Extreme Enduro machines are a different breed! These bikes encounter things that the average weekend warrior would never come across and have to be built accordingly. Colton Haaker is one of the best riders the USA has ever produced in this discipline of racing, and we got the chance to talk with his mechanic, Andrew Bauer, about his 2023 factory Rockstar Husqvarna TE300i.
At first glance, Haaker’s race bike looks like your average bike sitting on your local Husqvarna dealership floor with some bolt-on parts and cool Rockstar Energy graphics. However, looks can definitely be deceiving! Andrew Bauer is Haaker’s mechanic and is responsible for building all his race machines. He told us that although this TE300i might not look insanely trick, it’s all in the details, with little things making huge differences in the overall package.
Unlike factory race bikes you see in other types of racing disciplines, Haaker’s TE300i isn’t all about huge amounts of horsepower in the engine department. Yes, the engine is built in-house by Husqvarna’s Factory Services department, the same technicians that build all the race team engines, but the goal with Haaker’s bike is usable power that makes the most traction possible down low and in the midrange.
Surprisingly, most of the internal engine parts are OEM, just like the average consumer can purchase at their local dealership—even the Rekluse clutch items are available to the public. EFI mapping is done in-house, just like the engine building, and can be changed by the team at different event locations depending on terrain and weather conditions. The team has custom exhaust options available, but Haaker uses a complete FMF exhaust system that is pretty close to off-the-shelf specs consisting of the infamous Fatty pipe and titanium 2.1 silencer.
With most Extreme Enduros lasting multiple hours and some being spread out over multiple days in stages, huge amounts of importance is placed on the overall chassis setup. The balance between rider comfort and performance is always a delicate one and can often vary drastically depending on the rider. Haaker uses WP Pro Components on both ends of his machine that are tuned by the technicians at WP Suspension USA with some input from the world headquarters in Austria.
Bauer let us know that Haaker’s TE300i is set up softer initially than most of the other riders on the team, but then the stiffness ramps up progressively the deeper in the stroke it goes. This allows Haaker to bounce over smaller obstacles at slower speeds while still being able to control the bike on larger obstacles requiring higher speeds.
Tires and foam-mousse inserts aren’t usually associated with handling, but Haaker runs a really soft rear mousse that is customized by his mechanic, Andrew Bauer, and a Dunlop EN91 gummy compound tire that provides a soft rear-end feeling. This setup does also provide rearwheel traction on just about any type of terrain and in wet or dry conditions. Haaker bounces between a Dunlop MX33 and MX53 tire up front with a heavy-duty Dunlop tube.
Protection is key in Extreme Enduro-type events for both rider and machine, and if either are damaged in a crash, it’s usually a long, involved process of getting off the course and back to an area where help can be provided. Haaker has his personal protection gear and the OEM Husqvarna handguards on the bike, but Bauer will spend hours on his machine’s safety-wiring nuts and bolts, silicone shift levers, installing specialty parts and then reinforcing those parts to be even stronger.
Other items on Haaker’s TE300i include WP Suspension’s Pro Components cone-valve fork, Trax rear shock, Guts Racing lightweight seat foam, Guts Racing gripper seat cover, ProTaper sprockets, ProTaper handlebars, ProTaper grips, Hunt Racing rear rotor guard, RK O-ring chain, Twin Air filters, Decal Works graphics and the Motion Pro specialty tools to help with the bike-building process.
The SXS full-coverage skid plate is one very important protection item. Starting at the front of the engine, right behind the FMF pipe, it protects the engine carriage frame rails, bottom of the engine cases, sides of the engine cases and even has an extension that protects the lower portion of the rear, along with the entire rear linkage system. The composite construction of the skid plate also allows Haaker to slide over objects without getting hung up. The drivetrain is crucial to keep any racer moving towards the finish line, and TM Designworks’ Slide-N-Guide kit is almost indestructible. The factory team even adds some additional bracing to the rear chainguide swingarm mounts via a Bullet Proof billet aluminum bracket.
Even with hours of preparation from a factory mechanic, reinforced parts specifically made not to break and one of the world’s top athletes, things can go wrong and riders do experience the dreaded “DNF.” Fortunately, Colton Haaker has full support from Husqvarna, team manager Anthony DeBasillio, mechanic Andrew Bauer and his family. With multiple extreme event wins and EnduroCross championships to his credit, it’s clear that Haaker has found a formula that works.