comfortable with the power and weight. As moto boys, the instrument panel bothered us. It sat high above the triple clamps and stayed stationary when we turned the bars for the corners. With the mini fairing encapsulating the front of the bike, we couldn’t see what the front wheel was doing. There was a steep learning curve, but luckily Kurt came along to show us the ropes before we started trail blazing across the desert at warp speed. Going in a straight line, whether it was sand or rough terrain, the bike tracked straight, and control was almost effortless. We would brace ourselves when we saw a rough patch of desert looming in front of us, but there was no need. The KTM Dakar Rally bike plowed through everything like a tractor. The comfort of this bike was unreal. Everything from the extra-wide footpegs to the cushy foam grips to the long, wide saddle to the plush Cadillac suspension urged us to go faster. Since Kurt spends eight to 14 hours a day on his bike, comfort is key. As we got more and more used to the bike, we actually began to think of the 380-pound machine as light. We started to ride it from the hips, standing up and letting the bike absorb everything that the desert threw at it. Yes, we were getting cocky. Then, we started to hit some high-speed jumps, and all of our bravado left us in a hurry. The bike may have fooled us into thinking that we were controlling it on the ground, but once we were in the air, we knew who the boss was—we were just along for the ride. And what a ride it was. ;
While Kurt is riding, he not only has to twist the throttle, use
the clutch and check his navigation instruments, but he also
uses the buttons on the bars to scroll up and down on his
road map and switch through his other instruments.
Comfort is key for these long races. On the KTM Rally bikes,
they run extra-long, extra-wide footpegs so the riders can
rest their feet on them comfortably to lessen fatigue and
strain on the body.
There are three gas tanks on Kurt’s KTM Rally machine–two
in the front and one in the rear–that carry a total of
9 gallons of gas. That is 72 pounds of fuel when all three gas
tanks are full!
With the rally races extending as far as 5000 miles, keeping
the engine cool and reliable is critical to avoiding a long walk.
Since the rider is alone on the trail, engine problems could
easily cause Kurt to lose the race.
The engine is the old version of KTM’s 450 engine. It is still
carbureted. Top speed is 110 mph. The power curve is very
mellow, but once up to speed, the bike revs to the moon. The
transmission has six gears.