2020 KTM TPI Launch and WORCS Race | Jared Stock Gets a Win!
By Jared Stock
Photos supplied by KTM
One year ago, a 27-year-old male who was struggling in his attempt to become a retired athlete was pursuing an aggressive gardening project in his backyard.
The annoying DING of his iPhone notifying him of an incoming email distracted his laser focus from gardening to whatever potential news was coming in from the cyber world.
To his surprise it was not the usual email notification of coupons for this weekend’s big sale at the electronic store, but a ticket to ride some motorcycles at a world-renowned riding and training facility on behalf of Direct Motocross!
Billy, from Direct Motocross, had not only recruited him to ride some dirt bikes bikes, but also to freshen up his linguistic skills to write a legible article and review the new model year bikes.
After a successful trip to the USA he returned to report the news to Direct Motocross and it also served as a reminder that he was in fact a retired athlete.
Billy from Direct reported back that, “Hopefully, we can have Jared jump into another one of these bike tests!”
In a perfect world this 27-year-old male would have got back on the athlete program and began training and riding motorcycles again and took a refresher course in spelling and punctuation to get prepared for the call that came one year later.
If you have not caught on yet or read the last article that I am referring to, that 27-year-old male is me, Jared Stock. And for those of you that know me, you will know that the phone call to get another shot at riding and writing for Direct Motocross came to the now 28-year-old, still attempting to retire, plagued with identity crisis ex-racer dude.
So how do I reply when Billy calls to ask if I can represent the maple leaf at the 2020 KTM TPI Launch and race Round 7 of the WORCS Series at Grays Harbor out of the Factory KTM racing semi? Well, if you can picture this, I calmly replied with an, “Absolutely, you can count me in,” followed by me jumping up an down on the spot, fluttering my hands expelling high pitched noises from my mouth (envision a 13 year old girl meeting Justin Bieber).
I was running on a high thinking about racing some dirt bikes south of the border and as I completed my 7-minute walk to work with a subtle incline, my aching legs and heavy breathing led me to my next thought…wait…how long is a WORCS race again?
I quickly justified my acceptance of this offer by thinking, “Forget it, I will just go have fun,” and ignored the fact that I refuse to even play rec league sports because I get too competitive to win and I don’t end up making any friends.
Anyway, I always like to share with you, the reader, some imagery of how these scenarios come up and the conditions I find myself in (usually flat on my butt). It’s safe to say I was in slightly better shape than my last attempt at one of these and I have not hit my head in between, so I have not gotten any dumber than the last time I tried to write words to paper.
So, let’s begin!
For the release of the 2020 KTM TPI model range, the good folks at KTM had arranged the event to take place at round 7 of the WORCS series Grays Harbor ORV near Seattle,Washington. What better way to make a statement to back up their “Ready to Race” motto by having a dozen media riders of all skill level show up to a race, set the sag and drop the gate!
Upon arrival at the airport, the crew was waiting in your typical white van that has become the staple for motocross riders around the world. All the media filed into the van and we were on our way to the race track, our new home for the next two days.
I did not realize until we had showed, but not only were we being supplied some bikes to take for a ride, but they were going to give us the full factory experience by competing out of the factory off road semi alongside our new teammate, Taylor Robert.
Dinner each night was prepped by the team and consisted of your choice of ribeye steak, chicken, fish and sides of salad and potatoes. To say the least, we were being spoiled; however, word on the street was this was the regular level of treatment for the race team.
It was great to witness the level of care a professional team has towards their athletes and how that is entwined into their program. It really is no wonder to why we see the level of success see coming out of the team.
Before heading down to the launch, I had started to think about what bikes I wanted to try to most, and what the reader and common purchaser would want to hear about.
Of course, I knew the more popular models would be the 2020 300 XC-W TPI and its sibling, the new 300 XC TPI.
Selfishly, being a 125 rider now, I looked forward mostly to throwing a leg over the new 2020 150 XC-W TPI.
Riding and working in the industry for a while has allowed me to hear many personal opinions around the whole idea of 2-strokeTPI. The feedback and opinions had ranged both positive, negative and neutral.
With my own personal experience on a TPI bike, I would say I was more in the neutral opinion where I wasn’t disappointed but also not completely blown away. I would go out on a limb to say that I wouldn’t be alone in the initial ratings on the technology. I will go on record saying that I believe that the technology is only going to continue to improve and by KTM moving their whole off road line up to TPI technology they will not be turning back to carburation any time in the future.
After riding and racing the bikes all day, I would have to confirm my intuition with the improving technology.
Product Knowledge Session:
When we arrived to the race track, we were greeted with a line up of shiny orange bikes. The tables and chairs were lined up under the tent and it was time to take us to school on the long list of updates to the 2020 TPI model range.
The initial features that caught my eyes were the updates to the style of the bikes which I figured would go beyond looks and have some functional gains.
As expected, KTM blended their experience from the off road racing team, R&D specialists and Kiska design to update the bodywork to be more narrow in the front and rear of the bikes to improve the feel and connection for the rider and allow for more freedom of movement while riding.
Secondly, I noticed the exhausts on the 250 and 300 had a cone-like pattern right from factory which immediately pop out on pictures and in person. When you got closer you could see the exhaust had a corrugated surface, which is an innovative move by KTM to increase the durability to resist the ever-so-inevitable destruction of an off road 250/300 exhaust.
If you have not noticed, the exhausts have an oval shaping to them which has allowed the pipe to be brought much higher towards the chassis and allows much more clearance when jumping though downed trees and rock sections (Some people are twisted and actually get enjoyment out of riding terrain like this).
The list of every update is pretty lengthy, and I will let Billy decide if he wants to list the highlights pages at the bottom of this article…
During the product knowledge session here are some of the characteristics that stood out tom me:
During the product knowledge session here are some of the characteristics that stood out tom me:
- Three models added to the TPI line up 250 XC TPI, 300 XC TPI, 150 XC-W TPI. This to me shows the commitment to developing the TPI technology from KTM.
- Oil tank capacity of 700 mL which on average lasts up to 5 tanks of fuel and an average fuel-to-oil ratio of 80:1.
- Addition of an ambient air pressure sensor in the oil tank to assist in quickly adapting to changes in altitude. Good for us Alberta folks!
- Optional map switch is available for on the fly changes to the mapping. The bikes come with the standard map which provides a sportier feel and the alternate map will allow for a smoother power delivery.
- Improvements made to increase focus on low end power delivery.
- Cylinders are upgraded with fully machined exhaust port windows for enhanced timing.
- New models allow the use of a fairly common standard spark plug.
- The 250 and 300 motors have been tilted 1 degree forward.
- Radiators mounted 12 mm lower for improved handling.
- Frame carries same geometries but have been re-designed to increase rigidity. Increased rigidity is to improve feedback to the rider as well as increase agility and predictable stability.
- All models have moved to aluminum headstays (formerly steel) for cornering precision and reduced vibrations.
- All XC-W models continue to be fitted with updated WP XPLOR forks and PDS shock. For the forks a new mid-valve piston is installed for more consistent damping, as well as new upper cork caps with a two-prong adjuster (formerly three). The shock got an upgraded second piston and cup to increase bottoming resistance (Was really hoping this works as I looked at the jumps on the motocross section of the WORCS course).
- All XC models continue to be fitted with the WP XACT fork and shock. New name, same technology, new settings for a more comfortable damping characteristic. The forks are the 48mm AER fork with damping on the right and the air spring on the left.
Alright…LET’S GO RACING!
Going into the event we were only assigned one bike at random to sign up for the race. Coming from an ex-motocross background, if I am being honest, I was really hoping a 300 XC-W was not going to be my assigned bike.
Besides the bike practically selling itself these days, I wasn’t all that pumped on PDS (fairly ignorant to the whole system, really) and assumed it would be to soft and reactive for a guy who has ridden linkage bikes his entire 20-year riding career.
I was willing to compensate for a PDS to ride the 150 XC-W to try out the motor platform with TPI for you readers, and not my own selfish desires…
Anyhow, as life usually happens you get assigned the tasks in life that you NEED and not always the ones you WANT. I suited up for the first moto aboard a 2020 300 XC-W TPI.
I took a moment to adjust the rider’s sag, the levers and my bad attitude towards PDS and we dropped the gate!
My first focus was on the power delivery of the TPI technology. My first ride on one in 2018 I thought was fairly flat and so with my predisposed bias I grabbed a handful of throttle down the start stretch and sent it into a squid-like wheelie, the kind you see on those Facebook videos of someone that has never let a throttle out before.
I’ll admit this could have been partially because I do not race and train anymore, but I will give most of that credit to the improvements made to the motor and TPI combination.
Improvements to the bottom end power delivery: check.
As to be expected, the 300 motor characteristics call for some short-shifting to keep the power pulling in the mid-range down fast straights or the power will sign off quickly.
In my follow-up questions with the crew at KTM, this is just the characteristics of a 300 motor and I would have to agree based on other carbureted models I have ridden.
For those of you interested in the XC TPI models, the power plant is the same for the two sibling models.
My second focus was going to be on the chassis developments.
I will admit, for the first ever ride on a PDS bike I can remove my bias. The bike is purpose built to handle the roots, rocks and logs and I have to say it passed the test and performed quite well on these sections.
One thing I heard during the chatter about the updates was the improved absorption of the shock, so I put it to multiple tests by lifting the front end over logs and driving through with the rear end. I was pleasantly reminded of its ability at each test.
If I get to be critical of a couple items, I would have to say that on the faster pace sections and motocross track it was a touch reactive and quick.
One other thing I could be critical about was the bike’s urge to over steer and tuck the front end in mid-to-fast pace corner entrance trying to go for passes. I ended up on the ground a few more times that I would have liked.
From my knowledge of suspension, I could easier chalk this up to soft valving for a general stock set up. In sections and speeds like this, the more appropriate bike choice would be a XC with stiffer valving.
Idid want to take the 300 XC-W into some crawling slow speed sections and so outside of my motos, I played around in the woods to test power delivery and suspension.
The 2020 300 XC-W is still a weapon in sections like this. With the TPI there was never a hesitation to lift the front end in 2nd and 3rd gear to hop around and perform on the spot 180 turns.
For my second moto, I had the opportunity to trade bikes with another member of the media and hop on a new 2020 150 XC-W TPI. With the sag set and the levers adjusted, I lined up for a second hour-long moto and ignored my blistered butt and aching hands…or wait, I mean the other way around… maybe.
In the same order I wanted to feel out the power supply of a 150 with TPI technology and then focus on some chassis set up.
I cannot say enough about the delivery of power on the 150, and I think there is a great addition to these motors. I am a big fan of how you must carry momentum on a smaller displacement bike, but not a fan of how they usually lose bottom end when you make a minor error.
Although the TPI doesn’t eliminate this entirely, I found it easier to be able to ride this motor in the entire spectrum of the powerband. Rolling the throttle off and smoothly back on through the corners was where I noticed the transition of power the most.
It is also worth noting that I enjoyed the top end of the motor down the longer straights over the 300. All these characteristics are likely a combination of the updates to the motor and the TPI, but whatever the formula is, I LIKE IT.
The suspension on the bike was similarly soft; however, I did not witness any front-end tucking on this bike. I was really trying to evaluate what the differences would be to cause this, but I didn’t have enough time to test out different settings.
My one thought is although I felt faster on the 150, I was likely carrying less momentum than on the 300 and not asking so much out of the chassis for traction at mid to high speed.
Overall, I will say that I did end up having a more enjoyable ride on the 150 XC-W and somehow ended up winning the Open A class on it.
If these motorcycles were to end up in my garage for some extended testing……… (insert long pause) I would likely end up with a revalve to customize the suspension for my style and speed.
Other items I would be keen to try out of the selection of KTM Powerparts would be the FMF Fatty exhaust for the 300 XC/XC-W. I have always found the relationship between the two companies beneficial with detailed performance gains and particularly the Fatty to increase power delivery in the top end of the bike.
I would be testing them out with a fresh set of Dunlop MX33 for a tire that I am more familiar with.
Other than that, I honestly would not have many more adjustments to make and feel confident in having a solid platform underneath me.
Again, thanks to the crew over at KTM Canada and Direct Motocross for lining up this very cool opportunity to race under the KTM semi!
Big thanks to the KTM USA media team and race team for taking care of us on location!
If you have any questions about the bikes, please feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram @jstock732.
Editor’s note: How about we look into getting Jared over to Austria in 2020 for the Erzberg Rodeo? Thanks for a great opportunity, KTM Canada, and thanks for making him look good while winning, Fox Racing Canada.