Jul 21, 2001
G’day all. I’m in the proces of buying a new (secondhand) bike. I have basically decided on either a 2 stroke 250EXC or the 4 stroke 520EXC but have no idea which one to get. I have experience with 250cc MX bikes but have never owned or riden a big bore four stroke for any great period of time. I’m an average and the bike will be riden mainly for fun with my mates/club days etc. and in the odd enduro.

In short:
Whick bike has the smoothest and most tractable power (ie. is the easiest to ride)?
Which bike is the easiest to handle in the tight stuff?
Whch bike requires the most time spent on mantiance?
Which bike is the most costly to maintain?
Which is the most relable (any mechanical flawws in these models)?
I will have to keep the bike for around 3 years no $$ to upgrade every year so which bike is the most likely to remain in good condition for longer (assuming good maintinance)?

I know that I would like the ligher weight of the 250 but I hear that the 520’s have a smooth, wide and easy to use power and and they sound so good.

Over here in Oz land a 2001 250EXC goes for about $7000. A 2000 520EXC goes for around $9000 which will require a visit to the bank manager – this a large factor in my decision.

I am 185cm (6”) tall and weigth about 92kg (210 pounds). My riding terrain consists of about 50% tight sigle trak with snotty steep hils and 50% open fire trails etc. with the ocasioal spin about the loal mx track for a bit of fun.

And just incase you a re still reading just two more questions. Are there any mechanical worries I should look for when buying either of these bikes secondhand? And what about the possibiloty of riding a 520SX in the bush – these are cheap to buy compired to the EXC’s but would the suspension be too harsh, and the 4 speed gear box?

Thanks in advance for your help people.


Jul 20, 2001
Well mate, you ask a lot of good questions. I have a new 2001 520EX/C with 2.5 miles on it. So the short answer, is I know practically as little about the 520 as the 250 2 stroke, which I've never ridden either. Did spend a little trail time on a 300 EX/C and really liked it.

But without steering you to one or the other, to phrase the questions in a more general sense of two strokes versus 4 strokes, I can help with plenty of experience on each type, just not KTM.

4 strokes are usually more tractable. KTM two strokes are exceptionally tractable also. Few bikes are as tractable as Suzuki DR350, DRZ400, Honda XR400,600,650R etc. Kaw KDX200-220 very manageable too. Those bikes should all be easier to ride in the tight stuff. Simply more forgiving.

Maintenance...all KTMs and Euros are basically high maintenance. From what I've seen, the KTMs are getting better. Parts prices on KTMs are really not out of line. I freaked because my owners manual calls for the "Large Maintenance Kit" to be installed every 60 hrs. That kit consists of clutch basket, liner plates, piston, connecting rod, crank bearings, timing chain, timing chain tensioner. Whew! Tell me it ain't so! Every 60 hrs! I called the dealer. He said not to worry. He hasn't sold the kit yet, and to expect 3.5-4 years of hard trail use before worrying. Price on the kit is $740 US.

I think your size and weight favors the 520....

I suspect the 520 is at least as good on the single track, given your size weight. A smaller rider might do better on the 250. On the fire trails, this favors 4 strokes, since they can run wide open throttle with little detriment. 2 strokes prefer to have the rpm varied, and don't sit well with continued wide open throttle.

I can't answer about the SX. If it was me, I would want at least 5 gears for the trail riding I do. (Colorado)

Motocross suspensions are stiff so they can land those big jumps. I was having some problems on the trail with a CR500. My mentor noted...."I bet you are not using more than 4 inches of your suspension." He was right. What you want is to be using ALL of your suspension travel for the type of riding you do. If you are not, it's too stiff. For the riding you do, you should at least occasionally be bottoming out so you know you are using it all. Should also not, it's rocky here. That's why they call them the Rocky Mountains? For rocky, rooted, gnarly trails, you want a SOFT, plush suspension that soaks up the hits so you don't. This keeps you on line. Stiff suspensions have a tendency to knock the bike off line.

Last point on the 2 stroke vs 4 stroke. Up here in Colorado, there are a few, undeniable advantages of the 4 stroke, range being one. The other advantage of the 4 stroke is that jetting is more forgiving. Some of our best riders are the 2 stroke guys. We go up a thousand feet or two, take a break. While 4 strokers grab a snack or drink of water, 2 strokers are scrambling for the next leaner jet from their tool pack. They are masters of swapping jets on the trail, because they need to be. Large changes in elevation are a fact of high altitude trail riding here. Hope this helps.


Feb 5, 2001
250 vs 520

Hi ! Just to add my 2 cents ....I test rode both before buying and ended with a 01 520 e/xc ...i ride about 60% tigth single track 40% fire roads , i weight 200 lbs and am 6'1" (close to your own specs :) ) The 250 was a smooth, torquey,ligth bike ,i really liked it but....The 520 is as smooth ,lots more torquey,almost as ligth feeling ,lots faster on top ( usefull on nice fireroad ... :) bike as a 160kph +top speed ;) ). Maintenance is easy and cost no more than a japanese bike (invest in a pair of stainless steel oil filter 4 year you will save a lot of money) i change oil every 15 hrs (clean the oil and air filters also) and check valve clearance every 30 hrs ( they don't need adjustment very often ..adjusted mine 2 time in 120hrs ) If you want maximum tractabillty you may try a 400 e/xc too.520sx only have a 4 speed and top at 75 mph not fun on open fireroads .As for two vs four stroke in 4 years you will have to rebuilt a 2 stroke ....a well maintained 4 stroke will do 4 years easily ,and you don't have to carry oil ....and the sound well contest!! 4 stroker wins ! :cool: Choose your way and have fun !!!


Jul 21, 2001
Thanks for your info guys - its been very usefull. The 520 sounds like the better bike but as per usuall I'm probably going to have to steer towards to the 250EXC due to lack of $$$. I would still prefer a 4 banger though. An thoughs on those hard to start blue bikes:p ( the WR's not YZ's)? Any idea how they would stack up against a 250EXC?


Mar 7, 2001
As far as maintenance goes, it has been my experience that KTMs and Euros in general are lower maintenance then the Jap racing bikes. Sure they are more maintaince than the Jap TRAIL bike, but apples shouldn't really be compared to oranges.
I use to have a KTM 250exc and it was great. Before that I had a Honda XR200 and a Yamaha XT500 prior to that I had a 250 and a 125 2-stroke. the big difference for me between the 4-stroke and 2-stroke was the power surge. I personally like the 2-stroke hit when I want it. I am use to being able to break the back end loose to power slide anytime I feel like it and I could never do it consistantly with a 4-stroke. Half the time the bike would catch traction and charge off in what ever direction I happen to be pointing at the time. With the XR200 it wasn't a problem as it didn't have enough power to get me in serious trouble, but I had a couple of serious crashes with the 500 because of it. If not for my inablility to adjust to 4-stroke power deliverly I would want either a 4-stroke KTM or a VOR. But my next bike I will probably go back to the 250 EXC.
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