KTM 450 EXC Enhancements — Old Boys Toys | Motorcycles catalog with specifications, pictures, ratings, reviews and discusssions

KTM 450 EXC Enhancements — Old Boys Toys

23 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on KTM 450 EXC Enhancements — Old Boys Toys

KTM 450 EXC Enhancements

This is part two of my 2011 KTM 450 EXC review. In Part 1, Deciding on the KTM 450 EXC. I talked about my research and decision process that lead me to buy the KTM 450 EXC.

When I bought my 2011 KTM 450 EXC a few months ago, I already knew it would require some changes. I’d read many blogs and discussion boards talking about how poorly it ran because of everything KTM had to do in making it street legal. Rather than jump into the changes, I wanted to ride the bike for a bit and decide for myself what needed to be done.

I’ll break them down into mandatory changes from day 1, and other changes you should probably consider depending on your riding habits.

Mandatory Changes from Day 1

Fortunately for me, the Motor Cafe in Sunnyvale, CA delivered the bike to my home. The primary reason is that with the stock jetting it runs like crap. I don’t think that even KTM would be offended by this statement. They already know it.

In order to pass emissions for street registration the carburetor jetting is very lean. My bike would hardly idle, hesitated like crazy on acceleration, and the exhaust popped like crazy on deceleration. Basically, it was unrideable.

I have a friend that owns a KTM 450 XC-W, the pure off road variant of the EXC. He was kind enough to mess with the carburetor settings to at least make it rideable, but the improvement is marginal. Greg,the KTM sales guy at the Motor Cafe, had told me I would want to put in a JD Jetting Kit. He was right.

I also talked to Maico Bill at HT-Racing. He put the XC-W jetting into his EXC. In the end, it seemed like the JD Jetting Kit would be simpler to install, and be a little less edgy than the pure racing jetting of the XC-W.

The kit includes multi-tapered needles designed specifically for the 450 EXC. Installing the JD Jetting Kit was relatively easy, even for a novice like me. I was a little concerned about taking apart the carburetor, but the instructions from JD Jetting were quite good. Along with pictures from their web site. I managed to change both the main and pilot jets and the o-ring linkage.

If you have tried to adjust the fuel mixture screw on the carburetor, you probably also found it impossible to reach with your hand, or any kind of tool. I also put in a new fuel mixture screw that is designed to be easily adjusted by hand.

Once the new jetting was installed, the performance was amazing. No more idling problems. No more hesitation. Hardly any popping on deceleration.

This is a “must do” change to any new KTM 450 EXC. This is probably the only thing I consider a Day 1 change. There are other changes I’d considered highly desirable, but you may want to put on a few miles to get a sense for the bike, and your riding environment.

I’ll talk about these next.

Highly Desirable Improvements

After riding the bike on the street and trail, I realized it is geared to do 75 mph on the highway. I don’t know about you, but for me, I wanted much better low-speed performance. I didn’t plan to do any long highway rides. In stock form, the 450 EXC comes with a 15 tooth front sprocket and a 45 tooth rear sprocket. This was fine for the street, but I hardly got out of first gear on the trails.

I changed to a 14 tooth front sprocket and a 48 tooth rear sprocket. This allowed me to keep using the existing chain. This gearing was still reasonable for street riding, even highway speeds, but provided much better low speed performance. I could now get out of first gear at low speeds, and grunt around in second gear.

Second gear provides much less abrupt throttle control than first gear for tight trails or tough conditions.

Is this the ideal gearing for the 450 EXC? That probably depends on your riding. At times, the gearing still seems a little tall.

I’ve talked two other people with 450 EXCs and they have changed to a 13 tooth sprocket on the front, and a 50 tooth sprocket on the back. I may experiment with this gearing some day to see if it better fits my riding. I suspect it may, but I’m reasonably happy for now.

Now that the bike was running great, and geared for trails, it was a lot of fun to ride. This lead me to discover the next highly desirable change. Sitting on the bike for a couple of hours was a pain in the butt. The stock seat was quite hard. But even worse, had squared off edges that dug into my upper thighs.

A friend of mine has an Enduro Engineering seat and a Guts set for his KTM. I decided to replace the stock seat with an Enduro Engineering Standard Height Soft Comfort Seat. This was a major improvement.

Now my arms and legs get tired before my butt gives out.

Other Changes or Improvements

I’ve made a couple of other changes that I consider optional, but probably highly desirable. The stock mirrors on the 450 EXC are amazing. Very high quality. Very little vibration on the road. Very likely to break off in a crash.

I bought a very inexpensive KTM mirror that folds away into the handlebars when riding off road. On the street it isn’t as good as the stock mirror in terms of visibility and vibration, but since I mostly ride off road it works for me.

The license plate holder had these funky reflector holder that sticks out the sides. It probably wouldn’t survive a crash. I removed it and put some stick on bicycle reflectors on the fender.

I also mounted the license plate sideways to minimize the likelihood of it catching on something.

Although you may hear about problems with turns signals, the 2011 KTM 450 EXC has improved rear turn signals over previous years. They are now flexible and won’t break in a crash. Trust me on this, they don’t break in a crash.

I’ve also had people ask me about changing the exhaust, or removing some of the packing in the stock exhaust. At the moment, the bike has more than enough power for me. If and when that isn’t the case, I may explore an after-market exhaust for some more horsepower.

And that’s it. The KTM 450 EXC is now a much better off road motorcycle than I am a rider.

KTM 450 EXC
KTM 450 EXC


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