WHAT HAS 5 YEARS OF R&D DONE?

I thought that I would do this test of the 2007 KTM 525EXC a little bit different than what we have done previously. My dear departed 2002 520EXC was a heavily modified machine, there was not a lot left on it that was standard and I had spent a fair bit of time fiddling and I thought I had it as good as it was going to get. I had the opportunity to add a comprehensive list of Genuine KTM Hard Equipment to my new bike which brought it into line with the old one. I also had the suspension revalved and sprung to suit my weight so that the bikes would be on equal footing.
The new EXC's sure do stand out with new black Excel Rims, new wave brake discs and the flashy graphics.
For 2007 there has been more than just cosmetic changes though. The motor now sports a 2 piece clutch cover which allows access to the clutch without having to remove the entire cover which was a fiddly excercise. I am not sure wether it makes the cases slightly wider or not but it does seem easier to grip. Updates have been applied to the stator as well as the head. The fuel tank now holds 9.5 litres, up from 8.5 which was never enough. There is a new 1/4 turn fuel cap too. The front forks have sport modified internals for a smoother action, and the rear shock has had some tweaking done to it's internals to make for a much smoother action.
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a Rocky and rutted downhills were handled with ease by the plush suspension. Deflection was not an issue and I could hold any line I wanted!
ERGONOMICS

I took my shiny new 525 out to the Cobaws for it's maiden voyage. Anyone who has ridden there knows that this place is hard on both bike and rider. I left the carpark and headed straight off into some single track and the first big difference between old and new that I noticed was the '07 was a hell of a lot slimmer and " felt" lighter. The bike weighs pretty much the same as my old 520 - about 115kg, but with the slimmer ergo's and redesigned tank and seat the weight seems to be carried better on the new 525. It is actually hard to pick where the extra litre is held in the tank, I reckon it sits a little bit higher and is ever so slightly wider below the radiator shrouds. Either way it is snuck in there beautifully!

Gripping the bike with my knees was easy and transitioning from sitting to standing was done easily.
The KTM's cockpit has always been roomy but was even more so due to the extra adjustability offered by the 6 bar positions on the very trick Factory SXS Clamps as well as the rise offered by the PHDS System.

MOTOR

KTM hit the nail on the head way back in 2000 when they first released the current generation Racing Four Stroke motor. This thing produces mumbo right off idle in an amazingly smooth and linear fashion.
Torque is where it's at and this motor has always had it in spades. Gear selection on uphills is just not critical - it has that much grunt. Wide open fire trails are an absolute blast, powersliding is smooth and controllable. In the tighter stuff where too much power can be a bad thing the ability to lug the motor in a gear too high really helps to keep you moving.
The addition of an Akropovic titanium muffler made the bike breathe easier and amplified the already abundant torque of the bottom end.
I have always been an advocate of the excellent standard muffler on the KTM's as they make good power, allow the engine to breathe well and are quiet which is very important these days. Why every other enduro bike manufacturer cannot follow suit and make a decent muffler beats the hell out of me!
The Akropovic Titanium muffler enhances the bike's performance without the harsh noise increase of most of today's aftermarket mufflers.

SUSPENSION

From the woeful standard setup in 2002, each year has progressively improved and the suspenders on offer in 2007 are the best so far. The standard fork springs have gone up a rate this year to .44's which was always necessary for anyone who weighed over 80kg.
Choice Suspension's Anthony Giles chose a set of .46 White Power front springs and a White Power PDS4 rear spring to suit my weight. A revalve was done on both ends to suit my riding style. The fork action was plush, soaking up all hits with ease and with no deflection.
Front end grip was awesome and turn in was sharp and precise, helped by the 17.5mm offset SXS Clamps working well with the modified fork setup. The rear shock must have worked really well because I didn't notice it. The rear wheel stayed put and the shock soaked everything up in a very progressive manner.

FINAL SAY

What has 5 years of R&D at that little orange factory in Mattighoffen done for us? Each year this machine has gotten progressively better, ergos are more comfortable, reliability is now proven and the suspension continues to improve in leaps and bounds - pun intended! The power is the most usable in it's class too. There have been the odd backwards steps though, like the 8.5 litre fuel tank which left us all scrabbling for something to give us a range over 100k's.
I used to keep telling myself that I had no need to update from my trusty old 520. The latest machines didn't look too different and nothing stood out to me as a giant leap forward. Well, in hindsight I was wrong!

Getting your suspension set up to suit both your weight and riding style will always be the best money you will ever spend on your motorcycle. When I asked Anthony Giles at Choice Suspension to set up my new machine he checked my weight and asked a few questions about what sort of riding I did. New springs and a revalve at both ends were done and the correct sag was applied. I have come away very happy with Choice's work and look forward to spending more time in control on the trails!
KTM's of old used to steer badly, pushing through corners and deflecting. Putting a set of offset triple clamps on solved this issue. 20mm is the standard offset and 18mm seems to sharpen things up nicely. These SXS Clamps offer two choices of offset and an extra 2 bar positions over the standard 4. They are very high quality billet alloy and scream bling!

I used to run a standard MSC damper and have now upgraded to their new Titan. Now offering 8 damping settings and a unique 3 position switch to adjust between 0%, 50% or 100% damping on return. I have mine set on 50% riding in single track and general trail riding and will have it on 100% when I am in the High Country. The added stability a damper gives a bike is not to be underestimated. They help with fatigue as well as helping you save the impending crash from that unseen obstacle.

Lightweight, added power, added torque and damn they look horn! I am a big advocate of having a quiet dirtbike as noisy bikes are the prime reason we are loosing riding areas. The Akropovic comes with a quiet insert that works very well and that is removable for race use. This is one of the few mufflers that delivers the goods in all areas.

No performance gains here, just individual looks with high quality and a huge bling factor.

No performance gains here, just individual looks with high quality and a huge bling factor.

The constant updates and research done by Force to continually improve their product makes sure you are getting the best protection for your expensive radiators. The beauty of these guards is that they brace back to the frame in 3 places, two in the front and one crossbrace across the back giving extremely good side impact protection. They are made of high grade aluminium and are laser cut. Ventilation is excellent and heat retention is minimal. Mine were anodised black and really look the part. Fitting them is dead easy and done in 30 minutes from start to finish.

More nice CNC machined alloy gear. The rear disc guard is a handy piece of protection from big rocks and deep ruts which can chew into and bend your rear disc. Oh, and they look pretty trick now don't they!

Made to look as if it is meant to be there, the KTM Hard Equipment Heat Shield is a necessity to protect your pants from being burnt by the exhaust.

No performance gains here, just individual looks with high quality and a huge bling factor.


Ever had a chain break or dragged a rock through your front sprocket? Either of these dramas will destroy your nice hydraulic clutch slave cylinder. Running a case saver should be standard fare on any KTM, giving you protection against a ride ending disaster. There is no reason why this piece of hardware can't look cool at the same time though is there?


This little beauty protects your oil sight glass window from being fractured or broken by a stray rock. With the potential for catastrophic engine failure by having your sight glass broken, this really is a cheap bit of protection!