The Secret Blend
Words: Michael Carusi
I’ve been passionate about bikes from a very young age. I’m 39 years old and live in far Western Sydney, right where the suburbs meet the bush. I worked in a KTM dealership for quite a few years before starting as an official Race Team Mechanic with KTM Australia in 2009. While there, I have been fortunate enough to work with the Dakar-winning Toby Price and the Finke Desert Race-winning David Walsh. I currently work with Daniel Milner, who is the 2020 Australian off-road champion and I have been his mechanic for the last four years, but this is my personal project.
I’ve been a big fan of America's flat track series and that style of bike. I’ve never raced flat track but I’ve followed it closely. An opportunity came up at work which inspired me to do a build and I jumped the chance to make my idea a reality. When KTM US got involved in American Flat Track series around the same time and because I bleed orange, I couldn’t help but take notice. Everything merged together and the bike you see here is the end result.
My plan was to build something similar to the flat track bikes raced in America but with a difference; that difference being inspired KTM’s MX style. This includes things like the titanium bolts throughout the entire bike, which I think are more widely used in MX than in flat track. This is also a personal preference to make the bike as trick as possible and to add a nice amount of bling. The pipe is also a custom build that is more of a personal preference and not necessarily the exact thing they’d use in flat track racing.
The basis of the bike is a 2018 KTM 500 SXF. It started as a race chassis that was hanging around at work. It’s kind of a combo of MX and off-road parts used to create this mixture of bikes. The biggest engine the KTM factory produces in the SXF range is a 450, whereas the EXC-F comes in a 500cc, but not in this engine combo. Also, the EXC-F has a six-speed gearbox and the SXF bike has a five-speed, which is what I’ve used.
I’ve created a best-of-both-worlds flat tracker. The engine is a secret blend of SXF and EXC-F parts to produce a brand new powerplant that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. The forks and shock are WP factory items that aren’t available to the general public. They are 52mmm cone valve forks specifically intended for racing purposes. The rear shock is WP Trax Shock that is equally rare. The exhaust is a custom-built, full titanium and with a modified and shortened FMF end can. The front axle, footpegs and pins, and the rear brake tip are all titanium, while the exhaust bracket, frame inserts, engine brackets, skid plate and rear chain guide are carbon-fibre. All the grey parts you see are ceracoated. There’s also a hard anodised Hinson Racing clutch cover.
Of course, the graphics are bespoke and there are a lot of other nice little touches including the shock spring ceracoat and the hidden steering damper. The Excel rims are flat track specific and the Hoosier rubber is from their new flat track range.
Like most serious flat trackers, the suspension isn’t built for big bumps or anything else apart from going fast and turning left. Similarly, the bike will spend most of its time in top gear, so it’s all about the start and getting into the sweet spot at the top of the power range so you can battle out with the rest of the bikes.
It’s hard to pick just one favourite part with so many cool features on it, but the exhaust system would have to be at the top of the list. I should also mention the graphics, which I think really finish it off nicely. I didn’t want them to be to OTT, but rather something that would give the bike a nice clean look.
At this time of writing I haven't ridden the bike in anger. The gearing still needs to be fine-tuned, but I'm pretty sure the current combo will be competitive, with only a few mods needed once it’s on track. The dyno tuning showed plenty of torque and power, so it should be a real exciting ride on the dirt. I’m expecting it to be pretty lively.
Michael thanks: KTM Australia
especially Jordan Yeo, Mitch DeBritt & MattSkuse: @hoosiertireaustralia;
Kyle Blunden for the graphic design;
Danny Apro; Nigel at @engerineedtoslide; Warren at @coopertec_composites; @kustommx; Jamie at @fabtechcreations; & anyone else I have forgotten.
See more at @projectflattrack
Follow Andrew Jones photography at @machines_that_dream