Best bike for Baja 1000

J Caster

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lol...! i'll pay that one! well done to all the guys that raced , we're proud of our boys for 'havin a crack' ( and hopefully putting you guys on notice in the first 240 miles ! ) i'm even prouder to be part of the Force Accessories team , from Brian Finn ( Force owner )stepping up to support the race effort to designing and fab'n custom parts for the race bike , it's been a buzz for all of us downunder and we hope to be there next year...oh yeh , the postie bikes win safaris over here , too ! , i rode Brian's crf450R last weekend ( ex team honda with engine mods ) Man ! that thing ripped even with a dez sprocket on the back wheel !

Tell your boy thanks for the help! I was stuck with a broken part near the top of Matomi and he was the first rider to come along in the morning. He relayed the info to my chase crew waiting for me at the bottom of Matomi.
 

TETORTIZ

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Hey guys,

I'm looking to buy a new bike that I can ride to the trails. I was thinking the Husqvarna 501s or a 2021 KTM 500 EXC-F SIX DAYS.

Would it be possible to compete on these bikes? I haven't ridden in a while but I added a Baja race to my bucket list. I don't care about placement, I just want to finish the race.

Would it be possible to modify either of these or any other recommended street legal enduro bike to compete and finish?
 

xxxshiftxxx

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There is a guy who raced Baja on a plated KTM 500. I currently ride a 2014 500 and it is amazing in the AZ desert which I hear resembles Baja. I hear the new 500s are even lighten than my generation. I wouldn’t hesitate to use a 500 down there. Being competitive is subjective on what your expectations would be, but you can easily set up a 500 to run a good pace and not beat you up too much.

good luck!!
 

rustyb

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While I am no fast guy, I race over 60 in 4 corners region on a 450x. There’s someone in one of the series (maybe it was Gasit in 2019) on a KTM complete with turn signals that beat me. I’ve also done 5 1000s on quads so I’m familiar with Baja. Absolutely no reason you couldn’t race a street legal Husky or KTM down there, might even be better than an all out race bike in terms of reliability and comfort for what you want to do. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need the latest ”it” bike to run Baja-you could put me on Mark Samuels’ tricked-out 6-speed fuel-injected latest model 450x and I wouldn’t be any faster than on my mostly stock 2012 carbureted 5-speed.
 

TETORTIZ

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While I am no fast guy, I race over 60 in 4 corners region on a 450x. There’s someone in one of the series (maybe it was Gasit in 2019) on a KTM complete with turn signals that beat me. I’ve also done 5 1000s on quads so I’m familiar with Baja. Absolutely no reason you couldn’t race a street legal Husky or KTM down there, might even be better than an all out race bike in terms of reliability and comfort for what you want to do. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need the latest ”it” bike to run Baja-you could put me on Mark Samuels’ tricked-out 6-speed fuel-injected latest model 450x and I wouldn’t be any faster than on my mostly stock 2012 carbureted 5-speed.
Thank you. I simply want a bike that I can set up to ride baja ( remove st. stuff ) and still be able to convert back after race. that way i dont spend money on 2 bikes. I also think that the newest st. legal bikes are better than some of the older Xcountry.

Thanks again.
 

JDDurfey

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Thank you. I simply want a bike that I can set up to ride baja ( remove st. stuff ) and still be able to convert back after race. that way i dont spend money on 2 bikes. I also think that the newest st. legal bikes are better than some of the older Xcountry.

Thanks again.
One thing you really need to keep in mind for Baja is you want to be on a similar bike as most of the others. That way if you break down or need parts you might be able to scrounge some parts from other racers.

When factory Honda was down there we all rode Hondas because we used their pit support. Out of 150 bikes in the race there might have been a dozen or two of a different brand. The nice thing was that when we needed parts Honda would help us out, or at least the teams I was on, or we could bum parts from other teams.
 

TETORTIZ

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One thing you really need to keep in mind for Baja is you want to be on a similar bike as most of the others. That way if you break down or need parts you might be able to scrounge some parts from other racers.

When factory Honda was down there we all rode Hondas because we used their pit support. Out of 150 bikes in the race there might have been a dozen or two of a different brand. The nice thing was that when we needed parts Honda would help us out, or at least the teams I was on, or we could bum parts from other teams.

I've read the same advice on other sites but although Honda makes a great moto X bike i don't really like their enduro. I think it'll take too many upgrades to be at the level of the KTM or Husq, Beta. and I don't want to get stuck with a 4th choice bike the rest of the year.

I'm leaning towards the KTM since more people ride that than Husq and Beta because if I go KTM i'll go with 500 Day which should be more heavy duty than Husq.
 

JDDurfey

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I've read the same advice on other sites but although Honda makes a great moto X bike i don't really like their enduro. I think it'll take too many upgrades to be at the level of the KTM or Husq, Beta. and I don't want to get stuck with a 4th choice bike the rest of the year.

I'm leaning towards the KTM since more people ride that than Husq and Beta because if I go KTM i'll go with 500 Day which should be more heavy duty than Husq.
I am not suggesting you go with a Honda. I was merely using that as an example as to the thought process of bike choice. There are many KTMs racing in Baja. And I understand many parts are interchangeable between the KTM and Husky.

As far as Baja goes...it is far more important to put a team together that knows Baja and how to race it than bike selection. That may sound odd, but Baja is not for beginners (not saying you are a beginner, I don't know you). Even if you are "just riding to finish" you have got to have some people with experience in your corner. I know that a few years ago a guy that had never been to Baja raced the 1000 in the ironman class and finished. That was an anomaly. I know guys that raced Baja for years and never even finished a race back in the day. With much more reliable bikes these days a DNF due to bike failure isn't as often as a human failure.

Case in point, one of my good friends with lots of Baja experience was on the winning Class 50 bike this year. He pre-ran his section numerous times the week of the race. Then during the race he hit a rock in the dust and crashed breaking his collar bone and several ribs. He tried to ride out, but couldn't. He was able to get ahold of his team and they were able to get to him and his teammate got on the bike and continued. My friend was hauled out and back to the states. Thankfully he will make a full recovery.

I am not trying to discourage you in any way. If you want it, go for it. I am just wanting to shed some light on where your focus needs to be. If you are "riding to finish" a stock bike can get you there, pretty much every brand, with a few upgrades.

Like the late Corky McMillin said "In Baja, if you are going to be dumb, you better be tough"
 

JDDurfey

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I know you are wanting to have the ultimate "do it all bike" and that is what everyone wants. But if you are planning on being successful in Baja you really need to plan on pre-running. You don't want to pre-run on your race bike if at all possible. Your pre-run bike needs to have a 100 mile range and be bullet proof. I am not a fan of bikes without kick starters for pre-running. I don't like bikes that solely rely on electric start or needing a battery for the fuel injection. On race day, a 60 mile range is all you need, and there are lots of people on the course that can assist you if you need help. While pre-running I have gone all day and only seen two or three other people. I know that sounds crazy, but that is the way it goes sometimes. I only had one catastrophic bike failure while pre-running. I had a contingency plan thankfully. But many parts in Baja are not easy to access and rescue someone. I've had to tow teammates to the highway. And I've ridden double for 140 miles to get to the chase truck.

In years past, my best friend would provide the race bike for our team. He had a bike shop that would hook him up on bike pricing. We would put aftermarket plastic on the brand new bike, even some used stuff. Get the suspension done and put exhaust on it supplied by Yoshimura (another sponsor) Handle bars were changed and a stabilizer were added. Wheels would be changed to aftermarket supplied by sponsors too. The bike would be raced in Baja for one or two races and then all the stock stuff including plastics would be re-installed and the bike sold. He usually came pretty close to breaking even.

Now, we were not just "bucket list" racers. We would race an XR 650 so all the parts we took off the race bike that were still good would be installed on the next race bike.

Once again, I am not trying to discourage you. If you want it, go for it. Just remember the wise words of Sal Fish "Baja is not for wimps"!

If you want to read about some of the craziness of racing Baja I have many stories posted on my blog called Longview Ramblings under the "Racing" tab. Here is the link to the first of a eight part story about the Baja 2000

Baja 2000 Part 1
 

rustyb

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JD, I am going to respectfully disagree with you on the prerunning. The key thing is that you were, as you said, not just “bucket list” riders, but competitive racers. I agree that prerunning is important if you’re going for a win, but for “adventure racers” like me, especially with GPSs, not so much. We finished the 2012 and 2017 peninsula runs with zero prerunning, and finished the 2015 and 2016 loop races with prerunning maybe half the course. I think a fair number of sportsman riders do the same.
 

JDDurfey

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JD, I am going to respectfully disagree with you on the prerunning. The key thing is that you were, as you said, not just “bucket list” riders, but competitive racers. I agree that prerunning is important if you’re going for a win, but for “adventure racers” like me, especially with GPSs, not so much. We finished the 2012 and 2017 peninsula runs with zero prerunning, and finished the 2015 and 2016 loop races with prerunning maybe half the course. I think a fair number of sportsman riders do the same.

You do have a valid point on the pre-running. I guess if you are just going for a finish then pre-running isn't necessary. I would still advise it if at all possible. I have never used GPS on a dirt bike for navigation. The only time I ever had GPS was to mark dangers while pre-running on my bike when I was navigating a car.
 

rustyb

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JD, awesome write up on the 2000! I read the whole thing today, really captures the chaos of Baja racing, and all the hard work it takes to get a bike across the finish line. I hope the primadonna who wouldn’t get back on the bike because it was too beat up later realized that he passed up the once in a lifetime opportunity to cross the finish line of the Baja 2000!

This should be required reading for anyone considering a first time effort in Baja
 

JDDurfey

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JD, awesome write up on the 2000! I read the whole thing today, really captures the chaos of Baja racing, and all the hard work it takes to get a bike across the finish line. I hope the primadonna who wouldn’t get back on the bike because it was too beat up later realized that he passed up the once in a lifetime opportunity to cross the finish line of the Baja 2000!

This should be required reading for anyone considering a first time effort in Baja

The primadonna was never invited to race with us again. And I hope he regrets it the rest of his life. Although it was much more fitting to have the guy that organized the team and provided the bike to cross the finish line. Especially after he tossed the bike off a cliff into the ocean at RM 205!

If you liked the story about the 2000, you should check out the story I posted about the 2001 Baja 500. We finished 3rd overall! Not just 3rd for bikes, but OVERALL! The only two bikes to beat us were the Factory Honda bikes. And if the 1X had not ridden in the back of a Mexican spectators pickup to the Honda pit when their clutch burned up we would have beat Johnny Campbell and Tim Staab and taken 2nd place!
 

mxben

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The primadonna was never invited to race with us again. And I hope he regrets it the rest of his life. Although it was much more fitting to have the guy that organized the team and provided the bike to cross the finish line. Especially after he tossed the bike off a cliff into the ocean at RM 205!

If you liked the story about the 2000, you should check out the story I posted about the 2001 Baja 500. We finished 3rd overall! Not just 3rd for bikes, but OVERALL! The only two bikes to beat us were the Factory Honda bikes. And if the 1X had not ridden in the back of a Mexican spectators pickup to the Honda pit when their clutch burned up we would have beat Johnny Campbell and Tim Staab and taken 2nd place!

Wheres the link to that 500 write up. I love baja stories. Have a few of my own to share someday when they age a little.
 

JDDurfey

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Wheres the link to that 500 write up. I love baja stories. Have a few of my own to share someday when they age a little.

Here is the link to my racing stories page on my personal blog. The 01 Baja 500 is a multipart story like the Baja 2000. I have several other shorter stories about the beginnings of my desert racing. I need to write more Baja stories though. I was on the Class 30 championship team in 03.

Racing – Longview Ramblings
 

JDDurfey

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damn your old
Yup! My left knee reminds me every day that I wasn't so kind to it when I was younger. I really don't even remember hurting it, my left ankle and my right knee I remember hurting. I hurt my left ankle in Baja and walked on it injured for two weeks before getting to the doc, thankfully it wasn't broken. It was so swollen in Bay of LA that I slept with my boots and pants on for fear I wouldn't get my boot back on the next day and I had to finish pre-running to San Ignacio.

GOOD TIMES!!!
 
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