520 or 380? I cannot decide

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#1
I cannot decide, I need advise from someone who has ridden both the current models 520 exc & the 380 exc. For over 15yrs I have been a 2 stroke freak with the love of pure 'power snap' at the will of my right fist. The bikes that I have grown up with were YZ 250's,
WR 500's and CR 500's. But for the last 5yrs of my riding carrer the bikes have seen more of the garage rather than dirt, plus the inclusion of a few extra pounds around my belly and the slowing of reflexes I thought I would get rid of these beasts and settle down on a four stroke. This was a hard decision for me because all I had to go on was the word of bike shop dealers and there view of situation. Without having ridden neither of the bikes I decided to go for the 520. With only a handfull of rides on this bike under my belt I feel as if I may have made the wrong decision. There are no bikes available for a decent test ride, and no one has really experianced both bikes to comment honestly on there differences apart from the obvious. I do consider myself a good rider who does enjoy using all the power a bike has to offer. The real points I would like learn about would be the difference in suspension handling and top end power, also the abbility to soak up high speed jumps without compramising too much around the tight stuff. So far the 520 apears to be a bit sloppy or should I say does not like to be thrown around and has trouble soaking up heavy landings. Many suspension mod have been made including the upgrade to a no.3 mono shock spring. As far as power goes I've had to upgrade the rear sprocket to a 54 tooth in order to get the response the required, which is sufficient at present. This all may sound a little too much but if anyone can shed any light on the matter it would be very much appreciated. Thanks.:
 

Max Factor

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#2
Gary,
a) where in Vic are you from? I'm in (or will be in a couple of months) from Geelong
b) I here what you're saying on the 520. I like you, in some ways am pretty used to big bore bikes. Husky 610's, KX & CR 500's. There is nothing the world like the feeling one of these beasts gives :) I'm in the U.S. at the moment and up until 2 weeks ago had a 380 MXC (not availible in Aust. but is probably more comparable to the SX than EXC) The 380 is a FAST, yet a sweet bike to ride. It is not noticibly slower than a 500, and in fact I think it accelerates harder than a cr500 (still wouldn't touch my KX). The handling however is no comparison. The 380 is a modern designed, slim, light bike that is a 380 in 250 motor / frame. IMO it's an ideal combo for someone who wants the big bore 2 stroke power yet have a light handling bike.
A couple of weeks ago, I got to ride a friends 2001 520 EXC at an MX track for about 20 minutes, straight after stepping off my 380. My first / immediate impression was that it was slower, lacked response, was lazy, heavy and didn't turn as sharp. I was boardering on dissapionted. Then after a few minutes I suddenly realised that I was jumping further, clearing a few more obsticles and didn't have as much of a "death grip" If someone had of been timing me I would say I'd been 10% faster straight off the bat.
Now, my intention when I get home in a couple of months is to get a 520. I think they suit my riding style and type of riding (mostly bush) they give me a higher degree of confidence to twist long and hard.
My reccommedation would be to give it a little more time. It's a completely different ball game on a 4-stroke, particularly with a long 2 STK history. Neither bike does everything perfectly, nothing will. It's just a matter of fit between bike-rider-terrain.
However, the short answer to your question if your asking if the 380 is a good bike? YES Fantastic, Fast and exciting.

p.s. If you decide to sell, give me a bell, I'll be looking for one withing 2 minutes of getting out of the airport!
 
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#3
Max Factor,
I really appreciate the light that you shed on the matter, it does not take much to swing me either way (380 or 520). I hear your words and still have not been able to satisfy my thoughts, I just feel as if I could have alot more fun with the aggressivness of the 380 in the way that I love the challenge of tackling with the beast, building up a sweat and working up a huge adrenalin rush. At the end of the day I want to pull off my helmet and feel as if I just got off the Tower of Terror theme park ride.
This may sound a little wierd but thats me.
The advice I've been getting from around the traps is that I can get the same enjoyment out of the 520 if I just give it a little more time to become one with the characteristics of these new generation 4 STK's. I suppose I should stick to the 520 just a little longer to see if my riding style can adapt to the thumper.

p.s. If I was to sell you my 520, you would do a backflip if you saw the condition of it. Apart from the exhaust headers showing thier pearly blues, you could eat off the bash plate on this machine.:)
 
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#4
I went with a '01 380SX because I'm a 2 stroke guy. I also wanted the fastest 250 in the world. That naturally lead me to the 380 because it is a 250 on major steroids. Big doubles, no troubles! :)

Cameron
 

nephron

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#5
garrym

If you're looking for an adrenaline rush, why not just keep/go back to your KX500? The power of a 380SX has been described as "almost" as fast as a CR500, and if your KX500 was that much faster than the CR, why would you change? You said you needed something less aggressive, but then said you still want a huge adrenaline rush??:think
 
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#6
It all depends upon your riding style and what you want. It sounds like the 380 would be to your liking. Cut and thrust is what the 2 strokes do best. The big 2 strokes are definitely a rush. Having owned many big bores, adjusting to the new 4 strokes does take a little time. The 520 is a bike that can be ridden hard or lazily. You are right in the fact that the 520 has to have suspension work done for really big hits. If that is your style of riding, maybe the new SX would be more to your liking. The biggest problem is getting a bike that is perfect for all riding styles. It is very hard to take a bike right off the MX track and try and play in nasty single track. The suspension is too harsh. Same is true in reverse, a good woods bike right to the track??? NOT. Too soft. Compromise is the key here. I have a new 250YZ and had a 426YZ. I didnt care for the 426 as much as the 250, so I sold it. My brother has a 520EXC and he talked me into buying one, and the bike , in my opinion is awesome. Our riding is desert, woods, general off road. Best bet is to buy the 380 and have one of each, then you have the best of both worlds!!! :cool: ;) Better yet, just do a 570 kit on the 520.
 
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Max Factor

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#7
Originally posted by garrym
At the end of the day I want to pull off my helmet and feel as if I just got off the Tower of Terror theme park ride.
The 380 is definitely capable of that:)
Unfortunately it's always a compromise. It was ideal when I had the Husky 610 and KX500 parked next to each other. I guess the only answer is to get both types of bike again. (I hope my wife didn't hear that!:eek: )
 

Strick

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#8
I've never even ridden a 520, but I've owned a 380. I actually traded (plus cash) my '99 380exc for a '97 KX500. He just had to have the '99 380. It is open class power, WITH an up to date suspension and frame geometry. The 380's are awesome. I too am very curious about the RFS. I would love to have one sitting next to my 300.

I don't know if price is an issue, but to quote prices from a shop in CA (thanks yarbo): '01-380mxc -$5,699, '01 520mxc - $7,148. That's a lot of difference.
 
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#9
I'm writing this at 7.00pm, 2hrs after getting off the 520. This may amaze you. Today I walked into my KTM dealer and spilled my guts about my problem, hopeing that sympathy might get me a test ride on a 380. Instead the rep was talking me into buying an after market pipe from head to tip.:)
$1580.00 AUS later I felt like a fool thinking how do I explain this to my Mrs. I got home and set to work immediately on installing this super tuned pipe. Once installed I pressed that magic button and got the shock of my life, I could suddenly hear the deep thundering guts of this machine like I've never heard before. So much so, I ran inside, grabbed the Mrs and brought her outside so she could hear it too. I almost didn't want to test ride it, in case it didn't perform as well as it sounded and would ruin the excitement, but, I did, and let me tell you, my problems you could say are over. The throttle response is at least 25-30% better. Wow. Yep, now the bike doesn't need steering, I just use the back wheel.:p
So, the money this bike owes me is in excess of $14,750.00 AUS, I must say that it now is an awsome bike with an awsome pipe. Still a few webs to sort out with the suspension, but I'm sure that if I contact "White Power" something can be worked out. It's only money.:D
 
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Max Factor

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#11
Gary which type of pipe was it and where did you buy it??
NVR - US made stuff (like pipes are) are nearly twice the price in Australia due to the exchange rate. i.e. If he paid $1,580 (which seems excessivily high even in AUD) that translates to something worth around $800 ish to buy in the U.S.
 
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#12
I have some seat time on the 380. I like the bike, however I feel the power is not up to 500cc 2 stroke levels. The 520 also falls short. My feeling is that the 380 is an excellent all around bike. I would say the 520 and 380 have similar outputs.

Chris
 
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#13
Maxfactor,
It is a "White Brothers" system that normally retails at around $1200 AUS but I got the system with the carbon fibre muffler since they were sold out of the aluminium type, hence the extra cost. Just to add a little twist to things, I just found out there is a 540 upgrade piston kit for the 520 supplied and manufactured by KTM for their racing team. Apparentley it has been tried and tested here in Australia with excellent reliability as per original standards. (which are pretty good for the 520). "They" say that it will give an extra 10 ponies with more torque. But all this aside, will that larger piston take away from my now excellent throttle response , putting me back to square one or will those extra whopping 10 ponies make up for it. Lets face it, 10 more Hp (if it's true) on top of what is already there is pretty serious. Correct me if I am wrong but dyno readouts here have shown 54hp at the rear wheel in standard trim, I've never seen these readouts, I've only heard about them. This would throw the power over the 60Hp mark. Hmmm.
Any comments?
This kit is $2400 AUS plus $300 fitted without compramizing factory warranty which ain't worth much on these bikes anyway.
 
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#14
Maxfactor,
It is a "White Brothers" system that normally retails at around $1200 AUS but I got the system with the carbon fibre muffler since they were sold out of the aluminium type, hence the extra cost. Just to add a little twist to things, I just found out there is a 540 upgrade piston kit for the 520 supplied and manufactured by KTM for their racing team. Apparentley it has been tried and tested here in Australia with excellent reliability as per original standards. (which are pretty good for the 520). "They" say that it will give an extra 10 ponies with more torque. But all this aside, will that larger piston take away from my now excellent throttle response , putting me back to square one or will those extra whopping 10 ponies make up for it. Lets face it, 10 more Hp (if it's true) on top of what is already there is pretty serious. Correct me if I am wrong but dyno readouts here have shown 54hp at the rear wheel in standard trim, I've never seen these readouts, I've only heard about them. This would throw the power over the 60Hp mark. Hmmm.
Any comments?
This kit is $2400 AUS plus $300 fitted without compramizing factory warranty which ain't worth much on these bikes anyway.
 

Max Factor

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#15
Garrym,
Good to here the W.B. system rips. The price sounds fair considering its a CF unit. Man, it must look trick :)
The 540 kits have been getting pretty good reviews, but I'd be extremely surprised if they're returning 10 HP extra. This may be possible if the "kit" means it comes with other engine work like cyclinder head porting / modifications, internal balancing, ignition maps etc. But 20% extra HP gain with only a 3.8% increase in CC capacity sounds a little far fetched to me :think