2020 Best In The Desert KTM Build

Simple, Yet Effective

Story and Photos by Trevor Hunter

We’re ringing in the new year out in the desert looking to contest the 2020 Best In The Desert Championship. Myself and Hayden Hintz have decided to pilot a 3 Brothers Racing backed 2019 KTM 450 XC-F, the same model used in last year’s Vegas to Reno. We made a late decision to enter the Parker 250, the first round of the series, and only had the bike in our hands for 7 days prior to race weekend. Due to a cramped schedule and minimal experience with the bike, we relied on what’s been proven in the past rather than our usual testing to find something new that works. As a result, we built a simple yet effective race bike. Enjoy!

We installed a set of Cone Valves and a Trax shock since we were familiar with the settings and predictability.

The first step on any motorcycle, especially one that’s being raced at high speeds, is finding a good suspension setup. With very limited time before the race, we installed a set of WP Cone Valve forks and a Trax shock that we’ve already spent some time on rather than trying to get suspension dialed in one hour of riding. Both myself and Hayden were pleased with the aftermarket WP USA offerings we have. In short, it has a sense of plushness in the initial part of the stroke all while maintaining a very firm nature throughout the stroke. I haven’t quite found this feeling with the stock components where I am able to get both performance and some comfort all at once, but these aftermarket offerings are close to that sweet spot. We have a GP inspired setting in place but we didn’t feel the need to change any clickers in any of the “pre-race testing”. We’ll provide a full report on the WP components in an upcoming test.

With suspension in place, next came all of the smaller details. First up is a 2.6 Gal Fuel Tank from IMS with the dry-break ready system. The bigger tank is all but necessary and minimizing the time spent filling up with gas is also welcomed for these multi-pit races. In hindsight, we’d go with the bigger 3.0 Gal tank for added fuel capacity and a peace of mind. In the 50ish mile section from “Midway” to Main Pit, we were running on fumes as we rolled into the pit and another Open Pro team actually ran out entering the pits with the same tank. We also installed a set of IMS CORE pegs for durability and some added comfort.

In the cockpit, we went with set of Fasst Co. Flexx Handlebars which we have a lot of time with, and they support Hayden’s and my own racing efforts. We ran the standard height, which may as well be ape hangers for myself, but we made them work. Additionally, Fasst Co. sent us a Rear Brake Return Spring to eliminate the flimsy stock spring on the pedal. Stock levers and grips were used, though we plan on running some AME grips for a softer feel and to help eliminate blisters. GPR Stabilizer provided us with a Pro Kit including a Top Clamp and Stabilizer. They help both of us out quite a bit personally and we like their product so GPR was a no brainer for this build. A Seat Concepts comfy seat was put on and despite the looks, there are some performance benefits. The wideness in the middle actually helps with gripping the bike and helps hold you forward on the bike which is important when riding a 450cc monster.

The PC exhaust system differs from the FMF piece used at V2R last year.

For power, Hayden has a deal with Pro Circuit so a T-6 System was put in place. We haven’t weighed it yet, but it’s considerably lighter than the stock system. We’ll work on riding it back to back more for a comparison against the stock exhaust. Additionally, we geared the bike up from 13/48 to 14/48 to help with the high speed sections and to allow us to short shift and lug the bike when welcomed. We didn’t have the time to install a 6th gear just yet, but that will be going in shortly. Check out our DBT Tech Tip on installing it HERE.

Final gearing was 14/48 with a stock 5-speed transmission.

For tires, we went with Jimmy’s favorite – Kenda Parker DT’s front and rear – while racing in Parker! We were very pleased with the performance of the tires and felt comfortable and confident under braking, acceleration, turning, etc. Durability wise, the rear was toast after a fast and rocky 240 miles but the front looked great. We ran the front tire in the hard pack direction and the rear tire in the intermediate direction. Check out the full test HERE

The Kenda Parker DT’s worked very well and lasted the duration of the race.

We bought and installed some Nitro Mousse’s for this effort to eliminate flats. We stuffed a 140/100-18 in the rear of the 120/100-18 that had 250 miles from V2R last year, and a new 90/100-21 front mousse since they were our only options. The rear was a little stiff at first, but had come to terms by the end of the race. A Mika Hybrid Sprocket was leftover from V2R last year as well so we put that on the race wheel along with a Sunstar XTG O-Ring chain for a durable drive train. 

TM Designworks produces some pretty durable products so we also went out and bought a Full Coverage Skid Plate and a Factory Edition #2 Chain Guide. Installation with these items are simple and they add beefy protection in some critical areas. Cheap insurance if you ask us. Finally, we installed a Bullet Proof Designs Rear Disc Guard that we had laying around to protect the rear rotor. By the end of the race, it had some good size gouges in it so we were glad that we had it on. 

Our 2020 BITD race bike is fairly simple yet effective. We had 1.4 hours on the bike when we rolled it up to the line so we had to keep the parts list to a minimum. In the end, it was enough to reach the finish line of the Parker 250 safely in 3rd O/A. We have some changes in mind, but overall it serves as a solid base. Stay tuned for more on our BITD racing, some Product Tests, and more!

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