Purchased the 2018 KTM 500 EXC-F on December 2, 2017 from Mission Motorsports in Irvine, California. Brought it home and rode it for one hour. The extensive manual outlines every detail of the bike, except the wiring schematic. Comes with a nice binder for the manual and a good tool kit. The build quality of this bike is excellent. I’ve had so many Japanese bikes I’ve gotten used to clunky design. I really am smitten with this unit, especially the fasteners. The whole thing is just really well thought out and oozes quality.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I’ve been riding motorcycles for 44 years, and I have to admit this is the best I’ve seen so far. It’s not perfect, but it’s as close to that unobtainable superlative as I’ve seen. I’m just glad I own one.
First Oil and Filter Change
December 3, 2017
Following the service interval imperatives, I changed the oil and filter at the one hour mark, using Castrol full synthetic oil that exceeds the JASCO MA requirements.
The engine oil is nothing special when new. Here is what the metal screens looked like upon initial inspection at one hour:
There were slight metallic bits, plus the black gunk on the magnetic plug. The long screen had most of the shavings, the short screen had none. The filter, not shown, had specks of silver sprinkled across the media.
Everything was cleaned and re-installed. Fresh oil was added. The total amount is 1.2 liters. One liter bottle plus 200 mL from a second bottle. Test rode, no leaks, all is good. Oil level in the site glass is at the halfway mark when the bike is upright level.
There are three bolts that must be removed, in addition to the oil filter cover. This is a simple process. Doing your own oil and filter change are simple enough. I documented everything in the manual, and am documenting here as well.
SUPERMOTO Coming summer of 2018
I like the supermoto look, so am ordering Warp 9 wheels. These are custom built, and so far, with all the possible color combinations offered, I’m leaning toward this look:
The bike has a lot of orange on it, which is the KTM signature color. It also has some blue and white. Silver and black are accents. I’m weird this way, always designing my toys, like I did the Corvette. This machine will be unique, set apart from all the others because of my application of artistic thought processes.
Orange hubs, black spokes, orange nipples, and blue rims. That should really make it pop nicely amongst all the other bikes out there. I need to choose tires. I’m leaning toward a 100% street tire, but was thinking about possible a street-dirt combo. The challenge is, when I ride in the dirt, it’s usually at Ocotillo Wells. I can change my wheels to the dirt setup for those trips. Then change back for the off season, which is summer. I think I’ve made up my mind to go with street only for SM.
Plans are to decrease the rear sprocket to a 40 tooth. The bike comes with a 48 tooth unit. In 6th gear, revs are higher than I’d like in order to run at 70 mph. Need more research in this area.
December 6, 2017
Since the KTM does not come with an engine bash guard, I ordered one from Enduro Engineering. It should provide significant protection for the nasty rock fields at Ocotillo. It arrived 7 December 2017. Very easy to install, looks great, provides excellent protection, and was extremely easy to install. Oh, I already said that.
I should also protect the front and rear rotors from potential bash damage, so I’m looking for a fin for the rear and something for the front.
Picked up one of these from JFG Racing. It’s 6061-T6 aluminum. I’m discovering a lot off cool things on Amazon, which is where I found this one. The best thing about buying from Amazon is I can return it easily if I don’t like it or it just doesn’t fit for some reason.
TPS (Throttle Position Sensor) Tool.
Use this site to order the tool. Adjust TPS as needed, if needed. tpstool.com
I’ll have the shop at Cycle City Motorsports do the TPS adjusting after I install the exhaust tip. Then it can all be tuned appropriately.
Turn Signal Mods
December 8, 2017
The stock turn signals are great for the street, but not so much for the dirt. A buddy of mine destroyed his on the first ride. To ensure that doesn’t happen, I purchased LED signals from Amazon, as shown here:
Here’s the link to the signals on Amazon. $6.99 for the pair.
I needed to use a plastic spacer behind each signal, to allow for the offset in the fender. This offset will differ with different bikes. I used the OEM washers and nuts to secure the signals. Wires were cut and OEM connectors soldered to the new signals. I figured out the color scheme… you have a 50-50 chance of being right the first time with whatever colors you choose.
I also purchased a flasher that is essentially a resistor that replaces the OEM flasher. I created a simple system to connect the new flasher to the existing female plug, which maintains the integrity of the OEM flasher in case someone want to put the bike back to stock (whoever would do that, wonder).
Here’s the link to the flasher on Amazon. $7.99 Prime.
Photos of the wiring connectors I made that allow the new flasher to plug into the existing female connector on the wiring harness:
I cut one leg off a spade connector. The remaining leg plugs into the female connector perfectly and is very secure. Here’s the photo:
Below is the finished product. The flasher box is secured by way of a tie wrap as shown in the second photo below:
Next stop is to change the front signals to a smaller unit size, and in LED. I picked these from dozens of options on Amazon. I’ll show the finished installation after it’s completed.
Here’s the link to these blinkers. $9.99 Prime.
Battery Tender Quick Disconnect
December 9, 2017
Every electric start motorcycle benefits from a battery tender terminal harness. I chose this unit from Amazon, as it employs a fuse and is 18-inches long overall. This is simply an excellent investment in keeping your battery fresh. The KTM comes with a Lithium battery, which is far better than lead acid. I’ll just plug it in if I’m not going to ride for a time. Also, I have a Cyclops HID helmet mounted light that will plug into this connector, so I can ride at night in the desert and use my light.
Here’s the link to this harness on Amazon. $6.00 Prime.
Compact Control Switch and Mirrors
The stock switch for lights and turn signals is big and bulky. It impedes the clutch lever travel if one attempts to move the clutch into a more comfortable position. I’m the one who felt it was improperly positioned for my style, so I ordered this Tusk Compact Control Switch.
Here’s the link to this switch on Amazon. $27.99 Prime
It is narrower than stock. It will shut the headlight off completely, other than a small “pilot light” in the headlight, which remains on no matter what. At least the big bulb can be completely turned off with this switch. The blinker switch is a simple left right switch and does not have the cancelling function like the OEM switch. I always forget to cancel my blinkers, so this switch setup will help me.
I also moved the kill switch to the left side, away from the start button. The mirrors on this bike are huge. I replaced the KTM mirrors with collapsible units from Acerbis.
I find this setup more comfortable. Being able to collapse the mirrors when riding off-road is benefit. On the street, they simply keep the po po from hassling me.
How I Connected the Switch
I removed the KTM switch and opened it up to suss out the wire colors. Then I cut the connector off the Tusk switch and soldered the KTM connectors in place. The wire colors are not coded the same, and you must use this diagram for the proper connections. If you can use a soldering iron, you can do this.
DIAGRAM GOES HERE
Never a fan of stock grips, I always do away with them and use something else. These are more polished, look better, and feel better to me. I will install them as soon as my aluminum throttle tube with ball bearing arrives.
First 100 Mile Ride
December 17, 2017
Rode from the house to Peter’s Landing in Huntington Beach. Hung out with a couple of friends, had a nice brunch. The Eggs Florentine was excellent, right there at the Landing. Rode home. Flawless performance. Stopped to fill up with fuel at 95 miles on the odometer. Took 1.7 gallons. So that’s 55 miles per gallon. Total mileage at this point is 115 miles. I do notice at 75 mph there is a little bit of skittishness. Of course the dual purpose tires aren’t helping with stability at high speeds. Once I’ve installed the new SM wheels and tires, and have things balanced, it will be far better on the street. For now, keeping the speed under 60 keeps things running very smoothly.
Warp 9 Parts Order
Decided not to deny my inner self any longer. I’ve always admired the parts shown below, but always felt I couldn’t really justify ordering them. Well today I changed all that and pulled the trigger. Once all this stuff arrives, I’ll have a great time installing everything, will get some photos, and take a final video of all mods.
Front and rear wheels. Spared no expense here. The rolling parts must be dialed in to make for a great ride. These should fit the bill nicely.
Brake pedal lever. This is just the coolest part ever in my mind. CNC Billet aluminum. Replaceable toe piece.
Hand brake lever. More Billet for the bike. Can’t go wrong here.
Clutch lever. Billet of course, matching the brake lever.
Kickstand, shortened for Super Moto. This is needed to keep the bike from sitting way too upright with the smaller diameter wheels.
Gear shifter tip. Just looks good. No other reason for this than appearance.
Chain. Can’t say anything wonderful about chain, other than it might be needed if the new 42 tooth sprocket requires a longer chain. I’ll hold onto this until I know for certain. I’m guessing there may not be enough room to slide the wheel back another half-inch, or whatever is required. Will have two setups–one for dirt with gnarly knobs, and the other for Super Moto. Two chains are probably going to be required to make for a quick wheel change.
And last of all, fork bleeders. Nothing too crazy here. Just nice air release valves made of stainless steel with dual air release valves.
Christmas Day Parts Order
December 25, 2017
Ordered a number of parts for the KTM today. Below are the parts. Of course none of these is absolutely needed to enjoy the ride, but they sure make it more beautiful to me. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, anyway.
Grab handle in black, so as to allow me to easier lift the rear of the bike as needed.
Factory fuel tank vent in orange, of course.
Swing arm protection in black, since the color scheme and protection are improved by adding this.
Factory fuel tank cap, in black.
Rear brake reservoir cap.
Front brake reservoir cap.
Clutch reservoir cap.
Oil filter cover.
Scotts Performance SUB mount stabilizer kit. This is one of the best additions for street and dirt riding.
Cable guide for the steering stabilizer.
Finally, placed an order for the Super Moto wheels from Warp 9, along with clutch and brake levers, a shorter kickstad, fork bleeders, and some chain. Christmas Day 2017 turned out to be a big order day. I’m sure retailers everywhere are enjoying this. I know I will enjoy the new machine when it’s completed.
December 28, 2017
Installed the Scotts steering stabilizer. If you do this yourself, be sure you follow the directions. Without securing the front wheel, the triple clamps will slip and the entire front end assembly can slide out. The system is very easy to install, and was a lot of fun. I’d enjoy doing another bike.
Above: Bars removed. Next, loosen the head nut and pinch bolt, then the 4 bolts clamping the fork tubes. Use a soft mallet to tap the top triple clamp off the fork tubes. Then you’ll have this view:
After placing the pin and collar around the neck, you’ll see this;
This piece has to be centered in the frame. As close as you can get it. Put everything back to together, and this is the finished product:
Alignment was perfect out of the box. I didn’t have to adjust anything. The instructions were outdated, as it’s probably difficult to create new instruction sheets for every new bike that comes along. If you’re a decent mechanic, this is straight forward, easy to do.
Bottom line: It makes a great difference in the handling of the bike. The Scotts system is superior to many, with far more adjustments for your particular riding style. I wouldn’t ride without one, on the street or dirt.
Oil and Filter Change
December 29, 2017.
Changed the oil and filter again. Total of 5 hours on the bike now. The magnetic piece on the oil plug had a little black gunk on it. Not nearly like the first oil change. Still, the oil was pretty crappy looking. Hopefully things settle down now. Frequent changes are good. I generally overdo the service intervals. I’ll do another change in 5 more hours of run time. Here’s a shot of the parts after cleaning. Before cleaning they were just oily with the aforementioned sludge stuff on the magnet.
January 3, 2018
New year, time to do something for the bike. Had a shop do a tune on the throttle body. The TPS was modified, which means resistance values were changed. The bike now runs much better, as it’s not running as lean as it was when stock. The addition of the power cap to the exhaust, which means the bike can breathe now, was augmented with the TPS tune.
Seat Concepts Arrives
January 4, 2018
The new seat came today. Well, it was foam and a cover, anyway. I installed both on my existing pan. Went well, not problems, and looks great. Feels even better. The density of the new foam is different from stock, and a bit wider where it counts. All told, one of the best investments you can make in comfort. Hey, I’m approaching 60 years on this planet, and anything I can do to provide a little more comfort is a good thing.
Sold the Yamaha 450 Today
January 4, 2018
Listed on Craig’s List a week ago, the bike went to Mexico today by way of a Ford truck. Sold for $2,400. Was asking $2,800. It’s ok, the cash will be put to good use making the KTM better. The guy got a really good buy on the Yamaha. It was in great condition.