There has long been the great debate of just how fast a dirt bike will go. Much of this debate centers around the famous June 1981 issue of Dirt Bike magazine that claimed the 495 KTM would achieve 123.75 miles per hour. Years later this claim would be discounted by one of the editors who admitted that the test was done using a stopwatch on a measured course and the results were less than scientific. Never the less that was one fast bike and the picture of Rod Bush tucked in, flat-out, across the lake bed is a classic.
Many years later there was another magazine feature that invited all of the top factory desert bikes out to El Mirage dry lake bed to again test top speeds. This event became somewhat of a bizarre free for all as each factory team started removing fenders and body work to gain speed. It was actually somewhat of a disappointment to everyone to learn that even the factory bikes, including the Kawasaki KX500 and Honda XR650 topped out in the 105 range. None of the bikes could muster 110 in racing trim. As the day progressed there were all sorts of modifications tried, the last ounce of speed came from finally removing the front brake of one of the bikes. In character as always, the only rider who would tackle the lake bed on this bike was Jimmy Lewis.
So here we are today in 2010. I am sure that many will still argue the virtues of the last great two-stroke monsters for their ultimate power. As for me, I have been out testing with the KTM squad as they prepare to tackle the Baja 1000 this year. The team is testing all sorts of parts and set up options. Nearly all of these are aimed towards durability to ensure the bike will finish as strong as it started. That is to say that they are not setting out to build some super hot rodded race motor. The team is fanatical about tracking things like oil and water temps as well as rpm’s. As part of all the electronic gear on the test mule, there is a small gps. Here is a picture of the bike taken yesterday.