DAKAR DREAM TEAM
Exactly what does it take to win the world’s toughest race?
Having won the Dakar Rally every year since 2001, KTM’S record at the world’s biggest off-road event is without rival in recent times. The Austrian manufacturer shows no sign of letting that record slip in 2017 with reigning champion Toby Price heading a team that includes British star Sam Sunderland, who narrowly missed out on the 2016 World Rallies Championship title and is aiming for his first elusive Dakar finish. Ahead of this year’s Dakar and on the back of the KTM Factory Team’s final preparation testing in Spain, MCN took a ride on the incredible 450 Factory Rally bikes and got to grips with that most crucial of aspects in Rally racing, navigation by roadbook.
What can we tell you about riding a full-factory Dakar bike? Is it on par with riding Rossi’s Yamaha M1? Easily. Just as Rossi’s bike feels utterly tuned to its task of riding around a racetrack, so the KTM 450 Factory Rally bike is a poised, purposeful, balanced and incredibly capable off-road machine.
By its very nature a Rally bike is super-versatile and capable of so much more than simply going fast around a track. By that measure, and this is a knowingly bold claim, the Rally is a better bike than Rossi’s M1.
How can we make such a claim? Simply because KTM’S Rally bike can do everything any bike ever needs to. Slow-speed trials-like riding? Check. Technical enduro riding? Easy. Can it bust out a motocross track session too? No problem. How about riding on the road? Naturally, how far shall we go?
Our test took in dry, rocky and loose trails, tentatively learning navigation
skills in the foothills of Montserrat. Riding the bike is the easy bit, such is the relaxed feel of KTM’S Rally bike that it takes mere seconds to feel at home. Skilfully navigating myself the wrong way up a narrow farm track, too nar- row for a U-turn, I gave it a quick spin around my foot like I would on any dirt bike and we were away again in the blink of an eye. Can you imagine having the kind of confidence to do a rolling burnout on Rossi’s bike? That’s how confidence inspiring the 450 Factory Rally is.
Standing up on the wide footpegs, with perfectly set-up WP suspension and exploring a beautifully broad 450cc engine puts you utterly at ease with riding confidently at any speed. It’s like an adventure bike and an enduro bike all rolled into one – which probably makes this the best adventure bike ever. Continued over
‘ The KTM 450 Factory Rally is a better bike than Rossi’s YZR-M1’ Jonathan Pearson