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KTM 300 XC (2014)
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CategoryLast UpdatedReviewBe it good, bad or somewhere in between, KTM is well known for their PDS linkless rear suspension system. For the more trail oriented rider, the lack of linkage allowed these bikes to maneuver over large rocks and logs more easily, with less chance of becoming hung up. Fast forward to 2011 and KTM starting supplying their bikes with linkage, much to the praises of many North American riders. However, in the opinion of some, it is low hanging and vulnerable in nasty terrain. The crew at Fastway Performance, with the help of Stillwell Performance have attempted to address these concerns, bringing an Adjustable Linkage Guard to market. While simple linkage guards have existed in the past, Fastway and Stillwell worked together to offer a more robust solution that incorporated successful traits from previous products and some improvements. With their collective support of Endurocross riders and off-road racing teams, they had a great test base for development of this product.
For my review, the test machined used was a 2014 KTM 300 XC. However, Fastway did not stop with the Austrian brand. Their adjustable linkage guard is also available for select dirt bikes from Honda, Kawasaki, Beta, Husqvarna, and soon Yamaha. All links incorporate an adjustable system that allows the rider to vary the rear bolt distance from stock out to 2mm longer. Extending the bolt spacing drops the seat height and in the case of my 2014 KTM 300 XC, I saw a drop of approximately 10mm (measured at the rear fender) with the 2mm link extension. This was a very welcome addition for a shorter rider like myself.
The adjustable linkage guard is made from a solid block of 6061 aluminum and is advertised to weigh only 6.7 ounces more than stock. The craftsmanship is fantastic and it's finished with a hard anodize coating (black for Husqvarna & Kawasaki, red for Honda & Beta, optional orange or black for KTM). It comes equipped with quality retained needle bearings and seals. Just pack in suitable grease and bolt it up in place of your stock dog bone link; no other modifications required. The adjustability comes from (2) different sets of spacers that can be oriented in (2) separate directions each for a total of (4) combinations. These can easily be changed at the track by just removing the rear “dog bone” bolt.
How did it perform? Well, exactly as advertised! With the linkage set 2mm out, it improved the overall stability of my bike and allowed the rear to track better. The flat protective surface worked amazingly well over large logs, maybe even better than a PDS equipped bike. The adjustable linkage guard acts as a ramp that directs obstacles from the skid plate directly to the rear wheel. The flat surface of the guard also keeps the bike balanced when hung up on obstacles versus the “rocking” sensation experienced when a bike becomes stuck on the narrow stock linkage components. When I did become hung up, I could easily slide the bike over with very little throttle as the back tire was better aligned to gain traction on the log or rock surface.
This product is mainly marketed as a piece of protection and it does not disappoint there either. The bottom portion is 3/8”+ thick solid aluminum. Unlike the other linkage guards on the market, the Fastway unit is a solid piece, not an erector set of parts that fasten around the stock components. While I did not try to go out and bash into rocks purposely, it did happen. The sound of direct rock impacts on the guard was unmistakable, but the damage was only cosmetic. I can positively say that this product worked exactly as intended/advertised and makes me more confident when approaching rock gardens and logs at speed.
At an MSRP of $299.99, the price may seem a little high. But as mentioned, this is more than just a linkage guard and it protects the low hanging and very costly shock. Another plus is this product was designed and manufactured in the Idaho, so you are supporting a US company. I would suggest that any serious racer or technical trail rider give this product serious consideration. You do not need to be a KTM rider; any supported linkage equipped bike should benefit from this product. Give the people at Pro Moto Billet/Fastway a call; they are extremely helpful and ready to assist.
CategoryLast UpdatedReviewNothing beats the FMF Gnarly pipe for battling through the woods. They take a beating and may show slight damage but they keep on going. The same cannot be said for a stock pipe.