The KTM 350SXF engine looks all dolled up, but that’s
because of the powdercoated ignition cover and CV4
engine temperature sticker. Aside from a 14.5:1 Wiseco
high-compression piston, the engine is relatively stock.
The piston made it pull hard from mid on up.
hand guards), but they needed help to get the project off
the ground. That’s where their friend, Cal Northrop of FTI
Racing, came in.
CAL NORTHROP HAD SPENT OVER
20 YEARS TRAVELING AROUND
THE COUNTRY ON THE
Suspension tuners may seem like a dime a dozen,
but there’s no one quite like Cal Northrop. Based a few
buildings over from Cycra Racing in Thomasville, North
Carolina, FTI (Full Travel Innovations) is an offroad
suspension and complete service shop. Cal is a hard
worker, and he’s also a talker. Cal could talk the ears off
an elephant, if only the animal would stick around long
enough to listen. A funny guy with interesting stories,
Northrop often tells tales from his many years on the
road as a NASCAR crew chief.
Cal had spent over 20 years traveling around the
country on the NASCAR circuit. It was a rewarding job,
one that he admits allowed him to “play like a kid,” but
he wanted to be home with his family. Interestingly, his
kids had found a passion for dirt bikes while Cal was
circling the country. So, he left the world of slick tires
and million-dollar machines for knobbies and dirt fields.
It was a choice that Northrop has not regretted one iota
since changing his career.
With an “I can do it better” mentality, Northrop
inspected and analyzed every area of his kids’ motocross
bikes. He quickly realized that the technology was antiquated compared to NASCAR, so he sought to improve
the motorcycles in the areas he knew best—chassis and