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ADB Contributor Ed Hartley books some time with hard enduro turned rally legend Lyndon Poskitt to talk about his Husky 450 Rally Build.

I’m a keen trailrider but for some reason in my late 30’s I just got much more into it. Last year I raced Finke for the first time just to experience it and challenge myself and it was awesome. In the final leg home I was dehydrated, exhausted and my body hurt and I said to myself whilst riding the last 30 km, if I ever talk to my mates about doing Dakar, they can kick me in the balls three times and then see if I’m still keen. Yet here I am thinking about big rallies. Searching for answers that’s when I found Lyndon Poskitt and his impressive Husky 450 Rally Build.

I recently bought a MY24 KTM 450 EXC-F and I want to go further on my rides and learn how to rally. So I have to find a way to stretch the fuel a bit, know where to go and learn to follow directions at pace. 

My interview with Lyndon Poskitt almost didn’t happen becasue like all things in 2024, it started with the standard tech issues. I was unable to video call Lyndon over WhatsApp and it looked like my long-awaited chance to talk to the dirtbike legend about rally bike setup would never eventuate. It was 5am and I hadn’t even had my coffee! Eventually Lyndon called, I took a swig of coffee and we got the ball rolling. 

Lyndon: It’s awesome you raced Finke. Did you ride your GASGAS EC 250 and did you finish? 

Ed: I finished but I chickened out on riding the 250 and bought a 2023 Husky FE 501 to make life easier. I got Banks Race Development who are race mechanics and a WP dealer, to set up the bike and suspension and it was just perfect for that race. 

Lyndon: Good, so you’re familiar with the Husky setup then! Let me tell you about my 2024 FE 450 and how I set it up. 

I went in the Hellas rally on a KTM 450 RR and came second. [Ed: That tells you how fast and competent the guy is]. It was tight, twisty and really required an agile bike which a 450 RR is not (they’re 140kg – 180kg wet) and the other racers were amazed at how well I placed on a big rally bike. So the first thing I did afterwards was buy an enduro bike for better handling, I got the Husqvarna FE450.

The 450 is the rally engine size. I think the 500s are great, they’re just kind of a lazy man’s bike, torquey with a lazy motor and tip in is also a bit lazier. With the 450 you get enough power and sharp handling. I also love 350s but I just really need to be ‘on it’. So the 450 is fit for purpose and fun.

 My first impression of the Husky was that it was stiff, like a motocross bike so I set about improving the chassis and suspension. I rode with a mechanic to make real time changes and improvements. In sand, at high speed it isn’t very stable so improving that for rally conditions was a priority. 

We dropped the shock 10-15mm below the factory specifications. This lifted the front-end and we pushed the fork down through the triple clamps to rake it out as much as possible. That made a huge improvement to the stability but changing the chassis made the biggest difference.

I also fitted a Factory WP triple clamp to have multiple offset options which is a super important piece of equipment for this type of riding.

For the fork, I’ve chosen WP Pro 7500 inserts with cone valves. In rally bikes, you need to have cone valves to handle the high speeds and hits. You can buy the whole Cone Valve forks but I think the 7500 inserts work just as well and save money. Then I fit heavier springs (I’m 190cm and 100kg in riding gear) along with WP Pro Trax shock with a fair bit of pre-load and a super heavy spring. 

Ed: When I was younger we used to just grab our bikes and ride, we never touched them. Now, especially after getting more serious and doing some racing and having experienced great suspension, it’s the most important thing in my opinion. 

Lyndon: Absolutely, I put WP pro gear on all my bikes now and not just because I’m a WP ambassador, I‘ve always used them. I wouldn’t ride with them unless I really loved them. I can strip the fork down after a 100 hours of riding and the oil’s still good. 

The standard suspension on the current MY24 Enduro range is a massive step forward. I actually raced a standard bike at Erzberg this year and qualified 57th but adding WP pro gear just makes them better. 

The Braktec brakes are pretty average. You don’t need to worry with KTM, Brembos are great. Braktecs have no feel, and are hard to modulate. So I have fitted Moto Master calipers, as I think the standard ones are too hard. 

I also fitted oversized Moto Master discs to slow the bike down. When you start adding rally gear, they get heavier and you’re often at high speed. 

Steering dampers are a classic, essential bit of kit for desert and rally racers however the Scotts damper doesn’t fit the new bike. I had to build a custom clamp, then I found with the 2023 WP Factory triple clamps (current ones won’t work) I was able to fit it but normal riders won’t be able to. The Scotts doesn’t fit the new bike as the steering angle is too much, they’ll have to design a new one. 

I expect that WP will have one suitable soon instead. I also had to lift the ’bar up one inch to fit the damper. I don’t like raising the ’bar it’s less stable and I like to ride over the top of the bike, but it was necessary. I have also fitted a 40mm higher seat which gets me back over the ’bar more. 

Ed: What about the PHDS bar mounts, do you use them? 

Lyndon: Yes PHDS mounts are amazing, again it all comes down to using the 2023 WP Factory Triple clamps. PHDS mounts fit on the factory WP triple clamps, but not the current ones. It was only by chance I tried that triple clamp and I’m glad I did. It’s key to fitting the PHDS, Scotts Damper, having the ability to change the offset. 

There is also another secret, which is super valuable for rally riders and not well known at all. In fact, the four bolts on top of the WP factory triple clamps are perfect for mounting your GPS. They were designed for Dakar to hold a GPS. Basically positioning them right in the middle of the ’bar is the safest place in terms of crashing, and they have low impact on ’bar weight and ease of turning. 

Ed: I am going to buy some WP Factory triple clamps fast! It sounds like the key to making everything work for rally. Plus you get lighter, stronger triple clamps. Do you like Steg Pegz?

Lyndon: I’ve not used them, but I’m in the market. The Factory rally teams have a version of them because Daniel Sanders wanted them. I have fitted a larger 12L IMS tank, because that’s what is available, it’s a motocross long range tank, and slim fitting. In a few months we should see the bigger 15-litre plus tanks out on the market. It helps a bit with fuel range. 

Ed: I noticed the fuel pump in the middle of the tank, not at the lowest point. Have you had issues with it? 

Lyndon: I have to lay my bike over to get the last 15km out of it or pull a few wheelies and let the fuel splash into the middle, that works. I’m getting about 170km out of my 12-litre tank. 

Ed: Is the map switch worth it and what about an exhaust? 

Lyndon: I put a map switch on my 450 RR and couldn’t notice any difference. I can’t really tell either on my FE 450 but maybe in tight single trail it’ll be more obvious. I’ve put a full Akroprovic system on my FE 450. I’m not sure how much difference it makes, apart from the sound. 

Ed: I’m new to navigation apart from looking at a map then going for it and following my nose. Last ride I chucked my iPhone on a Quadlock and had a basic route map to follow. Except when my phone locked I couldn’t unlock it with gloves on, plus I was out of mobile range. Then through the first set of whoops the entire mount broke and went flying off with my phone, should I be looking at a Garmin? 

Lyndon: Well I use SP Connect to mount my phone, and have had zero failures. To be honest I much prefer phones. With Garmin, I hate having to download maps from my laptop. Google maps has everything, everywhere, already it just makes more sense to me. 

There’s also the magnetic charging setup, I found a spare plug behind the headlight which worked and plugged in. Normally I carry a spare battery charger as the bike doesn’t produce enough power to really charge a device. I keep the backup charger in my pocket, and connect it whilst riding on the straights or roads to re-charge. I wouldn’t bother with fitting a big ugly rally tower, just get the navigation mounted on your bars via the WP Factory triple clamps. 

When you are ready to take the next step to international rallies come and see me. I have proper, brutal rally courses on my fleet of KTM 450 Rally Replica bikes. When you’re serious about rallying, then you can take the next step which is not fitting more, expensive gear to your enduro 450, it’s getting a proper Factory Rally Replica 450. 

The Pankl engines are just so much more powerful than an enduro bike and they last, and last. I have bikes with over 1000 hours that have not had the motor or clutch touched and they have everything, fuel and navigation done right.