A PRO MECHANIC’S KTM DUAL-SPORT: BEHIND THE BUILD

Shane Nalley has a resume that is at the top of the charts for the high-end world of racing dirt bikes. He’s been the mechanic for Keith Turpin, Larry Brooks and Mike Kiedrowski when he raced for Honda, Kawasaki and Honda of Troy. Plus, he was instrumental in the running of Team Suzuki Off-Road for 13 years. In the last year Shane has switched occupations that allows him to ride more, a passion that was stilted by a monumental travel and work schedule. Now that he is living in California, we have been riding with Shane in our quest for tough trails, epic adventures and conquering terrain. Shane’s bike of choice is a 2021 KTM 350EXC-F. This is the third KTM 350 dual-sport that he has owned, so he has a good feel for the updates required to make the steed more potent. Mr. Nalley is a very competent pilot, and his quest to make the 350EXC-F into the best do-it-all machine that’s tarmac legal had him searching for proper power for tight enduro terrain. At the same time, he targeted other areas that he felt were weak, and bolted on products that he felt transformed the bike into a more hard-core machine. Here’s Shane’s breakdown of his goals, mods and products that he worked with.

THE QUEST FOR FIRE

In Shane’s words, “In stock form, the 350 has very soft bottom power and is difficult to ride in sand or on technical trails. Knowing that the ECU is set to pass emission standards, I changed it out for a Vortex unit to get rid of the popping caused by it being so lean. I also removed the salt-shaker end cap. It’s incredibly restrictive, and while the bike was very smooth and had decent power, I wanted more throttle response and bottom power. I replaced it with a Best Dual Sport 1.5-inch end cap with spark arrestor, and then removed the cone screen from the stock exhaust core.

“Next, I switched to map 5 on the Vortex—the most aggressive—and the throttle response was much improved, allowing me to pull a higher gear. On this subject, the stock gearing is way too tall for trail work, and I fit on a 50-tooth Renthal Twinring sprocket. This is very necessary. I then focused on enhancing the air flow by removing the reed in the air boot, trimming the air dam on the filter cover, and installing a 250SX filter housing with no screen. I felt minor gains in throttle response after this modification. I run the Hinson clutch system for the durability and feel like the clutch engagement is smoother. This is pricey, but I’ve had excellent results with their clutches and love their durability and quality.

“I have attended several dualsport events, and my only complaint with the setup would be noise level. I can usually mask it well by riding at very low rpm in most cases, but I searched for similar power with less racket. In this quest, I decided on the Akrapovic titanium slip-on muffler. I really like the quality of the product, and fit was excellent, although it’s not the superlight unit I expected. I did, however, find that it produced power very close to the production unit, which was unacceptable. I decided to modify the end cap by removing the stifling salt-shaker end piece and removing the inner small outlet, which was not easy. Then I tested this setup and loved the quiet noise level, but it lost the low-end power and throttle response that I was used to. Midrange was a little improved, but I found that I had to shift more and ride at a higher rpm, causing my engine temp to run a little higher. The Akrapovic is a bit longer than stock, and you lose the part of the rear fender used as a grab handle. In the end, I shelved it until I could figure out a better plan.

ALL-IMPORTANT BITS AND PIECES

“On the chassis side, I chose to stay very close to stock, as my goal is trail riding, not racing. And while I’ve heard and read lots of negative thoughts about the WP XPLOR dampers, I felt that in rocky terrain, it basically sucks up the stuff quite nicely. I have extended the forks to be flush with the triple clamps and have stiffened the compression damping (post-break-in) four clicks from stock. I have been very happy with this setup in every type of terrain, allowing me to ride all day without feeling beat up. In the past, I have made the upgrades to suspension and triple clamps and feel like I’m making the bike into something it isn’t—a race bike.

“The rest of my mods focus on durability. Since I ride on the West Coast now, you can really be a long way from your starting point. I run Michelin bib mousses and their Enduro Medium tires. I hate flatting, so running foam inserts is crucial, and the Michelin tires hold up well and provide good grip. I fit on an Acerbis front disc guard and Enduro Engineering shark fin for rotor protection. A Bulletproof chainguide protector keeps the guide from bending from a rock hit, and a D.I.D rivet link O-ring chain is necessary when going to the larger Renthal sprocket and superbly durable. On the protection side, I fit up an AXP skid plate (thick and broad coverage), an E-Line carbon header guard (I don’t like dings in my header!) and Polisport swingarm protectors that keep it shielded from boulder gouging. I went with the very trick Raptor titanium pegs, Renthal Twinwall 996 bars and Sicass Racing Mini LED turn signals with a Factory KTM LED headlight. I ordered the license-plate holder from KTM PowerParts and mounted it to the stock enduro fender extension. Because exploring and hitting some tough dual-sport events is key, I pur-chased a Trail Tech Voyager Pro and absolutely love using it for navigation and all its features. Finally, a Double Take mirror is standard gear for a serious dual-sporter, and custom-made WESS graphics by Motocutz MX finish off my machine.

2021 KTM 350EXCF
Vortex ignition: www.vortexcdi.com

Best Dual Sport Bikes end cap:

www.bestdualsportbikes.com

Akropovic titanium slip-on muffler:

https://ktmtwins.com/

Hinson basket and cover: www.hinsonracing.com

Raptor titanium pegs: www.raptortitanium.com

KTM Power Parts license plate holder:

https://www.ktm.com/en-us/parts—wear/powerparts/catalogs/powerparts-offroad.html

Factory LED headlight

Factory rear brake extended foot pad

Factory Selle Dalla Valle seat

Sicass led turn signals: https://sicassracing.com/store/

Trail Tech Voyager Pro: www.trailtech.net

Custom WESS graphics:

www.motocutzmx.com

Michelin Enduro Mediums with bib mousse inserts: www.michelinman.com

Renthal 50-tooth Twinring sprocket Renthal 996 Twinwall handlebar: www.renthal.com/moto/chainwheels

Double Take rear-view mirror:

www.doubletakemirror.com

Enduro Engineering rear shark fin:

https://enduroeng.com/

Acerbis front disc cover: www.acerbisusa.com

AXP skid plate: www.axp-racing.com/en/

E-Line header guard: https://elineaccessories.com/

Polisport swingarm protectors:

www.polisport.com/enoff-road_501html

D.I.D ERVT X-ring chain: https://didchain.com/chains/

Billet Proof Designs chainguide mount protector: https://bulletproofdesigns.com

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