I rode the 530 on both coasts. You would think that in the Michigan woods the 530 would be a monster and the 450 would be a better choice, but I liked the 530 better in the tight trees. The engine is just smoother and takes less effort to ride. The smoothness is manifest in the West as well. Only out here it shows up as traction and acceleration in dry, slippery conditions while other bikes spin. While switching around during the testing I noticed that a KTM 525 feels faster, but when we did roll-ons, the 530 is always out front. Where the new bike really shines is in rough, gnarly cross-grain loaded with G-outs. The chassis feels solid and predictable when you slam into major hits. I think that's why I felt safe on a mild moto track with the off-road suspension. Basically, I like everything about this bike but the seat. It's too thinly padded and the foam is soft. Fortunately, Enduro Engineering has a cure, so for $130 I have no complaints. The suspension is firm enough for play moto yet supple enough for trails. The brakes are strong, the ride position roomy. If I had the money, though, I'd spend the extra for the model with the license plate. The EXC is basically the same race-ready bike but street-legal.
Karel Kramer/6'1"/210 lb/B riderHow many letters can there be in a dirt bike's name? 520 XC-W(R)? Why not LMNOP? Jeez, it's like a text message conversation with KTM's 'tween generation of off-road weapons.OMG, did uc the new XC-W(R)? It's Gr8! TTYL!Sheesh.Whatever XC-W(R) stands for isn't important. For me, it stands for X-tra Cool Whatever Ride.I like pretty much everything about this big girl. First, it's got a huge cylinder. That's cool just because. "What are you riding today?" "Me? Oh, just a little something I like to call my 500-pluser. You?" Few bikes can shut your buddies up in a cc battle like the big KTM. It's the mellowest big-bore ever produced and makes great power from right off-idle to the big-piston tug on top. It takes any snappy 450-ness out of the big bike equation, for sure. The KTM is light feeling and nimble and ultrabalanced. Not what you expect from a big bore, but it's true. The hydro clutch and comfortable chassis melt away the expected weight and give your body effortless control of the bike. It's like riding a small KTM, just with more oomph! I think the "R" stands for "Racer." The suspension is a good blend of aggressive trail and soft moto and, at my weight, is perfectly suited for a quick jaunt to the track. Hello holeshot! The 530 isn't going to jump the triples, but it will turn great and soak up the whoops like an animal at most of your local MX tracks. Plus, I won't have to shift. Ever, really. Just in case, it's got a tall top gear if there's a three-mile straight on the track. What else is there? Lots. But really, to me, this is just a great off-road tool.
Jesse Ziegler/5'10"/175 lb/IntermediateI've never been a fan of the 520 or the 525. I didn't like the character of the engine stock. There were things I'd found, like quieter pipes that would get me the traction I was looking for without resorting to using the clutch to manage the delivery, but I'd rather ride a 400. At my weight and size you could say that I wasn't big enough for a 500-plus-cc bike, but I really like the Husaberg FE550 and Honda XR650R. With the KTM 530, the company has found a smoother bottom-end and a faster top-end, sort of like a 400 on the bottom and 600 on top. The right amount of power where you need it. And the chassis is way better, too-they must've found one development rider who turns on the front wheel instead of sliding the rear and listened to him. The steering is no longer vague. And the bigger the motor was on the older KTMs, the worse the front end was for me. I'm pretty sure this bike will not be sitting much. Now where do I get a 6-gallon tank for it?
Jimmy Lewis/5'10"/185 lb/Vet A