Professional rally rider Neeraj Samarth talks about his rally-spec KTM Duke 390

Neeraj Samarth is a professional rally rider who has participated in all the biggest and toughest rallies India has to offer.

30 year old Neeraj Samarth started riding Nationals at the age of 23. An engineer by qualification, he currently is works at Accenture. But, it is motorcycles and riding, that is his passion. In order to excel in the sport, Neeraj has built a custom Duke 390 to rule the rally circuit. In an interview with Rushlane, Neeraj tells us more about his special KTM 390.

My duke 390 is one of its kind and can tell you it’s one of the most successful KTM Duke 390 modified rally bike in the country going by the result it has gotten in all the major cross-country and National Rally Championship .

Tell us about your KTM 390

My bike runs a custom built frame for KTM 390 as per the rally specs without modifying the pivots of the bike. It’s one of the most comfortable off road bike in India, as I have done all the rallies and enduro events on this bike. It’s rally approved. Giving a run for the money.

Specs: My bike is powered by best in the class ECM (Powertronic) by RaceDynamics bumping the few extra critical BHP making it the most powerful KTM around and also heating problem is solved.

Bike is running on dirt bike suspension (showa) both front and back give maximum suspension travel of 10 inch (both front and back) compared to stock suspension travel of 1.5 inch. It runs a custom built subframe to support the dirt bike look and feel and seating position.

It has footrest position modified to get the Centre of gravity and pivots in place, it also has spiked foot pegs for grip. We run DOT approved tires without tube to avoid puncture (we use Michelin mousse instead) making in all terrain bike!

In the country which does not have a proper enduro bike and impossible to import one and register under normal circumstances, this bike has proved to be a boon. This bike has passed the test of rally like – Raid de Himalaya, Desert Storm, India BAJA, Dakshin Dare, Indian National Rally Championship (INRC) are the biggies to be highlighted.

Bike has the front flexi mudguard to accommodate the 21 inch alluminium wheels at the front helping in reducing weight. It has a link arm swing arm giving maximum suspension travel. Bike has all the RTO required specs starting from turn indicators to the horn. It’s running a custom built exhaust with decibel kill meets emission as well.

Bikes you own and bikes you want?

I started riding nationals at 23 and had stopped competitive racing for 5 years due to injury. I have about 6 bikes. Ranging from moped, street bike, enduro bike n rally spec (ktm 390 duke, rc 390, impulse , apache RTR (rally )). I plan or dream to own a 450 exef from KTM someday or a Africa twin.

Words of Wisdom to budding Rally riders

I have been lucky enough to be riding along side the best riders in India and who are trained abroad for competitive racing. I have been given suggestions and supported immensely by my fellow riders. Getting trained is a very important part of Motosport. We can’t avoid crash but we need to ensure safety gear and our crash techniques are in place. Basically not to fall like a log but roll like a ball.

Rally is fast catching up with people of India. We have Aravind KP and CS Santosh making us proud at the ultimate form of rallying (DAKAR). I wish them luck for 2018 Dakar. We had the India BAJA with 4 Dakar riders. Kind of exposure we get by riding such international rally is immense. Looking forward for a positive 2018 for myself and my KTM.

Rallying is the right place for manufacturer to test the bikes. It’s a positive vibes to see Indian bike manufacturers supporting Indian riders and coming up with a team in India. Only when the bike is tested in Indian conditions it can be certified for Indian roads. People should follow rally results to make choice on the bikes which are reliable and suits Indian roads. Right now we only have team TVS and Hero. MRF and Maruti have been a great support for the sport.

Motorsport has been recognized by govt of India and has ocean of opportunities. Prepare yourself get the fitness in place. Get proper training and always ride safe on the street and with dedication you will achieve glory!

Special thanks to Kumar from Speedo racing for engineering my KTM 390. And to Motul India, Khivraj and Race Dynamics for the support. Please follow me on social media and I can be reached for any support or suggestion.

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