OFF ROAD

…on Mon­day. You’d ex­pect fac­tory pre­pared bikes rid­den by en­duro leg­ends Gra­ham Jarvis and Jonny Walker to be very dif­fer­ent to pro­duc­tion bikes. You’d be wrong…

BIKE (UK) - - CONTENTS - with Jonathan Pear­son

Bike stum­bles about on fac­tory bikes from KTM and Husky, plus where to watch off-road shenani­gans in 2017.

IN THE­ORY JONNY Walker’s KTM 300EXC and Gra­ham Jarvis’ Husq­varna TE300 should be iden­ti­cal, ex­cept for the graph­ics. They’re both built in the same Aus­trian fac­tory, same chas­sis, same WP sus­pen­sion, same 300cc two-stroke en­gines. But surely they’re a mil­lion miles from the 300cc KTM or Husq­varna you can buy at the lo­cal off-road dealer. Hav­ing just rid­den both bikes (Walker’s KTM in the South of France, and Jarvis’ Husky in Italy) I’m amazed that both are re­mark­ably close to stan­dard 2017 mod­els. That’s be­cause, a) the stan­dard bikes are so good and b) stan­dard means softer, soft means easy and easy is good in Ex­treme En­duro. ‘When you’re rid­ing for hours you want a bike to be eas­ier, make you less tired and the 2017 bike does that,’ says Jarvis. Jonny Walker agrees: ‘You need a soft bike. If it’s too strong and hard set-up it’ll be shit on the ex­treme stuff.’ The non-stan­dard up­grades are all parts you can buy: up­graded 48mm WP Cone-valve forks and WP Trax shock, plus the ex­haust sys­tem (FMF for Husky and Akrapovic for KTM), stronger Hin­son clutch and more. The only de­vi­a­tions from the stan­dard en­gine are ba­sic ones: ‘Just jet­ting and the power valve to back it off a bit,’ says Jarvis. Walker goes for sim­i­larly minimalist al­ter­ations: ‘A softer power valve spring and jet­ting changes to make it work bet­ter at low revs.’ Is there a dif­fer­ence be­tween the two though? Sure thing. Gra­ham’s bike felt softer, re­flect­ing his less flam­boy­ant rid­ing style – which suited me a treat. It’s quite a rev­e­la­tion to find just how soft it felt in fact, how non-fac­tory it felt. Bolt-on (al­beit ex­pen­sive) WP sus­pen­sion makes a big dif­fer­ence to bike con­trol but apart from that it is all very fa­mil­iar. In ac­tual fact, not that far away from the bike you or I can buy. Right now…

JP rides Gra­ham Jarvis’ fac­tory Husky (be­fore Gra­ham’s trashed it)

While talk­ing to Gra­ham Jarvis this month I was shocked to learn that af­ter a ma­jor race his bikes are trashed: the en­gine is ser­vice­able but ev­ery­thing else in­clud­ing the swingarm and frame go in the bin.

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