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A Little Slice of Orange - KTM500 Debut Ride

For the majority of the adventure riding I have done in New Zealand, I've ridden a Suzuki DRZ400E. While the DRZ400 has proven itself to be a very capable adventure bike and I have had an enormous amount of fun riding it, my growing thirst for challenging technical terrain saw a lightweight enduro bike join the fleet.

After lengthy deliberation, as any rider does when considering a new bike, the result was a KTM500 EXC-F Six day. The photos below are from the debut overnight trip up the High Country. There was one little spanner thrown in the works relating to the suspension. Due to the fact I'm not the tallest of lads, one of the things that drew me to the KTM500 was the availability of WP internal lowering kits allowing you to drop the seat height while retaining the WP suspension performance.

With a 50mm and 20mm lowering option available, I assumed that 50mm would be the right one for me. I was wrong. The bike sits very low with the 50mm loweing kit, while it meant the bike could be manhandled like a rag doll in the technical stuff, steep hill climbs etc and was a hoot to ride on this trip, I later changed to the 20mm WP lowering kit which offers a better compromise of a nice ride height and a good amount of suspension travel.

This debut trip was up a private High Country valley with some adventure riding buddies. Early Saturday morning we were off...

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Kicking things off by heading up through the High Country station’s gravel roads
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It wasn't too long before we started climbing. We reached some decent altitude offering some fairly epic views
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Stopping in at a station hut for lunch
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The dodgy crew, yours truly on the right
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Arriving at the hut we'd be staying at for the night
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Once we'd got ourselves sorted in the hut we stripped the luggage of the bikes and shot up a nearby ridge
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Looking down on our hut
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A well earned break after some bike wrestling to get to the top
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Evening shenanigans
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That evening the sky put on a pretty impressive display of stars
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The next morning brought warm blue skies and we shot off to have a look at some nearby waterfalls
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After a cracking weekend away it was time to head out of the valley and back home
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Once last stop at a High Country lake before the tarmac trip back home

The debut ride on the KTM500 was nothing short of spectacular. What a beautiful machine! The upcoming ride reports will have more information on the 20mm lowering kit and a couple of other upgrades.