How To Adjust the Valves on a KTM Motorcycle

How To Adjust the Valves on a KTM Motorcycle

How to Adjust the Valves on a KTM Motorcycle In this video, we will show you how to adjust the valves on a modern-day KTM 4-stroke. Today we will be working on a 2012 KTM 500XC-W. We’re going to need a few different tools to complete this job, including a set of feeler gauges to measure the clearances, and calipers to measure the thickness of each shim. But most importantly we’ll need our service manual, which contains the very important, very specific specifications we will need to complete this job. We’re also going to need some valve shims. Rocky Mountain ATV/MC carries these in shim kits, which include a bunch of different sized shims, or we offer them individually for people that already know which sizes they are going to need. So first things first — we’re going to want to start with a clean bike. Having your bike and motor clean is going to make it easier to work on and ensure nothing accidentally falls down into your motor after it’s been opened up. Next we’ll just remove the seat and the fuel tank. When those are out of the
way, now is a great time to blow off the bike to make sure no dust or anything else is going to get down into the motor. Now go ahead and remove the four bolts holding the valve cover on. For two of these we use the 10 mm t-handle. On the other side, we had to use the 10 mm open- end wrench. So once you’ve got all four of those bolts removed, we can just go ahead and remove the valve cover. You’ll find there is a valve cover breather hose connected to it, so you’ll have to slide that clamp down the hose in order to detach it from the valve cover. The next step is to get the piston at top dead center. On this bike we’re going to shift the tranny up into the highest gear and use the rear tire to spin the motor. You’ll know it’s at top dead center when you line up the mark on the camshaft sprocket with the mark on the camshaft cap. At this point you’ll want to stuff a rag down around the camshaft to prevent any parts from accidentally falling down into the motor. Now that we’ve got the motor at top dead center, we can begin measuring our valve clearances. We need to refer to our service manual for the valve clearance specs. As you can see, the intake limit is .10 to .15 mm and our exhaust limit is .12 to .17 mm. We’re going to start out measuring our intake valve clearances and since .10 mm is the bottom of our service limit, we’re going to start with a .10 mm feeler gauge. So we’re going to measure the clearance between the bottom of the rocker arm, and the top of the valve shim. You want the gauge to be able to slide in, but still have a little drag. As you can see, this gauge won’t slide in at all, so we know this clearance is smaller than .10 mm. So we’re going to switch to our .05 mm gauge and see if we can get that to slide through. As you can see, this one is sliding through with a little drag so we’ll want to record this clearance at .05 mm. After that, we’ll measure the other intake valve’s clearance, and it’s sitting a little tight too. We had to go down to a .03 mm for it to fit right. So we’re going to record this one as .03 mm. And now we’ll move to the exhaust valves. So we’re going to start right in the middle of our limit with a .15 mm gauge and measure the clearance of the left exhaust valve. It won’t even slide in, so we’ll move down a size to a .13 mm gauge. As you can see it’s perfect. A little drag is what you want, so we will record that at .13 mm and move to the other exhaust valve. On this valve we found that the .15 mm gauge fit perfectly, so we’ll record this one as well. Keep in mind that you can put a little pressure on the roller part of the rocker arm and make it a little easier to get your clearance measurement. So now I’ve got all our measured clearances recorded. We’re going to start removing the
rocker arms to get to our shims. To do that, there’s four bolts that run through the rocker arm pins, two on each side as you can see here. We’ll go ahead and remove these. We’re using a 10 mm socket and ratchet to do this. So we’ve got the two on this side, and then we’ve got the two on the other side. When those are out, we’re going to pull the two plugs from the right side of the motor. These are covering the ends of the rocker arm pins. Do this with an 8 mm allen head wrench and if one of the o-rings stays inside the hole, make sure you remove it to prevent it from getting damaged or misplaced. The next step is we’re going to take one of the M6 bolts and thread it into the end of the rocker arm pin. You don’t have to get it tight, just thread it in a couple turns and carefully pull the pin out of the head. When we pulled the rocker arm pins out of this head, we noticed both of them had a little flat spot on the top side as you can see here. Just make sure you install them the same way they are removed. When both rocker arm pins have been removed you can go ahead and pull both the intake and exhaust rocker arms out of the cylinder head. Doing this is going to give us access to the valve shims. So using a magnet, pull each valve shim from the valve. It’s a good idea to pull the shims out one at a time to make sure you’re not getting them mixed up. Using the calipers, we’re going to measure each shim to help us know which size we need to move to. Write that measurement down on the paper by the shim, and then we’re going to repeat this
process for the other three shims. And you can see we have our four shims measured and recorded. As you can see, .13 and .15 are in spec for our exhaust valve clearances. So we can leave those alone. But we do need to adjust both intake valve shims. To do that we’ll take our desired clearance, which is .13mm and we’ll subtract our measured clearance, which is .03 mm and that equals .10 mm. So we’ll subtract that from our current shim and that gives us a new shim size of 2.78 mm. Keep in mind, sometimes you’ll get a number that isn’t the exact same as the shim. So just adjust to the nearest shim size and go from there. So on this one we’ll go to a 2.775 or a 2.80. For the other intake valve, again we’re going to take our desired clearance, which is .13, and subtract our measured clearance, which is .05 and that equals .08 mm. And that subtracted from 2.92 gives us a new shim size of 2.84 and the closest shim to that is a 2.85. Now that we’ve got our new shims, we can go ahead and install those. When you do this it’s a good idea to use a magnet to get it down close and then press it in the rest of the way with your finger. Another tip when you get the shim down on top of the valve, you want to try and rock it back and forth to make sure it’s sitting flat and seated down all the way. Now we can reinstall the rocker arms by positioning them and sliding the pin into place. Unscrew the bolt and go ahead and install the other one. The next step is to reinstall the four
rocker arm bolts and tighten them down. Once you slide all four of them into place, refer to your service manual for proper torque specifications. You want to make sure that you are tightening these bolts in a criss cross pattern to avoid causing any damage. Now that those bolts are tight we are going to re-measure our valve clearance. We’ve got the .13 mm gauge, and it is fitting perfectly in this first valve, so we know that’s good to go. Now we’re going to check the right valve and it’s fitting perfectly as well. So both our intake valves are right
where we want them to be. We’re also going to check our exhaust valves to make sure their both still in spec. And it looks like they are. If they weren’t at the right gap, you’d just have to remove the
bolts, pull the pin, and remove the rocker arm again to change the shim. After you’ve changed it, just reinstall everything again and tighten your rocker arm bolts back down. Once you get it back together, recheck your clearance and adjust if needed. Repeat this process as many times as it takes. Since ours are in spec now, we can continue putting the
motor back together. Go ahead and pull the rag and then we are going to reinstall the two pin plugs on the other side of the motor. Make sure there’s an o-ring on each plug, and when both of these are in place, the breather hose on the valve cover comes next. Slide that on and slide the clamp back up into place. Now we can carefully position the valve cover back down on top of the cylinder head. Reinstall the four valve cover bolts, starting them by hand to avoid
any cross threading. Once we’ve got them in place, we are going to tighten them down in
a criss cross pattern and just snug them down. You don’t need to crank these down. After that we can install the fuel tank and then finally the seat. Then we’re done with this valve adjustment. If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call at 1(800)-336-5437. Or visit us online at Rocky Mountain carries everything you need to perform a valve adjustment on your KTM. Check out our website for a complete list of OEM and aftermarket parts and accessories for your machine. Thanks for watching!

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Elad, no the 350 is a dual overhead cam and you have to pull the cams to change the shims.
    Rocky Mountain, you guys kick a$$. Things like this are the reason you get all my business.

  2. Hi RM, awesome vid. Can you help me, I'm trying to measure valve clearances. How do I get TDC on a 2012 ktm 250 sxf?

  3. Superb! I sure appreciate this and 2009 Ktm, 530 XC-W.  This is a Fun-Powerful bike, easy to work on.

  4. Great video! I'm about to attempt my first valve check this week.  I have a Rekluse auto clutch in my EXC500.  Can I use the kick starter to turn the motor as an alternative to turning the back wheel? 

  5. Great vid!! also going to attempt this soon, I have a question, I have a hotcams shim kit for a 2006 ltz400, would the shims work on my 2010 450 exc? Are they the same sizes and all that? Thanks!!

  6. Hi, thanks for this video.I'm following it step by step but I do have a question. Why did you choose 0.13mm as a desired clearance for the intake.

    Here are my numbers: Intake:  right= 0.12mm and left 0.07mm  so I would leave the right side alone and use a 2.80mm on the left? ( 0.13mm – 0.07mm = 0.06mm  if my existing shim is 2.86mm , I'd subtract 0.06 and get 2.80mm)

    As for the  exhaust,  I have 0.12mm right side  and 0.10mm left side. Not sure what I should do with those. The right side is right on the lower limit of the spec ( 0.12 – 0.17)  as for the left , I know it's not within spec but what is the desired clearance? Would you still use 0.13mm ?  

    Thanks for the help. 

  7. WOw, thank you so much for this video. I always thought valve adjustments is something you really cant do yourself but this looks pretty easy. Now, I nedd to get a KTM and try this myself 🙂 Cheers

  8. I've just done this on my lc4 640 after an engine rebuild (bottom end), re-used piston and rings.
    So new con rod, crank etc..
    How long should I run it in for.?

  9. thanks for video tutorial. I'm wrong or in KTM RFS engines, the regulation of valves don't nedd to change nothing?
    Thank you ^_^

  10. This is Excellent

    Very Clear and easy to understand
    Will give it a go on the RC8R come next service (Just to check, wouldn't be to comfortable removing the pins)


  11. I was told once that the intake tends to decrease clearance while the exhaust tends to increase the clearance gap because of the valve seat will wear from possible dirt in the intake air wearing the valve seat faster than the valve stem. Do you find this to be the case? The idea would be to run the intake tward the bigger end of the tolerance spectrum and the exhaust at the tighter end. I'm wondering if this would be a good practice?

  12. Nice job there, clear and concise, and I like how the gear doesn't have to be removed, but only the shaft on the side needed, it looks like a good idea still to check each shaft for wear patterns.

  13. my intake valve clearance should be between .10-.20 mm. on one of my intake valves it is at .76 with my feeler gauges. the other intake valve is within spec. is it safe to say the valve needs to be replaced?

  14. any chance you can do a vid for the freeride 350 plus I,m havin trouble with waterpump seals leaking after 20 hrs ,a vid on replacing freeride 350 water pump seals would be very helpful ,I know asking a lot but worth a try LOL,thanks for takin the time to post these vids.

  15. Awesome video.  First time 4 stroke owner adjusted my valves today.  Thanks for this video and your other videos.

  16. hey thanks for the video helped alot .today i checked my valve and the diameter of the shim is 8.8 where can i buy it from it ktm 500 exc 2015

  17. Hey, does anyone know the stock valve timings of the KTM 500 EXC, looked everywhere including service manual and got nothing, any help here would be awesome. Cheers

  18. @Glen Hogan To time this machine you will want to have the motor at Top Dead Center, then you will align the cam sprocket gear marking up with the marking on the cylinder head at 12:00. Let us know if you have any questions. Thanks for watching!

  19. Why did you leave out the part where you are supposed to use the special tool to find top dead center and then you are supposed to release the tension from the camshaft also? this is what I'm reading in my service manual

  20. @Rocky Mountain ATV MC hey do i need to mind about the compression stroke or i just need to allign the two dot? I got a ktm 530 exc 2009

  21. I have a 2014 KTM 450 SXF. I read the service manual and it isn't too helpful at all. It mentions to do a few other things like remove the timing chain tensioner, take timing chain off camshaft gear, and remove the camshaft. However in this video those things are not being done. Does it just not need to be done for this particular bike?

  22. I realize this is a couple years old now but just curious as to what Torque specs you used for the 4 rocker arm shaft bolts when you reinstalled them?

  23. Hey, Just had a question for ya… This does look pretty easy. But I bought a 2015 KTM 500EXC. I've never done this before so… How much would it cost me for a dealer to do this job? VS. me buying SHIMS, GAUGES, MICROMETER OR CALIPERS??? Just asking…Thanks.

  24. nice tutorial! thanks! what is the torque setting for the 4 bolts that maintain the rocker arms shafts? and the torque of the plugs for the rocker arms shaft too, cannot find it in the manual. thanks

  25. When putting new valve shims in, its always good practice to put a dab of fresh engine oil on the tops of the shims bofore reinstalling the rocker arms. Otherwise you could risk having a sort of "dry-start" situation and the shims could wear prematurely causing you to be right back where you started.

  26. Amazing video. Thanks for posting. Will be ordering some shims because this video gave me the confidence to complete this project. You guys rocks!

  27. Gays I am 170 cm height and 70 kg weight.I loved Ktm 530 exc .I have plan buy this model bike are this bike will be good for me are need him lovered ? Thanks.

  28. Sometimes the vent cover hose can be a pain to get back on, you can simply remove it from where it is routed to (airbox) and then reinstall it to the airbox once the valve cover is back on.  Also, be careful when removing the valve cover and using wrenches as you can bend/damage the radiator.  Be careful of finger placement around the cam chain, if the back wheel is bumped the engine will roll to bottom and can cause injury.

  29. Imagine doing that EVERY 30 HOURS! spend as much time in the garage as riding it….oh and at 130 hours you'll need to replace the piston(I read the service manual) I ride on average 2 hours a day…and on the weekends every 2 weeks i gotta check the valves…and every week i gotta do the oil/filter change

    I think ill stick to the 690 Enduro….

  30. he neglected to mention removing the spark plug before looking for TDC and didn't discuss compression/exhaust stroke.

  31. Nice video with good quality footage and good editing, just have a few suggestions:
    I recommend torquing all removed fasteners to KTM spec, especially the bolts holding the rocker shafts in.
    I oil the new shims on both sides because they will read loose when installed dry.
    I also like to turn over the engine a few times after changing shims to fully seat everything where it will be in running condition, and then take the new measurements.

    As others stated, highly recommend a micrometer, or at least high quality calipers to measure the shims.

  32. You say "tighten to proper torque spec" but never use a torque wrench. Wouldn't want you working on my bike.

  33. Does it matter if it’s TDC on compression or exhaust? Also is the assembly lube for the top of the shims or for the rocker arms or for both?

  34. Thanks for the video. It will come in handy when check my valves. I buy a lot of parts from you guys, thanks. It's a lot easier after having seen this video.

  35. How do you remove the rocker arm pins on a 2017 Husqvarna FE450? It's not threaded so the bolt trick doesn't work…

  36. Not sure if the valve time between the 1st and 4th stroke overlap so I brought it to top dead center between compression and combustion stroke. Might be nice to mention that.

  37. Hey, is it necessary to put all 4 bolts out if I just want to adjust the intake valves on a 2018 exc500f? Thanks a lot!

  38. When I’m doing my top end rebuild can I do this off the bike or does this need to happen before I rebuild, sorry if I sound stupid

  39. Hoping you can help me out here, anybody.. does that flat spot always go up on the rocker shaft? Mine was facing down, i bought it used an 09 530 exc. I keep seeing online everyone looking at a dot and saying it should be facing up mine has no dots but it looks like the flat spot is where the dot is placed. Mine are down. It was previously desmogged etc. I ran the breather to a catch can due to oil blowing out.

  40. It’s not a bad idea to rotate the engine forward to the next measurement cycle and to then measure the clearance, before reinstalling the covers etc…just to make sure everything is bedded down right and there’s no gear backlash etc

  41. Literally I was heading out TODAY (4/27/19) to sell my 2017 KTM EXC-F 250 because I`ve been unable to find anything to really and at an in-depth level show this process, and the dealers around here want over four-hundred dollars to do it. To trade-in my bike for another two-stroke, which was the plan today, was going to cost me around three-grand (between a rubbish trade-in value and the additional money down). So someone over there (at Rocky Mountain) needs a pay raise, because whoever decided to do these videos tells me you give a shit about your customers! I`m sure I speak for most of us when I say thank you!

  42. I thought that was a great video. I've worked on diesel engines for years but now have my first dirt bike. It was running a little rough so I'm going to check the valves. The video was very well done and thorough. Thank you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *