KTM 525 EXC Specs and Review (Off-Road Dirt Bike)

Undoubtedly an engineering masterpiece, the KTM 525 EXC makes both off-road and street riding more fun. Its impeccable stance, evenly distributed weight, and unmistakable power never fail to impress on dunes and wooded trails as it does on the road. But that’s not all. There is more to this bike than meets the eye – as you will soon learn in this guide.

The KTM 525 EXC is an Enduro-style dual-sport bike produced by the Austrian powerhouse, KTM, from 2003 to 2007. Known for its advanced tech, unrivaled engine performance, and serious dirt ability, this navel orange two-wheeler enthralls trail riders and off-road enthusiasts.

Its continued presence in the market is solid proof of the KTM 525 EXC’s reliability and appeal as an adventure bike and daily driver. Read on and learn more about the specs, highs and lows, and noteworthy features of this modern-day super-naked wheeler.

Orange KTM Dirt Bike

The KTM E/XC Series

The KTM 525 EXC is, perhaps, one of the longest-running lineups of the critically acclaimed Austrian manufacturer. It boasts of a 32-year production run, with its first-ever model – the KTM 500 EXC – released in 1989. There were slight changes in designation between 1998 to 2011. The bike was rebadged several times from a “500” to “520” to “525” to “530.” Interestingly, these numbers were merely superficial and did not signify any changes to the piston displacement of the Enduro-style bike.

All installments of the KTM 500 E/XC series had a 510 cm3 (31.12 in3) engine. The only difference was the type of motor the different models had. The first nine (9) years benefited from an LC4 (Liquid-Cooled 4-stroke) power mill. 1998-2007 was the RFS era. Beginning in 2008, the motor type changed to an XC4 (X-tra Cool 4-stroke) engine. Recently, however, KTM upgraded from a SOHC to a DOHC powerplant – still with the same displacement and 95 x 72 mm bore-stroke ratio.

2005 KTM 525 EXC Specs & Features

Engine

The KTM 525 EXC uses a liquid-cooled, single-cylinder 4-stroke SOHC engine with a balancer shaft. It has a bore-stroke ratio of 95 x 72 mm (3.74 x 2.83 inches) and a compression ratio of 11:1. Engine displacement is 510 cm3 (31.12 in3), supplemented by a forged piston aluminum alloy. A Keihin FCR-MX 3900B, with an Air Cut Valve (ACV) for de-acceleration enrichment, handles air-fuel mixture.

Overall engine configuration lends to a horsepower of 61 hp (44.5 kW) @ 8,000 RPM, a maximum torque of 61 Nm (6.2 kgf-m, 45 ft-lb), and a top speed rating of 111.8 mph (180 km/h). Moreover, the dirt bike shares similar jetting (#178 main; #85 starting; #42 idling) and needle position (3rd from top) with the 450-cc EXC Racing/MXC-G/Six Days series.

Fuel & Lubrication

Fuel tank capacity is 8.5 L/2.1 USgal (including a 1-L/0.3-USgal reserve) of premium-grade, unleaded gasoline with a minimum RON 95 rating (minimum RON 91 in the U.S.). This capacity provides a decent fuel mileage of 4.5 L/100 km (52 mpg) when cruising and 6.72 L/100 km (35 mpg) given other riding conditions. Fuelly reports a slightly higher figure at 4.27 L/100 km (55.1 mpg).

KTM swapped the original clear/white fuel tank out for the orange SX tank on all EXC models since 2003. This upgrade was not well-received by many KTM riders due to the inability to see the fuel level in real-time. Additionally, further reduction of the bike’s tank capacity in 2007 does not help.

As for lubrication, the KTM 525 EXC has a pressure circulation lubrication (with two Eaton pumps) requiring 1.25 L/0.33 USgal of SAE 10W-50 Motorex Power Synthetic 4T full synthetic oil or its equivalent. For ambient temperatures below 0°C/32°F, use SAE 5W-40 of motor oil. Either viscosity grade should meet a minimum API grade of SJ+ and JASO T903 MA standards.

Drivetrain

6-speed manual transmission with an X-Ring chain (5/8 x 1/4 inches) final drive and a multi-disc, oil-bathed clutch assembly deliver power to the ground. They not only offer clutchless upshifts and negated downshifts but also make for a very strong and usable midrange and top-end power. Negotiating technical terrain is relatively easy – thanks to the bike’s massive but non-intimidating bottom-end.

Driveline2005 KTM 525 EXC
Primary RatioStraight geared spur wheels 33:76 Z
Final Drive Ratio14/48 T
Gear Ratio – I14/34
Gear Ratio – II17/31
Gear Ratio – III19/28
Gear Ratio – IV22/26
Gear Ratio – V24/23
Gear Ratio – VI26/21

Ignition

A contactless Kokusan 4K-3B DC-CDI ignition and kick-electric start system breathe life into the KTM 525. A 12V 150W generator and 12V 8Ah/(10 HR) maintenance-free battery power up the bike and any electronic accessories. Furthermore, it requires an NGK DCPR8E spark plug with a 0.6–0.7 mm (0.024–0.028 inch) gap. The stock battery has assembled dimensions of 114 x 71 x 106 mm (4.50 x 2.81 x 4.19 inches). A Banshee 5L-BS Lithium-Ion Battery (view on Amazon) can replace it or any other YTX5L-BS battery format in case of leak or damage.

Tires & Brakes

Tubed front 1.60×21 wheels are equipped with 80/100-21, while the rear (2.15×18 rims) have 110/100-18 Pirelli® tires. Both tires require a cold-tire pressure of 96.5 kPa (0.98 kgf/cm2, 14 psi) when used off-pavement and 144.8 kPa (1.48 kgf/cm2, 21 psi) when used as a daily driver. 260-mm front and 220-mm rear carbon-steel brakes with floating, dual-piston Brembo calipers provide the 525-cc EXC stopping power and complete its tire-and-wheel assembly.

Dirt Bike Tire on Sand

Suspension

The KTM 525 EXC has a central tube, chrome-moly steel chassis, with an aluminum sub-frame (26.5° rake, 112 mm/4.4 inches trail). Enclosed in this framework are inverted WP-USD 4860 MA front forks and a rear aluminum swingarm with WP Progressive Damping System (PDS) shocks. This setup provides a generous amount of front/rear-wheel travel – 300 mm (11.8 inches) and 335 mm (13.2 inches) while doing a great job at keeping the orange bike on the ground.

The steering angle is 63.5°, supplemented by 28-mm conical Magura handlebars, and the seat height is 925 mm (36.5 inches). The minimum ground clearance (unloaded) is 380 mm (15.1 inches), while the wheelbase is 1,481 mm (58.3 inches) ± 0.7%.

Overall slim lines give off the feeling that the bike is lighter than it is and makes tipping into corners and sliding back for traction very convenient. However, this feature could give less experienced riders a bit of a scare. The taller handlebar and all-new rear subframe (only added in 2004) dramatically improve ergonomics, allowing drivers to feel the bike more as their extension and giving them better control of it.

Exterior

Apart from its 113.8-Kg/250.9-lbs dry weight and signature navel orange color, the KTM 525 EXC easily stands out due to its race-ready yet polished styling. Its buzzard-beak front fender and high-rise exhaust add to its sportiness, while an aluminum kickstand and a multi-function/multi-lingual instrument panel are standard inclusions.

On the downside, it is not fully fitted with protective components and requires a robust, aftermarket skid plate to protect the engine’s underside. Body-matching handguards like KTM ProBend Center Reach Mount Handguards (view on Amazon) would also be a great addition to the dirt bike.

How Much Is a KTM 525 EXC?

The MSRP of all KTM 525 EXC model years ranges from $7,248 (2000) to $8,298 (2007), increasing by only $1,050 for its final production model (or in increments of approximately $130 each year). The Austrian two-wheeler seems to hold its value well, as evidenced by several 2003 KTM 525 EXCs retailing for an average of $3,675 and a maximum of $12,485 (sans on-road costs and other fees).

Listings on various trader and auction sites show a resale value between $1,530 and $4,000, with most bikes being ’03, ’05, or ’07 models. On the other hand, Nada Guides show a retail pricing range of $970 to $2,845. Expect scruffy plastics, a few scratches, and minor dents for most secondhand purchases previously used as an off-road companion. If you are searching for a preloved unit with an overall better condition, go for daily commuters.

KTM 525 Pros and Cons

Orange 2004 KTM 525 Dirt Bike

Unlike some of its competition, the KTM 525 is truly a dual-sport bike. It performs like a mean machine on the trails as it does on the road. However, this does not mean the two-wheeler is without flaws. Here are a few of the bike’s strengths and drawbacks forming part of its charm with different riders and off-road enthusiasts:

Pros:

  • The 2007 model was made street-legal in 50 U.S. states.
  • An electric starting system makes for convenient cold starts.
  • Price is quite affordable when bought secondhand (only a fifth of brand-new same-class dirt bikes in the market).
  • Its frame is very sturdy, further enhanced with the addition of an aluminum sub-frame in 2004.
  • It comes with a multi-lingual digital kit – an accessory often not included in other bikes.
  • Progressive-rate rear shocks support aggressive riding and lessen the need for maintenance due to few parts being prone to corrosion, deterioration, or wear.
  • 48-mm forks are an upgrade for the two-wheeler from 43 mm in 2002.
  • The rearview mirror gets out of the way when not needed or when the dirt bike is used off-road.
  • Black Excel rims add character to the 2007 model.
  • All generations feature Nikasil-plated cylinders and screw/nut valve adjusters, which makes servicing easier.
  • The KTM 525 EXC exhaust noise is a deep rumble at most and is not provocative.
  • Dramatic improvement can be seen in the power and torque output of the KTM 525 EXC in later-year models – coming from a maximum horsepower of 44.4 hp @ 7,600 RPM and torque of 34.4 Nm @ 6,000 RPM in 2003.
  • The EXC does not seem to run out of power even when riding at elevations of 10,000 feet or more.

Cons:

  • The feel of the clutch is not that great.
  • Grips and plastics tend to wear quickly when the bike is used frequently.
  • The right fork tends to leak, and the footpeg tends to bend with overuse.
  • Engine casings can be pretty scratched up.
  • Stock tires tend to get punctured easily for earlier models.
  • The choke is hidden from sight and requires an unusual level of dexterity to switch on or off.
  • Comparing ’03 and ’05 models, the latter had slightly shorter wheel travel and a smaller-size rear tire.
  • The dynamics of the bike may be too much for smaller to medium-built riders.
  • The desert tank makes accessing the carburetor difficult.
  • Post-2005 models have lost their fuel efficiency, with gas mileage dropping from 6.72 L/100 km (35 mpg) to 7.94 L/100 km (29.63 mpg) at high speeds. A rider would barely be able to travel 130 km on a full tank.
  • Its engine tends to overheat after accumulating a good amount of mileage, especially in one go.

The KTM 525 EXC Supermoto

525-cc EXCs were only made road-legal in the U.S. during its last production. But even with earlier models, racing enthusiasts still had to do additional steps to make these dirt bikes better suited for riding on tarmac and racetracks (not just on wooded trails and dirt). Below is a list of top three essentials you should not miss out doing if you have similar plans in the future:

Tires

Most aftermarket supermoto conversion kits include Talon Hubs laced with black Excel 17-inch rims and corresponding tires with heavy-duty tubes. However, they are pricier. A set of black Behr wheels (3.5×17 120/70 front, 5×17 160/60 rear) is more economical than a Talon-Excel tire-and-wheel combo. Additionally, your local KTM dealer may be able to help you score a cheaper but equally high-quality kit.

Brakes

Because you have upgraded your tires, you need to do the same for your brakes. Experts recommend getting stainless-steel braided brake lines, any oversized rotors found in the power parts catalog compatible with factory calipers, a GSXR master cylinder, and a relocator bracket. These components will improve brake performance.

Gearing

Because supermoto involves three motorcycling disciplines – flat-track/hard-packed, road racing, and motocross – you may need to adjust your front and rear gearing depending on the kind of riding you will mostly do on your bike.

Your gear ratios will help gain top-end speed and more efficient power delivery. The final drive ratio is 14/48T from the factory. You can increase the front sprocket or change the final sprocket to 38, 40, 42, 45, 50, and 52, depending on the need. Both will result in faster speeds, but tweaking the rear will make your bike’s acceleration sluggish.

Apart from these, you may opt for a supermoto front fender, high-performance exhaust, airbox mods, and handguards. Some owners even replace the front forks with WP upside-down forks from a KTM 640 EXC. Your level of involvement in converting the dirt bike will largely depend on what it came stock with. Expectedly, you need to upgrade more items the fewer street-legal requirements your bike has.

About KTM

KTM (Kraftfahrzeuge Trunkenpolz Mattighofen Aktiengesellschaft) is recognized the world over as the largest European motorcycle manufacturer and the maker of KTM 525 EXC. Founded as a car repair shop in 1934, it took half a century for the Austrian firm to narrow down its niche and re-establish itself.

KTM has become a leader in powersports, producing adventure-ready motorcycles and leisure vehicles. The manufacturer now has 13 subsidiaries, 307 world championship titles, and is currently owned by Pierer Mobility AG and Bajaj Auto Limited International Holdings B.V.

Conclusion – KTM 525 EXC Review

In today’s market, where innovation gets the most attention, the KTM 525 EXC proves that simplicity is still king. More than fancy add-ons and cool gadgets, the EXC stands by a motorcycle’s best-selling point, which is its straightforwardness and ease of use. This winning formula, paired with a bright, eye-catching orange bodywork, is all you would ever need to enjoy a fun and exhilarating ride outdoors. Indeed, nothing compares to feeling the wind on your face and the slight tremors from the ground on a KTM 525 EXC!

Kris Peter

Adventure seeker and off-road enthusiast. I love the thrill of going off-road and taking on the elements.

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