2007 525EXC - One of the best motorcycles ever built
The KTM RFS Diaries
The Mighty Racing Four Stroke 2000-2007
I have been left with a real dilemma regarding what to race for the 2010 season. Like most people I have felt the pinch of the current economic conditions, who hasn’t? It has made me take a hard look at what the spending priorities are. New bikes are getting really expensive and used bikes aren’t worth squat. There are some great deals on non-current models, but they aren’t really the bikes I want. That makes it really difficult to justify laying down a big wad of cash for a new bike that is going to take a bit hit in value on day one. So what to do?
Like many riders I know, I have become very spoiled by the longevity of the now defunct KTM RFS line up. I have put tens of thousands of miles on these bikes over the years and come to expect a trouble free life of well over 300 hours, possibly more if they are treated well. I have actually had a number of other bikes during this same period, but always relied on the RFS as my long haul trail bike.
This motor is so versatile that it is used in Atv's also
In ’09 I stepped up and got a 450xcw with its new motor and chassis. The chassis is a dream. It always handles well and is confidence inspiring. The motor is smooth and very refined feeling. Although for my size and type of riding, I have struggled with the power output. A 530 would have been a better choice.
Next comes the question of longevity. The original versions of the new motor line up, both xcw and xcf, had all kinds of small problems. Most of these were cured by 2009. But as we see more long term reports, it is becoming pretty clear that none of these new bikes are going to have the same kind of lifespan of the old bikes.
Now for the vast majority of riders it is probably a nonissue. Let’s face it; most people probably won’t put more than a 100 hours on a bike before moving on to a new one. But for me, that is a far different story. I typically log up to 300 hours per year on my own bikes and a couple hundred more on other people’s bikes. So now I am at a point where frankly I am not sure if I can really afford to the cost and upkeep of a newer, shorter life bike.
Looking at the off road market as a whole, what would be the best way to go? I would love to have another two stroke, but for desert racing they are exhausting to ride. They are also a challenge for long distance trail riding in Mexico, the fuel mileage isn’t great and having mix oil all the time isn’t much fun. Of the four stroke enduro bikes, not much else has changed in the last few years, bold new graphics all around.
So let’s look back to say, 2007, and what was the best all around enduro bike? It really doesn’t matter which source you look to, the KTM 450 was it. It just depends if you want the racier XC or wide ratio XCW model. Since ‘07 none of the competition has really changed much, certainly not the Yamaha WR450, Honda CFR450x or the newer Kawasaki KLX450. In that sense, the primary competition for an older generation KTM is the new KTM.
So that is the stream of logic that has led me back around to the idea of choosing a 2007 KTM 450xc as my next bike. A few days of searching Craigslist and the Cycle Trader actually netted me two bikes. I purchased a fairly used ‘06 model for $2900 and a low mileage but crashed ‘07 for $2700. Fortunately for me I have lots of parts lying around; so most of the clean up these bikes needed didn’t cost me very much. It is kind of like getting two bikes for the price of one new one.
My original idea was to build the “hybrid”, wrapping the new gen frame around a short stroke RFS motor. The Dirt Tricks set up is pretty clean looking and they have already done all the engineering. That was the concept when I picked up the first 450xc, but after I did one race on a basically unprepped bike, I realized I still had a strong affinity for the old bike and it didn’t seem too unrealistic that with some work I might get it set up to suit my needs. So the hybrid concept is still on the backburner, sort of a plan B.
Dirt Tricks RFS Hybrid
The question now is whether I will find that my logic was, “crazy like a fox” or just plain crazy. I am going to set about to do everything I can to get the handling of these older generation bikes to mimic the new frame models. Regardless, as long as I don’t go overboard, both bikes should keep their value pretty good. Let’s hope I can say the same about my race results.