KTM has worked to deliver their best enduro chassis ever and they try to point that out with two displacement alternatives of the revised, powerful and reliable XC4 engine that never missed a chance to stand out during off-road adventures around the world. It’s time for the 2009 KTM 450 XC-W and 530 XC-W to redefine their segment. Let’s see just how.
The Austrians have always been good at manufacturing bikes that spread a lot of dirt and win motocross championships. While the last part isn’t of our concern now, the two bikes that recently got on our hands are notorious for bringing loads of engine power and chassis refinement down the trails, which is also where things get the most interesting when it comes to covering treacherous terrain fast or simply going for a relaxing weekend challenge.
Because both the 450 and 530 XC-W models make use of the same redesigned chassis featuring the central double-cradle-type 25CrMo4 frame that offers a better riding position, the long travel suspensions that are supposed to soften those landings and performance Brembo brakes that get you from 50 mph to 0 mph faster than you can say STOP, we were expecting a blend of sharpness and refinement in what the chassis performance is concerned. Because the rake is unchanged (63.5-degrees) and the trail is still adjustable, we couldn’t be that much away from the true result, but simply couldn’t wait for the confirmation.
Setting the 247.36 pounds (no fuel) of the bike in motion is the single cylinder, four-stroke, SOHC, four-valves engine displacing 449.39 cc in the case of the smaller model and 510.35 cc on the biggest one out there. This sounds threatening not only for the bike’s competitors, but for the rider itself. KTM claims a wider spread of power being delivered by the carbureted engine (Keihin MX FCR 39), but the aluminum exhaust with USFS spark arrestor sounds street-legal to me.
Fitted with a street-legal kit, the 450/530 XC-W won’t stay that much in the back of pick-up trucks when going in search for the best riding spots out there.
The new KTM 450 XC-W competes with the 2009 Husqvarna TE 450 as well as with the Japanese enduro crowd formed by the latest Honda CRF450X , actually a good example of Honda’s continuous progress in this field, the 2009 Yamaha WR450F , a five-titanium-valved alternative and the 2009 Kawasaki KLX450R .
In what the KTM 530 XC-W is concerned, the Husqvarna TE510 is the closest thing to it, carrying on a tough off-road battle that lasts for years.
Powered by the same engine type mated to the very same six-speed transmission, all mounted on 2009’s enhanced chassis, the high-end XC-W models look like two water drops. KTM simply didn’t bother setting the bikes one apart from the other simply because they’re supposed to do the very same things at slightly different levels. That is why we’re looking at a sharp and tall front fender, a small headlight as well as at a pair of mud guards and hand guards, all characterizing the KTM enduro face, which is pretty similar to that of their motocross one.
The Neken aluminum handlebar fits on top of the 48 mm thick USD forks and comes as a straight forward indicator of the direct shot of adrenaline that the rider will be provided with. Considering the narrow seat and rearranged pegs, we’re talking about a new riding position that is similar to that of motocross bikes.
Hugging the 2.43 gallons tank are the aggressive side body panels, but which aren’t stood out by the simple decals. That’s also the case of the rear number plates while the fender is as sharp as they get.
Being a four-stroke dirt bike, this thing displays a big exhaust silencer, in this case, on the right rider side. Not painted, this, together with the engine, transmission, swingarm and forks light up the scene, which is dominated by KTM orange and black (on the frame, rims, seat and tank).
Two wheel options are available, a pair of 18-inch ones and another one of 21 inches in diameter. Also, if you’re lucky, you might just find one of those nice Six Days versions.
They say that a ride is never the same and we couldn’t possibly agree more, especially in the case of enduro bikes. The great thing is that we managed to get the two bikes at the same time and, so, easily spot the few differences and the multitude of similarities between them.
I first got on the 450 XC-W only to notice how light the bike feels from the very first twist of the throttle. You can either kick or e-start the XC4 engine and be immediately introduced to the healthy exhaust noise and yet no vibrations whatsoever. Like the engine, the entire bike feels very well balanced and, pretty much, built do deliver the best of it at all times during a variety of riding situations.
The powerband is characterized by a potent low-end, which is more than enough to ensure second gear launches. There’s a strong pulling mid-range too and, together with the consistent and virtually never ending top end, this is what brings the major contribution to KTM keeping its supremacy off the road. The fact that the engine is coupled to a six-speed gearbox has everything to do with the bike being consistent in delivering the best of it, especially across long stretches of ground where you’ll be even adopting a MotoGP-like riding position just to reduce drag.
This bike is almost too easy to throw around for a 450 and it is also what we most appreciate about it. Wheelies are the easiest things as instant power is always a twist of the throttle away. But, the most interesting part about this bike is that it will meet all of a demanding rider’s requirements. Ride it through rivers, over logs, on dirt, gravel and rocks in order to notice how it always begs for more. The KTM 450 XC-W also enjoys climbing steep hills and, in this case, it is all about keeping the engine revving at its sweet spot in fourth or third gear (depending on the hill).
We cannot talk about an XC-W without mentioning how, despite not being a veritable motocross bike, it enjoys jumping like one. This is yet another benefit of the light weight, one that also contributes to the soft landings that we experienced. Benefiting of 11.81 inches of wheel travel from the 48 mm WP USD fork and of 13.19 inches of wheel travel from the WP monoshock PDS, this thing is an invitation to jump your way around the trails.
Also, we appreciate the Brembo brakes working with a double piston on a 260 mm disc up front and a single piston 220 mm rear disc at the rear. The systems not only ensure fast stops virtually at all times, but are as smooth as they are effective, ensuring that all the mud found on the rider would have jumped on it.
During the adventurous off-road ride that we had on the KTM 530 XC-W we’ve come to find that this is nothing but a 450 model on steroids. It weighs the same as its smaller sibling and the greater power-to-weight ratio really shows all across the rpm range. The bike accelerates faster both in a straight line and out of corners; it tops even higher and is, overall, more enjoyable than the already impressive 450 cc model.
The seat is a killer in both cases, especially if buying one of those street-legal kits and riding on pavement. Ouch!
KTM’s MSRP for the latest 450 XC-W is of $8,798 while that for the 530 XC-W ($8,998) adds only 200 bucks and a ton of fun on top of that.
Indeed, the new chassis has come to transform the big XC-Ws in a radical way, allowing us to say that these two Austrian bikes really raise the stakes of off-road excitement. KTM’s experience in building such bikes really shows in both cases and proves how more power can’t always improve a dirt bike quite as an expert move does.
Engine and Transmission
Engine type: Single cylinder, 4-stroke, SOHC, 4 valves
Displacement: 449.39 cc / 510.35 cc
Bore x stroke: 95/63.4 mm (3.74/2.5") / 95/72 mm (3.74/2.83")
Compression ratio: 11.9:1
Starter/Battery: Kickstarter and E-Starter / 4 Ah
Transmission: 6 gears wide-ratio
Carburetor: Keihin MX FCR 39
Control: 4 V / OHC with cam levers
Lubrication: Pressure lubrication with 2 Eaton pumps
Engine lubrication: 10W50
Primary drive: 33:76
Final drive: 14:50
Cooling: Liquid cooled
Clutch: Wet multi-disc clutch, operated hydraulically
Ignition: Kokusan digital 4K-3B
Chassis and Dimensions
Frame: Central double-cradle-type 25CrMo4
Subframe: Aluminium, removable
Handlebar: Neken Aluminium Ø 28/22 mm (1.10/0.87")
Front suspension: WP USD Ø 48 mm (1.89")
Rear suspension: WP monoshock PDS
Suspension travel front/rear: 300/335 mm (11.81/13.19")
Front brake: 260 mm (10.24") disc, Brembo double piston
Rear brake: 220 mm (8.6") disc, Brembo single piston
Rims, front/rear: 1.60 x 21"; 2.15 x 18"
Tires, front/rear: 80/100-21"; 110/100-18"
Chain: X-ring chain 5/8 x 1/4"
Main silencer: Aluminium with USFS spark arrestor
Steering head angle: 63.5°
Wheel base: 1475±10 mm (58.07±0.39")
Ground clearance (unloaded): 380 mm (15")
Seat height: 985 mm (38.78")
Tank capacity: approx. 9.2 liters (2.43 gal)
Weight (no fuel): approx. 112.2 kg (247.36 lbs)