The speculation is, that with maximum motorcycle capacity reducing to 450cc, Aprilia, BMW and the Japanese makers may finally be more competitive in The Dakar. Well, KTM might have a thing or two to say about that. This video of last year’s winner Cyril Despres practicing at his own private test track in the Pyrenees teases his new race bike, the KTM 450 Rally.
The most interesting, yet hardest to follow motorcycle race in the world decided to drop its motorcycle capacity limit last year in the interests of reducing speeds to increase safety and to foster better competition. KTM has won every race for the last decade. In response to the rule change, the Austrian manufacturer initially threatened to drop out, but relented when organizers moderated the change by implementing a gradual adoption. This year, Elite-class riders must run bikes “whose power does not exceed 450cc” while next year the bikes will actually have to be 450cc or smaller. Rather than restrict its old 654cc bikes, it appears KTM has chosen to go ahead and start running a 450.
The thinking is that KTM will choose to run a steel-trellis framed platform similar to that of its 690 Enduro rather than the steel cradle framed platform of the 450EXC since such an arrangement would give it a better ability to carry auxiliary fuel tanks and other equipment needed to complete the 5,600-mile race.
According to Cyril’s website, he’ll be debuting the bike at the Rally de Maroc in October.