As the sport of EnduroCross continues to evolve, the tracks and the riders aren’t the only things getting tougher. The top race bikes-once production off-road machines with heavy-duty skid plates and hand guards-have similarly progressed toward increased durability, more specific performance and a seriously enhanced cool factor compared to the EX bikes of old. Ironically, several of today’s purpose-built EnduroCross steeds are now being constructed around motocross-specific platforms, as many stock off-road motorcycles tend to be too heavy, undersprung and underpowered for most pros’ tastes.
One team that seems to have struck a perfect balance between off-road attitude and motocross performance is Zip-Ty Racing-a squad that applied years of racing experience to Husqvarna’s TC250 in order to turn the four-stroke MXer into an all-out EnduroCross weapon. Under the direction of team manager and off-road legend Ty Davis, the Zip-Ty mechanics outfitted team rider Cory Graffunder with a mean-looking factory bike that barks like a bulldog while still retaining its stylish European flair. The end result is a well-tuned, highly modified TC250 designed to slay the brutal array of obstacles found inside the EnduroCross series.
While navigating the arduous EX course at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Graffunder’s bike certainly doesn’t feel much like the stock TC250 that we included in our MX shootout last month. For one thing, this suspension is extremely stiff for an off-road bike. Graffunder is a big kid and he likes to charge into obstacles with plenty of speed and momentum, both of which necessitate what can only be described as a rigid setup (as felt by a slower, lighter rider). Despite the harsh character and a rather tall ride height (to accommodate the rather tall pilot), the fork and shock feel very balanced everywhere around the track, and the extra bottoming resistance was appreciated when smashing into the big tire section and dropping off the two cars on the course. One feature that Zip-Ty certainly retained while outfitting the TC250 for EX use is the lightweight feel of the entire package. With nimble steering and an easy-to-lean feel, Graffunder’s machine is incredibly maneuverable compared to a larger off-road bike or something with a high-capacity fuel tank. You can tell from watching Cory ride that he appreciates the added flickability.
The motor on Graffunder’s four-stroke is an interesting compromise of pure punch and total traction. The hit side of the power is a product of the Jardine exhaust and Zip-Ty motor work that produce instant snap and immediate delivery. If you’re not weighting the back tire or balanced on the pegs, this can get away from you in the form of wheelspin. However, when planted on the Husky with your weight in a spot where the tire can hook up, the bike is a rocket! For a standard EnduroCross course, first and second gear were all that it took to stay in the meat. Complementing the strong motor is a Rekluse EXP auto-clutch that is perfectly tuned for the bike’s delivery, meaning the engagement point is consistent without being overly violent or vague. The Rekluse is a popular EX mod for when a rider accidentally drops the bike or loses momentum in a rough section; Graffunder stated that his auto-clutch is a “complete lifesaver.” The front brake on the Zip-Ty bike is, for lack of a better description, monstrous. One finger is enough to bring the back end up, and you really have to be careful not to wash out in less-than-grippy conditions. Additionally, Graffunder runs his rear brake pedal fairly high, giving the rear brake a snappy feel.
On the outside, this TC250′s MX flavor is evidenced by the number plate, standard-sized tank and lack of hand guards (with no trees to hit on the EX course, the Husky team feels that ARC folding levers are sufficient to keep the controls protected from crash damage). Many of the other components have also been beefed up to handle the variety of EX obstacles, and foam tire inserts protect against punctures and flats. All in all, the machine is well tuned and perfectly set up for Graffunder’s style. But what does the young Canadian think of this machine, having never ridden a Husqvarna before he earned his ride with Zip-Ty? “Coming off the two-stroke [KTM], it was a little bit different adjusting to my Husqvarna,” Cory recalls. “But the TC250 is a really light bike-it feels like a two-stroke already-so it was a very easy adaptation. For EnduroCross, I really think this is the best bike. It’s light, it’s got the low grunt coming out of turns as well as the tractability across the slippery rocks and logs. It’s the best all-around for me.”
With a fifth place finish (third European bike) in the final 2009 series standings, Graffunder is already focused on the 2010 EnduroCross season. And at a time when many of their competitors are still searching for sponsors and looking for rides, Cory and the rest of the Zip-Ty Racing squad are steadily plugging away, training and testing, preparing for what will undoubtedly be the toughest EnduroCross series yet.Cory Graffunder’s Husky TC250 Parts And Mods:
Custom motor, head and crank work done by Zip-Ty Racing
Full titanium exhaust by Jardine
Rekluse EXP clutch system
12-tooth countershaft sprocket
Zip-Ty Racing carburetor modifications including fuel screw, hot-start nut and drain bolt nut
Remote hot-start system on carburetor
Uni air filter
Zip-Ty Racing case saver
Zip-Ty Racing magnetic drain bolt
Zip-Ty Racing oil fill plug
Zip-Ty Racing skid plate
Zip-Ty Racing brake stop
Zip-Ty Racing chain adjuster blocks
Zip-Ty Racing front axle nut
Zip-Ty Racing extended shifter tip
Zip-Ty Racing rear brake tip
Lightspeed titanium footpegs
Marzocchi front suspension (Zip-Ty Racing specs)
Pirelli tires with mousse inserts
Supersprox rear sprocket
T.M. Designworks rear chain guide
D.I.D MX Gold chainTo get your hands on some of the goodies on Graffunder’s bike, log on to www.ziptyracing.com.