KTM 500 EXC and other hooligans
The famous orange bikes are built for technical riding. In the wonderlands of enduro and adventure motorcycling, KTMs stand out as hooligan bikes. In the right hands, no trail is too tough.
Well, almost no trail. When you add extreme enduro events such as Baja, Erzberg, Red Bull Romaniacs or the International Six Days – the oldest off-road motorcycle FIM event – into the mix, it’s another story.
And that’s because KTM hasn’t won the Baja (500 or 1000) yet. In 2011, it was also beaten to the line in the three World Enduro Championship classes. But things can and do change. For instance, Honda ruled the Baja roost for years until Kawasaki trio Robby Bell, Steve Hengeveld and David Pearson grabbed the throne in the 2012 Baja 500.
Then again, after years of winning the Dakar Rally, Yamaha was toppled by BMW, the latter only to be discarded by the mighty KTM who held the laurels for the next 11 years in a row (2001 – 2012). KTM also smiled when Dakar legend Marc Coma won the 2012 Cross-Country Rallies World Championship on a 450 EXC-F. And KTM has an ace up their sleeve in the form of Last Man Standing and Erzberg winner David Knight. Now there’s a real motorcycle hooligan! In a nice sense, of course.
The 500 hooligan
KTM has the riders, the bikes, the budget. What about us?
If you have a few pennies to spare you can have the hooligan 500 EXC. With a bit of technology borrowed from the outstanding Husaberg machines – KTM is parent company to Husaberg – the 500 EXC is the road legal mean machine that a lot of adventure riders dream of turning into their RTW wheels of choice. It is lightweight, powerful and fairly frugal. And, very importantly, it looks the part.
There is no guarantee that you’ll instantly turn into a hooligan when you get on a 500 EXC. But there also is no guarantee that you would not.
Out of the box the KTM 500 EXC might be enduro-ready and road legal but it’s not adventure-ready. You will have to add a few sparkles, bigger fuel tanks and Walter Colebatch’s Kevlar-enforced Magadan pannier bags. Then, have some gasoline for breakfast, throw your leg over and hit the long road. Bon voyage!
Other KTM hooligans
At the top of this post it was – sort of – suggested that a KTM – any KTM – in the right hands is a hooligan bike. Even the big dual-purpose KTMs. And here’s the proof. In the video, two hooligans (brilliantly) ride KTM 950 machines as if … well, as if they had gasoline for breakfast.