Factory Off-Road Bikes—Brandy Richards’ KTM 250 SX-F

Brandy Richards downsizes from a 350 to a 250 to defend her H&H title.

After starting the season on a 350, Brandy Richards switched to a 250 SX-F to get more familiar with a smaller bike since she’ll be on a 250 XC-F at Six Days. The 250 hasn’t seemed to slow her down as she earned 18th overall in her first race on it.
After starting the season on a 350, Brandy Richards switched to a 250 SX-F to get more familiar with a smaller bike since she’ll be on a 250 XC-F at Six Days. The 250 hasn’t seemed to slow her down as she earned 18th overall in her first race on it.Mark Kariya

Bigger is better, especially in desert racing, right? For example, last year, Brandy Richards used a KTM 350 XC-F to win the Pro Women class in the Kenda/SRT AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series.

The first order of business was getting the suspension redone since Richards is notably smaller and lighter than the bike’s target audience. Thus, WP gave it lighter springs and valving for her weight and desert conditions.
The first order of business was getting the suspension redone since Richards is notably smaller and lighter than the bike’s target audience. Thus, WP gave it lighter springs and valving for her weight and desert conditions. CST tires with various foam inserts are at both ends.Mark Kariya

Somewhat surprisingly, she switched to the smaller 250 SX-F to defend her title this year, primarily because she wanted to improve her chances of doing well on the smaller machine she’ll employ as a member of the US Women’s World Trophy team at the International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) in Portugal in November.

But the switch to the “little” 250 for the first half of the season has done nothing to slow her down. Of the seven Nationals to date, she’s won six—and couldn’t ride that exception since it conflicted with another race she was committed to.

“I’ve actually done better on the 250,” she muses. “My best finish last round [where I was 18th overall] was on the 250. I think I’m a little more lazy on the 350 so I don’t charge as hard. On [the 250] I feel like I’m so far behind, I have to sprint the whole time.”

And why the SX-F instead of the XC-F?

“The XC-F [might have] a little more top [speed], but for WORCS and stuff, I really like the bottom-end of the SX-F. I don’t have a kickstand [with the SX-F and] I really wish I had a kickstand! They do come in handy. But the SX-F is just a little bit more aggressive on the bottom-end.”

So how has the KTM-supported Richards managed to pull it off?

The first thing she does is have the WP Cone Valve fork and Trax shock (that she buys specifically for this, saving the MX suspension for MX-biased work) revalved and resprung by WP for her and off-road racing’s unique requirements, primarily because she’s significantly smaller and lighter than the “average” rider the bike is designed for.

“This bike is set up for more high-speed stuff; it’s kind of softer [than stock],” she says. “When they come stock, they come with a 45 [kg/mm shock spring]; that one has a 42 on it.”

She concedes, “After they set it up for me, I did soften it a little bit [just with the clickers].”

Due to the higher speeds more prevalent in the desert, Richards runs a little more sag than a motocross bike might and sets it around 107mm.

While the Renthal handlebar is standard issue, the Neken triple clamps are not, with Richards insisting they eliminate the need for a steering stabilizer. A Motion Pro Titan throttle tube replaces the stock one.
While the Renthal handlebar is standard issue, the Neken triple clamps are not, with Richards insisting they eliminate the need for a steering stabilizer. A Motion Pro Titan throttle tube replaces the stock one.Mark Kariya

Neken SFS triple clamps align the WP fork legs and also provide mounting points for her favored stock Renthal handlebar. She notes, “[The triple clamps] kind of have air in them so the bottom-out is smooth up and down; that helps a lot so I don’t have to run a [steering] stabilizer.”

So far, she’s seen no need to replace the standard seat.

While the controls are primarily OEM as well (“I like the feel of the stock levers,” she says), Richards does replace the throttle tube with a Motion Pro Titan version. She also reveals she carries spare levers including a spare shift lever as well as a spare brake pedal in her fanny pack in case she breaks one during a race.

She considers the polymer skid plate from the KTM PowerParts catalog a must-have for desert abuse while the wider, extra-sharp footpegs are IMS Core units. “They’re really nice!” she adds. Another smaller addition is replacing the standard brake pedal tip with a titanium unit that has more aggressive teeth. However, there’s no brake snake installed.

Despite coming off a 350, Richards hasn’t seen the need for more power from her 250, the engine remaining remarkably stock down to the mapping and exhaust.
Despite coming off a 350, Richards hasn’t seen the need for more power from her 250, the engine remaining remarkably stock down to the mapping and exhaust. Naturally, she gears it up for H&H, going from the stock 13/50 to 14/50 via Renthal sprockets with an RK O-ring chain, and TM Designworks providing the durable chain guide and chain slider. IMS Core pegs and 2.6-gallon tank replace the OEM items while she leaves the standard seat intact.Mark Kariya

Richards finds the SX-F engine puts out sufficient power, even for desert, so she keeps it remarkably stock, even retaining the OEM exhaust system (“They’re really durable—very durable,” she comments) and mapping. Being a motocross-targeted bike, however, she does gear it up from the standard 13/50 to 14/50 with Renthal sprockets and an RK O-ring chain. A more robust clutch and clutch cover from Hinson gives her peace of mind in that department.

The Dubya hubs laced to Takasago Excel A60 rims—the rear switched to an 18, of course—bear stock brake components with CST tires at both ends. “This weekend, I’m running the Legion MX 6 rear with the Legion Desert front since this terrain [in northern Nevada] is a little bit softer, the MX 6 will probably work a little better,” Richards opines. “But I do also run the rear Legion Desert, which is also really, really good for most of the rounds. It’s for more hard-packed stuff.”

Naturally, Richards runs foam inserts, but she’s not tied to any particular brand: “It kind of depends. It’s kind of mostly whatever I can get my hands on because I don’t have a sponsorship [for that]. It’s between the Michelin and Dunlop ones. With the Dunlop ones, I have to run a size bigger because they don’t set the bead [as well since they seem smaller].

Note the Zip-Ty Racing sharkfin rear rotor guard, standard KTM exhaust system, and WP Trax shock. A common theme seems to be making sure things are durable enough to withstand the punishment the desert dishes so Richards can get to the finish.
Note the Zip-Ty Racing sharkfin rear rotor guard, standard KTM exhaust system, and WP Trax shock. A common theme seems to be making sure things are durable enough to withstand the punishment the desert dishes so Richards can get to the finish. So far, it’s working and she’s won every round she’s entered this season.Mark Kariya

A Zip-Ty Racing sharkfin provides protection for the rear rotor while she depends on TM Designworks for the replacement chain guide and chain slider due to their proven durability.

For the extended miles compared to moto, Richards runs a 2.6-gallon IMS tank with dry-break quick-fill receiver. (While she hasn’t tested to find out how far that’ll get her, Richards estimates that’s sufficient for around 50 miles of fast going, and up to 80 of more technical riding.)

A Twin Air filter takes the place of the standard foam element, Richards opting to run the dust cover for desert racing.

Richards has enjoyed considerable success in the World Off-Road Championship Series (WORCS), not only winning all nine rounds in Women Pro to date but also earning five podiums to hold second in Pro 2 Lights against the boys on essentially the same bike.

“I do stiffen the suspension a little bit,” she admits, “but other than that, I keep it pretty much the same. Depending on the WORCS track, I’ll change the gearing.”

F.A.F Graphics provides the visual appearance she’s after and says, “I’ll go through about two sets of graphics a year. Running so many different series, I have to change my plastics [for each one] so I alternate through them [before they get to the point of needing replacement].”

As befitting a Six Days rider, Richards performs much of the maintenance herself, though she admits, “The motor and more technical stuff, I take to KTM—they help me out a lot.”