Preparing a Penton ISDT Bike

by Alan Buehner

Originally printed in the 2003 issue #20 of Still….Keeping Track

This article is based on an article that was published by Cycle World in their August 1974 issue. It was written by John Wasser and was titled "PREPARING THE PENTON - Getting ready for the ISDT with the guys who know how." John visited Penton R & D to see what special things were being done to prepare the Penton bikes for the upcoming ISDT and interview the riders as they were working on their bikes. This should help our club members in preparing thier bikes for the upcoming ISDT Reunion Ride in October.

The article backs up the stories that I have heard from Doug Wilford and Paul Danik about their "factory" ISDT bikes. The bikes were essentially stock. In fact the bikes were ready to ride right out of the crate from the factory, but because of the demands of Six-day riding, everyone would tear down their bike just to double check everything. Also, riders would make personal modifications to areas of the bike where they encountered problems from previous rides. The only item that was installed on all of these bikes were the optional center stands which are needed on ISDT bikes.

Any changes or modifications made by the individual riders were done to make it easier and quicker to fix something. Doug Wilford would drill a hole in the carb float bowl, install a fitting and connect a long hose from it up to the handlebars. A fuel filter was installed halfway up the fuel line. If you should drop your bike, trying to restart it is hard because the carb bowl floods out and you have to sit and wait (with the throttle wide open after restarting) during which the motor blubbers and sputters before using up the excess fuel and starts to run crisp again. All Doug had to do in the same situation is suck on the tube at the handlebar (this draws the excess gas out of the carb float bowl) restart his bike and continue riding. Tom Penton had a similar set- up on his bike.

According to the article, Doug and Tom shared most of the innovated ideas.

Common things done to their bikes were welding gussets to the frame in areas that needed reinforcement and valve stem holes would be marked with fluorescent paint on the side of the rims to make it easy to identify during tire changes. Rear brake actuating arms were turned 180° and the brake rods bent around the rear shocks to prevent the braking mechanisms from getting damaged.

Most modifications to these ISDT bikes would eventually be made by the factory to future production bikes. Some riders are more proficient at doing things than others. According to the article, Carl Cranke was the team's expert wheel lacer. Carl wound up refacing most everyone's new DID rims. Dane Leimbach tested Motoplat lower units from stock to find the strongest running units. These were used in place of the units that came with the bike.

All of the KTM motors were pulled apart and new special made kickstarter shafts from Penton' s R&D were installed.

Air boxes were of the biggest concern for everyone. They were closely examined for any small cracks or pinholes. Epoxy, silicone sealer, and duct tape were the items used to seal up any leaks from the air boot up through the frame to the hi-breather intake.

Time is precious during an ISDT event and must be well spent. Teamwork, training, and proficiency are stressed upon the riders. Things like changing a tire are performed the same way by everyone on the team.

It was also mentioned in the article that where some ISDT riders would be taking it easy prior to an ISDT event to prevent injury, the Penton team would ride other events right up to the start of the ISDT. Their philosophy was that you can get hurt anytime, anywhere.

It was mentioned in the article that the biggest factor in riding an ISDT event is support which included lubricants, tires, fuel, refreshments and personnel. Penton would be providing this support for the entire Penton trophy team and the Italian trophy team who were also mounted on Penton/KTM bikes. Ted Penton was in charge of this operation. Individuals from club teams were also being extended this courtesy.

In my conversation with Paul Danik regarding this article, he said that he preferred to keep his bike prep simple and less exotic. He would make sure that every nut and bolt including the spokes received a coating of "never seize". His concern was to be able to tighten or adjust anything on the bike whenever needed during the Six-day and be able to do it easily. Spokes for example could be tightened without having to "crack" them loose.

All the riders would remove the rim bands and use duct tape to cover the spoke nipples. Also rim locks were never used. Paul took a cold chisel to make notches in his steel Radaelli rims. This would give the proper grip to prevent tire spin on the rim yet allow a faster tire change rather than fighting with the time consuming rim locks.

He would install spare cables on his bike and also take the time to hook them up and try them out to make sure that they fit and worked properly.

Paul's belief was if his bike in stock form was good enough for enduros and qualifiers, it was good enough to finish a six-day event.

After reassembling his bike, Paul made it a point to put at least a hundred miles of riding on it to break it in and make sure that everything was working as it should.