Taylor Robert’s Factory KTM 450 XC-F
It’s no secret that the FMF KTM Factory Racing team is probably the most dominant force in American off-road racing’s recent history. To achieve that level of success, you need to find a few different things. Money, good people and good equipment. Between the KTM Factory and sponsors like Red Bull and FMF, the off-road KTM team has the money covered. As far as finding good people, FMF/KTM has done a fine job of that. Their assortment of technicians and riders are all amongst the best in the industry, and all have contributed to national championships so far in their careers. One of those riders you may have heard of, Taylor Robert. At 29 years of age, he’s tackled just about every discipline of motorcycling that you can imagine. From Baja to the Erzberg Rodeo, X-Games to the ISDE, he’s had plenty of experience in all kinds of racing and had a lot of success through it all. With all of this time at the controls of a motorcycle, you can bet he’s found the set-up he’s most comfortable racing with, whether it’s a sprint enduro or a WORCS race. So, just how exactly does Taylor like to set up his FMF KTM? Well, we got the lowdown from his mechanic, Ty Renshaw.For starters, Taylor’s bike is built from the platform of a KTM 450 XC-F that he races everywhere (except for this year’s ISDE, where he will be racing a 500 KTM). In fact, it’s what he won both his 2019 WORCS and Sprint Hero Racing Championships on. Even though he is the only west-coast member of the FMF KTM team, all of the bikes remain fairly similar aside from one key difference: Taylor’s bike has a sixth gear installed to accommodate for the higher speeds he reaches at some of the races throughout the year.
At the controls of the bike, you will notice a few different buttons. Obviously, one of them is for the electric starter, one is for the kill-switch and the third is actually a back-up starter switch in case something goes wrong with the first. You’ll also see that Taylor is running one of Precision Racing Product’s (not Precision Concepts) parabolic damper, which doesn’t require a different bar mount unlike other damper companies. Since the product is fairly new, it’s still being tested, but so far there have been no problems for Taylor. Across the top of the bar he also runs a crossbar, which seems like a less common occurrence among off-road racers because of the rigidity it causes. Since the damper is on top of the main part of the handlebar, the cross bar provides padding and reassurance that he is protected in case he gets too far up on the front of the bike. Plus, according Renshaw, the added rigidity isn’t something that bothers Taylor. The team has also been using the Nihilo Concepts billet throttle housing to avoid damage to the throttle in a crash. Other things you’ll notice include X-Trig ROCS triple clamps, Motion Pro throttle tube, half waffle/soft compound Renthal grips, ARC levers and vented Acerbis handguards.
Moving to the front of the bike, chicken wire on the radiator louvers is added to prevent any debris from penetrating through to the radiators themselves. This became a trend from racing the National Hare and Hounds, where a lot of the courses consist of virgin terrain or just overgrown trails. Behind the radiator sits a fan that prevents the bike from overheating.
More toward the back of the bike, Acerbis frame guards are added to the sides of the bike for added grip at Taylor’s knees. On the FMF muffler, a welded-on plate adds a bit of protection to both the silencer and the rider. Under his Alpinestar boots, Taylor prefers the IMS Core MX pegs with the sharp teeth, which are the smallest of the Core pegs line. At the end of the brake pedal sits a 35mm chromoly tip that is tucked away from catching onto anything.
The rear end of the bike is probably the most interesting. You’ll see that Taylor has a solid rear rotor and a factory caliper. The strange part about this is that he is extremely easy on the rear brake. Up at the Washington WORCS races, it was even mentioned that he could probably go the whole season on a set of brake pads if he really wanted to. However exaggerated that is, the solid rotor and beefier caliper are still added to the bike. Why? Well, mainly because the rotor is already stocked up at the shop for the east-coast riders, so it’s just easier to have that on the bike. The caliper is on there for extra durability, because even someone as easy on the brakes as Taylor still needs it every once in a while. A Zip-Ty racing shark fin is also on the swingarm to protect the disc from damage.On the left side of the bike, Taylor’s 450 is fitted with a Kite clutch slave cylinder for an even smoother clutch pull than the hydraulic system already puts out. Just to the right of that, you’ll notice a filter in the breather hose. This prevents any water from getting sucked up into the motor in case Taylor is ever stopped in a river, creek or other form of standing water.
One of the pickier selections Taylor makes is with his seat. As you can see, he runs a stepped seat to help his lighter build stay in a certain spot of the seat while cornering. From what he and Ty could find, there was no seat out there that offered a pocket he liked, so Ty fashioned this one out of a generic seat step and lots of sanding.Aside from the seat, the only other thing Taylor is super picky about is the feel from the rear wheel. Due to his preference, he doesn’t like running a brand new mousse, so Ty always has a broken-in mousse on hand when it comes time to mount up tires. Some little details on the bike that Ty and I discussed include the brake snake on the rear brake pedal to prevent debris from ripping the pedal off, an Acerbis disc guard protecting the front rotor, a Bullet Proof Designs chain guide protector to keep the chain guide mount from being tweaked, Excel A60 rims that are able to withstand just about any kind of hit Taylor could take, coatings on the motor that are primarily just for looks and an IMS oversized tank for the long durations of the WORCS races. As far as suspension setup goes, it’s fairly neutral. Nothing too stiff, nothing too soft, and he runs his those settings virtually everywhere. An added note from Renshaw, which should come without saying, is that Taylor is a very confident rider, so once he’s done his pre-season testing or testing on a new bike, the changes he makes are more than likely going to remain unchanged the rest of the year. A rider that knows exactly what he wants makes perfecting the machine a lot easier on the mechanics.
Round 2 of the 2019 AMA Endurocross series presented by Fox Racing is going down tonight in the heart of Denver, Colorado at the National Western Events Center. Rockstar Energy/Husqvarna’s Colton Haaker comes in to the second round carrying a three point lead over championship contender Cory Graffunder and another two over Former Endurocross champion Taddy Blazusiak. The series was almost gone coming into the 2019 year, but fortunately it was resurrected for a shortened three-round series that will still crown an AMA champion at the end of it all. Unfortunately, there is no TV or streaming coverage to watch the race if you’re not going to be in attendance, but live timing and results are available if you click here.
Zink Ranch National Enduro
The 2019 National Enduro championship has come down to two final rounds with only two contenders left to fight over the title. They both also happen to be brothers. Yes, big bro Stew and little brother Grant Baylor are separated by 31 points going into tomorrow’s enduro in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. As long as Steward can keep it in front of his brother Grant, he can wrap up his fourth National Enduro championship, which would also be his third in a row. The fourth championship, if I’m not mistaken, would put him tied for sixth all-time in terms of championships won. If Grant can beat his older brother, assuming they’re both still in the top five overall, the fight continues on into the final round in two weeks.
3 Brothers 24-Hour Endurance Race
The annual 3 Brothers 24-Hour Endurance race held at Glen Helen Raceway is underway and about halfway done by the time this is published to the website. The Precision Concepts Kawasaki team of Zach Bell, Blayne Thompson, Clay Hengeveld and Ryan Surratt look to repeat another victory aboard their KX450. From sources at the race, they’ll have to fend off charges from two other pro class teams in order to do so, which should be no problem for the defending champs, but a lot can happen in 24 hours. You can watch live results here.
Weston Beach Race
Although it resides outside of the United States, the Weston Beach race is more than deserving of some coverage, being one of the biggest off-motorcycling spectacles for the last 37 years. The rider attendance is far from lacking, either, as riders such as 2018 WESS series champ Billy Bolt and even Ronnie Mac showing up for the madness on the coastline. Throughout the weekend, minis, sidecars, quads and the big bike racers all get their go at the course laid out across the Weston-super-Mare-beach. For results of the 2019 Weston Beach Race, click here.
That’s all the news I have for this week’s offroad report. Be sure to check back in next week for another edition of the Off-road Report.