Thursday, 23 October 2014

KTM 250 EXC-F 2007

Lucy recently bought one of these bikes from a bike shop in Lincoln, B+B Motorcycles, when we test rode it, the bike ran fine, but felt a little bouncy on the road at the front end, still it was a nice bike & seemed pretty well looked after, so she bought it, trading in her little Honda XR125 for £1000, which made this bike a bit more affordable.

KTM 250EXC-F 2007

Since she bought the KTM, it's fair to say her riding has come on loads, she's climbing up things better, rolling over rocky bits with more confidence & on the whole just seems much more positive about her riding.

The trip to Wales, riding the Strata Florida with a good bunch of experienced riders helped loads, but the bike has also made a huge difference, both with its lightweight package & the power delivery.

Since we got this bike, it's had a few mods & a couple of additions, we've had to have the carb serviced, it was jetted for an aftermarket end can of some sort which was no longer on the bike & it would stall at every opportunity, which is a royal pain in the arse, so we booked the bike in with Triple D at Kendal.

They are the Cumbrian KTM dealership & they specialise in the off road models, so there is a lot of knowledge there for us to tap into. Their first comments weren't encouraging though, the bike was labelled as 'old', (It's the newest vehicle either of us have ever owned!!), then there were comments saying this was a common problem with these models, they had had one in previously that had a similar problem & it turns out there is a hidden gasket in the middle of the carb that can blow, KTM do not stock this gasket either, so it's a new carb, a mere £800!. We left the bike with them & us with some worries on our mind of huge repair bills!

When we collected the bike however, the fork seals had been replaced, the forks fully serviced, the fork bleed valves attached, the carbs re-balanced, the standard jets made the bike run really rough apparently, so the existing ones were put back in, the carbs were then sonic cleaned & the bike now at least ran at idle, although we found we had to increase the tick over to get it to stop cutting out.

Ben, the mechanic there, gave us a list of both the standard settings & the current settings for the carb, so that's a useful bit of info to store for future reference. This information plus the moving of the breather hoses on the carb so that they breathe via the airbox have made a huge difference to the running of this bike.

We paid up, packed the bike into the van & headed home, where I finished off the fitting of the indicators & added a tool bag & tubes etc to the rear of the bike. I also did an oil change, one of the things I'd noticed on sports bikes is that some bikes change into neutral easier with semi synthetic oil rather than the fully synthetic oils, as this was an ongoing & very frustrating problem with the KTM, I'd decided to try this option...

Unfortunately I made a really stupid & nearly catastrophic mistake for the bike, as I thought the drain plug was the obvious hex bolt at the bottom of the engine, so opened this, drained the oil into a part full oil container & then topped the engine back up... turns out this is just an inline oil filter & only a trickle of oil comes out from here, (common on race bikes apparently), so when I'd refilled it' I'd actually doubled the amount of oil in the engine, which of course it didn't like, so began chucking out tonnes of white smoke from the exhaust the first time Lucy rode it...

We quickly turned round & crept back home, where Gaz & I re-examined the bottom of the bike & found another nut, facing the back wheel & higher up, we opened this & sure enough out pops a load of oil... that was a near miss... lesson learned.

Once we'd got the correct amount back into the bike, we then set off for our planned ride to the Central Lakes, only to be rained off as it sheeted down tonnes of water... very impressive but also scary! So we bailed to the old favourite of the Coach Road & a loop back home, we still got soaked but at least we weren't miles from home!! Some days just aren't meant to be!!

Whilst out on this test ride, the KTM still would not run at tick over, cutting out at junctions & on tricky terrain, really not good & winding Lucy up a treat! Eventually we tried upping the tick over level & this seemed to cure it, the bike even went into neutral much easier, so maybe that's the answer, time will tell.

Update 1st November: Lucy rode the bike again today, I had played around with bleeding the clutch, (the fluid was a milky colour when it came out... mmm not good!), this seemed to one of the things that helped to make a massive difference with the tick over ironically, although it's still running a bit fast, it now idles at a fast tick over, goes into neutral easier & seems to click into gear much smoother & not jump forward when you hook first gear, resulting in Lucy being more relaxed on the bike & so riding better. There is nothing more frustrating than waiting for a bike to stall everytime you're trying to do a maneuver!

The only other fault on this bike seems to be that it weeps oil from the left hand side of the engine, we've replaced the gasket but it's still seeping, maybe a crack somewhere... so that is the next issue to resolve. Finally got this sorted, it turns out that there is a copper compression washer on the sump plug, (there wasn't one on it when I changed the oil so I never fitted a replacement). I put on a standard flat one & that still seemed to leak, so swapped it to a compression style washer, leak stopped, so guess that's the answer!

From a riding point of view this is a great bike, I can see why so many people have them. They do seem to be temperamental & high maintenance but it's still early days at the moment & even my trusty old DR needed some additions & revamps to get it right! The nature of dirt bikes I reckon...

Things I like about the bike are:
Height, Handling, Suspension, Brakes, Power & weight...

Things I really dislike are:
Air intake design is ridiculous on a dirt bike, no key, so can't leave it anywhere, clocks are shite, lights are shite, indicators are not fitted onto the bike as standard, err it's a road bike???

In comparison, the DR350 is a much older bike, (1998), the suspension & brakes are very much more inferior, the power delivery is of it's time & although the bike hasn't done much mileage, (according to it's clocks), it still handles the British green lanes in a very admirable way & it certainly handles the wet better, that said would I prefer a KTM to an older bike based upon the bikes I've seen so far? The answer is yes I'm afraid, the weight alone makes up the difference in my book, bring on Team Orange!

Other bikes that I've come across that are also worth a look seem to be the Husaberg FE250 or 450, I gather KTM bought this company out & closed it down as it was a bit too good, mmm . One of the lads on the Strata Florida trip had the 450 & he loved it, that & the DR were the only bikes to make the river crossings without having to drain water from the engine!!

A really useful resource for anybody with a KTM is the forum, check it out...

More toys to look at!!

I'll pop the Carb settings onto here when I get chance...

KTM have their manuals online here

Oil changes for this bike...

There are 3 oil filters, 2 mesh ones & 1 paper paper one. The paper one on the 2007 EXC-F is on the left side above the footpeg, there is a mesh one below the gear lever, hidden behind a bolt. The other mesh one is underneath, behind the sump guard & uses an 8mm allen key. The sump drain plug is at the rear of the engine block, facing the back wheel & is a 13mm socket.

The oil needs to be changed regularly, (KTM say every 15 hours), The paper filter I change about every 30 - 45 hours as it doesn't have such a hard life that it would have if it was a race bike. The mesh ones get taken out & rinsed through with clean oil & any debris cleaned off as advised by our KTM dealer.

I do change the O rings though as they perish fairly quickly along with the copper sump plug washer.

Bottom mesh oil filter

Paper filter home

Sump drain plug
This bike takes 900ml of oil at a straight oil change &1.1L with a paper filter change. I make sure to measure it accurately as the gear change becomes stiff when it's not the right level. I use fully synthetic at 10/60 weight.