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Warren M. is in lockdown in Portugal (his home now). But with lockdown easing, suddenly there's a rush to have bikes ready to ride...

I swear, do we never learn?

My garage has three bikes in it, none of them rideable.

The 2020 KTM 350EXC-F

The 2020 KTM 350 EXC-F has not been ridden since I bought it and won’t be until I am finished with the project (fitting kit suspension and plenty of, er, go-fast parts). It seems strange that the 2021 bikes will be out before I ever ride my 2020 model. This seems to be a trend here at RUST – my current 2017 Husky FE350 project was also started a year late (due to knee surgery). But in this case it’s the pandemic that’s delayed progress. So the Kato is partly disassembled and is waiting patiently for the parts. I am hoping to have these in the workshop soon, so that I can do a simultaneous project build on the EXC-F and FE 350s.

The 2017 Husqvarna FE350

Normally I would have rotated the FE350 out of the garage after nearly four years of service but since I’ll not be buying the new short-arse 2021 Husqvarna enduro model (or until Husky decide to build full size bikes again) then I’d better get a crack on and refine the Husky I do love. The FE350 as a result has been stripped for a clean and refresh and remains in pieces strategically scattered around the workshop. Goal: transform the 2017 FE350 into a MY2021 Husky I would buy.

Contrarily my time for projects at the moment is but a few stolen minutes (and I mean minutes). Which means progress is slow. With the Husky the job for now is clean, clean, clean; always the first job, of course. After years of use the dirt ingrains itself onto everything. It stains the motor, frame, swingarm and every nook and bloody cranny. Scotchbright scourers, super fine sandpaper and some metal polish and a soft rag is all you need to keep you busy for hours. Once the big surfaces are clean it’s on to using a soft bevel in a drill to get into the ‘hard to get to’ places. Finish off with a good metal polish and seal.

The frame is stripped now and ready for painting. I’ve ordered a unique RAL colour for powder coating the frame, which arrives this week, and it seems like the parts I’ve been waiting for over two months will arrive about the same time the frame is back from painting. So I’ll have no excuses then but to get on with the rebuild. Before that, though, I have to get a hurry on and replace the rubber grommets in the clutch – three false neutrals and a near miss as a result on my last ride means this needs immediate attention. I’ll also be dropping in a Vertex piston kit and ECU before the motor is ready to go back in.

2017 Husky FE350
The usual cleaning only does for so much. Eventually it's time for a deep clean and refresh
The frame ready for a strip and powder coat
It's a tidy lump the FE350 – this one needs a clean and top end refresh
More wiring than you might think. Warren's labelled it all (wise man)
Plenty of elbow grease applied, buts still only half done
More parts labelling – let's hope it all goes back together neatly
Dirt gets ingrained into the alloy cases...
... but Warren's fastidious cleaning defeats it
The 2016 KTM 200 EXC  

Now I wasn’t expecting to be riding until September at the earliest, but the lockdown in Portugal started a long way ahead of the UK and we are almost reopen here now with the first phase of easing having been in effect from May 4. Restaurants and bars are now reopened at 50% capacity, as from the May 18. That means that our friends at Horizon Adventures (Pedro and Joao) have rescheduled their three-day Transalentejo ride to the first weekend in June – observing all the social distancing guidelines of course.

So with my two 350s in pieces it’s time for my showroom 2016 (last production run) KTM 200 EXC to come off display and be put back into service. This bike is my first collector’s piece, so it doesn’t get ridden too often, so this will be a real treat. Over the next week or two it’ll need some attention to make it ride ready, but with a deadline for the end of the month I can feel a little excitement for getting outdoors. I am yearning for the chance to ride again SOON! Like most of us – I need a change of scenery and routine to bring life back into perspective and nothing does that like the smell of a little two-stroke.

Hopefully, Boris will have something a little more intelligible to say in the coming weeks but for now (from a business) perspective things remain pretty bleak for a lot of people. So reach for the tea and head for the garage – nothing seems quite so bad when we’re in there.

Time for tyres, mousses – and suspension check
Man and machine (mug of tea not in shot) escaping the pandemic



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