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KTM 525 EXC
It comes as no surprise the EXC is well suited for woods duty. The precise-shifting, wide-ratio 6-speed transmission and liquid-cooled 4-valve OHC motor work in harmony to create a formidable package. It has a low enough first gear that it can easily conquer the steepest hill climbs or a complicated single-track at a mellow pace. Dial in an upshift or two along with some liberal wringing of the throttle you can have quite the e-ticket ride up that same trail. The electric start makes recovering from failed attempts much easier than if it was kick-start only. It does come with a kick-starter, though, just in case.
Even with its 58.3-inch wheelbase, the 525EXC feels extraordinarily nimble for an open classer. At 265 lbs. full of fuel, it’s obvious KTM did a great job of distributing the weight because it feels lighter than it is. Our resident photo-hound and official WORCS photographer Tyler Maddox was particularly impressed with the 525s disposition in the woods.
“I can’t believe how light it feels on the trails,” explained Maddox, owner of an enduro-spec KTM 125SX. “The only time I really noticed the weight was when it carried that extra inertia through the high-speed turns. I was surprised how slim it was, too.”
Low rpm power delivery from the 510cc motor is one of the bike’s positive attributes. It feels even more potent than the dyno results reveal. The long-stroke Single (95 x 72mm bore and stroke) and 11:1 compression ratio combine to produce a substantial 34 lb.-ft. of torque at 6000 rpm. Horsepower on our test unit topped out at a respectable 44.4 hp at 7600 rpm. Usable power arrives down low and signs-off sooner than track-tuned motors like the 450SX, but it is the linear power curve that makes the 525EXC so versatile. The motor revs quick and pulls really hard yet never seems harsh.
During one of our first forays into the woods, one of our
test riders tried to wheelie over a large log that had fallen across the
path. Unfortunately, while in the middle of the maneuver, he just slammed
into it and smashed the right underside of the frame in the process. A
skid-plate is one of the necessary aftermarket items we definitely
recommend. The chrome-moly steel chassis features a double-cradle design and
a removable aluminum subframe.
Together this set-up provides a generous 15.2 inches of
ground clearance and a civilized 36.5 inch seat height. We did experience
some headshake a couple times in the desert portion of the test, but that
often comes with the territory when you ricochet the front wheel off a rock
at 70 mph.
Top-shelf brakes feature steel-braided lines, a two-piston
Brembo caliper gripping a 260mm wave rotor on the front, while a
single-piston Brembo clamps to a 220mm wave rotor in the rear. The braking
components are powerful, provide excellent feedback and never ever faded or
howled in complaint. The firm gripper seat is decent at first, but its edges
can cause some butt chafing after several hours of riding. Unfortunately,
its 2.25-gallon tank never seems to run dry, so quitting because you’re out
of gas won’t be a viable excuse.
Review by: Ken Hutchinson, Motorcycle-USA