We spend 8 months living with the KTM500EXC – read on to find our thoughts as it heads back to KTM HQ
STORY MATT BERNARD PHOTOGRAPHY KATRINA BERNARD
It sounds spoiled, but in the 10 years I’ve been lucky enough to have project bikes, there has been a few that I haven’t been too worried about finishing with and sending back to their headquarters – the 2017 KTM500EXC isn’t one of them. The 500 to me has been an epic machine to “own”. The bike itself has been a bike I have jumped on time and time again and felt comfortable. I didn’t change much at all. I left the bars standard, the suspension standard and apart from a few trick bits, I basically washed and maintained it! It had leaky fork seals after a muddy trip to Louee and a cartwheel at the AMTRA High Country Ride scratched it up a little, but otherwise it’s been a mint machine.
OUR FAVOURITE’S OF THE 500EXC
The KTM500EXC has an engine that is so god damn powerful, yet easy to ride. With the standard muffler fitted, the bike is very quiet, almost too quiet and you don’t realise how bloody fast you are actually going! For the first 3 or 4 months, I was continually reminding myself to shift up. If you think you need to be in second gear, try third or even fourth! It’s an absolute torque monster, long hill climbs are nothing to this machine, it eats it up. I have read in some other places that the KTM EFI system has problems, I haven’t had such an issue. The engine has never run rough or flamed out on me, I’ve been totally happy with the fuel injection system. I turned the idle up ever, ever so slightly and left the bike be. I have always run it on BP ultimate fuel and replaced the fuel filter once, after the first tank.
I am disappointed the bike is going back before I had a chance to do a race on it. On a grass track, it’s an animal, I am already contemplating another 500cc as it was just that fun in wide-open spaces. I don’t think there would be a bike I could go faster on around a grass track and I’d love to line up and test that one out. In tight single track, the bike has a little extra weight when compared to a 350 or a KTM450EXC, but it’s very un-noticeable. I rode a WR450F around the same loop as the 500 and I found the 500 to be easy and lighter to flick between the trees. A quick look at Adam Riemann’s amazing overseas adventures show that the KTM500EXC is able to be ridden as a race bike, trail bike or full-blown globe trotter!
I wanted to go firmer on the suspension early on, but a few easy clicker adjustmetns and getting the sag right and I was happy. It never bucked or kicked me any harder than I was expecting. Any small mistake and I was pretty much under control. If I was going to race the bike, I would work on some settings to further my confidence, but in standard form, it’s quite impressive.
THE EASE OF MAINTENANCE
In the workshop, the KTM is a dream. The standard ODI grips are replaced with out glue, the air filter changed without tools and the oil changed without any stress. It’s even easy to fit graphics too, without having any crazy curves or multiple bits of plastic. I give it two thumbs up.
WRAP IT UP
It’s time to bid farewell to this amazing beast. It’s been amazing, and I wish it was longer. Who knows a 2018 KTM500EXC might even end up on the shopping list!
The bike was handed around the DA office, taking a couple of trips with Greg Masters and Ed, Damien.
Greg Masters – LOUEE MX
I’ve been curious for quite some time as to how I would go on the 500EXC. It’s fair to say the Toby Price probably rides better than me but in my opinion we do have one thing in common and that is we are pretty big humans. We are around the same height but Toby is built like a Viking and I’m built like a beer drinking dad that should do more exercise! An ex pro mate of mine reckons that he much preferred the 500EXC over the 450EXC back when he was competing and signed to KTM. I went out to Louee MX for a couple of days with some of my mates with the DA project bike and I was very impressed. I was quite blown away how the 500 EXC performed on one of the steep hill climbs. There was no way I thought I would make it to the top but by persevering and a little traversing using the torque at low revs I made it up. I took on the same hill 6 months earlier on a smaller bike which I would of assumed would of been easier but I only made it halfway up. Overall the things I wasn’t a fan of were not even worth mentioning. I was really surprised at how easy the 500 was to manage all over the Louee MX facility. I rode my butt off all weekend and it didn’t beat me up. The only damage I did to the bike was the rear tyre , sorry about that Matt.
DAMIEN ASHENHURST – AMTRA HIGH COUNTRY RIDE
The EXC-F just monstered the terrain and was so easy to ride there. As the altitude increased the bike reminded me it had so much in reserve that I barely noticed any power drop.
That said, I think the standout feature of the bike, which I haven’t ridden since the launch many months ago, is the suspension. I’m not a fast rider but I’m not slow, either, and that intermediate range is tough to cater for and make everyone happy. The New WP and PDS XPlor systems are exemplary and I love how KTM hasn’t just thrown on a set of reworked motocross forks and told us it’s all about the trails. The 500 is comfortable and performs and that’s not something many others can say as they lean far more towards performance than comfort.
The bike is a fuel miser, too, and on a long trail ride like the AMTRA HCR it’s nice to know you have no fuel worries.
WHAT WE FITTED
MOTO KIT CUSTOM GRAPHICS
AKROPOVIC TITANIUM EXHAUST
KTM BILLET CLUTCH COVER
KTM STEP SEAT
MOTOREX OILS AND LUBRICANTS