Thursday 12 December 2013

New Toy Alert!

I know it's a bit early for new year resolutions but I've decided that in future I am going to try and avoid infrequent and lengthy blogs and instead keep them shorter and more frequent, so here goes....

Last weekend I finally sorted out myself a race bike for next year's All Terrain Rally Challenge. Next year I shall be riding a KTM 450EXC in the Rally Class.

Prior to the 2013 season the rally class was proposed in the UK for "proper" rally bikes... But what exactly is a "proper rally bike?"

In short, it's a bike with big fuel tanks, a frame mounted rally fairing and navigation equipment. This is essential for overseas rallies where stages are long and fuel stops infrequent, riders have to navigate, the fairing helps protect the navigation gear and also the rider on long stages. Also in rallies forming part of the World Championships the bikes are now limited to a maximum of 450cc. But essentially a rally bike is one with the correct "look", something like this a 2013 KTM 450RR...

But for UK rallies, the rally class is a fairly nebulous concept, we don't need big tanks as courses are shorter and we don't need navigation gear as frankly the Forestry Commission don't want us finding our own way in case we get lost and ride where we shouldn't and without long, fast stages a fairing is not really required and can even be a hindrance on tight UK forest courses.

So the Rally class was essentially established as a "silhouette class" about the correct look.
As a result it needs to be "450cc or above" as many UK bikes are older international specification, 660cc or 690cc for instance (and although many bikes labelled as 450s are actually just below the limit they are still allowed in) In fact my 450 started life as a 449.3cc but has been fitted with a 525EXC barrel and piston (the rest of the engine is identical) although confusingly it's actually now 510cc. And the bikes must have a minimum fuel capacity of 18 litres and a frame mounted fairing.

So what does my new bike look like?

Well on collection it has none of the above but is currently stripped down having had new "plastics" fitted (mudguards, number plates etc) and doesn't even have lights fitted. But did come with a couple of large boxes full of all the necessary kit.

I bought it from a friend in Lancashire and trailered it back home but first took it for a spin on the unclassified road over Salter Fell in the Forest of Bowland (after strapping the number plate back on).

The bike will be built up into full rally spec over the coming weeks, including fitting a 5 litre rear fuel tank (it already has a larger 13 litre main tank), navigation "tower" and a fairing. It has a fairly rudimentary fairing at present (pictured with previous owner Mike at this year's Hellas Rally).

However for me this doesn't give the right look so I have an Italian Dottori fairing on order so hopefully the final look will be something like this:

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