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Old 06-04-2014, 06:48 AM   #1
JMo (& piglet) OP
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Dakar Dazed II - Part 2: The road to Dakar 2015

Welcome to part 2 of the Dakar Dazed II trilogy!



Those of you who have followed part 1: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=858442 from the beginning of last year, will know that a key part of my own return to the Dakar has been in conjunction with Rally Raid Products' LC4-50 project that has been developed here in the UK over the past 18 months or so...

As a quick recap to get you all up to speed - the LC4-50 Rally bike is based on the KTM 690 Enduro R, with the addition of Rally Raid's EVO2 tank and fairing kit, together with the requisite navigation and FIM approved safety equipment. Fundamentally though, the original LC4 engine has been re-engineered [using a new short-stroke crank, rod and piston] to a Dakar compliant 449.6cc, retaining all the original benefits of the donor bike, in an affordable, low maintenance and ultra-reliable* package.

*Indeed, Rally Raid are so confident that the engine is in effect 'unburstable' that they offer to underwrite any mechanical failure during a rally that they support! - more about this later...



To explain the concept more fully...

While the original KTM 690 [and it's various derivatives] has proven an excellent open-class rally bike over the years, since 2011 it has no longer been eligible to compete in the Dakar Rally (and latterly the FIM World Championship) since they imposed a capacity limit of 450cc.

Of course we all know this cc limit was really to encourage more manufacturers (especially the Japanese 'big brands') into the foray - all of whom already had a 450cc MX or enduro bike of one sort or another, that could be easily and relatively cheaply converted into a rally-spec machine, in an effort to take on the dominant KTM factory team...

Conversely, it was inevitable that KTM wouldn't drop the ball through this onslaught, and certainly over the past couple of years particularly, we have seen a new breed of ultra-high performance, high-tech, and increasingly focused (and by that I mean requiring extensive daily maintenance) 450cc rally bikes emerging, as the factory teams compete up at the sharp end of the field.

But where does that leave the majority of competitors - the mid-field and tail-ender privateers who are simply looking to finish the longest and most arduous off-road race in the world?

Sure you can build your own bike around a lightweight 450cc enduro machine - suck up the cost of a spare engine (which almost inevitable needs changing half way through the Dakar, if not before), and suffer the relative discomfort (not to mention worry) of nailing what is still essentially a short-course bike over it's effective 'lifetime' during those two weeks and 9000kms... hoping nothing fatigues, breaks, or falls off - including yourself!

Or you can [typically] remortgage your house and stump up the €20-30,000+ Euros* it costs to buy one of the manufacturers 'factory' replica bikes... at least that way you'll have access to a similar parts pool (albeit at a further astronomical cost) that the top riders have, and hopefully benefit from a more integrated and cohesive design than the typical home-brewed bike... you are still likely to have to stump up another five grand for a second engine too though, if only as a safety net.

*That's in addition to the €14,700 it costs to enter the Dakar itself, plus a similar amount to an independent service team for full assistance during the rally...

Which brings us rather neatly onto what Rally Raid Products' consider is 'The Third Way', in their effort to create the ultimate privateer Dakar bike.

By retaining the original chassis and engine (albeit at a reduced capacity to meet the regulations) of the 690, the privateer Dakar rider immediately benefits from a powerplant that requires far less intensive maintenance - hell, technically you don't even have to think about changing the oil for the duration of Dakar!

More realistically, the LC4 bottom end is far stronger than the current breed of MX & Enduro derived engines... being originally designed to handle 60-70bhp, all day long, it has a strong (and suitably widely spaced) 6-speed gearbox, much larger clutch, increased oil capacity, and the inclusion of a balancer shaft makes the engine far smoother - especially during those long liaisons...

Then there is the chassis and geometry of the bike itself - again, a far more stable (at speed off road) and 'comfortable' machine - especially when faced with another 200km liaison after a long hard special stage, that in turn started with a long liaison, typically in the dark. Remember than typically 40% or more of the total Dakar distance is liaison, and the fatigue of the rider and attrition of mechanical components cannot be discounted just because you are not 'on the clock' - indeed, rider fatigue and mechanical failure are the two main reasons that riders [and particularly first time participants] fail to finish the Dakar.



Proving the concept... works!

At the start of the project (and the original thread here on ADV), we had a fair share of nay-sayers... typically:

"Why are you doing this when there are loads of 450 enduro and/or rally bikes on the market already?"

"It'll never work - and even if it runs, the engine won't produce anything like the power you'd want..."

"That bike is too heavy compared to an EXC"

Now I could easily counter all those arguments with an individual lengthy reply (although most of which I hope I have already addressed above in any case), but all I would say is while KTMmitch certainly enjoys a technical challenge, he is no chump - and he is not in the business of wasting his own time and his company's money on a personal folly!

Of course theory and practice are two very different things, so I'll let a few numbers speak for themselves...

49.8 hp @ 7840rpm

35.4lb/ft torque @ 6377rpm

In comparison, a stock 690 Enduro (654cc) on the same dyno made 59.1 hp and 46.4lb/ft torque - so despite nearly a 1/3rd reduction in capacity, we have less than 20% reduction in power, and more importantly perhaps - the LC4-50 produces better figures than pretty much every stock 450cc enduro engine - be that an EXC, CRF or WRF for example.

Perhaps most impressive of all though is that the LC4-50 engine produces a lovely level torque curve from around 3500rpm all the way to the redline - offering great tractability and retaining the 'feel' of a larger capacity machine!

So as you can see, the engine [design] does work, and it works damn well - better than any of us had dared hope!

There is a far more detailed technical explanation about how the engine was designed and built towards the end of the original thread: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=858442 - suffice to say, once the concept was proven with prototype parts, the production components were commissioned early this year, and the first engine built and comprehensively tested in the field (Tunisia) and on the dyno back in the UK.

Once John and Martin (Wittering - of Torque Racing, who built the engine) were happy with the fuelling and overall performance, it was up to me to properly prove the concept in an extended endurance test which included riding over 2000kms from the UK to Greece, racing the LC4-50 in the Hellas Rally for another 2000kms, then riding it back home again - all without touching the engine or changing the oil!

I'll be writing up my ride report (and photos, lots of photos!) over the next few days, but for now, we have something even more exciting for you...



The road to Dakar, 2015 - so who's coming too?

Having effectively signed off this project as a complete success after my return to the UK, John has now commissioned a further two crank assemblies, and ultimately will be building even more bikes in the coming months - why you ask?

The answers are all here, in the dedicated LC4-50 Dakar website: www.lc450dakar.com



Essentially, John and Martin have so much faith in the new bike, that they are offering a VERY attractive rental package, including full service assistance, for the Dakar this January 2015.

Unlike most other service teams, Rally Raid Products and Torque Racing have set out their stall with firm prices (in GBP) - no nasty surprises or hidden extras - it's all there!

Quite apart from my own personal campaign to return to the Dakar this coming January, I honestly believe the package/s available offer the most affordable and realistic way for anyone who is contemplating entering the Dakar this year to achieve a finish...

Not only will you have a bike built and tailored for you - including full navigation equipment fitted, but the Dakar rental package also includes use of the bike in another event prior to the Dakar 2015 (including a full refresh/rebuild prior to shipping to South America), full service assistance and mechanical support during Dakar, all transport and logistics surrounding the event, all the necessary spares available from their stock (effectively the only extras you'll have to pay for are your tyres/mousses), and fundamentally of course, Rally Raid will underwrite any mechanical issues with the bike...

I really hate to use the phrase 'No brainer', but in this instance I really feel it seems appropriate!

More soon...

Toot toot for now!

Jenny xx

JMo (& piglet) screwed with this post 06-14-2014 at 10:39 PM
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Old 06-04-2014, 07:45 AM   #2
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Old 06-04-2014, 08:14 AM   #3
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Best of luck Jenny
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Old 06-04-2014, 08:18 AM   #4
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Thanks for new link to part 2!
This is definitely "out of the box" thinking
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Old 06-04-2014, 05:19 PM   #5
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Been waiting for this thread to start...subscribed.
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Old 06-04-2014, 10:03 PM   #6
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In! Good luck this coming year Jenny!
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Old 06-04-2014, 10:04 PM   #7
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See you there :)

Jenny, I'll be shipping to South America in November. So I'll be seeing you, John and Martin at the Dakar.

John and Martin have helped me out so much on my RTW I'm volunteering my time during the Dakar to help the team in anyway I can/in anyway needed.

This is going to be good.
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Old 06-07-2014, 06:38 PM   #8
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Subscribed ! Best of luck!

Swag support coming?



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Old 06-08-2014, 02:10 AM   #9
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Old 06-08-2014, 08:32 AM   #10
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Old 06-08-2014, 12:42 PM   #11
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Old 06-09-2014, 12:06 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by ecarnell View Post
Subscribed ! Best of luck!

Swag support coming?
I certainly hope so!

We are currently in communication with an apparel company regarding the 2015 Dakar project, and over the next few months will certainly aim to have some specific 'limited edition' supporters' gear together, plus some tasty discounts on their regular product lines...

I also have some ongoing and new commitments regarding other [personal] sponsors, so hopefully a little closer to the time, we'll have some fantastic incentives for you all to chip in with a little financial support...

Of course in return for this, along with your own personal glow of internal wellbeing, and some tasty gear - we hope to be able to take you along for the ride as the team project and ultimately the Dakar 2015 campaign picks up speed - with a regular feed of behind the scenes photos and info, both here on ADVrider and on a dedicated blog section that will be up and running on the LC4-50 website soon!

In the meantime, shall we get started with a little ride report from the recent Hellas Rally?!

Jx

JMo (& piglet) screwed with this post 06-09-2014 at 06:06 PM
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Old 06-09-2014, 12:34 PM   #13
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Hellas Rally 2014 - first competitive outing for the LC4-50

So it kind of started a bit like this:



Actually, approximately two hours earlier, at the Rally Raid Products HQ in the heart of Bedfordshire, United Kingdom.

To recap - the primary reason for building a Dakar bike around the KTM 690 LC4 engine - other than the fact that the regular 690 is the core of Rally Raid's own product line of course - was to build a 'clubman' or typical privateer level rally bike - one that ideally would be strong and reliable, and at the same time, require correspondingly less regular/daily maintenance that the current crop of enduro/MX derived bikes...

That is not to say you wouldn't take as much care of the LC4-50 during a rally - of course you'd need to check things hadn't come loose or started to fatigue etc. but fundamentally, it isn't going to matter so much if you miss and oil and filter change for example, and you certainly shouldn't need to change an engine halfway through an event because the internals are wearing out - losing compression/burning oil etc. - and so ultimately could prove a excellent choice for the Malle Moto competitor for example, or indeed anyone who's budget is likely to be stretched by having to buy a second engine...

So as part of the development of the LC4-50, it was always John (KTMmitch) and my idea to really prove the longevity and minimal service requirements of this bike/engine, by riding it to an event, competing, and then riding it home again... ideally without having to touch the engine at all for the whole period.

Previously...
Originally we'd hoped to have the bike ready to race to coincide with the 'season opener' in March that is the Tuareg Rallye - held in Tunisia again this year. Unfortunately, while the bike was together and running (just three days before Torque Racing had to ship everything to Tunisia), we'd not had time to set up the fuelling properly, or even put any miles on it, other than Donna taking it for a brief ride up the road to make sure everything worked as it should, before loading it into their service van for the journey south...

If you guys followed the Tuareg Rallye official event thread this year: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=956944 (see page 17 onwards for my photo retrospective) then you'll know that along with my race reportage, that we got the opportunity to test the LC4-50 in the dunes, plus some endurance testing on-road during that week, and of course got a few tasty photos... here's John having fun on his new baby!









And a couple of 'spy shot' snaps during the endurance testing:





cont.

JMo (& piglet) screwed with this post 06-09-2014 at 06:09 PM
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Old 06-09-2014, 12:51 PM   #14
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What was immediately clear from the session/s in Tunisia is that while the bike ran with the stock 690 fuel map, together with the open airbox lid that was fitted to John's original rally bike which had become the donor - it would require some serious dyno tuning to get it to run anywhere near what we'd hoped...



Although Martin (Wittering, of Torque Racing) had brought his laptop with him to tweak the fuelling while we were there, it was still very much based on guess-work - and although some improvements were made, especially to the bottom end and off-idle fuelling - as it was, it bogged down at anything above 3/4 throttle, and also if you cracked the throttle open fast - having ridden the bike myself, the effect was as it was choking itself - on a diet of too much air, and correspondingly too much fuel.

Still - it showed we were going in the right direction, and both John and Martin were confident that we could find a solution once we got the bike back home to the UK...



After a couple of intensive sessions at dyno specialists Dave Woods Racing in Aylesbury, a custom fuel map for the reduced capacity was created - and indeed our speculation regarding the open airbox was confirmed when, having replaced the open lid with a stock 690 snorkel - we immediately gained another 1.5 hp, even smoother torque curve, and a far crisper throttle response into the bargain - result!

So with the bike properly set up, it was at last time for me to really prove it's worth as the 'ultimate Malle Moto machine' - with a proper endurance test, and not least a real race to prove it can compete on equal terms with the current crop of competition - be that a converted 450cc enduro bike, or perhaps more physically comparable, a factory KTM 450 RFR - this was going to be fun!

cont.

JMo (& piglet) screwed with this post 06-09-2014 at 06:11 PM
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Old 06-09-2014, 01:21 PM   #15
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Now where was I?

So, back to Piglet and I, a few hundred feet below the English Channel on a train, bound for France - Switzerland - Italy, and ultimately Greece, and the Hellas Rally 2014 in seven days' time...

I'd left almost exactly a week before scrutineering, as this coincided with Torque Racing loading their team bikes in the UK and heading for the ferry in Italy too - a few hours behind me.

I had also planned to travel extremely light - just a few personal effects in a Giant Loop Coyote bag (I have to say, after being a life-long Wolfman fan, the Coyote is now my luggage bag of choice - my only suggestion would be to incorporate QR buckles on the lower straps to make it a little easier to take on and off - although I appreciate their original design brief was more as a bag that you would leave attached for the duration of a trip). By electing to stay in hotels/motels rather than camp, the idea was effectively to ride to the race, race, and ride home again with everything I'd need carried with me...

However, I made two concessions - the first was to send my racing body armour and a lighter-weight rally jacket on with Torque Racing, so that I could wear my Klim Traverse incase (and almost certainly) I encountered any bad weather riding down through Europe in early May... and the other was to also send a spare set of wheels with off-road tyres and mousses already fitted - not only to make the primarily autoroute journey more comfortable, but also to avoid trashing a set of tyres before I'd even started the race!

It was of course my intention to ride the 2000 odd kilometres to Ancona, Italy (where we'd catch a 24 hour ferry to Patras in Greece) completely independently of the team... however, it was also reassuring to know they were only a few hours behind if the unthinkable should happen and the bike have a mechanical that I couldn't fix myself at the roadside...

I have to say, for the all the gentle ribbing I give John about loading his rally bike up like a mobile spare-parts shop (he fondly refers to it as the 'Mothership') - he has managed to stash all manner of 'get you going again' spares all around the bike - bolted to the nav tower, under the seat - and perhaps the neatest mod of all - a Motion-Pro combo tyre lever/wrench permanently zip-tied around the rear axle nut and along the swingarm... this guy thinks of everything!

However, for myself, the most important spare was nestled in a recess under the seat, and would be required the following morning, when, having limped to a budget motel on the outskirts of Metz in France late on that first evening after the bike started coughing and spluttering, and ultimately would hardly run at all...

The bike had been running perfectly all afternoon - initially I'd been cruising at around 110-120kmh (so 70-75mph) down to the Channel Tunnel and on the Franch autoroutes, but after the second refuel and around 500 kms into the journey, I decided to pick up the pace a little more to 130 or even 135kmh, and again was impressed how easily it held that sort of speed, and how unstressed the engine felt and sounded.

Of course my own WR450F Dakar bike could hit 140+ kmh plus for a time on-road, but you never felt 100% happy with a wide-open throttle for more than a few minutes during a quick overtake for example? (and that is one of the strongest 450cc enduro engines of course).

In comparison, the LC4-50, based on the 690 engine architecture felt like it could run at sustained high-speeds all day, and did - and had been all afternoon down through France... so I thought initially the coughing must be bad fuel or something? (the French add at least 10% ethanol to their regular unleaded you see, so I wondered if that might have something to do with it).

After getting progressively worse - loosing power/speed on even the gentlest of motorway inclines for example, and having nothing at all for overtaking, I finally limped into the hotel carpark at about 10pm that evening.

A quick call to Donna in the Torque Racing van and after describing the symptoms, she was almost certain it was a fuel injector problem/blockage.

This was annoying, but perhaps understandable as John's bike had not been used for a good long while prior to testing in Tunisia and the dyno sessions - and it was feasible that there was some gunk in the bottom of the fuel tank left over from previous events or from a Jerry can... and after a series of pretty much brimming to near empty runs that afternoon, had stirred up the crud just enough to block the injector.

The following morning in the hotel car-park, I put my personal rally tool-kit to the test, and sure enough, swapping out the injector for a new one instantly cured the problem - phew!

cont.

JMo (& piglet) screwed with this post 06-14-2014 at 10:37 PM
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