Long Term KTM 450 EXC Update
We've put in well over 1000kms on our long term Kato now, so we figure it's time to update you guys on what it's like to live with one of Australia's most popular 450cc trail/enduro weapons. Since our original article we've fitted a steering damper, tweaked the jetting & played with the suspension clickers to get it working a little better.
The JD Jetting Kit that we'd previously fitted really brought the engine to life. For Winter riding, we've been using the blue needle on the 3rd clip position, 170 main with the fuel screw about 3/4 of a turn out. We've found this to give really good bottom and mid-range response which lets us ride the 450 the way we like it, short shifting and using that grunty torque curve to our advantage. The fact we are a bit old and unfit might also have something to do with why we don't have the thing zinging in the upper rev range. Now that the warmer weather has started, we are going to need to lean it off a little to allow for the thinner air.
To make the bike even easier to ride, if that's at all possible, we've also fitted a Scotts steering damper as mentioned in our Steering Dampers For Dirt Bikes article. This is a fairly straight forward process for anyone with a bit of mechanical knowledge, but just in case you're worried about the process, we've documented it for you here. Here's a tip; before you pull all the controls and the 'bars off your bike, mark their positions with a permanent marker so you don't need to worry about getting them into a comfortable position when you put it all back together. First you need to strip the 'bars off your bike. You've probably done this a thousand times before. It's a good idea to chock the front wheel before pulling off the top triple clamp as once this is off, it leaves the forks free to fall out of your bike and you really don't want half of your bike disappearing to the other side the shed without warning. You'll end up with your bike looking like this.
Next you need to file away some weld from the headstem gusset to allow for fitting of the damper spiggot. I can imagine a few of you not liking this bit, but don't worry, you won't weaken the weld as a weld gets it's strength from penetration in the join, not from the bead left exposed above the surface. Here it is with the spiggot fitted. Make sure you file away enough weld so that the spiggot fits flush with the bearing housing as seen here. The insets show the filing area and our filing prowess in action!
While you're there it won't hurt to hit those bearings with a good dose of waterproof grease. The top triple clamp goes back on and the Scotts supplied top clamp holds the 'bars in place.
Here's our nice new damper in place on the bike and it was a 3 or 4 can job, you be he judge of how long it'd take you to fit one up.
Here's another tip; these things are one of the best tools you can throw in your toolbox. It's a head light, you strap it on your head while you work. You'll look like an absolute tool wearing it, but they provide a bright, directional light to work by and leave both hands free for the other…ermmm….tools!
Now that the Kato has loosened up, we felt it was time to set the static and rider sags again. Sure enough, they had changed quite a bit since new and needed some adjustment. We are thinking that the original oil in the forks is due for replacement now, but instead of just doing that, perhaps a trip to a specialist suspension expert might be on the cards.
What else has been going on with our orange beast since we took delivery? The sticker on the airbox cover has come off which we put this down to the plastic calf plate on our Sidi Flexforce boots and the plastics are starting to look a little shabby in some areas, which we put this down to our less than stellar riding abilbity, sometimes resulting in us and the bike parting company. Other than that, we've put a few rear tyres on it, changed the oil and oil filters, cleaned the air filters and ridden it. It even found itself completely submerged in the Thompson River one day (don't ask!) and it still keeps on going. Our initial concerns about fuel economy have all but gone as the bike is giving us acceptable tank range now, but the problem really is that 8 litres just aint enough fuel for some of the rides we do.