Rally Motorcycle Prep: The Basics

Yamaha Tenere 700 Rally Mods // Cross Country ADV

If you’re thinking of entering your very first race, the words “rally motorcycle” probably conjure up images of KTM Rally Replicas and other glorious machines. And you probably think you need one of those.

You don’t.

If this is your very first amateur rally race, your old Yamaha WR450, your T7, and even your CRF will do. If you ride it like you stole it, you’ll likely make it to the finish line – so if you aren’t setting your sights on desert races or the Africa Eco Race podium just yet, simply use the bike you currently own. After all, that’s the bike you know, ride, and maintain.

That being said, your rally motorcycle will need a little prep.

It’s like giving your bike a spa day, but with a lot more dirt, oil, and a whole lotta love.

If you’ve got a bike that’s in a decent enough condition, all you need to do is give it some TLC, throw a pair of knobbies on, bolt a roadbook navigation kit on your bars, and make sure your tank can handle at least a 150km range (in most European rallies, that will get you to the next refueling stop).

Be sure to have your tools and spares with you at the bivouac, look after your air filter and your oil levels, and you should be golden for the entire race, especially if you’re mechanically minded.

Want to go the extra mile? Here’s a list of our favorite rally motorcycle mods that will give your bike some more oomph:

Crash Protection

You may already have a skid plate and some crash bars, but if you don’t, now’s the time to install some. Here’s a comparison of different bash plate options – these things will shield your engine and your bike’s innards from flying rocks and debris while keeping the weight low.

rally motorcycle bash plate


This isn’t exactly cheap, but getting good suspension for your rally motorcycle will make things that used to be hard work easy. If you’re headed to a rally where the terrain is rocky, tricky, and difficult, having great suspension will help you cover those distances easier and with less overall fatigue.


Most amateur rally classes allow riders to navigate with a GPS, but if you’re going old school, you’ll need a roadbook navigation kit. Some riders prefer to go digital; if you’re into Dakar nostalgia, though, your best bet is a simple, bolt-on navigation setup like the Rebel Rally navigation kit. It’s dead-easy to install and set up, and once you’ve crossed the finish line, simply take it off and hit the trails back home.

Want to go all in? CarbonFox navigation towers have got you covered.

Rally Footpegs

Racing a rally means covering long distances, and you’ll be doing most of it standing up on your pegs. That’s why replacing your stock pegs with rally footpegs is essential – these things are wide, grippy, and positioned slightly lower and backward to give you more control of your rear wheel and a better riding position. Endorsed by Dakar champions and everyday riders alike, rally footpegs will make a massive difference out on those rally tracks.

“These footpegs will make you a better rider”

DIY Rally Motorcycle Prep vs Taking It to the Shop

Alright, so here’s the deal: you can either roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty in the garage, or you can leave it to the pros at the shop. DIY is cool and all – there’s something satisfying about wrenching on your own ride – but let’s be real, rally prep is no walk in the park. If you’re not mechanically inclined, shelling out some cash to let the experts work their magic and turn your bike into a lean, mean racing machine might be a better option, especially if you’ve got the budget for it.

At the end of the day, rally motorcycle prep is all about one thing: getting ready to tear up those trails and leave the competition in the dust. Whether you’re a DIY guru or you prefer to let the pros handle it, one thing’s for sure – when that starting countdown begins and you rev up that engine, there’s no feeling quite like it.

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