Sometimes the course of events just doesn’t quite go as planned, but I figure you can never know what the outcome will be anyway. Making the best of what you have is part of being a racer. Even the difficult days can turn out better than expected.
Rally Racing in Mexico
Such is the case with our Sonora Rally KTM 350xc-f project. All of the parts are here. I have everything to make an outstanding Baja bike sitting on the shop floor. The only problem is the bike. There is no bike. Where it is I can only guess. KTM set the paperwork in motion to ship it over a month ago, but for whatever reason, we don’t have it.
With the rally approaching, I fretted about this situation for a couple of weeks. Then an odd piece of fortune came my direction. I chanced upon a nearly new 2005 KTM 525mxc for sale. The bike could have almost passed for brand new and the price was quite a bargain. I purchased the bike to add to my fleet of Baja tour bikes.
2005 KTM 525mxc
Once home and admiring my new acquisition, I set out to prep it for Baja. As I did so I thought back to my original idea for the Sonora Rally, to race a similar 450 or 525 KTM. But at the time I didn’t really have a fresh one on hand. Plus I had figured the rally to be a good excuse to build a project bike, hence the decision to get the new 350xc-f.
Parts Bin Racer
As I plunged into the preparation of the new “old” bike, this thought stayed with me. I figured I may as well set it up as a backup for the rally. After all, I have nearly all the parts required on hand: tank, seat, lights, suspension, bars, stabilizer, and wheels. The rally equipment is universal, will mount on one bike just as easy as another. This would also give me the chance to have a complete back up bike; I have another 525 I can prep as a spare.
Bike Build Gets Underway
I have years of race success on the old RFS KTM’s. I own a dozen of them and cover about 10,000 miles each year riding in Baja. It’s hard to argue with racing something you already know so well. The big 525 motor is wonderful in the desert. The handling is a bit old school, big and stable. But this is a benefit for rally racing. I don’t expect much for whoops on the course, one of the weak points on the old PDS suspension, so I think we will be good. In reality it is all sort of a relief to me, like putting on a favorite pair of hiking boots instead of having to break in new ones on the trail.
There are a few new parts I have rounded up. The OEM KTM fan kit will keep things cool in the desert along with Evans Waterless Coolant. I am also installing a Rekluse Z-start Pro Auto clutch. It works well everywhere, but I have two specific things in mind for the rally. First is the ability to fiddle with the rally switch gear without having to hold the clutch lever. Second, one of the weak spots on the RFS bikes was the clutch slave cylinder. The O-ring can fail and loose fluid into the motor. With the Rekluse, this could happen and not bother anything. So it is just a bullet proofing caution.
Rally Testing In Baja
Most of the bike is ready to go together. I took the new 525 out on last week’s Baja trip and it ran fantastic. I want to get out this week to do some suspension testing. I have a number of sets of suspension to choose from. With that accomplished, I should be set to leave for Sonora.
The 2018 KTM 350xc-f Ultimate Baja bike build is still in the works; it is just getting pushed back a few weeks. For now, here is a look at some of the parts going on the 525mxc.
Rally Navigation Equipment
Tires and Mousses
Rekluse Z-Start Pro Auto Clutch
15 Litre Safari Tank To Make Fuel Range, Seat Concepts Seat
Sicass Racing Start/Stop Switch Cleans Up Bars
Stabilizer Sub-mount With Low Flexx Bars
Baja DesignsSquardron Sport With DC Converter Runs On Stock Charging System
D.I.D. ERV3 Chain
These 2005 OEM Wheels Were Some Of The Best Ever
Well Used Fastway Pegs With New Cleats
ShinkoMX216 Front, Kenda Trakkmaster Rear
KTM Fan Kit
Maxima Ready Filters Paired With Filter Skins
Few Prep items; zip tie radiator louvers and rubber buffer to keep tank from rubbing
On older KTM's the chain buffer bolt can pull out, this simple wire (in vent line) will hold everything in place if that should happen