After being dropped from KTM’s lineup in 2017, the 500 XCF-W has returned for the new decade as the Austrian brand’s flagship four-stroke enduro bike. Sharing many of the same components as the KTM 500 EXC-F dual sport, the 500 XCF-W is an off-road-only model and is spec’d accordingly. It has no turn signals or mirrors, and features more aggressive ECU mapping, knobby tires, and is claimed to be 5 pounds lighter than the 500 EXC-F. The 500 XCF-W is 50-state legal and therefore green-sticker legal in California. This makes it an ideal choice for a rider who isn’t necessarily looking to race, rather someone who wants a bike they can legally trail ride year-round in more riding areas than they would be able to on a cross-country or motocross bike.
While we haven’t been able to swing a leg over the reintroduced 500 XCF-W, we did ride its smaller-displacement sibling, the 350 XCF-W, and came away impressed with its smooth and controllable power, comfortable suspension, and easy-to-control chassis.
The 500 XCF-W is welcomed back to the off-road dirt bike market with competition in the form of the Husqvarna FE 501, Honda CRF450X, Yamaha WR450F, and Suzuki RMX450Z. At $10,999, the 500 XCF-W is one of the more expensive high-displacement four-stroke enduro bikes available. It costs $100 less than the FE 501, $1,200 more than the CRF450X, $1,300 more than the WR450F, and $2,000 more than the RMX450Z.
Compared to the 2016 model—the last year the 500 XCF-W was on the market—the 2020 iteration is new from the ground up with a completely new engine and chassis, different bodywork, and updated WP Xplor suspension components.