Enduro21 gets all the details behind the rocketship KTM 350 EXC-F powering Taddy Blazusiak to glory in the 2020 SuperEnduro World Championship.
The 2020 SuperEnduro World Championship comes to a dramatic conclusion next weekend, March 14 in Lodz, Poland. This season has seen Taddy Blazusiak and Billy Bolt challenging for the championship from the first moto in Poland, all the way back in December. Now, with just three motos left in the series, Taddy remains as always a title contender.
Underneath him all year has been this KTM 350 EXC-F. Renowned for his ballistic bike set-up indoors, Taddy’s 2020 factory bike is no exception with a list of exclusive set-up details all aimed at honing the machine for this increasingly specialist sport.
With the help of Taddy’s main man on the spanners, Stefano Cenzin from the KTM Farioli Racing Team, we’ve taken a closer look at this flying orange weapon of mass destruction…
Full Factory 350
We’ve written about Taddy’s SuperEnduro bikes in the past and the common theme is the special engine. The 2020 bike is no different and, again, very close to a supercross engine. The other common theme is that lips go tight when we asked for more details!
Cenz enlightens us slightly with: “The engine is very explosive, he wants a bike that goes immediately when he touches the gas at the bottom of a jump. For my personal opinion, it’s too explosive nearly in the limit of too much.”
The Akrapovic exhaust is also a special part just for this bike and Blazusiak. Taddy developed two different exhausts with Akro for his bike and then chooses between them but “they are exclusive for him no other rider has them.”
Solid WP Suspension
The suspension has a particular setting for SuperEnduro, just as you’d expect and basically that means “very stiff”. Taddy gets his suspension dialled in pre-season and then just changes a few clicks depending on the race – never by much though Cenz says.
“Taddy is very professional in this aspect and has a really good understanding of the suspension. When he trains and tests with the WP technicians he arrives at the final setting before we arrive at the races. He also works a lot on understanding how opening or closing the clicks affects the bike.”
Interestingly, Cenzin compares the 300 EXC TPI Taddy uses in the WESS races and the SuperEnduro 350 as “like two opposite worlds! WESS is more about traction and feel where SuperEnduro is about speed and jumps – the suspension is the first and biggest difference with the WESS bike.”
A relatively small but very visible difference is the lack of handguards indoors but that’s just the tip of an iceberg up top of this bike. Taddy’s bike set-up is very much like that used by the Supercross and MX KTM factory bikes: “We run the same set up as the SX and MX guys.” Explains Cenz. “The position of the levers is also closer to the bars – I make a special modification inside the lever to make them like this.”
We took a quick pull on the front brake lever and it is like a switch, perfectly primed with instant bite on the pads and as he says, minimal movement.
“They’re really helpful in SuperEnduro because in this type of races you only use like two millimetres of the travel of the lever. Especially with the clutch as soon as you touch the lever it starts working, with the brake is also a very direct. Also it helps with the end of the races with the arm-pump because they act faster.” This is one pin-sharp bike.
Cenzin goes on to explain Taddy is very particular with the clutch in fact. “He wants it to act as soon as he touches the lever. This is only for the SuperEnduro bike because it wouldn’t be possible to use it in the extreme races.”
The clutch pump is also a factory mod with “different internals” and “a different configuration” – similar to the supercross parts. The effect is a softer clutch than standard: “it’s a mix between the supercross one, for grip and feeling, but with very soft springs like enduro inside for the feeling – it’s a special setting for Taddy.” Says Stefano.
Other details include the sweet, CNC-machined, aluminium throttle body cover which is “almost impossible to break.” You might have noticed KTM factory bikes across the board now all have two start buttons, one on the bars like normal and one on the frame behind the rider’s knee. Simply it’s in case one breaks because there are no kickstarts on the bikes, though they also do this on WESS two-strokes. “It’s a new thing we incorporated this season and everyone in the team has it – the motocross factory bikes, the beach race bikes of Nathan Watson and the Supercross bikes in America.”
Blazusiak prefers the 999 bend Renthal handlebars and it’s interesting to see the standard KTM grips, “the lock-on system it makes them easier to install and once they’re put on they never move.” Explains Cenzin.
Raptor Titanium make a range of footpegs with options for standard, 5mm down, back, 10mm down or back and more. “Sometimes on the WESS bike we use different position pegs.” Says Cenz. “When we need to find more traction we use this position because being more in the rear and more down makes finding grip easier, you can push more in the shock.”
Raptor also make the little toe grip for the brake lever – it’s titanium but also bends rather than snaps which is a preference for many riders. The rear brake lever itself is interesting – it’s the one from the two-stroke bike because it sits closer to the engine. We’d never noticed but the four stroke one sits further out, “everyone at home can change it if they want.” Says Cenzin.
“They were a prototype, now they have become an official part anyone can buy” – Stefano Cenzin
Two holeshot fork devices
Holeshot devices are increasingly a feature across the grid in SuperEnduro and an obvious hand-me-down from motocross. Exactly where to place the device can vary a little not many riders use two!
“Taddy uses the lower one for the normal races and the upper one for the reverse grid race where the holeshot is not possible and they have less ‘jump’ off the start gate.” Cenz explains. “It’s a special present for Taddy!” he adds.
New triple clamps
The shiny triple clamps fitted to both Taddy and Jonny Walker’s SuperEnduro bikes are the new model heading to the KTM Power Parts catalogue. They are lighter with different bracing and what you might describe as more vaulting. “When Taddy tested them he liked them a lot but they were a prototype at the time, now they have become an official part anyone can buy.” Says Cenzin.
The lights aren’t on and no-one’s home
It’s amazingly difficult to spot when you’re watching the races but up close and personal there’s something odd about the factory bike’s headlights. Like those you see on World Superbikes, the light isn’t there at all, it’s just a fancy sticker just there to make it look like an enduro bike. As for the electrics, the wiring is from the supercross machine “because it’s very light.”
Motocross fuel tank
The fuel tank on Taddy’s EXC-F is in fact the 6.5 litre part from the motocross bike. “We also never run it full,” adds Stefano, “because it’s not necessary for these races. Normally we put 4 or 4.5 litres. For WESS we use the normal 9.5l tank.”
Skid plate choices
Different KTM Factory bikes have different options for bashplate – all of them saucy. This one is made from carbon fibre by Akrapovic and is “really light and strong but we only use it indoors for the WESS.” The team uses an Acerbis one made from Teflon outdoors “because it slides good in the rocks”.
In essence the frame has to remain the same as the stock KTM 350 EXC-F, thesea re the rules of course. The only difference on Taddy’s bike Cenz tells us is “more attention put on the welding and the subframe is made out of titanium.”
The rims are different from standard, “we use the yellow Excel ones because they’re built in really strong aluminium but spokes are standard.” Says Cenz. The front and rear Moto Master brake rotors are the same ones we use on the WESS bikes. The brakes calipers themselves are the Brembo ones in the KTM Power Parts line, the same ones as on the WESS bike.
Depending on the track conditions Taddy changes the rear tyres or mousses. With a hard track he uses a standard, but “used” Metzeler mousse with a super soft tyre to gain the extra traction in the rocks and logs. But the options for different mousses and occasionally tyre compound is there depending on the track conditions
“We change the gearing also, we normally move from a 50 to 52 in the rear for SuperEnduro – in WESS we use from 49 to 51 depending on the race and always use the stronger, steel tooth sprocket from Supersprox which is from the KTM Power Parts catalogue.” Says Cenz. “In the front we use 12 for SuperEnduro and 13 for WESS, the WESS is faster and the gearbox gearing is different in that bike anyway so we use a faster set-up.”
At the time of writing this the rear brake disk protector is from ZipTy, the same one the team uses outdoors. But we hear the team might switch to the protector from the KTM Power Parts catalogue.
That’s it. What a special bike. There are some saucy details to Taddy’s 2020 bike and we can only imagine how the hell he holds onto it – we don’t know whether we want to give it a spin or run a mile.
The final round of the 2020 SuperEnduro World Championship is next weekend, March 14 in Lodz where a very Taddy-friendly crowd will be awaiting the final showdown. Bring it on.
Photo Credit: Enduro21/Andrea BelluschiJon PearsonEnduro21 Editor and Bike Testerjon.firstname.lastname@example.org