Ready to rally? If you’re thinking of doing your first cross-country race, you’re probably considering prepping your rally bike as best as you can. But where do you begin, which mods are necessary, and what should you pay attention to the most?
Here at Cross Country ADV, we’ve prepped dozens of bikes for rally races, and we put this quick guide together to help you navigate your rally prep. It will not get your rally bike ready for the Dakar, but it will give you some solid pointers if you’re planning to do a medium-level race like the Hellas Rally Rally, the Baja Rally, or your local cross country event.
- What’s the Best Rally Bike for Beginners
- Basic Rally Bike Mods
- Rally Prep Essentials
Let’s take a closer look:
What’s the Best Rally Bike for Beginners?
If you’ve never done a rally race before but have a dual-sport, an adventure motorcycle, or a dirt bike, you’re most likely good to go on what you own. Keep in mind that most rally races are amateur-friendly, and they usually have a whole range of different classes for motorcycles from 250cc to 1200cc. If you have a dirt-capable bike in this range, chances are, it’ll work well for your first rally race.
However, if you’re thinking of buying a rally bike, we’d recommend sticking with the classics. Something like the KTM450 is a great choice for a rally for several reasons: one, this bike is powerful yet lightweight compared to the bigger, heavier dual-sports and ADV bikes, so you’ll experience less fatigue and struggle less in more technical terrain. And second, this is easily one of the most popular bikes among rally riders, which means you’ll be able to easily source parts or get help if something goes wrong. Parts, mechanics, and advice for a KTM450 are much easier to get than for a Husaberg or a Husky. If this is your first forays into rally racing, sticking to something that is tried, tested, and popular will make your life much easier.
2. Basic Rally Bike Mods
Now that you have your rally bike, whether a new one or the one you already own, it’s time to take a look at some basic mods. For your first rally, you don’t need to go overboard with expensive rally navigation towers and all the farkles you can get; it doesn’t hurt, of course, but if you’re on a budget, first focus on:
– roadbook navigation equipment
– fuel range
While building an entire navigation tower is not necessary when you’re just starting out, you will need some basic navigation equipment. You can choose to go electric and install a tablet on your handlebars – most ralies now offer electronic roadbooks, and it’s usually a cheaper way than getting the traditional roadbook holder and tripmaster set. However, if you prefer to go old school, you’ll need a roadbook holder, a wheel sensor, a GPS sensor, a tripmaster such as the Ico, and roadbook holder and tripmaster controls. Both options are easy to install, and you can do it all yourself even if you’re not mechanically minded.
When it comes to fuel range, most rallies require a range of around 150km. if you already have that, you’re golden; if not, consider getting a bigger tank or an auxiliary tank so you can make it to the fueling station after a special stage.
Finally, you’ll need some rally footpegs. This may seem like a small detail, but if you currently have stock footpegs, swapping them out for rally footpegs can make a big difference. During a rally, you will be standing up on the pegs for most of the days, so you need pegs that are wider, set slightly lower, and have a good grip – you want to stay as comfortable as possible and have good control of your rear wheel at all times.
3. Rally Prep Essentials
These basic rall bike mods aside, you’ll need to make sure your bike is in top condition before entering a rally. Go over the entire bike and check your chain and sprockets, your bearings, spark plugs, all fluids, an electrics. Replace anything that looks worn, change the oil, and put some aggressive off-road tires on. Whether you’ll be running mousses or tubes is your choice, but your tires need to be off-road ready. If it’s a seven or ten-day rally and you know you may need two sets of tires, have those ready before you go (alternatively, you may be able to buy tires at the bivoauc).
Fnally, once you start the rally, make sure to check your bike every time you get back to the bivoauc. Before you head to the beer tent, go over the bike, check for damage, check the tires, change the oil if necessary, and clean out the air filter. You need to be sure that the bike is ready for another day’s of racing, so don’t forget to look after it!
What mods have you done on your rally bike? Share in the comments below!