By Travis Fant

I just recently purchased a 2023 KTM 500EXC-F Dual Sport from Ride Now in Jacksonville, Florida. It is no surprise or mystery that in stock trim that all dual sports are a bit corked up and lethargic. This can bum you out if you ride on the more aggressive side of the spectrum. Here are a few things that I did to upgrade the bike for damage control, power, style, and comfort. I am 5’8”. 165 lbs, 35 years old and intermediate level rider with motocross background primarily.

1. Giant Loop Zig-Zag handlebar bag. It’s small enough to hold some mini tools inside, bank cards, and cell phone. Nice to have some things quick and easy to access. What’s really nice about this bar bag is that it’s slim in design and doesn’t take over the bar area.

2. Backyard Designs full custom graphics kit. I love making something my own. One way to easily define a bike as your own is throwing a nice set of graphics on it. Backyard Designs has durable material that I have tested on plenty of bikes over the years. I went with a more black/orange scheme.

3. Polar watch mount. I first saw these on the race side at Supercross. I am a heart rate nerd but even nicer is that the modern day fitness watches have GPS as well. I like to track the mileage and distance covered on my watch to log all my trips. Also nice to see full run time on the day and how much energy you really burned.

4. Acerbis ignition side/clutch side complete covers. These covers are a must if you are riding tougher trails. They protect the entire left/right side of the engine. It’s really comforting knowing that your bike at least has a fighting chance with these guards on when riding tight single track. Some of the canyon trails I ride have huge rocks so I am constantly slamming up against stuff.

5. Acerbis skid plate. It’s just a given. The PDS suspension adds some ground clearance for sure. The skid plate protects the frame rails on the bike and acts like a ski of bigger rocks when muscling through the trail.

6. Forkshrink fork guards. I came across this company after I saw someone with it on their bike on instagram. This product is really cool and customizable. They cover the entire length of the fork and protect them from getting chipped up. They also included the lower triple clamp carbon guards when I got mine. Also a nice piece to keep protected if you ride really tight trails.

7. Acerbis fork lug protectors were added to the front of the bike. The lugs always get bashed up and these also can act like a ski when going over rocks.

8. Acerbis front rotor guard. I wanted to make sure the front/rear brakes were protected on the motorcycle. I actually added a TUSK rear rotor guard that I found. It’s heavy duty, anodized orange, and takes one hell of a beating.

9. Acerbis swingarm guards. I want to make sure this bike is in good shape and looks good when it finds a new home. One thing I knew that would get scratched or scarred was the swing-arm. Acerbis makes these inexpensive guards that lace up to the swing arm with zip ties. Takes about 10 minutes to install. They work great!

10. Twisted Development Vortex Ignition. Ok here is the game changer. Jaimie Ellis mapped the ECU in front of me on the flight back from Tampa Supercross. I installed the new ECU in about 5 minutes. I wish I could show you the dyno numbers and differences it makes but I was asked to keep some secrets a secret. I can say that what Jaimie did was wake up the entire bike with torque and overall power. My bike is registered in Florida so not sure I would recommend this to a California dual sport guy if they are riding legal trails. There is a lot more red tape in California than Florida for people who ride off road. The Twisted Development set up is a must on the 500. The bike is lethargic and sleepy in stock trim. With the new ECU comes a new motorcycle. Full of excitement and bite at the crack of the throttle.

11. FMF Q exhaust. The FMF compliments the Twisted Development set up. It isn’t the full blown motocrosser pipe which is nice. It still keeps the bike pretty quiet on the trail and keeps me stealth when I am on iffy land. I love the stainless finish. Some steel wool cleans it right up and makes it look brand new every ride. The blue colored motocross pipe looks great for one ride and then it shows major signs of wear.

12. Chaparral has a tidy kit in a pack ready for sale. It can fit a ton of the KTM dual sport models. The kit is $90.00 and comes with a new under fender and rear light. They have an install video on youtube also which I found very helpful. The stock license plate bracket is going to break. I changed mine right away and ditched the bunny ear lights out back.

13. Acerbis fold down mirrors. I got this fold down mirror and took off the KTM oem mirrors that will break off on the trail. They are too tall and too bulky if you are planning to ride in tight spots.

14. Acerbis VSL front head light. This is a plug-n-play headlight from Acerbis. It kicks up your lighting to 4320 lumens! This light is so much brighter than stock. The light also has some protection around it. It was nice not to have to do any extra wiring, drilling, or take off two days of work to get this on. It was about a 10 minute install.

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