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ADV NewsWatch: Servicing Toby Price’s KTM 450 Factory Rally Bike Mid-Race

Watch: Servicing Toby Price’s KTM 450 Factory Rally Bike Mid-Race

A satisfying dose of wrenching on a Dakar Champ's Factory machine.

Published on 01.05.2024

Rally Racing at the highest level is a team sport with contributions from the engineers who produce the high-tech machines to the talented racers who ride them, and also the mechanics who keep the bikes running at their peak performance throughout the race. When the winner takes the top step of the podium, we have a tendency to heap praise on the rider and the bike they are riding while the efforts of the mechanics are often overlooked. But there’s no denying the importance to a win (or lack thereof) that proper maintenance, diagnosis and repairs have during a multi-day race like the Dakar Rally.

Servicing a Dakar rally motorcycle mid-race

In this latest video from Red Bull, we get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into a mid-race full service on multi-time Dakar champ Toby Price’s Red Bull Factory Racing KTM 450 Rally bike during the Rallye du Maroc. With no words describing what’s going on, the viewer is treated to a pure gearhead ASMR-like video showing the detailed work that goes into the process of preparing these mechanical wonders for the next stage of racing.

Servicing a Dakar rally motorcycle mid-race
Servicing a KTM 450 factory rally motorcycle mid-race

At the start of the video, Toby Price rolls into the bivouac mechanics’ tent and a team of techs quickly get to work on the dust-covered machine. It all starts with a quick diagnostics check from the laptop and an immediate tear down of the bike. Everything is done in an unhurried methodical approach though, ensuring that nothing is overlooked. This slow and steady approach is a stark contrast to what we see during the MotoGP pit stops where every second is precious, but the pressure for meticulous perfection is no different.

Servicing a KTM 450 factory rally motorcycle mid-race
Servicing a KTM 450 factory rally motorcycle mid-race

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It’s interesting to see how easily the bike’s bodywork comes apart, which is an essential aspect of its design. The mechanics’ workspace is also unique in the sense that they must move to a new location each night. A simple folding work table is used with a compact air compressor attached. Instead of a heavy tool chest, they utilize a large tool roll, not too unlike what we carry on our adventure bikes, housing all the necessary tools for working on the KTM 450 Rally. No bike lift, just a few lightweight stands that can support the bike from the front, center and rear. 

Servicing a KTM 450 factory rally motorcycle mid-race
Servicing a KTM 450 factory rally motorcycle mid-race

The work performed is extensive including a full flush of the brakes, clutch pack swap, suspension servicing, air and fuel filter replacement, and of course an oil change that includes a careful inspection of the oil screens for any engine wear particles. Each bolt is meticulously torqued down to spec, even the large automotive-style auxiliary oil filter. With water in the desert a rare commodity, the techs give the bike an air bath with compressed air, then give it a full wipedown with a spray-on cleaning product. Key components like the rear shock are given a soap and water bath in a parts cleaner. Damaged parts like the banged up front rim or flattened mid-pipe are also replaced.

Servicing a KTM 450 factory rally motorcycle mid-race

Watching these pro mechanics do their work is art in motion, soothing even. It must be nice for Toby Price to relax for a bit and watch the work being performed after a full day of racing hundreds of miles with a laser focus on the unforgiving terrain while navigating via roadbook. It only emphasizes how hard it must be for the Malle Moto racers who, with no mechanics but themselves, have hours of wrenching to look forward to each day after rolling into the bivouac. 

Author: ADV Pulse Staff
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