Long Term Dirt Bike KTM 450 EXC


Recently Motoaus took delivery of our first long term bike. Well, actually, we bought it, because we don’t get long term bikes from anyone.  Why a KTM 450 EXC?  There are a few reasons behind our choice of bush weapon. 

I’d had a hard time on my previous bike, a Suzuki DR-Z 400 and while the DRZ is good for what it is, I was able to pinpoint a few things about that bike that I knew I didn’t want on my new bike.  The first was weight.  The DRZ is a heavy bike and it also carries its weight very high.  This equates to a tough time when things go pear shaped and you’re trying to stop the thing from falling over or worse still, as happens all to often to me, you find yourself picking the thing up off the ground after you’ve experienced some un-powered flight.

Which leads to the second “don’t want on my next bike”, a high seat.  Have you ever found yourself in that situation where you’re attacking some huge rocky hill that was designed by Satan himself purely to physically injure dirt bike riders and with 2 meters to go you just need to dab your boot down to steady yourself?  But instead you reach your boot down towards that rock and that bastard Satan moves the rock and your boot finds only air?  Now I can tell you, bike lovers, that air doesn’t have much grip for a size 9 Sidi and this situation lead to my demise on more than one occasion.  So a lower seat height was a must have.  The 3rd thing was that I wanted was a bike that would last me 3-5 years before I felt the need to upgrade.  The KTM has a proven reliable donk and other components provided you do the right thing and maintain them properly.  They are just some of the reasons why an orange bike landed in my garage.

 KTM 450 EXC

katoThere aren’t many dirt bikes you can roll straight out from the dealer and hit the bush with, and the KTM is no exception there.  Hand guards are a must for thrashing through the scrub so we fitted a pair of wrap around Bark Busters . In my short time back on dirt bikes, I’ve already seen a few radiators cop some pretty severe damage from simple falls, so we chose to fit some Force radiator guards.  The Force guards offer good side impact protection for when you throw it away into a rut and also good front on protection from rocks being chucked up by your mates bike.  The only other thing required is a small exhaust guard from B & B Offroad to stop the thing from melting nylons and boots.  KTM is on to an absolute winner with the spares kit supplied with this bike.  Spare radiator shrouds, stickers, air filter, hand grips, a neat little rear mud guard extender to replace the ugly ADR unit, a tough plastic bash plate, an MX style front plate and a great tool kit for your bum bag with everything you need to do simple maintenance on the bike.  The dealer had already removed most of the ADR gear for me and also, at my request, changed the road legal Pirelli Scorpions for a pair of heavy-duty tubes wrapped in Dunlop 952s.

A pair of orangesSo what’s it like to ride?  The first ride on the bike was a simple stroll around the bush to get a feel for the bike and make sure everything was OK.  Nothing too challenging or hard for either me or the bike was the order of the day.  First impressions were good, but not great.  I say that because the jetting as supplied from the factory is ordinary at best.  I guess this is to make the bike comply with ADR regulations as it felt really lean off the bottom (confirmed by popping from the muffler on roll off), fluffy in the mid-range, but had plenty at wide open throttle.  It also had the dreaded off idle bog that plagues four stroke owners the world over.  If you can’t crack the throttle open from idle and get clean crisp response, then you too are suffering the from the dreaded bog.  Luckily, it can be fixed relatively easy and we’ll go into that a bit later.  The whole bike felt tight, which is to be expected as it had covered zero kilometres before this first outing.  Still, with all the tightness of suspension and engine, and fluffy jetting, it was a joy to ride compared to my previous bike.  The bike hit reserve on the small 8lt fuel tank at 65kms of easy riding…….

We bought the bike back into the Motoaus.com garage for it’s first service and also to iron out those jetting issues.  First up we dumped the oil.  If you are ever in doubt that you should change the oil after the first ride on a four stroke dirt bike (or any new bike for that matter), you need to think again.  After only 70kms of riding, although the oil was relatively clean, there was a significant amount of crap on the magnetic sump plug and on both oil screens.  Considering what we saw, we also decided on a filter change.  At $16 for both filters we can’t see the point in risking your $13,000 pride and joy.  As you should do after every ride, the air filter was changed with the spare Twin Air filter and oiled up with Bel-Ray filter oil.

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