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O-ring chains
Since the beginning of my off-road riding activities, O-ring chains
have been part of all my bikes. The o-rings seal out all the dirt, mud,
water and other crap from penetrating each individual chain link. This
causes less chain wear, less stretching, and longer life. I began using
RK o-ring chains many years ago, and as a creature of habit, have
stuck with the brand. They're reasonably priced and seem to wear
pretty well. I can usually get a full season out of an o-ring chain and
sprocket set.

Sometime in the early 2000s I strayed from RK and tried a
lower-priced EK o-ring chain on my KTM 300EXC. In this case, I got
what I paid for.  The EK chain stretched rapidly and wore out quickly.  
Its replacement was an RK and has been ever since.


Seat Stuff
I've torn up many a seat cover in my years of riding, and found many
options for how to fix. I've also bought some motorcycles with
rock-hard seats. For a guy with a sit-down riding style, that didn't
work. Here's my take on all things "seat".

First, the covers. Own your bike long enough and eventually you'll
come back from a ride with a hole in the cover. The most economical
remedy is a new cover. Depending on your bike, there could be a
hundred choices or only a couple. Sometimes the covers are
designed for your legs and butt to grip the seat better. I chose this
type of cover many years ago for my
1999 KTM 300EXC. Factory
Effex was the aftermarket company which supplied the replacement
for
the incredibly cheap seat covers KTM was dressing its bikes with
back then. This cover was designed to grip a little better to my pants,
and it did - almost too well. The first few rides chafed my arse until I
either got used to it or the grip wore down a bit.  The cover I chose
had the gripper part of the seat on the top and sides, as opposed to
the type that has a gripper surface only on the top. The cover had a
small amount of graphics laminated at the rear of the cover, and it
didn't take long to rub off some of the orange color from the inside
lamination.  I finally did tear the cover by some fluke, where I dumped
the bike against a broken-off tree branch. Even so, two years with a
seat cover isn't half bad.

A tip on replacing seat covers: buy an electric staple gun. Worth every
penny.
There are many YouTube videos on how to replace the seat,
and they're worth watching before attempting.


Another option is a complete replacement seat. I used this option for a
pair of KTM's I owned in the early to mid 2000's.
KTM was already a
bit
notorious back then for its firm seats, and took a turn for the worse
with the 2002 models
. KTM reps claimed in the May 2003 issue of Dirt
Rider magazine that the seats do eventually break in, but after
the
first 20 hours in the saddle of
my 2002 300MXC, my ass could take no
more. I bought a complete replacement seat manufactured by SDG.

SDG offered a couple of combinations, either a standard seat or a tall
seat with softer foam. I went with the taller seat and was extremely
pleased that I didn't notice it at all during my first ride, which meant it
had to have been a vast improvement over the stock KTM seat. No
doubt it was taller and not well suited for the inseam-challenged, but
the seat just felt right. At some point after enjoying the SDG for
awhile, I took a spin on a CR250 with a stock seat and immediately
noticed how much farther down I was sitting on the Honda and how
much easier it was to stand up on the footpegs on the KTM. The fit
was decent, although the initial installation required a bit of
persuasion to get the bolt holes lined up. The top of the seat was a
grippy material and the sides had somewhat less grip. At the Kahoka,
Missouri mudfest national hare scramble in 2003, I had some
problems staying attached to seat going up hills. In the muddiest of
conditions, a full-on gripper seat cover will keep you better planted to
the seat. The SDG seat color was all black, and the cost in 2003 was
a very reasonable $96 from
Rocky Mountain MC/ATV. Prices have
gone up a but since then, and for the mainstream dirt bikes, there are
many options.


I liked the taller SDG seat so much that I used it on both
of my
KX250's as well. It kept me a little higher on the bike, which maded it
a little easier to get my lazy butt off the seat and stand up. I did have
to pull out about half the staples holding the cover on the seat and
stretch the cover a little tighter. The oversized IMS gas tank I used on
both KX's caused the front part of the seat to bend upward a little
more than what the SDG seat was intended. No big deal...although I
wouldn't recommend tackling any kind of seat cover work without an
electric stapler.

On my 2009 KTM 250XC, I swapped the stock seat for an Enduro
Engineering "Comfort" seat.  The name of that seat says it all.
Compared to what it replaced, the "Comfort" seat was a
Barcalounger.
Today, the aftermarket complete seats are coming in all sorts of
interesting shapes, all designed to provide another level of comfort.

With my 2020 Beta 300, once again the hardness of the seat took me
to the aftermarket. This time my options were limited. I went with a
replacement cover/foam combo from Guts Racing. I chose a Velcro
option, where there are no staples. Velcro strips are placed around
the perimeter of the seat base. Those strips are mated with Velcro on
the seat cover. As of this writing in September 2020, I can only say
that the installation was fairly painless, after watching a very good
video on the Guts website. A performance review will be added after I
get some hours in the saddle.


Suspension Revalves
KTM's switch to 43mm inverted forks in 2000 was, in theory, a smart
move. This made the front end quite a bit lighter than the earlier
50mm conventional forks.
But somehow the KTM engineers decided
to make
the forks harsh in the rocks, and pretty much everywhere
else. Some of the harshest hits were so intense that my jaw hurt (go
figure). Sometime in 2003
a small company called Fabtech came out
with a do-it-yourself revalve
kit. For $40 on eBay, it seemed like a
good deal and bought the kit. It
came with detailed instructions and a
set of shims for the compression stack. These replacement shims
made a big difference in the fork action over harsh impacts.

The kit was not terribly difficult to install for anyone capable of
changing fork seals. There were 3 different valve stacks to choose
from, and I selected the softest. The improvement wasn't exactly like
hopping on my old '99 EXC
with its mammoth forks, but it was a good
modification. Even though my jaw didn't hurt anymore, the forks were
still sometimes a bit harsh. The strangest thing about the revalve was
that it made sand whoops easier to manage. The front end seemed to
float over the top of the whoops better than anything I've experienced.
Other types of whoops weren't any different than before, but it was a
lot more fun to ride the sand tracks at St. Joe State Park in Missouri. It
was a worthwhile $40 expenditure.

The Fabtech kits were apparently sold for only a short time period,
and were really only a band-aid fix for forks that should never have
been set up the way KTM did. My 2003 Gas Gas 300EC had the
same 43mm WP forks, but were infinitely plusher in the woods. So it
was possible to get good action out of the 43mm WP's. KTM just
chose a different setup.


With my switch to KX250s in the mid-2000s, it was a given that the
whole suspension would have to be revalved and re-sprung. There
are many companies who will gladly do this for you, and plenty of
Internet advice. For me, with both of my KX250s, I went with an
off-road specialist on the East Coast. Works Enduro Racer was my
choice, and they actually did some servicing of my rear shocks on
other bikes over the years. For guys like me, who view suspension
details with the same trepidation as EFI electronics, go with someone
who loves what you do. If you love trail riding, think pretty hard before
you send your suspension to a motocross specialist.


Performance Engineering clutch basket - 2004 KX250
In 2007, the stock clutch basket on my 2004 KX250 had such nice
grooves worn in by the clutch plates that, upon first glance, I swore
they must have been machined from the factory that way. When this
happens, the clutch tends to drag because the grooves prevent the
clutch plates from sliding as needed to engage and disengage the
clutch. I ordered a Performance Engineering clutch basket as a
replacement, which is made from hardened metal, rather than the
cast material of the stock basket. It's an economical alternative to both
the stock basket and a
Hinson basket (the Cadillac of clutch parts).

Installation requires drilling out the rivets that fasten the primary gear
to the stock basket, and reattaching the primary gear to the
Performance Engineering basket with bolts. A tip on drilling out the
rivets: use a drill press. I performed this during my years in Chicago,
when my "garage" was a
10x20 rented storage unit. The electric hand
drill did the job, but not quite as precisely as a drill press.
Groovy.
Primary gear
installed
Other Stuff
Product Reviews
Ultimate MX Hauler
Click <here> for a full review.
Performance
Engineering clutch
basket
Nitro Mousse foam inserts and Rabaconda tire changer
Click <here> for a full review.