuff but i snug them up some for desert riding.

if you are going to be doing alot of desert riding then invest in a steering stabilizer, scotts, gpr, whatever brand you like, it will kill that twitchy feel.

but riding style is important too, stand up for sure thru anything rough, when it is straight and fast, you can sit down and scoot back a bit and just let the front end wander. it is just tracking thru the sandy dirt, it is not going anywhere, it is just searching thru the soft and hard dirt. try a bit lower air pressure like 13 psi in the front.

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hi guys, i ride a ktm exc 400 and for singletrack and the occasional motocross track its awesome, because you don't go that fast. but when i take it to the wide open desert i find it very nervous at high speeds. i dont really like it there, but i have no choice because all my friends are going.

i'm comparing it to the drz 400 which is rock solid in the desert but right now has a flat tire so i cant use it.

how should i ride the ktm? stand up all the time? do i adjust the suspension? any tips? thanks 👍

why not just fix the flat tire on the DRZ? - it is alot quicker and cheaper that playing with the suspension and putting a steering dampner on the KTM.

Carl johansson

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why not just fix the flat tire on the DRZ? - it is alot quicker and cheaper that playing with the suspension and putting a steering dampner on the KTM.

Carl johansson

The DRZ is inferior in the dez to the KTM. On sandy roads or places where you are riding with no hits on the suspension then the DRZ does feel more stable. When you get into the mid-range of the suspension the KTM is far more stable... I have had a couple of weird bucks with the rear end that I was not expecting though and they have been totally inconsistent. Anyone have any insight on this, it's one of two things I've been concerned about with this bike.

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mylsmkj, what year is your bike? my 08 was doing the same thing, an occasional wierd kick in the mid stroke.

a suspension builder told to just turn the outter high speed adjuster nut on the shock 1/4 turn to the right { like tightening it} cured it completely.

the reason it was kicking is when it hit the high speed portion of the valving it was too soft so it would blow thru the high speed valvng and kick. 1/4 turn stiffer and problem solved.

remeber there are no "clicks" on the high speed adjuster like there is on the low speed compression adjuster

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some good suggestions here. I do quite a bit of tight woods riding, tight rocky desert riding, and faster desert riding and racing. the same suspension setup generally doesn't work in both the mountains and the open dez. in sand and whoops you'll typically want the forks to stay higher in the stroke and be able to soak up bigger hits, and you'll want the back end to stay fairly steady and kick up on you. If you get the front down and back end up, then the bike gets very unstable and twitchy. It can be tricky to find settings that will work in faster stuff but not beat you up in the tighter rockier stuff.

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I will try what you have said on the shock. My other concern is a bog that only happens when it gets hot (super slow stuff), I have a post on the subject and lots of folks have been very helpful. I don't want to hijack this thread with my concerns. Oh yea, mine is an '07. Thanks for the help.

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The DRZ is inferior in the dez to the KTM. On sandy roads or places where you are riding with no hits on the suspension then the DRZ does feel more stable. When you get into the mid-range of the suspension the KTM is far more stable... I have had a couple of weird bucks with the rear end that I was not expecting though and they have been totally inconsistent. Anyone have any insight on this, it's one of two things I've been concerned about with this bike.

The previous suggestions are right on the money. My '04 540 EXC is not the least bit 'nervous' and is very stable when it comes to high desert speeds at least compared to other bikes. I use a Scotts damper and really appreciate the high speed damping but generally keep the low speed damping set fairly low (never below click #6). Make sure that the springs are correct for your weight. I set the shock up with minimal preload and 120mm racing sag and fork tubes flush with the triple clamp top. Also, I did have Dick's Racing revalve the shock and add a 4mm shock travel restrictor when the bike was new. I use an E-Axle in the -2mm position which is equivalent to 18mm triple clamps for increased steering trail. I prefer to adjust both compression and rebound damping as light as possible or practical to adequately control wheel movement. Just enough to control kicks and 'weird bucking'. One final note is to use a chain long enough so that the rear axle is near the end of the adjustment slot for a slightly longer wheelbase.

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