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 Why the 525 EXC?

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 Project Status

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525 Project Status         

Step 1: finding a base bike to start with

Step 2: making it street legal

Step 3: adding the essentials

Step 4: the final touch - adding an oil reservoir/cooler

 

Step 1: finding a 525 EXC

Every project has to start somewhere. For this one, that meant finding a stock 525 EXC at a reasonable price.  (After all, with all the money we were going to throw at this bike, we couldn't exactly afford the MSRP of more than $7,500.)  So the search began...

We looked at a couple of local bikes in the classifieds, but they were pretty rough.  And we really wanted a nice, clean bike to start with.

After making some calls to area KTM dealers, we weren't finding a lot of deals on a new 525. So we checked the old standby... Ebay.  Sure enough, there were a couple of dealers selling new bikes on Ebay at pretty decent prices.  So after a few more phone calls, we struck a deal.  (It turns out, one of the dealers was in Tucson, so we didn't even have to ship the bike.) 

Here's a shot right after driving home from the dealer...

And some shots of the shiny new bike (before we make it nice and ugly)...

Step 1 complete!
 

Step 2: making it street legal

This step was a piece of cake!  The Baja Designs dual sport kit was a breeze to install (thanks to some really good installation instructions), and it wasn't long before I was trying my darndest to keep my front wheel planted on the pavement.  (I think my bike is broken -- the front wheel simply won't stay on the ground!)

The second part to making 525 street legal is adding DOT-rated tires.  Now, ask ten different dual sport riders which is the best tire to use, and you'll get ten different answers.  But in my experience, there are a couple of top-notch choices for when your riding will consist of far more dirt than highway miles: the Pirelli MT21 and the Dunlop D606.  Both are very aggressive for a DOT tire, and provide decent grip in the dirt.  At the suggestion of swmototires.com, I went with the Dunlop, and never looked back.  I was concerned that going with a DOT tire would greatly limit the ability to lift the front tire over obstacles, but that certainly is not the case.  In fact, the pictures below will attest to the contrary...

 

Step 2 complete!
 

Step 3: Adding the essentials

Now came the fun part -- adding all those accessories and bolt-ons that would put the icing on the cake.  Things like a larger fuel tank up front, a rear auxiliary tank, bags to carry some gear, some additional protection for various components and (my favorite mod) a more comfortable seat.  

Here's a shot of the bike in its current iteration.  About the only thing left to do now is install the oil cooler!

Step 3 complete!

 

Step 4: The Final Touch - adding an oil cooler with extra capacity

There was one critical thing still missing from the project bike -- an auxiliary oil reservoir that would add extra capacity while keeping the oil temperature cooler for longer stretches of pavement. 

I finally received the all-in-one unit from HT-racing.com, and was excited to get it installed. When I pulled the unit out of the box, it was a sharp-looking piece.  However, there was one thing missing from the box -- installation instructions.  Now while some of you out there are competent mechanics and don't need such trivial items; I'm not one, and I definitely need 'em.  So I emailed the team at HT-Racing, and they promptly replied with instructions attached. 

Then came the fun process of tackling the installation.  As I mentioned above, I am not a skilled mechanic, and get a little nervous when it comes to tearing into the internal components of the engine case. But the directions didn't seem too complicated, so I garnered up some enthusiasm and made space in the garage. 

The first step in the installation process was to remove the fuel tank and seat. (I love how easy it is to do that on the EXC!)  Once complete, HT's instructions also tell you to remove the metal feeder line running from the rocker box and lay the bike on its side. (See pic below.)  However, upon looking at the feeder line more closely, that didn't make much sense to me, as the removal of that line would mean that oil would spill all over the place when you laid the bike on its side.  So I opted to leave that line on while installing the new stator cover with the oil reservoir.  (That worked very well, by the way. I recommend waiting on the feeder line removal.)  

Here are some shots of the oil cooler install...


The kit


Sans tank and seat


The rocker feeder line


Removing the cover

 


Installing the new cover


Time to remove the feeder line


Other end of the feeder line


Hooking up the new lines

Removing the stock stator cover was a piece of cake -- four bolts and you're done.  You then have to remove a couple of retaining bolts that hold the stator inside the cover as well as a clip that keeps wires from hitting the stator.  But that's all easy enough.  Then came installing the new cover with the oil reservoir attached.  The only thing that made this kind of tricky was that you have to apply gasket seal to the gasket/cover before bolting on the new unit.  But that wasn't bad either. 

Once the new cover is bolted on, you can pick the bike back up and proceed to removing the rocker box feeder line.  Once that's done, you connect the two braided-steel lines to the holes left by the feeder line.  One problem I encountered at this stage, however... Do you see anything missing in the first photo above?  That's right -- there are only three copper washers sitting there.  Because you need a washer on each side of the banjo bolts that connect the lines, I was one washer short.  That means I have to visit Ace Hardware tomorrow and pick one up to complete the job...

Day 2

After picking up the extra washer, the job finished up nicely. To fill the oil reservoir, you have to hold down the start button with the ignition switch in the off position.  This cycles oil through the system without the engine running and fills the reservoir.  You then re-check the oil level and fill accordingly.  Piece of cake.  This is one of those accessories that if it's working correctly, you'll probably not notice anything different.  But it's worth the effort to have the piece of mind knowing that the oil won't break down due to excess heat when running some highway miles.