OffRoad Mini Bike - KTM 85 EXC - Dirt Rider Magazine

Taking your kid out on the trail isn't as easy as it seems. His riding ability may be there, but sometimes the proper equipment isn't. Since KTM is so strong in the off-road market yet doesn't really offer a smaller EXC, we went ahead and created one, to see what a fully equipped mini off-roader would be like.Dirt Rider, in conjunction with Mini Rider, set out to make an 85 EXC just as if KTM had decided to build it. We began by focusing on the ignition for two reasons. First, we wanted to get a smoother and longer power pull for tougher off-road conditions, so we added a flywheel weight. We got our hands on a Steahly Off Road heavyweight flywheel, which bolts onto the stock crank in place of the flywheel nut and is a simple 30-minute install. Second, Baja Designs installed a lighting coil inside the stator so that we could run a headlight and a taillight without the use of a battery. Total output was near 40 watts, enough to ride at night. While the bike was at Baja Designs, the boys there hooked up a trick LED under-fender and taillight. We used a Polisport headlight with separate high and low beams, each running a 35-watt bulb.Enduro Engineering hand guards and an aluminum skid plate help protect the little bike. The skid plate, shared with the KTM 125, just had to be drilled differently to mount on the smaller frame. E-Line has a really trick carbon-fiber pipe guard that not only protects the pipe but also deadens sound output, which is always a good thing. We threw on an FMF TurbineCore spark arrestor to hush our bike and make it legal to ride in state off-road parks.On the soft side for the majority of the kids who rode it, the suspension worked decently in most off-road conditions. For lighter children, we opened up the compression adjusters front and rear and got a compliant ride in the chop and bumps, even over loose rocks on the trail. Had we been setting it up for a specific rider, a good suspension shop that understands off-road settings could surely have made it better. But the biggest help here was the addition of a Works Enduro Rider steering stabilizer, which bolted right on our 85 without creating triple-clamp issues. It attached to the frame-after we drilled just one hole-and then mounted atop the front fender and tucked nicely behind the headlight on our bike. Mefo soft-terrain tires rounded out the package, as the first ride on the 85 would be in the Florida sand. They hooked up really well there and in mud and transferred onto hard terrain decently.Due mostly to the heavier flywheel, the power spread is a lot more mellow, but it didn't slow down the bike one bit. In fact, one test rider who races a KTM 85 in motocross thought our enduro bike was faster than his MX bike because "it really hooked up and pulled!" Most 85cc bikes are a bit on the pipey side for really technical riding, but this KTM torqued down pretty well for an MX machine.The stock hydraulic clutch's action is as good as it gets in the minibike class, but the plates do take some abuse in really tough trail conditions. The addition of the FMF S/A muffler seemed to smooth the power by slowing the ramp up in rpm, making the spread a bit longer and giving a boost in outright top power. Our biggest concern for this bike is the stock brakes, which tend to fade quicker than on other minis and suffer from pad-life issues.On the cosmetic side, the EE goodies make the bike look more like an off-road racer but have a second function as well: protecting the levers and expensive hydraulic clutch unit. The skid plate will stop rocks from getting to the cases and help keep them from dinging the lower frame rails. Ditto for the pipe guard, and you know how expensive pipes can get when you tip over in rocks and stumps.Overall, our bike was a success at meeting most of our needs for an off-road racer and, even better, is a competent and legal trailbike that's as trick as Dad's. As it sits, it is enduro-legal even if the rider isn't old enough to ride in one. It'd be a perfect GNCC Youth-class ride and still handle the track with ease. And it could be a ride for an older inseam-challenged rider or even a choice for some of the more petite girls out there who prefer a really lightweight bike. If you add a 105cc kit and/or larger 16-inch/19-inch wheels, this bike can take on even more challenges.Check out the summer edition of Mini Rider for more info on the KTM 85 EXC.