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06 450 XC for technical trails


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I recently purchased this bike and I'm starting to think it's not the ride for me. It's way to snappy and difficult to control on steep, rocky, hills and slow technical trails. I realize now that it is is more of a MX bike than a trail bike. So, my question is what mods should I do to make it feel more like an XC-W, or, would I be better off just selling it and looking for an XC-W?

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The '06 450 XC should not be any more overly snappy and difficult to control than the garden variety 450 EXC as the XC is basically an RFS 450 with a 'hybrid' tranny combining the EXC wide ratio 1st and 2nd gears with the MXC close ratio 4th - 6th. What size front and rear sprockets are on the bike?

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It currently has 13/50 sprockets. I know there are some differences between the XCs and EXCs, like the XC has the short stroke engine (like the SX) where as the EXC is the long stroke. The XC is also higher compression (12:1) than the EXC (11:1). I should also note that the bike has been re-jetted and has a titanium header, powerbomb, and FMF muffler. It jumps to life with just a touch of the button and let's out a mean snort with just a crack of the throttle...it was love at first sound (no rider could resist, I had to buy it). But, like I said, it's just not the right set-up for steep climbs or technical trails. My first experience in one riding area that is very steep was not pretty, after cartwheeling over twice I decided it best to watch others than risk wrecking the bike or getting hurt. We went back to the same trails a few weeks later and I opted to take my old DR-Z and left my new KTM sitting in the garage. The DRZ tractored up every hill I struggled on with the KTM! However, the DRZ lacks the suspension and agility of the KTM. So, can I get the 450 XC to be a mountain goat like the DRZ without losing all the power that makes it rip? Or, would I be better off looking for a XC-W? I agree about the rekluse, it's on the list.

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I just picked up a 52 but didn't put it on yet. It doesn't look like I have much room left in the windows so I don't know if it will fit without a new chain or adding a couple of links. Haven't thought about a new throttle tube, but I can see where that would help. What's everyone thoughts on a heavier flywheel for this engine? Steahly makes a 7,9, and 12 oz model. I'm considering putting on the 12?

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You say "steep, rocky, hills and slow technical trails". Unless you are a very experienced and proficient rider, and are in very good condition, the 450 is a huge handful in those situations. Even tamed, it's a big engine, is pretty heavy, and carries weight high. If that's most of what you ride you would be working so much less crashing less on a lighter, smaller displacement bike. I love those technical trails, and went from a 450 to a 250 and found life much, much easier.

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+12oz Steely flywheel: http://www.steahlyoffroad.com/flywheel-weight/ktm-400-450-525-exc-mxc-xc-xcw-05-07-complete-flywheel.html

The G2 isn't a bad idea.

I have a 400exc that I did the 453 setup on. I think the bike is VASTLY better than it was with virtually the exact same bore/stroke your machine is. It actually has better bottem end than it had before too. I think what's happening to you is you're too used to the slow revving, heavy DRZ. Your bike will climb anything your DRZ will and do it with authority. I think you really need more seat time on it. Once you're used to it you'll never take the DRZ out again. ๐Ÿ˜

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this is what I call a slow technical trail, a 400 or bigger is gonna be a handful no matter what

You have got to be kidding, that's not much more technical than the parking lot. No rocks, no ledges, no mud, no logs, we call that fast single track.

Looks nice too. I love single track. ๐Ÿ˜

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Your 450 will reward an agressive rider. Be much more active on the controls, clutch mostly. The DRZ creates a lazy rider, use the clutch on those hills to modulate the power not the throttle. What MegaDeth said is the easy route for sure to add an auto-clutch. Next time you go out try to keep the throttle in a fairly steady state and use the clutch to apply power to the ground, once you get the hang of the feeling of the clutch and rear wheel spinning or hooking up you will be rewarded and climb many more things than someone tractoring on a DRZ.

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Dr,

I have the same bike you have and now have about 50 hours on it (13-50) sprocket was my first mod as well! I just got on the KTM after litterly 30yrs off! (used to ride a Ossa 175, montessa 250 and this bike is a beast! (By the way you can probably tell I am not a 20yr old? I also shortened up my XC by 2inches (new frt fork springs and reduce travel and revalved for my (new weight of 170) and this bike is a joy to ride! I am just learning how to use the clutch for traction control on the up hill (rocky crap) As well I am still learning how to handle this beast on steep downhill that is rocky/muddy, and roots---mind you I am in the PNW (Blue Lake ORV) in the Gifford Pinchot NF.

SEAT TIME, SEAT TIME!! Don't sell it, you will miss the torque and reach this bike has!

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Cool helmet cam footage...but I'm talking the kind of hills you only make up or when all the stars align, and that's sometimes never (even for the talented rider), but it's sure fun trying!

I always do a lot of clutch feathering on the DR, It's taking me a little time to adjust to the hydraulic KTM. The DR clutch had more range of pull while still putting down power, the KTM seems to disengage quickly making it more touchy. Is this something I can adjust?

I think I'll keep the bike and keep pushing myself until I can master it. As for mods, I think I will go with the heavier flywheel and 52 rear for now. Thanks for all the advice, I'll let everyone know how it goes!

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i know more than one guy that uses the low ignition setting on their 450's for woods riding :ride:

no real issues w/ my 400 other than the rider's lack of skills ๐Ÿ˜ and we ride a lot tighter stuff than in the video.

give it sum more seat time ๐Ÿ˜

:cheers:

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Steep rocky hills and technical trails: if your riding mostly consists of this type of terrain then you really have to question if this is the right bike.

I struggled with a 450 when I got back into dirt riding at 50 after stopping in my teens. I had several encounters where the bike manhandled me. I was drawn mostly to the technical stuff, but had bought a 450 thinking the dirt roads and fast trails would be what I found fun. I nearly made the decision to keep the 450 and "be a man and force it to be right for me", but decided to buy a new 250 XCFW. On the first ride I was shocked. Man, was that thing significantly lighter feeling, much less of a handful on technical trails, and just plain more fun to ride in the woods. My skills improved much more quickly than they did on the 450 and I was much less worn with it.

I have also added a 200, which I'm finding I'm faster still on. While I'm not trying to suggest you should go to a 2 stroke, I'm trying to point out the joys of light weight and manageable power levels. And that does not just apply to beginners. I was talking to an ex national level woods rider last night, Drew Smith, and he's on a 125 racing. Dick Burleson, who is still better than the vast majority of us will ever be, is on a 144, saying it saves his body ansd energy. Shane Watts has been recently racing a 200.

If you have not ridden a smaller bike recently, after struggling with the 450 you might want to try a spin on a smaller bike. You may be surprised at how much fun it is.

Finally, one of the main reasons I did not force myself to keep toughing it out with the 450 is that I figured the liklihood of my getting hurt was way higher throwing around much more weight, controlling much more power, and being much more fatigued. Whether at the road race track or in the dirt, it is far more common for folks to make the mistake of having way too much power than too little power.

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Desmo-kid,

Great advice and as well I may do just that! The only 2 stroke I rode between 1971 and 2010 was a KX 125 that was plenty fast but the power curve was way up on the top end (the throttle was basically an on/off switch. I got seriously hurt on this bike as I could not handle it on the top end (trying to learn to ride with "suspension")LOL! Granted it was not a trails/enduro bike, but I was convinced I needed the low end torque/engine braking of the big 4 stroke? Can I ask what is your riding weight?? I now after getting in shape weight 180 in riding gear (I am only 5ft-8") and had the bike lowered and revalved both front/rear suspension, installed a JD jet kit as well.

Chaplain Tim

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Hi, a few answers and points:

1. I'm 212 w/out gear, 6-2, pretty fit, pretty strong for 52.

2. Re: 2 strokes, I was not muddying the waters to suggest you make that wholesale change. I did not want to enter into a "this is my favorite type, so should be yours". Rather, I wanted to point out that in technical stuff, whether it's 2 stroke or 4, a smaller, lighter bike is WAY WAY easier and less effort.

3. OK, to answer your 2 stroke question, after my 450 4 stroke the "hit" on the 200 is NOTHING to handle! It's a soft, very easy to control hit that is also easy to ride below.

4. "Torque will make me be able to just put up the biggest technical hills and make life so much easier". It's what I told myself and it's wrong. That's not great riding technique, and it's asking for a flame out. Learning to use the clutch, keeping some revs, that's good basic technique and very valuable. In my humble, inexperienced (compared to many on this site) big 4ts let people rely on that idle type torque and avoid good riding technique. Clutchwork is key to good riding and bike control. I was surprised how easy it was to really develop good clutch technique when I had to on the smaller bikes.

Beyond that, the price you pay for that "idle up the hill torque" is very, very heavy in terms of more bike to handle.

5. Braking of a big 4 stroke. I guess this is a personal thing. I as out of the dirt for 30 years. I never owned a 2 stroke. Jumped back in with the 450. I felt that I'd let off and be straining not to go over the bars, then gas it and be jerked the other way. When I got the 250 4t I loved that it was not as jerky. When I got the 200 2t I further loved that it was not jerky at all.

Brakes are for braking. That's what I concluded after these 3 bikes plus buying a 2t trials bike (before the 200). Then I went to the Shane Watts school and he really hit this hard. Learn to use all the controls to the utmost...front brake, rear brake, clutch. The braking of good brake technique makes 4t "compression braking" look insignificant. By the way, he was on a 250 4 stoke, and what he could make that bike do was absolutely incredible.

In summary, I'm not saying "you have to buy a 2 stroke" or you have to buy a particular 4 stroke model, or even a KTM. But I am trying to point out that a 450 on technical trails for a relatively inexperienced rider will be a grind, a struggle, frustrating, and an impediment to the learning curve. A very good, serious, life-long dirt riding friend told me, when I was looking for a bike, "don't get a big 4t, get a 250, on the technical stuff around here a 450 will wear you out, I ride a 250". I ignored him, partly because I wanted a street legal KTM out of the box and the 450 EXC was the only one. I am so glad I tried the 250, I immediately started getting much better and had way more fun.

If you had posted that you had a 450 and loved it on the technical trails and you were having a ball I would have never posted what I have. But your post reminded me very much of how I felt on the 450. I'm hoping what I wrote will just get you to try a lighter, smaller displacement bike, from a buddy or dealer. Then you'll know! I almost forgot what my test was. I took out an underpowered, under suspended Yamaha 225. Same trails. I was flogging it, wide open up hills, hitting the bumps hard, running hard through sand. Then I took out the 450, and I had to be tentative the whole time while it wore me out. I had to conclude that a well suspended, serious 250 would be that much better so I bought one. As I read in a magazine, "it's more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow". So true. You can push your abilities much harder if you aren't afraid the bike is going to kill you.

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Hi, a few answers and points:

1. I'm 212 w/out gear, 6-2, pretty fit, pretty strong for 52.

2. Re: 2 strokes, I was not muddying the waters to suggest you make that wholesale change. I did not want to enter into a "this is my favorite type, so should be yours". Rather, I wanted to point out that in technical stuff, whether it's 2 stroke or 4, a smaller, lighter bike is WAY WAY easier and less effort.

3. OK, to answer your 2 stroke question, after my 450 4 stroke the "hit" on the 200 is NOTHING to handle! It's a soft, very easy to control hit that is also easy to ride below.

4. "Torque will make me be able to just put up the biggest technical hills and make life so much easier". It's what I told myself and it's wrong. That's not great riding technique, and it's asking for a flame out. Learning to use the clutch, keeping some revs, that's good basic technique and very valuable. In my humble, inexperienced (compared to many on this site) big 4ts let people rely on that idle type torque and avoid good riding technique. Clutchwork is key to good riding and bike control. I was surprised how easy it was to really develop good clutch technique when I had to on the smaller bikes.

Beyond that, the price you pay for that "idle up the hill torque" is very, very heavy in terms of more bike to handle.

5. Braking of a big 4 stroke. I guess this is a personal thing. I as out of the dirt for 30 years. I never owned a 2 stroke. Jumped back in with the 450. I felt that I'd let off and be straining not to go over the bars, then gas it and be jerked the other way. When I got the 250 4t I loved that it was not as jerky. When I got the 200 2t I further loved that it was not jerky at all.

Brakes are for braking. That's what I concluded after these 3 bikes plus buying a 2t trials bike (before the 200). Then I went to the Shane Watts school and he really hit this hard. Learn to use all the controls to the utmost...front brake, rear brake, clutch. The braking of good brake technique makes 4t "compression braking" look insignificant. By the way, he was on a 250 4 stoke, and what he could make that bike do was absolutely incredible.

In summary, I'm not saying "you have to buy a 2 stroke" or you have to buy a particular 4 stroke model, or even a KTM. But I am trying to point out that a 450 on technical trails for a relatively inexperienced rider will be a grind, a struggle, frustrating, and an impediment to the learning curve. A very good, serious, life-long dirt riding friend told me, when I was looking for a bike, "don't get a big 4t, get a 250, on the technical stuff around here a 450 will wear you out, I ride a 250". I ignored him, partly because I wanted a street legal KTM out of the box and the 450 EXC was the only one. I am so glad I tried the 250, I immediately started getting much better and had way more fun.

If you had posted that you had a 450 and loved it on the technical trails and you were having a ball I would have never posted what I have. But your post reminded me very much of how I felt on the 450. I'm hoping what I wrote will just get you to try a lighter, smaller displacement bike, from a buddy or dealer. Then you'll know! I almost forgot what my test was. I took out an underpowered, under suspended Yamaha 225. Same trails. I was flogging it, wide open up hills, hitting the bumps hard, running hard through sand. Then I took out the 450, and I had to be tentative the whole time while it wore me out. I had to conclude that a well suspended, serious 250 would be that much better so I bought one. As I read in a magazine, "it's more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow". So true. You can push your abilities much harder if you aren't afraid the bike is going to kill you.

I have to question my sanity for attempting to run my 530 EXC in the Rocky Mt. Hare Scramble in Alton next month...second time around. First wasn't pretty. ๐Ÿ˜

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