When it comes to KTM’s 2008 four-stroke off-road motorcycles the big words are spent on the new 450 and 530 four-stroke engines fitted on the EXC-R. Also known as the XC4 motor, this unit got lighter and gets started electrically or by kick.
One of the most aggressive off-road motorcycles on the market today, the KTM 450-530 EXC-R manages to provide an incredible riding experience and that is mostly due to the impressive four-stroke power that its redesigned XC4 engine delivers. No matter the cylinder capacity chose the EXC-R proves able to deal with anything that the trails might threaten while leaving the competition well behind.
Coming to meet all that power and position this bike even higher in the customer’s preferences is the redesigned chassis. A bulletproof frame and comfy ergonomics was all that the engineers aimed and achieved.
2008 Husqvarna TE510
Directly and without a doubt competing with both EXC-R models is the Husqvarna TE450 and TE510. The recipe is the same as at KTM only that this time we’re talking about a more advanced piece of machinery thanks to a fuel-injected 449 (510)cc four-stroke, 4 valves, DOHC, liquid-cooled single, Brembo brakes and Marzoocchi /Sachs suspensions. Dry weight is approximately the same at both manufacturers and considering the fact that EXC-R’s carbureted four-stroke, 4 valves, SOHC, liquid-cooled single cylinder engine is slightly weaker than Husqvarna’s, we can easily determine the winner. But when swinging a leg over it, the KTM proves to even up things and remain competitive, no matter what.
2008 Yamaha WR450F
In your run down the trails you will also find a much appreciated motorcycle painted blue and white. The Yamaha WR450F is able to deal with the steepest hills not helping to make you stand out as a true challenger. It relies on a 449cc liquid-cooled DOHC four-stroke; 5 titanium valves engine which, as well as the KTM, is carbureted.
2008 Honda CRF450X
But when it comes to Japanese motorcycles, I can’t help mentioning Honda which in this case competes with the Baja-winner CRF450X. Incredible easy to handle thanks to the new Honda Progressive Steering Damper with which is fitted, this is one fine-tuned off-roader that plans on taking a proud owner home on its back. Powering the bike is a 449cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder Unicam four-stroke, the closest thing I could find to the KTM engine.
2008 KTM 530 EXC-R and 450 EXC-R
If you take a look at the Kawasaki EXC-R and miss the headlight you will definitely expect to find this same model on a motocross track rather than underneath you on those nasty trails. Its power to amaze people and especially riders is rather big thanks to the manufacturer’s efforts to keep the bike as lightweight and nimble handling as possible.
It gets your heart pumping fast even when the engine is off, proving that KTM has done it again. Everything you could ask for at a motocross bike, this model has it: mudguards covering a massive fork, high fenders keeping the dirt away from the rider, number pla...sorry, headlight which makes it street legal and takes the excitement even further as you aren’t needed to get it up and down the trailer each time you feel like giving it a go.
Colors on this KTM, just like on most models, are Orange and Black. For 2008 the plastics are also new, making the EXC-R stand out even more.
KTM’s most popular models, the 450 EXC-R and 530 EXC-R are masters of the off-road and the fact that 2008 brought a full range of improvements did help a lot in making them seem incomparable out on the trails.
Any rider would first test the bike’s engine and thinking that KTM focused on creating an even stronger-pulling motor determined me to clearly do so. I noticed that the redesigned single overhead cam engines idle smoothly, kind of like the quiet before the storm. But when the gearbox is being put in first gear and the clutch is released, the rider will get familiar with the strong low-end pull. Even though this is not expected from four-stroke motorcycles, for this type of engine it is incredibly strong.
Also impressive and worthy of an A plus is the power delivered when getting out of the corners. Its power is very impressive as you open up the throttle and you’ll manage to lift the front end with no intention to do so whatsoever. Well…have you ever heard anyone say: “I got the best out of it except lifting the front wheel.”? “These days even custom cruisers pop up wheelies so what would you expect from a KTM motorcycle?” I kept saying myself.
Not only able to climb even the steepest hills, rocks and virtually everything you will encounter in your off-road adventures, but it is truly amazing when it comes to a representation on the motocross track. I’ve had the opportunity to ride the bike with its two engine options and I must say that the EXC-R delivers plenty of power for the highest jumps you’ve ever made.
What also helps a lot is the six speed transmission mated to the powerful engine. Out on the trails I didn’t went higher than fourth gear and the track didn’t allowed me to have a great rush higher than fourth gear. The top gear could only be engaged on the street where I also took the 530 model at approximately 100 mph.
The chassis is also new for 2008 and the engineers concentrated on creating a new chromoly frame with oversized lateral tubes. The subframe is also made of aluminum. These improvements really stand out when comparing the 2008 with the previous model year. It handles quickly, feels lighter and the pleasure is much bigger. But also radical and redesigned are the 48mm WP open cartridge forks which together with the WP PDS shock soak up the bumps easily providing a smooth ride no matter where you ride the KTM. The fork doesn’t reach bottom end even if the bike is being ridden as hard as possible. You can still manage to do that if that is your goal. Mine wasn’t. The WP front and rear units do quite the trick although not Marzoocchi or Sachs, like on the Husky TE450 and TE510.
Brakes on this think aren’t fancy Brembo like on the competition’s model, but seem to do the trick because I never felt the need for more stopping power which didn’t happen to be there. The front brake disc measures 260mm while the rear one, 220mm, proving that the Austrian manufacturer aimed at keeping the weight down in every single aspect and the bikes still remained great performers.
Completely revamped and ready to go, the KTM 530 EXC-R is being sold for the MSRP of $8,748 while its smaller version, the 450 EXC-R requires $8,448. Bang for the buck? Simply excellent!
Among the most successful KTM models if not THE most successful models, the 530 EXC-R and 450 EXC-R are writing history right in front of our eyes and it is strongly recommended that we don’t lose the smallest detail.
By featuring a totally revised engine, chassis and a whole new look the 2008 model year stands as a big step in the bike’s evolution.