Originally Posted by Brimstone
So where are you in the actual development cycle? I think the last we heard was pre-Tuareg when the engine was just going together? Any news? Should I start the search for a KTM 690 Enduro?
Hi Brimstone! - I'm sure you're not the only one wondering this, hell I'm wondering myself!
Typically things have taken a lot longer than we first imagined - not so much the physical development, but a series of other commitments (for John at Rally Raid in particular) over the past couple of months mean things have not progressed as far as we'd hoped.
The good news is we have a bike, and an engine sitting on the bench and a crank and rod assembled.
John has also CAD designed the shape of the piston we are confident will produce the correct compression for the prototype engine - Cosworth have also modeled this on our behalf, but that will be for the production spec pistons.
John and Martin (from Torque Racing) are currently in Malta for a week preparing a pair of 690cc Rallye bikes with the EVO2 kit for a couple of guys who raced the Heroes-Legend last year, and will be racing the new kits at the Transanatolia Rally in September. Once John and Martin are back, work will resume on the LC4-50...
However, one element we had not fully considered at the inception of the project was the fact that while a KTM 690 is an FIM homologated machine for the 450+cc Open Class, it is not homologated as a 450cc production machine of course.
Now we all know (and the FIM agree) that it really is just a case of a capacity change to comply with the ASO/Dakar (and FIM Cross Country Championship rules, which the ASO use) - the original production bike itself - frame, swingarm, engine cases etc are all exactly the same...
However, rules is rules - and if it still says KTM690 on the homologation papers, the ASO scrutineers are at liberty to exclude it as it doesn't comply with their rules - that it must be based on a single cylinder production machine, of 450cc capacity or less - even though ours is a single cylinder production machine, and we can prove (and they can test at the time) the capacity has been reduced to 449cc... the problem is that it wasn't originally built as a 450 from the manufacturer.
The alternative is to rename the bike to avoid any confusion, and effectively create a new model... however, we then are faced with the situation that the bike is not homologated at all! Obviously we are in no position to go into full scale production of this bike, and produce 100* examples required for homologation - never mind the associated costs of FIM homologation itself.
*Note in my discussions with the FIM, they are considering lowering this number to perhaps 75 or less, but still it is not applicable to our project - while we intend to build maybe 3 or 4 examples this year at most - a couple for testing and the pair of Dakar bikes.
So we are in effect in limbo at the moment - the ASO have agreed to allow us to enter a reduced capacity 690, as long as it complies (or at least is approved by) the FIM homologation department.
Our situation has been fully explained to the FIM homologation department, and we are waiting for a reply from the Commission as to whether they will approve (not fully homologate it must be clear) this bike for the 450cc production class.
While there is no physical reason not to allow this bike, they are concerned about setting a precedent in a class that currently has no facility for 'prototypes' to be included.
One might argue that surely this would actually encourage engine development from other manufacturers - a larger oil capacity/longer service interval 450cc engine with a broad spread of gears is the golden goose here on ADVrider - and you'd think in this austere times of rising fuel prices and evermore stringent emissions controls, that development of such would be a priority for the dual-sport/adventure travel market?
However, the reality of course is that the the dual-sport adventure market is still very small in comparison to the big 1000+cc behemoths, never mind the street bikes, cruisers and MX machines; and that ultimately racing (at the manufacturer sharp end at least) is all about who's fastest, and makes the most power...
So we wait. For a while longer at least.
ps. Even if the decision is not returned in our favor, John does still intend to build the prototype engine - just because he likes a challenge and is bloody minded enough to do it! As his quote on the Jennydakar.com website says: "To try is not to fail..."
However should that be the outcome, where that leaves my personal Dakar campaign is a story for a whole other thread perhaps...