This is good feedback. That looks to be an "adverse environment".
About your rack mod... It appears that you made your mini pannier supports our of flat stock...maybe 25 mm x 3 mm ? Yes basic flat stock. I'm horrible when it comes to fabbing up stuff so its nothing pretty, just simple and basic.
Also look like you attached to the muffler can bolt on the RH side. Yes
What on the LH? Here is a pic of the left side. As I said simple, but its been working now for multiple years without issues.
Are the other subframe attach points stock or did you add your own? All atachment points are stock mounts (none added by me) used for the rear subframe and muffler mounts.
Your pannier bracket mod eliminated the lower end of the DBz bracket. That reduces the bending moment on the bracket thus ruducing failures. I see n repair quite a few DBz brackets with cracks at the end points . So this makes sense. This does allow the bag to be unsupported at the lower end but apparently this is not an issue.
I've run brackets like this on a KLX250 and the KTM, both unsupported by the traditional lower end used on the majority of brackets I've seen designed. Have had no issues so far. Realistically very little ofd the DB's is unsupported that could flop into the rear wheel.
Obviously if you had very tall soft saddlebags it would be potentially an issue.
Brackets held up fine during numerous product testing moments.
I see you have a large tank, a steering damper, a bash plate, handguards (probend?). More? Yes, quite a bit more but the basics needed for ADV type riding are: HT oil cooler, Stainless steel intake valves, Fan kit, and an upgraded stator to run the fan reliably.
This is a 500 thread not a 525 so i don't really won't to pollute this thread with 525 beta. I will answer in brief but encourage people that are interested in the 525 model for DS and adventure riding to check out this thread: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=201026
Tell us more about your setup & how you use the bike. Many people wonder how well a street legal race bike will stand up in everyday use. I use the bike for multiday/multiweek offroad and dualsport riding throughout Southeast Asia. When not on trail rides I also run it with a Supermotard set-up on tracks and multi day canyon rides. When I started running the 525 there was not a hard core following of the 525 like it has today. Did some research and it seemed once I addressed the weaknesses of soft intake valves and additonal oil capacity it might be able to be a lighter more agile XR650. Luckily it turned out great for me and three years later running a race bike as my adventure bike has turned out superbly.
1. How has the bike done reliability wise? Once the stainless intake valves were installed, reliable as an anvil
2. What maintenance do you do, when? I look for oil changes once I hit 1000 miles, and valves hardly ever.
3. How much load do you carry in the bags? I'm guessing about 30 pounds, enough for month long trips. I've switched over to the GL bag for the last couple years and am enjoying it. As a matter of fact I used those same brackets to strap the first generation GL bag to the 525 for easier removal and the brackets are still going strong, with no issues.
4. How many km / week? Its not my daily driver, only used for DS rides. Has more than 545 hours now but I rebuilt the motor at 475 hours though it could have gone longer.
5. Any problems with the subframe? None.
6. What is your biggest problem w/ this bike in this environment? Weight. I'm only 135 poiunds so would like it to lose 30 pounds. Dreaming, but thats my biggest issue is wrestling it through singletrack and unsticking it from mudholes. I ride alone a lot and its a pig to get back on the trail or out of mudholes on my own. Miles ahead of an KTM 690 or BMW 650 I know but thats seriously my biggest issue. Oh I would also like more oil capacity (than even the HT oil cooler provides) while I'm dreaming. Shifting quality degrades once past 1000-1200 miles.
7. Year of bike n kms? 2005 KTM 525EXC, I monitor hours not mileage but I beleive about 26-28k KM
8. What is on your wish list for the replacement bike? As noted lower weight ideally. While dreaming how about a 36 inch seat hieght for us midgets. I also prefer a carb for where I ride as I've had FI go tits up on two KLX250's that I ride with so am curious to see how the 500's FI pans out in the real world.
I'm guessing the 500 will need much the same mods I've done to my 525 to make it what I want. The 530 did not tempt me at all to get rid of the 525 so I'm curious how the 500 will fare under a light of scrutiny and hopefully peoples hard riding.
Thanks for the input! Tell us more!