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Apr 11

The bike is revealed...

So after months of painstaking preparation I can finally reveal the bike choice for my Races to Places challenge.  The bike I will use is a special build based on a 690 Rally Factory Replica but with many different modifications and changes to make it more suitable for the challenge ahead.  It is not 100% completed but the time has come to share the details with you.

After years of riding adventure bikes and racing all kinds of motorcycles I have built up in my head what the ultimate adventure bike would be, it just never seems to be available in that form.  I particularly understand why this is the case for the challenge of Races to Places, let’s face it there’s not many people that need a bike to ride around the world on and also be capable of some pretty extreme rally racing conditions along the way.

Those who follow me know I like to build my own bikes and this was no exception.  So first of all let’s consider some of the requirements. The bike must be:

  1. A joy to ride, good chassis geometry and strength for racing and comfortable!
  2. Capable of eating up miles, lots of them, reliably.
  3. A fuel range of circa 400 miles (at a steady travel pace) for some of the remote places I will go. The fuel must also be as low as possible on the bike to keep the center of gravity as low as possible.
  4. A nice smooth balanced engine, minimum vibration.
  5. Good power, after racing all kinds of bikes from 950’s to Factory Rally Bikes, it would not be exciting to ride something with 30 horse power.
  6. 6-Speed gearbox preferable.
  7. Carburetted – I like simplicity and being able to fix in the field, this is must for my trip bike.
  8. Simple and easy to maintain. Air filter changes, oil and filters etc. A simple design without a load of aftermarket bolt on extra’s that just complicate a bikes design.
  9. Air box up high for deep river crossings.
  10. Good brakes, capable of racing when required.
  11. Quality, fully adjustable 320mm suspension and on the fly pre-load adjustment at the rear.
  12. Capability to carry a couple of soft panniers and the ability to fit a rack system to hold the luggage away from spinning wheels and hot exhausts.
  13. A simple Navigation tower design and electrical wiring.  I need GPS, road book holder, trip computers etc.
  14. Woody’s Super Laced Wheels….I would use no other! 21” front wheel and 18” rear wheel.
  15. Plenty of tool storage capability for tools, equipment and spares I might need and again, keep it low down.
  16. Silenced exhausts, I want to come back with my hearing.
  17. As light weight as possible.


So, the bike is based on a KTM 690RR as I’ve already said but it is not a standard 690RR.  The bike has been modified and rebuilt from the frame up.  The first modifications involved taking the trellis frame and adding additional strength to areas that will become load bearing to carry luggage.  I also wanted to fit the 2014 450RR rear fuel tank, first because it is the same capacity as the 690RR rear tank (18 litres) but it is half the weight and much less bulky and secondly, with the manufacture of new footrest hangers, I was able to fit a modified 690 Enduro rear luggage rack system, which is pretty fundamental on a trip like this.  To make everything more durable, I also modified all the standard tank attachment points on the tank and the frame to make them more substantial including increased fastener sizes.  The rear luggage rack on my bike also helps to transfer some load through the foot rest hangers.

The front fuel tanks are of course are saddle tanks, this is a massive plus when it comes to keeping the center of gravity low.  The total fuel capacity of the bike is 36 litres in three tanks, two front and one rear.  The fuel is pumped to the carburetor by a simple vacuum operated diaphragm pump.  Simple and effective.

The engine is based on a KTM 690 LC4 but is likely to be somewhat different.  It will start out in life as a 690RR engine (654cc).  The Rally engine is stronger than the stock 690 Enduro engine in a number of different ways for example, the clutch is a complete billet set-up with additional strength and not your standard equipment found on the Enduro models.  The LC4 engine has a balance shaft so is particularly smooth for a single, it also has a 6 speed gearbox, which is really nice. It is carbureted by a Kehin FCR41 Carburetor which provides perfect fuelling right throughout the rev range, I know these inside out so am confident in my ability to jet appropriately and fix on the road if required.  They are also very good at dealing with dirty fuel, which I suspect I will come across in some places.

The suspension is full 320mm travel.  The forks are twin chamber Rally forks valved for racing, it’s always a compromise this but I feel I can tolerate the lack of smoothness on the street much more than taking a beating in the races.  I’ll stick with a set-up pretty close to race set-up and just back the clickers off a little for travel.  The rear shock is a standard Rally unit with improved valving and I but I hope to install a factory ratchet type pre-load adjuster as it is pain in the ass to get to the pre-load ring, especially with luggage because you have to raise the rear tank to access the shock. Springs rates are always a compromise; I’ve gone for something more suitable for racing at the front and travel at the rear to cope with the additional weight.

The seat will be a Renazco racing seat.  Having discussed my requirements at length with James Renazco, I think he has an idea to work his magic and create something that with suit all requirements on my journey.  It will also be personalized of course ☺

Wheels are the same ones I used on the Dakar Rally, exactly the same ones!  RAD hubs with supersized and super laced spokes with Excel rims.  I know the 1.6”x21” A60 front rim and 2.15”x18” A60 Rears are the strongest so will likely stick with those.

Brakes are Galfer floating disks front and rear with Galfer sintered pads.  They worked well in the Dakar so I will not change this.

Navigation equipment consists of an MD road book holder and RNS trip computers for the ‘Races’ and a Garmin Montana for the ‘Places’ element of the trip.  Other than this the bike will be fitted with a Trail Tech Voyager computer to provide many pieces of other useful information about the bike, the environment.

Those are some of the more fundamental parts of the bike, other bits were also modified during the build and of course everything was cleaned meticulously and greased, waterproofed or thread locked in place in an attempt to make the bike as robust as possible.

Here is a basic list of the bike and modifications made:

  • 2007 KTM 690 RR (Rally Factory Replica)
  • Frame strengthening and bracket changes
  • Frame, swing arm and all hangers etch primed and powder coated.
  • All tanks and fairings primed and painted black (base colour)
  • Rear fuel tank exchanged for a 450RR fuel tank
  • Strengthened tank attachment brackets on tank
  • Foot rest brackets manufactured to carry load and attach luggage rack
  • Modified KTM 690 Enduro luggage frame to fit around twin upswept silencers
  • Twin Lyndon Poskitt Racing silencers with quiet inserts, designed to fit standard low headers.
  • KTM LC4 Engine
  • Keihin FCR41 Carburettor
  • Vacuum operated diaphragm fuel pump
  • Woody’s Wheel Works super laced wheels
  • One off LPR battery box
  • Odyssey battery
  • Rear lights, license plate holder and rear fender from 450RR
  • Carbon fibre RR bash plate with twin tool/spare parts compartments
  • Renazco Racing seat
  • 690RR front fairing modified to carry spare inner tubes and tyre levers
  • Unik2 GPS bracket with Garmin Montana GPS fitted
  • Fully fused multiple power supply and USB chargers upfront
  • Kriega navigation tower bags
  • Kriega tool roll to carry tools
  • Twin Baja Design Squadron lights with dimmer for main running light
  • Cycra Pro-Bend hand guards
  • DID 520VX2 Chain
  • Dirt Tricks Sprockets
  • RNS Trip Computers
  • MD Roadbook holder - back lit
  • Rally Raid Products manual cam chain tensioner
  • Rally Raid Products billet switch holders
  • Zeta brake and clutch levers
  • Golden Tyre Tyres
  • Motorex Oil


I'm sure this post will evolve over time to keep you up to speed with changes and modifications.