First timer thinking about Finke? Part 3 - The noble steed!

Author: Vaughan Cumming   Date Posted:15 March 2016 

First timer thinking about Finke? Part 3 - The noble steed! main image First timer thinking about Finke? Part 3 - The noble steed! image

 First timer thinking about Finke? Part 3 - The noble steed!

Hi Finke racers hope you have all got your entry done and are ready to start getting your noble steed ready for battle! This is part 3 on getting you bike ready to race and some of the other stuff you need to get ready prior to leaving for the red center.


First up this is probably already done and yeah its probably orange or red it just seems to be that way up at Finke!! It doesn't have to be this way and there are heaps of awesome weapons to choose from all the brands except maybe Harley..... If you finish Finke on a Harley they should give you a railway sleeper not just a dog spike!

Getting to the point riding a bike you are most comfortable with is the best option but when I mean most comfortable I mean in a MX/Enduro bike type way, not a BMW 1200 or Super Tenere. Yes you could but I doubt the experience will be like the one I have described. My guess is, it would be like showing up to the Bathurst 1000 in a Suzuki Swift.....

I have ridden in my time up at Finke a good range of bikes and had varying degrees of fun and success but I have got through every time with little drama. To give you an idea this is what I have ridden.

  1. 2004 XR650R prepped by team Honda - Run out of fuel because of a refuel issue at stop 2. - Big heavy and a pig in the whoops but great on the roads except when pushing it, then its a pig on the road too.
  2. 2005 KTM 250 EXC 2 stroke - Bought this on the way up to Finke and to Gary Blizzards disgust I put my race numbers on with a marking pen - Bike was great loved it but blew the exhaust appart.
  3. 2006 Husqvarna WR250 2 stroke - had reed valve problems so my prep was last minute and rode to Finke with 48psi in the front tire which was just stupid! I dont recommend trying this.
  4. 2007 Yamaha YZF450 - This is the year I seen the light and rode a 450 4 stroke. I have only ridden a 450 ever since and I reckon its the way to go personally.
  5. 2008 Kawasaki KXF450 - First year I rode with a big tank and did 2 fuel stops. It made a different race of it and the big tanks makes you look like a desert racer!
  6. 2009 Kawasaki KXF450 - First Fuel injected 450 I rode and yes it was even better!
  7. 2013 Suzuki RMZ 450 - My favorite bike so far but again under prepared and rode with a kinked fuel line so it was slower than a quad which sucked.
  8. 2014 was the same bike as 2013 with a lot more time spent on the bike riding before. I prepped the bike perfect, never had an issue and finished 54th outright.

The reason I have showed you what I rode is each bike although different was great and the only issues I have had are due to my own stupidness and not the brand or anything else so if you ride a bike that is different and not a Honda or a KTM don't stress and think this is the only bikes you can race Finke on! I hear it so much it amazes me. Only a few weeks back I had a guy who read the first part 1 blog and said his mate told him he needs to sell his bike and buy a KTM 500 so he can do Finke....... my answer was "Ya mates a tool" - Seriously I know KTM's are great bikes and dominate this race at the moment but this orange bleeder went to far, great mate hu? Tells you to miss out on experiencing this race because you don't have the same bike as Toby Price???? If the whole field rode KTM500's Toby will still win! Ride what you have unless its cheaper to buy a new bike.


You might think how is it cheaper to buy a new bike than get my old one ready? Well truth is it's not its just like all junkies you come up with a crap reason to justify what your doing! But if you need a reason to justify a new bike to the missus then this is how it goes; *WARNING* This is probably useless info but I have no other ideas as my missus is about 15x smarter than me!

You "Hey honey now we are doing this family holiday to Alice Springs I really think its going to be cheaper to just get a new bike instead of fixing my old one"

Missus "What? are you on drugs? how can you justify that BS buddy?"

You "Well its really that the bike is going to need some parts to be replaced like chain and sproket $600, new tyres $450, engine freshen up $6000, airfilter $750 and some new petrol $327 and that adds up to $4265.97 and I can sell my old bike for $7500 and a new bike is only $10 000 so that means were ahead by $2436.59 so its great news!"

Missus "How stupid do you think I am???? (kinda cranky sounding)

You "No your not stupid its just a really good deal on this week only"

Missus - No answer......

Ok thats not going to work that well unless your Jeffery Edelstein so I would suggest it's best to be clear and work out your budget for what you want to spend on needs vs wants!

But yes sometimes a new bike is a good option if you buy a new one each year anyway. I spent years getting my new bikes in March instead of when the new models are released late the previous year. I call it my Finke cycle, get new bike in March or February, ride it for 6 weeks solid, tidy it up a bit, race Finke (Hattah Yellow Mtn) then ride for the rest of the year and repeat.

With your old bike unless its a complete wreck mechanically not cosmetically you can get it ready piece of piss in your shed at home with out spending your wives new kitchen money.


Ok now this is a general run down on getting the bike on its A game for Finke. Please consult your mechanic or owners manual if you are unsure at any point.

This is the NEEDS you basically should do all of these before you buy anodized spoke nipples etc.

  • Clean the bike the best you can give it the best clean of its life, including the airbox and under the fuel tank. Click here to watch a video that might offer some tips or tricks for you! (Cover any holes where you will fill your motor up with water or dirt.)



  • Give the engine a full service with new oil and filters and any other things that you normally do for a major service for your bike. If you don't have a workshop or owners manual this is a good site to get what you need


  • Wheel bearings are a big one and it's cheap to ensure you wont be sitting on the side of the track with busted wheels. Tighten spokes at the same time. Also put a small zip tie on each pair of spokes to make sure if a spoke does break you don't take out 10 more before it finds its resting place in the red sand. Watch this video for tips and tricks on replacing your wheel bearings


  • Install a new set of chain guides and swing arm slider its not expensive but new swing arms are. If you ride a Kawasaki buy the top notch aftermarket parts because the standard ones wear out quicker than Clive Palmer on treadmill.
  •  YEP! your Kawasaki chain slider will wear out as quick as this fella on a treadmill so get some parts like these ones from T.M. Designs or Acerbis at MX1 Australia
  • Get new chain and sprockets, do your research here on gearing. Buy a good chain like DID or RK and not the type like you find on ebay that claims its a Super Duper Deluxe chain certified by NASA made buy Jackie Chans missus in San choy Bow city China.  I reckon are the best but speak with your dealer and ask the exact type of chain suits you needs because a chain is not just a chain. You have different strengths for capacity, type of riding then there is the O'ring vs X'ring debate.
  • Get a MSC Steering damper - Yes its a free plug but let me assure you, if you go to Finke without a reputable steering damper your an idiot plain and simple! If a mate tells you that you don't need one because the suspension guy said you don't need one, your mates an idiot too. GET ONE! (the standard Honda damper does not count.) With our dampers you get the choice of top mount or underbar mount. Be careful which you choose because not all riders like to have the bars raised like on the underbar mount. The top mount comes free with a bar pad kit.
  • A new back tire and front and rear heavy duty tubes - I use Bridgestone Ultra Heavy tubes never had a flat ever using them! Below is what happens with the wrong tubes.   As you can see the different results! My bike with the 1 year old Bridgestone tubes are still going (yes the same tube did last year too) and then my mate Joe had Michelin Heavy Duty tubes.......
  • New grips with plugged bar ends - this is needed to get through tech inspection.
  • Replace levers if the ends are broken off - also a fail at tech inspection. 
  • Nice clear numbers on the front and both sides - I use Zero MX they are super deluxe in non ebay way and made by a guy Jeff Dray who rides Finke too. Call  0417 436 938 or email
  • Get a set of hand guards but personally I don't like the wrap around type I run the MX style. Once again check your local dealer or try

All this might be overwhelming but it is all things that will make your race in the desert a much more pleasant run and hopefully a trouble free event as far as the bike goes.

Once all these things are done you can now start to look at the wants and the 2 stage of needs which I would call things like suspension setup - There are some great tuners out there and some others to... I personally would call Stephen Greenfield from GDR Suspension this guy is a legend of Finke and he is the guy that does the Factory KTM team, BDR Team and most of the top privateer guys in the top 20 outright. Follow the link to his Facebook site give them a like and contact them about your suspension needs

This is to give you an idea on how good the prep is on the bikes that run at the front of the field! It the set up at scrutineering of the Branford Desert Racing Team

Just remember that Perfect Preparation Prevents Poor Performance..... OR sleeping arrangements on the side of the track!

The track officials will pick you up at some point and take you to the overnight or start finish line but it is a slow and cold trip so get don't under estimate getting your bike reliable.


A big Thanks for reading part 3 of my blog. I hope you have found it helpful and stay tuned for part 4 which I will go into taping hands and getting yourself ready for the race! 

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