So far, so perfect. Thatís how I feel about my recent decision to trade the Super Duke (after three years of wonderful time together) for a more dedicated off-road machine.
Over the past two weeks, Iíve been able to ride the new (to me) 530EXC more than 250 miles of gravel roads and double track. The previous owner had the bike set up for street riding and realized quickly the bike isnít designed for that. He purchased the bike in April of this year, put 290 miles on it, and traded it in for a 690 SM. The day after the bike was a traded in, I acquired it for a great deal.
The EXCs come with Metzler street legal knobbies from the factory. The previous owner installed Pirelli Scorpion ATs (same tires which come stock on the 990 Adventure). The Scorps are still on the bike but I do have the Metzlers out in the garage to swap out later.
To date, I have added a larger fuel tank, jetted the carb, added hand guards, added frame protectors, put on a rear rack, and added a skid plate. I believe this bike will perfectly feel the void left by the larger Adventure. I really enjoy touring, carving twisties, and storming fireroads on the Adventure. Itís not as much fun on double track and not fun at all on single track. The primary purpose of the EXC will be gravel roads, double track, and single track around WV, PA, OH, and MD. I will do day rides and weekend camping trips (once I can acquire a GiantLoop or similar bag). I plan to trailer the bike to far away ORV areas to play as well. Later, I will save up and acquire some motard wheels for the bike to go play on motard tracks and local twisties.
Compared to previous dual sport bikes Iíve owned, this EXC feels more like a motocross bike in terms of its motor, excellent suspension, and weight. The KayTom makes the DR650 feel like a tractor and the KLR like a 400 pound wet noodle. If you come up on a down tree or a big rock, all you have to do is give the EXC some throttle and front wheel will lift of the ground to help you get over the obstacle. This bike gives me the confidence to take on large rocks and down trees that the DR would have me shaking in my boots. The motor likes to GO. Iím not sure Iíll get used to that. The DR and KLR would happily lug along. Not the KTM, this motor likes to be revved and gets really jerky when itís run in the low RPM range.
According to KTM, this bike can be taken in its stock form and race a GNCC Enduro race today. Though that is not my plan, itís good to be on a bike that is MORE than capable to handle what Iíll toss at it. The last ďrealĒ dirt bike I owned was a Yamaha YZ250 back in the early 80s. The only thing we did, back in the day, was ride some trails and build jumps to get our bikes airborne. Other than basic cornering techniques (i.e. weight outside, bike below you, etcÖ), my off-road skills are about 50% of my street skills. I have a lot of work to do in order to become more proficient at off-road riding. But so far, I can tell Iím going to have a blast moving up the learning curve on this bike. Once I get a better fell of it, I will put the knobbies on it and go explore some single track.
* Very light weight for a 510cc bike @ 251 lbs.
* Top notch suspension.
* Amazing power with smooth delivery
* 6-speed transmission with gearing a bit taller than KTMís dedicated dirt bikes for the paved parts.
* Separate engine and transmission oil for better longevity.
* Very versatile machine with the ability to ride on paved roads
* Very tall bike with no ability to lower the chassis via links. Iím 5í8Ē with a 30Ē inseam and the only way I can ride this bike is due to its low weight.
* Short maintenance intervals.
* Low oil capacity (leads to point #2 above)
* Poor comfort level for long day and weekend trips. I could be on the DRís stock seat nearly all day long. After about 30-40 miles of paved roads on this seat and Iím ready to start standing on the pegs.
* Limited luggage capacity for the weekend camping trips. Companies like DirtBagz do not make rear racks for this bike (yet?). However, with the tail rack Iíve added, I nice GiantLoop bag may do the trick.