KTM 500/350 waffle city

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erik
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KTM 500/350 waffle city

Postby erik » Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:09 pm

I am waffling between the KTM 350exc-f and 500exc-f. I have read tons, lots of "opinions" from internet know it all's, but I cannot calibrate the opinions without knowing the rider levels and terrain. I know both bikes seem like winners, and in fact, I would probably enjoy either one. Given that, I would still like a little feedback from fellow NW riders on what your experiences have been in this epic decision. I am a bit bummed that I made a mistake buying the '13 WR250R as I could have bought a 350/500 at the time, and I should have went with my gut. But, lesson learned, time to move on and don't want to be having regrets again a year from now.

A little background; I race a bit, in the OMRA 40ex class GP's, occasional XC's and MX's on my 05 YZ250 (yep, two stroke). So, my off road skills and demands are higher than the average internet dual sport troll. I have owned DS bikes since I was 14, so I have had many (and my friend points out I have hated them all)... My last two were an 02 DRZ400s, which I hated as it was underpowered, heavy, wouldn't turn, and just plain handled poor. It was just no fun. I just sold my 13 Yamaha WR250R, which was an ok bike, but alas it was under suspended, slow and a bit heavy. The WR is not a bad bike, just not for me as I easily overrode the bikes suspension and hated the lack of power. I could keep up with people on trails, but it was just uninspired...

I ride the Rat Dog, Black Dog, from Oregon City up to Estacada (on occasion) and take a few trips now and then to places like Colorado where we ride lots of fire roads in beautiful country. This year I will be heading to Idaho and expect to be riding mostly fire roads with a buddy. I am not and adventure rider, so I don't carry weeks of supplies on the bike, I just do daily rides from a base camp.

What I think is that I will love the 350 on the Rat Dog and Black Dog (A loops). So, those of you that have 500's, how was riding these rides? Was the 500 too much of a handful, a little to "heavy" feeling (relative term compared to the DRZ and WR, I know). Would you regret not having a 350 at those rides?

The 500 would be nice on the longer DS rides where it is mostly dirt roads and a few 10-15 mile paved roads to connect them. Those of you with 350's, have you found that you regret the 350 here because you are spinning the motor too much?

BTW: It is going to be a 350 or 500, I have had my fill of conversions and DMV problems, so I would hope to limit the discussion to these two.

I appreciate the feedback from those of you that own, or have owned, these two bikes and ride similar terrain and level to me.

Erik
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2013 KTM 350exc

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Re: KTM 500/350 waffle city

Postby Tawmass » Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:24 pm

Erik,
Great description on what you have had and what you want. I dare say that you may want to look into proper bike setup, as I've had three DRZs and, aside from their porkliness and need of a sixth gear, they are avid turners and handle well. In fact I used them to lay out A courses on both events. It's all about the suspension.

The two bikes you've chosen are probably the best of the upper echelon. One thing you didn't say is how big you are. I have friends who have both bikes and they love them both. The 350 is incredible, but so is the 500. The occasional long stretches would be better on the 500, but if you stay primarily on trail, then the 350 is good too. I'm still riding my trusty 450EXC-R, but when I upgrade, it will be the 500, but I'm a bigger guy.
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Re: KTM 500/350 waffle city

Postby erik » Mon Feb 09, 2015 2:51 pm

Tom, I knew I could count on you for a quick response!

I am 5'8", but i will deal with the height. I am around 205lbs now, down from, well, lets say I have dropped a significant amount of weight in the last year... I am still going down, but will probably bottom out around 185lbs. I was 212lbs when riding the WR in Colorado when I finally made up my mind that it is meant for a different rider.

I tried tweaking the DRZ, even put the pumper carb on it, which helped a bit with power. Back then, I rode my brothers DRZ400e, it was what the DRZs should have been IMHO. But, Suzuki is building for a different market and de-tuned it way too much. I guess I have been chasing what amounts to an off road bike that is street legal. I had a DR350 with a baja kit on it long ago, but that bike was still a bit piggy/underpowered compared to the two strokes I was racing. Like my friend says, "you are never satisfied"...

I am not debating that any of those DS bikes can be made to move along. I could get any of the bikes I owned to go somewhat decent and keep up with others on the trails, to a point, because it really boils down to skills, right? But, it is not fun and leads to too many scary situations where the bike is being overridden and I know I shouldn't be riding like that. The sad thing is that when this happens, it is typically at a moderate enduro pace, but NOT a flat out race pace. On my YZ or a 300xc, it would be a comfortable pace that I can sustain for miles and miles. On the WR and DRZ, it was just no fun and lots of work...

On the street, the 400 was ok and really, so was the WR. The WR had problems pulling hills, we could not get above 50mph in the high altitudes and had cars passing us, but that was to be expected. So, I am really looking for a better dirt bike that has plates...

I have raced Hodgy's 400F (xc?) a few years ago, Grant's KTM250F (sx?), and Ed/Ron's 300xc's (two strokes) in the 24hr races at night. I liked the 400F, though I have loved the 300. So, you can see where my power/weight trade off is. I have never ridden an open class modern four stroke, like the 500, so I have nothing to compare it to.

I am leaning heavily towards the 350 because it seems to be closest to what I like to ride in the dirt. Just have this nagging curiosity about the "magical" 500 everyone raves about.

Erik
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Re: KTM 500/350 waffle city

Postby nightrider » Mon Feb 09, 2015 5:47 pm

I had the same dilemma, 350 or 500.

My primary focus is racing with trail and exploration riding a close second.
I wanted the impossible.
A fast maneuverable race bike that wasn't too high strung for long distant trail riding.
Plus it need to be plate-able (planning on doing the TAT)
Two bikes in one.

I went with the 350 and am over the moon happy with it!

My Specs;
6'2"
190lbs
OMRA 30ex (GP&XC)
National AMA 30b (NHHA/WHS)
I'm a former 2-Stroke guy
(125, 200, 250)
as of tonight I have put 32.7hrs on the clock and 557miles on the od.

So far I have desert raced it with NHHA at Johnson Valley Ca and with AMRA at the Gila Fairgrounds in AZ.
I have trail ridden it at Shotgun, The Grade, Baber and Four Peaks AZ.
I have also taken it to Eugene MX for a practice day.
The bike just plane shines everywhere I take it!

I have yet to find a situation were I wish I had purchased the 500.
For sure your going to have to shift more often then a 500 but your a 2-stroke guy so that shouldn't be an issue.
I haven't ridden it on highways yet but I have bombed along many logging roads and have blasted it across playas.
I am want for nothing.

The 2015 350 EXC-F is the best vehicle purchase I have ever made, flat out.
and ya, my friends are absolutely sick and tired of me gushing about it.


The bike is everything I was hoping for and more!
A true all-a-rounder.

I haven't ridden the 500 so as far as advice I can't help you there but that's my experience with the 350 for what it's worth.
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Re: KTM 500/350 waffle city

Postby oregonsage » Tue Feb 10, 2015 9:35 am

Double your fun and consider the Husky FE501S and 350S :-) Why limit your deliberations to the orange versions!

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Re: KTM 500/350 waffle city

Postby xt500max » Tue Feb 10, 2015 6:34 pm

I debated the same thing a few years ago. I knew the 450EXC (now the 350) would actually be faster than the
500 (on the tight trails) but I was concerned about those rides with the adv. riders that you might need more ooph
to keep up on the connectors.
I bought the 500 and was is completely satisfied. I stay away from hyper-speeds on the street but nobody really runs
away from either model until/unless over light speed.
Six months later I found a same year 450EXC for my son.
The 350/450EXC's are actually faster on the trails especially when I'm tired!!!!

They are really great bikes....miles from the DRZ's/XR's/CRF's/WR's.
The DRZ's are good bikes but they take too much $$$ to make them faster and dirt "rideable" (I had one).

You shouldn't have any trouble on the "A" routes on Black Dog unless you get stuck behind a bunch of crash and burners
on a beautiful hill climb. Just go early to miss the pack.
Even then, its just finesse to go around the "bodies." The 500's churn more dirt and the 350/450 feels just right!!!
The KTM EXC's are the cream of the legally plated bikes (ones that can't have the plates taken away by DMV).

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Re: KTM 500/350 waffle city

Postby MOTOCHIMP » Wed Feb 11, 2015 2:40 pm

oregonsage wrote:Double your fun and consider the Husky FE501S and 350S :-) Why limit your deliberations to the orange versions!


+1

I know you're set on the Orange, but the Husky's are identical with a couple of small differences. Mainly the suspension, the rear shock uses linkage and the fork is the new 4CS that KTM has moved to on their off-road and track bikes, unfortunately the EXC's are still using the bladder fork. Also the Husky comes standard with the quick release skid plate. It was a tough decision considering I've only owned KTM's, about 10 of them in the last 10 years, mostly 450 variety and two 350's. Didn't want to muddy the water but it was worth mentioning.

I already have a 2014 350xc-f, so after selling my 450exc I needed a Dual Sport replacement. My quandary wasn't 350 vs 500, it was KTM vs Husky because I already knew I wanted the bigger bike. Now that I have rode both I wouldn't do it any other way, I feel I made the right choice. But to answer your question, if I had to choose just one, I would go 350. I feel the 350 can pretty much do what the 500 can do on the small sections of road that I need to ride, but the 500 can't compare to the way the 350 handles off road. I'm on my second 350 after owning many 450's, and I had the choice of going back to a 450 when I replaced my first 350, but it wasn't even a consideration. The 350 is an off road beast.

Regarding riding ability and size, I'm 6'1 weighing in at 210. I've been riding the 40AM class for the last 10 years and seem to find the podium every once in awhile.

I can say I've researched this subject at length for the last year and figured I would offer my 2 cents. Let me know if you have any specific questions, I'll do my best to give you my input.
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Re: KTM 500/350 waffle city

Postby davek » Tue Feb 17, 2015 8:22 am

I'm 5'8" about 165lbs and have a KTM530 that I love for DSing BUT I also have a 250 XC-W for more hard core trail riding. I've used the 530 on the Black Dog, for local DSing and on last years Colorado 500, where I took it on some rather extreme trails, as well as a couple 14K passes, worked great. It's nice when you get on roads to be able to crank it up without having to worry about blowing the engine up. Got mine up to 90, felt I could have hit 100 and that was with good trail gearing too. If I was going to replace the 530 it would be for the 500, IF I could still have the 250. If I could only have one bike I would get the 350. I've ridden both and that 350 can handle the trails really well, but then the 500 can too, just more work. Of course throw in a couple road/gravel connector sections and that makes the 500 more desirable. Can't go wrong with either bike, just need to decide which is more important, snotty, tight woods trails or higher speed stuff.
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Re: KTM 500/350 waffle city

Postby erik » Tue Feb 17, 2015 12:40 pm

Thanks everyone for the responses, they confirmed my suspicion that either bike would probably be fine and I was worrying too much.

I would consider the Husky, but I have been looking for a used bike as the 10k was a bit much for me to stomach. I have not seen any used Huskies, I guess the owners love them too much.

I had an opportunity to ride a '13 350 this weekend and get a feel for the power. It was pretty much stone stock and it moved along just fine. My fears were unjustified, the bike will haul my butt around just fine! The thing smokes any DS bike I have had, by a long shot. Some gearing changes, TPS adjustment or flash of the ECU and it probably only gets better.

I was able to work a deal with the owner and that '13 KTM 350 exc is now in my garage!!! I rode it home as it was local, my face hurt from grinning the whole way home. Now the fun begins!

See you guys on the trails!

Erik
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2013 KTM 350exc

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Re: KTM 500/350 waffle city

Postby MOTOCHIMP » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:17 pm

Good to hear it worked out. It's nice to know there are other people out there that over think the purchase of their next dirt bike, I feel better now. By the time I read and re-read every issue of DirtBike Magazine going back 12 months, post my "very important" questions on 10 different forums and get opinions from hundreds of people that think thier bikes and set ups are the best ever, I eventually come back to my original gut feeling.

If you ever make it over to Central Oregon for a twist and need a guide, give me a shout.
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Re: KTM 500/350 waffle city

Postby nightrider » Wed Feb 18, 2015 9:19 pm

erik wrote: Some gearing changes, TPS adjustment or flash of the ECU and it probably only gets better.
Erik


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Re: KTM 500/350 waffle city

Postby deeve » Wed Jul 08, 2015 6:28 am

Bringing a thread back from the not too distant dead....
Im in the same boat and curious what you went with and how you like it. I am getting ready to pull the trigger on a 500, but want to make sure its not going to be too much for me. I am 43, 6'3" and 250, but slowly working my way down to probably 215-225. Ive ridden a bit off road and raced GP's in the over 30 slow guy class so I have some experience off road. Just sold my 990 Adv after a trip on the BCDR out of Bend. It was a blast but to get the fun out of it I had to be in fast mode all the time. I have an 18 year old son with a DR650. He and I are doing some dual sport rides around and will be doing a weeklong off road/adv ride in September around the west. Mostly dirt, but some pavement sections (nothing big.)

My concern on the 500 is that it will be too "crazy" on the dirt with instant power. I had a 450SX that had the instant power on mode all the time and we did not get along. I have visions of that happening. I have ridden a 501S on the street and thought the power was pretty smooth. My concern with the 350 is that with my size and camping gear it might be a little taxed. Spending 10k on a new bike (good luck finding either used) and having it feel like a mistake would suck. Like the title says...Waffle City! Heck, I may be the mayor of Waffle City right now.

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Re: KTM 500/350 waffle city

Postby MOTOCHIMP » Thu Jul 09, 2015 8:00 am

I'm thinking the 500 or 501 should work fine for what you're looking for based on the fact you're coming off a 990. To answer your question if the 500/501 will have too much or crazy power, it does but it's very smooth and controllable. Also, it sounds like you're leaning more DS than hard off-roading and the bigger bike will probably be more suitable.

I have both and if I had to chose only one, the 350 would be my clear choice, but I ride 90% off road and the 501 is a lot to handle on the small tricky stuff.

My 2 cents. Good luck.
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Re: KTM 500/350 waffle city

Postby dirteyes » Thu Jul 09, 2015 6:54 pm

I'm in the same scenario right now, but I'm leaning towards to 500. Any idea how much does it cost to maintain it yearly compared with 350?

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Re: KTM 500/350 waffle city

Postby MOTOCHIMP » Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:10 pm

I'm thinking maintenance will be similar, but one thing I would like to add is that I get really good gas mileage out of the 501. I think it's because I'm not reving or racing it like my 350. It has so much low end and pulls from anywhere, so much from down low that's where I find myself cruising it, about 1/4 throttle is about all you need.
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