8 things you need to know about the world’s best rally bike

Motorcycle News (UK) - - FEATURE -

1 Look through the other man­u­fac­tur­ers’ line-ups and few de­sign and build a mo­tor­cy­cle specif­i­cally for rally like KTM do. The re­sults are the proof of the pud­ding. Only Honda are truly build­ing a bike fit for pur­pose while most oth­ers are es­sen­tially en­duro or MX bikes adapted for rally use. Ev­ery as­pect of the KTM is de­signed, tested and de­vel­oped to suit the task of win­ning the Dakar. This bike is the bench­mark.

2 The range of rid­ing con­di­tions in the Dakar is as vast as you can imag­ine. Un­real sand, mas­sive dunes, rocky hard-packed desert, dried-out river beds and a hell of a lot of road rid­ing li­aisons (fancy get­ting up in Lon­don at 4am, rid­ing to Manch­ester to start a race at 7.30? Then do­ing a lap of Der­byshire off-road be­fore heading back to, ooh, let’s say Ox­ford?) The claim that rally bikes are set-up to work best in sandy deserts is non­sense, this bike is just as ca­pa­ble hack­ing around as a courier bike as it is rid­ing up 100ft dunes.

3 Aside from a few ex­tra but­tons, the nav­i­ga­tion tower and big­ger fuel tanks, the KTM Rally isn’t far re­moved from an en­duro bike in feel – though heav­ier (140kg). 4 The fuel tanks carry over 33 litres, split more or less evenly be­tween tanks front and rear. A switch on the left han­dle­bar changes the fuel pump feed so rid­ers can choose which tank drains and there­fore ad­just weight dis­tri­bu­tion. Most run the rear tank down, which af­fects han­dling most, for 100km or so then switch to the front. Full of fuel the bikes are over 20kg heav­ier. 5 One of the beau­ties of KTM’S Rally pro­gramme is that the 450 Fac­tory Rally bike feeds, and feeds off, a pro­duc­tion bike pro­gramme. Sub­ject to hav­ing up­wards of €30,000 you can buy a 450 Rally Replica. The dif­fer­ence is in the WP sus­pen­sion and link­age, plus the Akrapovic fac­tory ex­haust, en­gine map­ping and fancy Pankl parts in the fac­tory bike en­gine. 6 KTM Rally bikes have to be com­fort­able to spend hours sit­ting or stand­ing rid­ing. Of course the seat isn’t an armchair as off-road sport does re­quire a cer­tain de­gree of phys­i­cal stub­born­ness. But this Selle Dalla Valle seat is com­fier than it looks and loads bet­ter than an en­duro or MX bike.

7 Check out any of the fac­tory rider’s so­cial me­dia feeds and you’ll see you can very eas­ily rag these bikes round an MX track. With the Dakar get­ting faster and more com­pet­i­tive each year, the abil­ity to treat the bike ag­gres­sively is part of the deal. MX has be­come part of the train­ing pro­gramme as much as nav­i­ga­tion, en­durance and me­chan­i­cal skills.

8 How quick is it? It’ll do over 150kmh (93mph), Sam Sun­der­land claims around 170kmh (105mph), thanks to longer gear­ing, a big­ger in­take and ex­haust. In off-road terms this is very fast. If you ever go green lan­ing try do­ing half that speed and see how it feels!

With map read­ing sorted, JP looks for some­where to tuck his sarnies

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