Max Vohland’s Red Bull Factory KTM 250SXF
Austin Watterson is going into his 2nd year as a mechanic for Factory Red Bull KTM with Max Vohland. Max is one of the younger riders in the 250 class and is learning while he races. Instead of racing more in the amateur ranks, KTM decided to throw him into the big leagues to get more seat time on the 250SXF. KTM just announced new motorcycles this past year and above you’ll see the all new 2022 KTM 250SXF Factory Edition . At about 95% titanium hardware used, we take you for a lap around Max’s bike and show you what makes this a factory level race machine.
THE FRONT END
Starting at the front of the bike Max is using Renthal 827 handlebars. He doesn’t cut them or modify them at all. For a tall kid you would think that he might want to open up the cockpit up but he keeps it pretty close to stock.
Renthal soft compound grips are used. You can see the 4 safety wires wrapped around the grip and grip doughnut for Max’s KTM. The safety wire is a much cleaner way to mount the grips than glue. The team is going through grips once or twice a week for Max.
Factory KTM has a ton of options to choose from for bar mounts. Max is on a pretty neutral set up here. Not too tall not too short. You can see that they are solid mounted with no rubber. A lot of the time on build days Austin Watterson leaves the bars mounted to the triple clamps so the position stays consistent for Max at all times. Cooper Webb uses a lower option bar mount.
A Brembo front brake master cylinder is used with billet front brake lever. You can see these cool carbon guards to protect the housing from rocks or debris. The factory teams don’t want to risk damage to the brakes during a race. The team has options on levers but Max prefers a skinnier lever. You can also see the that it is adjustable. The turn dial is just inside the lever. Some of the riders on Factory KTM like a textured lever but Max prefers it smooth and Austin polishes it up for that factory look.
You can see that the team is running a billet throttle tube in this photo. All the hardware on the handlebars is titanium. There are some small holes drilled out of the throttle housing itself more than likely to save weight in this area. For a better feel than stock the team is running works throttle cables. Max prefers the throttle to be on the tighter side with very little play in the hands. Beyond the Acerbis hand guards that Max likes to run, the goal is to keep the handlebars pretty clean. With the new start/stop switch that comes on the all new Factory Edition that makes this task much easier to accomplish.
At this level the athletes are all monitoring their heart rate through the entire day. On the bike, off the bike, cycling, resting, training, etc. They want to know and their trainers want to know where their bodies are at. We have seen the Polar watch mount on a few bikes this season. This is a great way for the rider to see exactly where their heart rate is on the track, deliver data to their trainer, and keep an eye on time ridden during the race. They lose track of how long the race has been going on and this is a great reference to have when in the heat of the moment.
The anodized orange split triple clamps are used on Max’s KTM 250SXF. These allow a little more flex/comfort in the front end of the motorcycle. Typically KTM comes with the billet triple clamps on the standard edition model. Feedback from our test riders was that the billet felt a little more rigid and paired with the stock Nekken handlebars could be a bit harsh. Max is running a stock offset and he does have the option for the “closed window” design if he wants it.
WP 52mm front forks are used on Max’s bike. You can see by the labels on the side that it is a close cartridge cone valve system. It is pretty interesting that Yamaha plays around with air forks for their riders and KTM plays around with spring. Both brands come with the opposite at the OEM level.
In the front wheel you’ll see that Austin Watterson is wire tying the spokes together. If the spoke breaks loose during the race this will prevent it from spinning around the wheel or getting caught in the front brake system. This is an offroad trick that has made its way to Supercross. They want the rider to finish the race at all costs. This is a great preventative measure used by most of the factory level teams.
A DID rim with DID beefier spokes and a Kite hub are used on Max’s KTM. You can see his 270mm front rotor. Max is pretty picky with his front brake and likes it very touchy.
Brembo front brake caliper and factory hangar are used on Max’s bike. Only assuming, Max is probably using larger sized pistons to compliment the large front brake rotor and touch feeling he is looking for.
The team is using a Dunlop 768 spec front tire. Spec means factory but it also means they are testing new tread patters for the general public to eventually purchase. The tires you are using today were at one point considered a spec tire.
The team is using a titanium front axle. They do have an option to run steel but its all based on feel preference. Some riders like to have their front end have a “dead” feeling to it. Changing the material in the axle can achieve that.
The radiators are a stock component. The same one that you get when you buy a 2022 KTM 250SXF Factory Edition. Austin does polish them up to add the bling factor. The stock routing of the coolant lines is a little different. KTM adds a litte Y piece to theirs to get the coolant as far away from the exhaust as possible.
In this photo you can see that the team is using a 2.0 radiator cap in comparison to the 1.8 that comes stock on the bike. A rear brake pin is placed through the top so Max’s long legs don’t spin the cap off during a race. It has happened to riders in the past. If you saw Jason Anderson in Anaheim this year, his bike started to boil over. It very well could have been that the cap spun off during racing.
The fuel tank is considered a factory part on Vohland’s KTM. The capacity is the same as stock but the gas cap is much smaller. It also has an external thread instead of an internal thread that you would find on the OEM Version. The team adds these billet fuel caps on their bikes and adds the riders’ names on them.
The engines are done in house at KTM HQ in Temecula, California. Two engine builders work around the clock to have engines ready for racing, practice, and various settings. Usually there is an engine in the bike, a back up in the truck, and one or two more in California being rotated at all times. We have seen even more engines for the team as the riders request more or less horsepower in them. Dungey at one point had a choice from 61 horsepower down to 57 horsepower in different configurations. Max prefers to have the majority of his power bottom to mid range. It will likely change as the team heads outdoors. Austin told us that Max is willing to lose a little on the top to have better acceleration down low.
The team is using all Hinson clutch components. They just recently found a setup that Max really likes. You can change the feel and engagement points for the rider. Spring changes can make it a lighter or stiffer pull. Brayton ran ultra stiff springs on his Honda CRF450R. Max is remarkably easy on clutches in comparison to other riders in the paddock. Austin checks the clutches once a week on the practice bike and they are still in really good shape. They really aren’t that bad when he pulls them out but changes them anyways as a safety precaution. That goes for the race bike as well. Max’s riding style preserves a lot of the parts on the bike.
A Kite slave cylinder is added to the motorcycle. It is a billet piece in comparison to the stock version. Austin said that it actually gives the clutch a better feel as well.
The engine cases are akadized for durability. This also helps with dissipating heat on the motorcycle. The ignition cover is also akadized for durability purposes. You can also see the full coverage Akropovic skid plate mounted to the motorcycle. It covers the water pump and ignition cover really well. A lot of teams will test materials they can use for the skid plate. Adding that much carbon fiber to the bike can make the bike feel more rigid. Remember, this 2022 frame is much more rigid than its predecessor.
A new style Akrapovic is on Max’s bike. To us, they look awesome. The header and can both look super trick. We only wish the OEM Factory Editions came with them. Typically they do and we are expecting to see this similar design on the 2023 Factory Edition models. The team can get different length headers to tailor the exhaust for the power characteristics of the motorcycle. The header is actually pushed closer in to streamline the bike. These mufflers can go 30 hours for Max because of how easy he is on the bike.
The brake pedal and tip are very similar to the stock components. The tip is actually modified. It is titanium and larger than the oem version. You can also see that the team can remove it and freshen it up when they need to. The team likes to have a little bit of free play so the rear brake doesn’t lock up. They also aren’t concerned how tight the feeling is as long as the rear brake is progressive. The front brake takes importance for most pro riders.
A cool protection piece on the bike is the carbon stater wire cover that Akro makes for the team. Lightweight and durable is the name of the game in the factory pits.
Hidden and protected behind the front number plate you will see the GPS module. The team doesn’t go as extensive as the 450 team does but they do collect data to coincide with whatever Max is saying he feels on the bike. The team needs to match the data up with rider opinion to make changes during practice or on race day.
We covered these foot-pegs on Aaron Plessinger’s 450 with Jade Dungey at the beginning of the season. The foot-pegs look identical to the oem foot-pegs on the all new 2022 KTM 450SXf Factory Edition. Pankl actually makes these ffoot-epgsfor the factory team. These are 3D printed from scratch. They are extremely sharp and cast last up to 30 hours before replacement . These pegs are paired up with a titanium pin in the mount. The pins and ti hardware all together is provided by Mettech.Pankl is the same company that does all the top and bottom ends for KTM. If you own a 2019 KTM or newer your top/bottom end is made by Pankl.
THE REAR END
The rear brake master cylinder is factory. What makes it factory? When these are rolling off the assembly line the team will pull them before the sight glass is bored through. Removing the sight glass adds to durability and loss of fluid in the event of collision or debris.
Acerbis has a new frame guard on the way for the 2022 Factory Edition models. While writing this story we actually spoke with Tallon Vohland on the phone. He told us that the guards would be in stock in about 6-8 weeks (from May 6th 2022). These Acerbis frame guards became pretty popular in 2019/2020 with Dean Wilson and Cooper Webb. The team has taken a further step by removing the traction part of them and just using one depth rubber. The team used to shave them down by hand but now Acerbis is supplying them with this one dimensional surface in comparison to the bumpier style you’ll see at the local shops. They work great for the riders especially in wet conditions and add more coverage than the plastic frame guards that come stock on the bike. Keep your eyes peeled online or at your local dealer if you want a new set of frame guards!
Max is running a super aggressive grip tape to lock in his legs. It feels like 200 grit sand paper. Max really likes good grip and wants to be able to lock in on the whoops.
WP Xact Pro rear shock featuring all the adjusters a mechanic would need at his finger tips. They can also adjust the sag simply with a t-handle. Having all the adjusters quickly accessible allows the mechanic to make changes on the track during qualifying. Every weekend they are trying to dial in the suspension.
The team has plenty of options in linkage choice. Austin didn’t want to dive too deep into what they are using but at least here you can get a clear shot of it. Different length pull rods and knuckle design are usually what get changed around depending on the rider. Again, a lot of titanium hardware around the bike.
The team is using Twin Air air filters. They have a thinner design for Supercross and a more robust design for outdoors. The cage is modified to let more air inside the engine. More air = More power. KTM is also cutting extra vents in the air box to let the engine breath. This is a modification done by the race team in California.
In previous years Max liked an extremely soft seat on his bike. Austin called it a couch sofa. He would still prefer it on the softer side but he’s gotten used to a stiffer foam than his amateur days. His seat cover is softer and has some added ribs in it.
A factory Brembo rear caliper is used. It is oversized meaning it probably has larger pistons inside of it. It is also coated for durability. A Moto Master rear rotor is attached to the factory rear brake assembly.
A DID chain and Renthal Sprockets are used on the bike. You can see the titanium sprocket bolts to drop weight and increase strength. The chain is press fitted on and requires no master link. All the factory teams don’t want the chance of the master link popping off during the race.
These rear axle blocks are made custom by the team. You can also see the titanium rear axle really well in this photo. His rear wheel position isn’t very far out so it could be that the team is looking to make sharp corners easier for Max. They could change it for outdoors and want to make the bike a little more stable during the high speeds.
One thing we have found out already on the new Factory Editions is that the rear chain guides don’t last long. Akrapovic is supplying this carbon chain block with interchangeable rubber for the team. You can see the holes are small to decrease the changes of mud or rocks damaging the chain. This chain block is surely more durable than what comes stock on the 2022 oem model. A cool part about this chain block is you can adjust the position of it to help with tension on the chain.