ALL OF US RIDE KURT CASELLI’S STAGE-WINNING DAKAR RALLY KTM 450

Imagine going through racing a 240-pound KTM 450SXF to racing a 380-pound bicycle. And not just riding it around your local track, but for 5000 miles along with nine gallons of gas buckled between your legs. Kurt Caselli do it—and he did it with only a short amount of time to prepare before starting the most exclusive and grueling offroad race on the planet, the Dakar Rally.

In 2013, g ecorated multi-time offroad champion Kurt Caselli answered the last-minute call to fill in for Factory KTM’s injured Marc Coma in the 2013 Dakar Rally just a few times before the two-week South American race was about to start. If ever there was a person up to the task, it would have to be Kurt Caselli. Caselli is one of the most versatile riders in the world. He has qualified for an AMA outdoor National, raced Endurocross main events, was the three-time WORCS Champion, finished eighth overall in the Erzberg rodeo, and is a two-time National Hare & Hound Champ and 11-time ISDE gold-medal champion. Now that is a resume. And, in the Dakar Rally, Kurt became the stage winner. And, after last year’s Dakar Rally, he s igned the three-year deal to become a full-time KTM Rally racer.

Prior to his untimely death in Baja, Kurt was setting his sights on winning the exclusive 2014 Dakar Rally, which starts on January 1, 2014, and it is watched by over 15 mil television viewers worldwide.

SO , WHAT’S THE MXA ENDANGERING CREW DOING ON A DAKAR BIKE?

This bicycle is way off the beaten path for the MXA wrecking crew, nevertheless Kurt Caselli called us plus said that we could take his full-factory Red Bull KTM Rally bicycle out for a test spin, how could we say no? The privateer version of Kurt’s bike is called the KTM 450 Rally Factory Replica, and you could buy one meant for next year’s Dakar Rally for approximately $35, 000. Let that become your guide as to how much money Kurt’s full-prepped KTM works version expenses. We had to test it—not to expand our knowledge base, but for the excitement of it.

Kurt’s Dakar bike is powered by the exact same engine that is in his Baja 1000 and Hare & Hound bicycle, but that is about the only commonality between the Dakar Rally bike plus any other KTM. The Baja bicycle and Dakar bicycle are different machines—and we were focused only on the Dakar version.

The Dakar bike is built meant for comfort, speed and navigation. The particular instrument panel and handlebars have a patchwork quilt of buttons plus switches that control the scrolling of the road map and activate all of the complex navigation equipment. Navigation is vital to success in the Dakar Rally. It doesn’t matter how fast you are if you don’t know where you are going. The musical instruments are man’s best friend in the unhappy deserts of Peru.

We didn’t want to use our own normal motocross test tracks with this test, so instead we going out to the wide-open stretches of the California desert near Kurt’s Aurochs Valley home turf. We have to confess that we were scared. This was a big bike, and we got our feet wet by riding it lower some desert dirt roads to obtain comfortable with the power and weight. Since moto boys, the instrument -panel bothered us. It sat higher above the triple clamps plus stayed stationary when we turned the particular bars for the corners. With the mini fairing encapsulating the front of the bicycle, we couldn’t see what the front wheel was doing.

There was a steep understanding curve, but luckily Kurt arrived to show us the ropes just before we started trail blazing throughout the desert at warp speed.

Going in a straight line, whether or not it was sand or rough terrain, the bike tracked straight, plus control was almost effortless. We might brace ourselves when we saw the rough patch of desert pending in front of us, but there was no need. The KTM Dakar Rally bicycle plowed through everything like a tractor. The comfort of this bike has been unreal. Everything from the extra-wide footpegs to the cushy foam grips to the long, wide saddle to the plush Cadillac suspension urged us to look faster. Since Kurt had to invest eight to 14 hours per day on his bike during the Daka r rally , comfort is key.

As we got a growing number of used to the bike, we in fact began to think of the 380-pound device as light. We started to ride it from the hips, standing up plus letting the bike absorb anything that the desert threw at it. Yes, we were getting cocky. After that, we started to hit some high speed jumps, and all of our bravado remaining us in a hurry. The bike might have fooled us into thinking that i was controlling it on the ground, but once we were in the air, we knew who have the boss was—we were simply along for the ride. And what the ride it was.

We were honored to have been given the chance to ride Kurt’s bike and it was made all the more exclusive because Kurt took the time to show all of us how to do it right . We will skip him.


The engine could be the old version of KTM’s 450 engine. It is still carbureted. Top speed is 110 mph. The power curve is very mellow, but once up to speed, the bike revs to the moon. The transmission has six gears.

With the bike weighing over 380 pounds, Kurt required some heavy-duty braking power. KTM equipped the bike with a 300mm front rotor that was very sensitive when applying the front brake.

In the skid plate there is a 1-gallon water container to comply with the Dakar protection regulations. The water is required just in case the particular rider becomes stranded in the middle of the particular desert.


The instrument panel has a road map, which tells Kurt what is situated ahead; the heading, which is right now there to help him read the terrain; as well as the tachometer, which keeps him doing the swiftness limit that the road book informs him to go.


With the rally races extending as far as 5000 miles, keeping the particular engine cool and reliable is crucial to avoiding a long walk. Since the rider is alone on the path, engine problems could easily result in the rider to lose the three-week race.

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