Oh no, not another motorbike blog post !
Yes I’m afraid so… I bought this bike last summer and it is still a work in progress but I thought it was time to post something about it and the progress I’ve made.
The 950 Super Enduro R is a limited edition bike produced by KTM between 2006 and 2008. It is the equivalent of an “homologation special” from the car world and was created to allow KTM to compete in the unlimited class of extreme enduro racing. Only 3,000 were made and there are reputed to be about 30 in France. More of the history of the bike can be seen in this unofficial YouTube video :
I must admit that I didn’t have particularly compelling reasons to buy this bike as in reality it has far more power than I can use and is a monster to try to wrestle along the narrow local trails. However, it is certainly an interesting bike to own and riding it (off road) is a challenge which I quite enjoy, and which will hopefully improve my skills. I did have in mind to take it down to Morocco this winter but those plans were binned due to COVID – maybe next year…?
The rest of this post talks about the various mods I have made to the bike to make it more suited to trail riding, in addition to maintenance work and upgrades which are still ongoing..
The rectifier unit is located in the middle of the bike directly above the hot exhaust and they have a tendency to overheat and fail, often taking the alternator and battery with them.
Resolving this issue involved relocating the rectifier to the side of the bike away from the exhaust and exposed to cooling air..
The engine uses carburettors which are located between the V of the engine with the air filter under the fuel tank. Normally carburettors are gravity fed fuel, but in this case the tank wraps round the sides of the frame and the level can drop below the carbs, which requires an electric fuel pump. This unit is a simple diaphragm pump which is actuated by contact breaker points. Over time the points wear and can fail. The ones on my bike were still working but in a sorry state :
The recommended mod for fixing this problem is one developed by a 950 enthusiast in Holland who goes by the Forum username of “Dr BEAN” and this mod is know as the Dr. Bean Mod. He has developed a printed circuit board with an optical trigger that completely replaces the points. It comes as a complete kit and just requires some (rather fiddly) soldering.
Remove Indicators and Tail Tidy
For off road use (and the inevitable offs) it is wise to remove any extraneous parts that will otherwise only get bent or broken. In my case this included the mirrors and indicators and part of the rear mudguard. You can buy aftermarket “tail tidy” units to reduce the expanse of plastic hanging off the rear of the bike, but I managed to come up with a solution by simply cutting the existing tail unit..
The end result is a lot neater..
Other mods in the same vein were changing the grips, fitting new “flag style” handguards – I prefer them to the full wrap round guards that were originally fitted. I fitted a small mirror out of harms way and some shorter brake and clutch levers – less likely to be bent or broken in a fall.
I could write a blog post on just this subject as there are lots of options and pros and cons. But in simple terms a bike that can be used on road as well as on the trails places a mix of demands on the tyres and tyres that are good on the road do not work well off road. This has resulted in a wide choice of dual purpose tyres that are supposed to cope with both situations. The bike arrived with 50/50 tyres but they were not much use off road so I swapped them for Pirelli MT21 Rallycross tyres. These are “full knobbies” and the most agressive tread option available for the 950 – you wouldn’t want to go too fast or lean too far on the road with these, but I wasn’t planning on doing much road mileage.
Emissions Equipment and Air Box
For mainly off road use I wasn’t interested in complying with emissions regulations and the exhausts had already been changed from standard which saved significant weight as the standard silencers are fitted with catalysts and very heavy. Removing the emissions equipment from the engine should make it run better (I don’t need more power) and removing the huge airbox will also get rid of some weight quite high up on the bike. The air filter was replaced with a foam element – much lighter and easier to service and the carbs rejetted to suit. This was quite a fiddly job as everything is buried within the frame in between the V of the engine.
I was pretty pleased to get it all back together and working and it seems to run better than before !
As I mentioned at the beginning this is still a work in progress as I continue to work on the bike to make it more manageable on the trail. The various mods I have done have reduced the weight by 10Kg but it is still a 190Kg bike ! This is almost twice the weight of my KTM 250 Enduro bike with over three times the power – quite a handful !!
As I have ridden the bike more I’ve become quite critical of the suspension which is very stiff and harsh. This should not be too much of a surprise as the bike is capable of carrying two people plus luggage and has to be able to cope with that load. When it’s just me on a rocky trail the suspension doesn’t have enough compliance and as the speed increases it starts to behave like a bucking bronco.
In a bid to improve this I have removed the suspension and taken it to Max at TraxxControl near Cahors. We will probably need to change the rear spring and revalve the rear shock as a minimum, but we’ll see what he comes up with once he has everything stripped down…
Left Hand Rear Brake
As with nearly all other motorbikes the rear brake is operated by your right foot. On the road this is absolutely fine. But when descending a loose, rocky downhill section off road you need to maintain your balance (standing up on the pegs) and be able to delicately operate the rear brake. It may just be my general lack of competence but I find this really difficult and the brake tends to be either on or off. Part of the problem is that with big clumpy motocross boots on it is hard to feel the pedal at all, never mind delicately control it. I did shorten the pedal which helped a bit but was not a complete solution…
On my KTM Enduro bike I was faced with the same issue and fitted a left hand rear brake (LHRB) system from Clake in Australia. This was a revelation and that bike is just like a big mountain bike riding downhill – front brake on the right, rear brake on the left controlled with one finger each while being able to move about and keep balanced on the bike.
Unfortunately this system is not compatible with the 950 for various reasons and I have been unable to find another supplier. As a result I am currently working on a system of my own and the most workable option I have found is to try to use a thumb operated brake on the left hand side. I’m waiting for the custom brake line that I’ve ordered so that I can assess the amount of braking force that I can generate with my thumb. If it’s not enough I’ll have to come up with another solution…
Steering Head Bearings
When removing the suspension I noticed that the steering felt notchy – something I hadn’t noticed when riding the bike. I was quite shocked to see the state of the old bearings and that I hadn’t spotted it before. Maybe I should just stop fiddling about with the bike and just learn to ride a bit better…?