Sean Finley: One thing I like about Editor Jimmy Lewis is that he loves to ride and wants his staff to ride as much as possible. Hence his decision to have the entire Dirt Rider staff use Glen Helen Raceway Park’s annual 24-hour team race as the testing ground for the 2005 KTM 525 MXC. Since this was a bike test, Jimmy insisted the beast remain largely stock. Knowing that the Glen Helen loop would be a punishing mix of whoops, rocks and high-speed straights, I pleaded to install my Scotts steering stabilizer but was denied-this was going to be a true test of the stock bike: no stabilizer, no trick lighting system; and the suspension would be asked to perform for six staffers who vary as widely in weight, speed and preferred settings as dogs differ at the pound.As for lights, we took a headlight shell from a 2004 450 EXC and installed Baja Designs’ glass lens and 80-watt bulb, the idea being to have as much light as possible without higher output and perhaps more finicky setups that required additional modifications. The biggest priority in a 24-hour event is finishing, so we muscled in some 4mm-thick Bridgestone tubes. We also started with fresh Bridgestone tires. The rear was an M402, which is what the bike came with, but we opted for the matching M401 front rather than the stock M59. One modification to accommodate Jimmy’s tender wrist was the 909 Team-bend bar, which has a little more sweep (I reminded him that a stabilizer would have helped). We mounted a set of Acerbis hand guards to protect the controls from the ground. One thing was for sure, this was definitely going to be a great test of KTM’s “Ready to Race” slogan.Jimmy Lewis: I ran to the bike on the LeMans start and thumbed the start button while the rest of the Business/Family class started kicking. Although low on battery power from our tinkering with headlights, the KTM fired in time to barely get the jump off the line. That meaty 525 power worked the front end up into one mean wheelie. Then I was monoing my way through the gears down the length of the start, straight into the first turn and the class lead. Only 23 hours 59 minutes 40 seconds left to go!I rode mistake-free for almost five laps. While being easy on the bike, I moved up into the top 15 out of 59 teams. We were even in front of our women’s team, which had started on the Expert wave! After a little testing and judging from our experience with the identically suspended 450 EXC, we set the bike sag (no rider, just the weight of the bike on the suspension) at 33mm then stiffened up the suspension with the clickers, mostly to get that extremely long-travel sensation to disappear. That meant tightening up the fork 13 clicks on compression and 7 on rebound. For the shock, we went 8 stiffer on compression and 4 on rebound. This gave the bike a much racier feel and eliminated a lot of its wallowy nature. And from the first jump I hit on the MX track, I knew we had gone in the right direction. Once off the track and on Glen Helen’s beat off-road sections, the MXC still felt plush and controlled without any signs of instability. And luckily for me, the ride height was on the money for my weight but would still handle the other riders (with staff weights ranging from 150 to 205 pounds).Then on the nastiest downhill, I hit a rock in the silt, did a nice flip and landed on my feet, but the bike was buried in the dust. As the dust cleared, I grabbed the bike and rode in to hand it over to Corey Neuer.Corey Neuer: “Does the bar feel bent?” Those were not the words I wanted to hear as I hopped on the KTM for my first stint. Luckily, Jimmy managed to crash as gracefully as he rides, and the bike and the bar were straight. It took a while to get comfortable with the big gas tank, but other than that, the Katoom was super-easy to ride. This was my second time racing the 24 Hours of Glen Helen, and I was stressed with the dust. But who wasn’t?We had a great team this year, and everyone came through in getting the job done. Karel Kramer was the only one to struggle with bike setup, as the handlebar was too low for his liking and he had a hard time keeping his weight over the front of the bike. Karel is 6 feet 1 inch tall, but he thinks he’s about 8 feet 2 inches and claims if the bar isn’t rotated forward, he’s not strong enough to hold on.Karel usually complains he’s not ready, yet he always comes through with a good performance. From the awesome KTM we rode to the camaraderie of our team, it was an experience I won’t soon forget.Sean: I was really anxious to ride and was quickly reminded that one of the bummers of doing a team race is not getting to ride until several hours into it. I volunteered to be third and got my first shot at around 12:30 p.m. Just as I expected, the course was already quite rough, with a diverse mix of terrain that included high-speed chop, 18-inch-deep sand whoops, a few second-gear technical trails and all of the huge hills that exist at Glen Helen (including all of the hills used at the MX National). Other than the inevitable summer-in-SoCal dust, it was a fun course and a thorough test of the KTM.I was impressed at how well the bike worked. It was amazing how much the suspension adjustments improved the bike. I have a lot of seat time on big KTMs, and they feel heavy and wallowy compared with a motocross bike. That feeling was almost completely gone and yet the orange banger still floated through the small chop with little feedback through the handlebar. The bike was also incredibly stable at speed even without a stabilizer, though I would still install one if I had the choice. The 525 chewed up the steep hills, and I was laughing in my helmet while climbing “Mount Saint Helens” in fourth gear, realizing the bike could probably pull fifth if I were capable of holding on to it. Perhaps I was that perfect middle ground among the six riders, but the KTM 525 was a good bike for me. It is a great all-around bike that I would definitely recommend for those who like to ride diverse conditions.Joe McKimmy: I was fourth in line to take over the quest to finish this 24-hour race, and my main focus was doing just that. My goal? Putting in decent laps without thrashing the bike. But Sean insisted on recording lap times, and I knew this meant it would be tough for me not to ride over my head and to keep the same lap times. Sean and I ride together a lot, so I know I have the speed to hang with him for about a lap and a half on a moto track; but the guy is always in shape to do 30-minute motos, which is where he just punishes me. The only thing that would help me get close to his lap times were tight, technical off-road sections where I could make up some time on him.But my first loop around the track revealed no tight sections, and I knew there was no way I could come close to Sean’s lap times on this fast, rough, rocky course. So I switched my focus back to just helping finish the race in one piece and giving some input on the bike.I absolutely loved the smooth, controllable power of the 525, especially when motoring up the long, steep hills of Glen Helen. But I struggled the entire time with the front end pushing, especially in slow, sandy corners, where it felt as if I were riding the bike with a snowplow on the front. Karel and Jimmy think it was due to the MXC tank we were running on the bike. In this case, I’ll take their word for it, because I had never ridden an MXC before. The rest of the bike worked great for me. In the end, I never beat or matched any of Sean’s lap times. Then again, he was the one keeping track of my lap times. I did, however, have a great time.Bryan Nylander: Going into this race, my expectations weren’t exactly high-my goal was to just do my time on the bike without a crash and hand the big girl over intact and ready to ride. I’d heard the horror stories about the dust, and after doing two DR 24-Hour tests on many of the same trails, I knew what to expect-somewhat. And despite my anxiety, honestly I was stoked; this was our first full-staff race effort. I ended up on the bike at about 2:30 in the afternoon. “Great, the hottest part of the day,” I thought to myself, recounting the weather forecast of temperatures in the 90s. So I rode conservatively with nothing to prove except that I can do three laps without crashing or destroying the bike-and with the knowledge that five other people were depending on me to do that. I surprised everyone with three nearly identical laps with speeds not far off those of most of the group on an unscratched bike.Karel Kramer: Rarely do I feel a lot of pressure to perform at races, but usually I have only myself to let down. As the old guy on the team, I wanted to pull my weight and meet my usual off-road goal: Keep the grips out of the dirt. That grip goal I met, but in spite of a whole day to prepare, I made some rookie mistakes. The bike was great except for the handlebar setup-too much sweep and too far back-with mega-power, plush suspension and stable handling. On the personal front, my boots felt odd even after a last-minute sock swap, and one knee was bugging me. Turns out I forgot to put my orthotics in my boots. Plus, the bar setup was tiring my arms and shoulders. The biggest problem was my stressing about how slow I was riding. I knew my third lap would be slower yet, so I pulled in feeling I wasn’t holding up my end. Then I found out I was doing 22-minute laps, and a third one a bit slower wouldn’t have been a problem.Sean: During my first session, I did three laps in the sub-19-minute range (which I was pretty excited about since they were not that far off Jimmy’s mid-17s and faster than those of the much-younger and should-be-faster Corey), so the bike obviously worked well for me. I did one more session just before dark, then we let Jimmy ride the first night session in case there were any problems with the light we installed at around 6:30 p.m. At around 8:00 p.m., Joe and I discussed the fact that it had already been a long day and yet we were not even halfway through our adventure. He tried to bet me that Corey would not stay through the night and we would be doing extra shifts, but I passed on that bet thinking he was probably right. Fashion-conscious Corey likes his beauty sleep; the bike was no longer pristine, and he had brought only one set of gear. Fortunately, Corey proved us both wrong and pulled his share, though he probably regretted it since he threw himself down pretty hard during his last time on the bike just after sunrise.At about 9:00 p.m., I tried to sleep (impossible with the anxiety that comes with racing) before riding a four-lap session that started at around 1:00 a.m. Even with the relatively minuscule EXC headlight (most teams run elaborate lighting systems that can inflict a suntan) assisted by a Cyclops helmet light, I managed to run consistent 23-minute laps at night on a much rougher course.Bryan: My night foray wasn’t as grand, and I made up for the lack of daytime crashes, stumbling blindly through the dust that flew at me like wind-driven snow in a blizzard (I think every fast guy out there passed me in the silty stuff) and finally meeting the little hill that I couldn’t. It really pissed me off. Here I was on a KTM 525, which eats hills like a wood chipper devouring tree branches, and I was getting kicked left and right and not going up with any real sense of purpose. How embarrassing. Eventually, I overcame my nemesis, but night racer extraordinaire I am not.Karel: We baked lasagna in the oven of our posh Gearbox trailer/pit vehicle, and I even grabbed a bit of sleep. My second shift on the bike was slower in the dark with our meager lighting. I just had to ride smoothly, and that wasn’t tiring me out at all. I knocked off three laps and really wanted to do a fourth but was worried that someone might be in the pits waiting to go. After my ride, I went down and checked the results. The Glen Helen crew was doing an amazing job of updating the results nearly every hour. The bad news was we had been winning our class all day but, between Bryan and me, we had given up the lead. That didn’t feel good, but I was still pumped that I hadn’t crashed.Sean: Even though this was “just for fun” and primarily a bike test, we had a chance to win the Business class, so Jimmy and I got serious. All of a sudden we were racers! We decided we should not let Bryan back out in the dark. He held his own with the sun shining but at night was not faring as well. So we took on some extra shifts and woke up Karel since he was just as fast at night as he was during the day (I hope I can still ride that well when I am nearly 50). Problem was that when I went into the Dirt Rider trailer to get him, Bryan popped up: “Is it my turn to ride?”Jimmy: Man, I was beat! Trying to be the tough guy, I rode a little too much each time out, running a little too hot. And now we were a lap down in our class. I decided to fix that and went out at night (my specialty) determined to put us back in the lead. On my first lap, I caught the Motoman Distributing TM and then put my head down for four more laps to get us a lap ahead. It sure helped that the other teams’ slower riders were on their bikes, and I’d pretty much memorized the course so our light wasn’t slowing me down any. I finally got off the bike to enjoy leg cramps and stomach issues the rest of the event, leaving my teammates with the responsibility of carrying the newfound competitive weight.Karel: I felt very lucky to be able to sleep since the others were having trouble. Did I mention the 200 Boy Scouts camped in the Hyundai Pavilion lawn area less than 20 yards from the course? I wonder how their night was … After a few more winks, I rode the final lap in the dark and saw the sun come up. The air was cool, and except for a few really silty sections, this ride was fun. Jimmy was hard-core about not wasting time at pit stops, so no adjusting the bar and no scheduled oil changes. What exactly was I thinking when I suggested my long-term 2005 bike for 24 hours of torture before I even rode it?We did change a rear wheel to get fresh rubber halfway through, but by my dawn session the MXC was missing shifts to second gear, and the rear brake master cylinder wouldn’t take sustained pressure. It worked fine as long as you could pump the pedal off and on, but if you held steady pressure on a long hill, the rear brake faded to zilch. I warned Corey about the brake, then got ready to swap out the whole rear brake system (since that would be faster) at the next stop. We also swapped wheels again. Why bother putting the worn tire back on when we had the original wheel refitted with a new tire?Bryan: My last session was quite mellow. I went out with a fresh rear tire and brake system, and the difference in drive was incredible: Hills were once again no threat, and I actually enjoyed myself, even passing some poor bloke on an XR650R in the rolling whoops-that was the highlight for me. That and getting my first-ever trophy with a No. 1 on it. Of course, as I drove home Sunday, trying to stay awake (they really should restrict the bikes to 96 decibels, so we could all get some shut-eye), I did a little postrace analysis and felt I could have uncorked her just a touch more in a few spots. Well, there is next year. The bottom line is I was glad to be a part of the effort.Sean: I did one last session at around 8:30 a.m. that went well. The rough track and lack of sleep slowed my lap times a little, but the bike was still working incredibly well. Joe brought it home for us with some great laps, which secured the Business-class win and 23rd overall. The KTM 525 MXC performed amazingly. Other than replacing the overheated rear brake assembly in less than 3 minutes (probably because I drag the brakes a lot), we had no long, unscheduled stops despite a few crashes.EpilogueKarel: After the race, I was concerned about the transmission, but new oil and oil filters brought as-new performance back. I’ve never let a KTM four-stroke oil get that black, and probably won’t again, but the bike doesn’t feel wounded. The chain didn’t even need adjustment after nearly 500 race miles. I switched back to the stock bar, took out the heavy front tube and went riding. The Acerbis hand-guard covers were scrap, but new covers have the Acerbis guards looking fresh again.Parts* A stock 2004 KTM 450 EXC headlight with a Baja Designs lightbulb. It worked flawlessly.* Replaced the rear tire twice with stock Bridgestone M402s. Zero flats.* Replaced the air filter five times.* Replaced the rear brake system (bad master cylinder).