Bike Maintenance At The International Six Days Enduro

Taylor Robert talks about working on his motorcycle at the ISDE.

Taylor Robert
Taylor Robert won the Individual Overall Award while leading the US team to its first World Trophy Team victory at the 2016 ISDE in Navarre, Spain.Shan Moore

The recent Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro event held in South Carolina doubled as a training camp for the US International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) World, Junior, and Women's Trophy Teams. US Team Manager Antti Kallonen put the riders through different scenarios they will encounter at this year's event in Portugal, including working on their bikes. Each rider was required to change front and rear tires, as well as perform other maintenance duties such as changing air filters. During the camp, Dirt Rider got a chance to chat with World Trophy Team rider Taylor Robert, who explained the rules and intricacies of working on one's bike during the six-day race.

Robert heads down the start ramp on day 1 at last year’s ISDE in Viña Del Mar, Chile.Shan Moore

What are the rules as far as working on the bikes at the ISDE?

We impound the bikes on Saturday and then they sit [there] all day Sunday. We can go grab them Monday morning when the race starts. After we impound the bike on Saturday, the only person who can really work on it is the rider. The mechanics or support crew can put fuel, antifreeze, and oil in it. All they can do is fluids; the rider has to do everything else. Honestly, they’re pretty picky even about other people even touching the bike, so it’s pretty strict over there. They mark the frame, engine, and hubs, so you can’t switch any of those items. You can swap suspension components and the exhaust. They mark the exhaust systems, so if you wreck one, you can replace it, but then you have to go through sound check again. So once we impound it on Saturday, it’s really just the rider and the bike for the next six days.

Then during each race day, you guys have two designated periods where you can work on the bike.

Correct. We start Monday morning. We actually get 10 minutes in the morning to work on our bike before we have to take off on our minute because this is an enduro, so we have to follow a time schedule. We get a 10-minute work period in the morning and then we ride all day. At the end of the day, you come in and say your bike has to be in impound at 4:15 p.m. Well at 4:00, you’ll have a pre-finish, where you come in and they stamp your time card, and then you have that 15 minutes to change tires. So we’ll get our bikes into the pits, take the wheels off, change the tires really quick, and get the wheels back on. This will be my ninth time going, so I’ve got my system down pretty good where I can have the wheels on and off the bike in usually seven minutes or so, which gives me another seven minutes to kind of check over the bike. If it’s dirty, I’ll try and clean it up a little bit; just a little OCD thing going on there. Then just your standard stuff—oil, air filter, check your brake pads, [go over] all the nuts and bolts, and anything like that. You always hope for no major destruction because if you have to change an exhaust or handlebar or something like that, that takes a lot longer than you would actually think it does. That’s kind of how it goes throughout the week.

2018 ISDE
Robert taking his rear wheel off during the 15-minute work period at the end of the first day of competition at the 2018 ISDE.Shan Moore

Are there any other opportunities to work on your bike during the race?

We usually have four to six checkpoints throughout the day. At those checkpoints you can work on your bike too. [At the 2013 ISDE] in Sardinia, Italy, my suspension didn’t show up until after we impounded the bike, so I was swapping the suspension the first day before the race even started. I was only able to change the shock in the first 10 minutes, so then I booked it to the first checkpoint and swapped the fork [there]. Sometimes you’re already stressed out before the race even starts. The only thing you’re not allowed to do at the checkpoint is change tires, even if you get to a checkpoint 20 minutes early because you weren’t sure if you could change your tires in the evening, you still couldn’t change them there. Throughout the day you can kind of just go over the bike and check general maintenance stuff. If you have a clutch, you could change it in the middle of the day at one of the checkpoints, but unfortunately the bike’s going to be really hot when you do that.

seven minute tire change is the goal
Robert expects to change his front and rear tire in seven minutes during the work period at Six Days.Shan Moore

How much time do you budget for changing your tires?

My target time is always just to try and do it in less than 10 minutes, for sure. Like I said, I’ve been able to get my system down well enough that I can pretty much do it in seven minutes, but ideally you’d like to do it in less than 10 minutes because from where they stamp your time card, you have 15 minutes to get the actual impound. However, it could be a one-minute ride to your pit spot, so now you have 14 minutes to work on your bike, but you also might have another one-minute ride to where the impound is. So you’re potentially losing two minutes there and now you’re down to 13 minutes. It’s one of those things that you can explain it all you want, but once you experience it then you’re like, ‘I see how it works.’ Going into it, I had never even done an enduro before I went and raced Six Days, so it was a lot to learn the first time for me.