SALT Motorcycles introduces a 52-hp, 245-pound two-stroke café racer…
The KTM 300 EXC TPI is one of the world’s most accomplished enduro machines, a lightweight modern two-stroke with Transfer Port Injection and a dry weight of just 228 pounds:
“The KTM 300 EXC TPI is one of the most recognized names at the sharp end of hard enduro. With a bulletproof, fuel-injected 2-stroke engine churning out masses of low-down torque and top-end fury, it’s the ideal companion when tackling difficult terrain.” —KTM USA
The KTM has both oil and fuel injection, a counterbalanced engine that’s incredibly smooth for a high-strung two-stroke, and the bike has proven itself again and again around the world, from the top of Erzberg’s Iron Mountain to the packed stadiums of FIM Super-Enduro.
“You can ride extreme technical terrain one day, desert the next, and follow up with a day at the track. It’s an incredible off-road weapon that works perfectly for the vet trail rider or elite hard enduro athlete. It’s fun. It purrs, but it snarls just enough and won’t set your teeth chattering from the vibration factor.” —Dirt Bike Magazine
While the KTM’s off-road prowess remains unrivaled, a team out of Australia — SALT Motorcycles — has come forth to demonstrate what this 300cc two-stroke can do…on the tarmac.
Chief Development Officer Paul Lewis is a former 500 GP rider with a wealth of race experience under his belt. Discussing the races earlier this month at Daytona, he told us:
“I have raced there a number of times, in the BOTT and 250GP classes, rode the Norton Cosworth, Britton, Commonwealth Honda, Ducati and EMC Rotax. Prior to SALT Motorcycles, I was Dealer Principal of Morgan & Wacker Harley-Davidson, est. 1917, here in Brisbane for the last 10 years.”
Paul says that SALT Motorcycles wanted to come out of the chute with a truly grin-inducing machine for riders, and a two-stroke was the ticket.
“Two strokes have that special grin factor, which starts from the minute you hear that unmistakable sound to the wonderful aroma that pulsates out the back of an expansion chamber. So the quest was to find a donor bike that could be rebuilt from the ground up into a SALT Café Racer…”
The KTM 300 EXC TPI proved the perfect platform, though it’s been heavily massaged by the SALT Motorcycles team:
“At the heart of the machine is a brand new KTM 300 EXC TPI. This motor has already achieved legendary status in the Enduro sector, but with the SALT expansion chamber, combined with a high compression TSP cylinder head and ECU, it develops a usable 52-horsepower at 8500rpm and 34.5 ft-lb (46.8Nm) of torque at 7000rpm – making it ideally suited for use as a spirited, road-going café racer.”
Of course, the engine is just the start. The SALT café racers have fully-adjustable WP suspension, front and rear, with 125mm travel up front and 130mm rear.
“The components have been extensively modified to suit the design by local gurus MPE Suspension.”
The bikes ride on Takasago Excel Rims — 19″ front, 18″ rear — and Brembo brakes, with a four-piston caliper at the front and two-piston caliper out back. The bespoke aluminum fuel tanks are handmade in Brisbane, and the bodywork and seat cowl are carbon fiber.
An analogue tach gets prize placement in the cockpit, paired with a digital multi-function LCD and Molock keyless ignition, and the six-speed gearbox is paired with a Rekluse CX Torqdrive auto clutch.
The riding position is balanced between sporty and comfortable:
“With a seat height of 830mm, clip on handlebars and mid-controls, the SALT two-stroke gives a sporty riding position without being extreme. It’s a bike that encourages riding to and from the best sports-riding roads, as well as carving them up.”
Owner and founder Brendan James says that SALT Motorcycles emphasizes the riding experience above all:
“Our bikes are about the rider, the motorcycle, and the road…. Using modern engineering and design, we hope to reintroduce riders to the pure analogue feel of motorcycling.”
In Australia, SALT Motorcycles is selling these café racers as turn-key builds. For us here in the States, registration and compliance requirements preclude that solution for now. For that reason, the SALT team is considering selling Two Stroke Kits, so that KTM 250/300 owners can convert their machines from dirt to asphalt weapons on their own.
Below, we talk to former 500 GP rider and Chief Development Officer Paul Lewis about the SALT Café Racer.
KTM 300 Café Racer: Interview
How did the original idea for the SALT cafe racers come about?
We really wanted to launch SALT Motorcycles with something that would put a grin on the faces of our riders. Two strokes had that special grin factor, which starts from the minute you hear that unmistakable sound to the wonderful aroma that pulsates out the back of an expansion chamber. So the quest was to find a donor bike that could be rebuilt from the ground up into a SALT Café Racer, which could be road registered minus some of the old traits two strokes of the past suffered from: pre-mixing fuel, excessive smoke, and a powerband lacking bottom end rideability.
The KTM 300 EXC TPI was the obvious choice, as it already holds legendary status as the number one enduro bike globally. It’s oil- and fuel-injected, with a balance shaft and the low-end torque of a modern-day four-stroke. The challenge was to harness and improve on those qualities into our road-going Café Racer. The only downside is that not all markets can road-register two strokes, as our bike only satisfies Euro 4 standards.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride one of these two-stroke canyon carvers?
Our Chief Development Officer is Paul Lewis, ex 500 GP rider and multiple Australian and British Road Race Champion. Paul says riding this bike brings him back to his days of racing, the sounds and smells married with a super lightweight two stroke fitted with the very best suspension and geometry. This bike is brilliant on the tight twisty curves, yet completely at home on the long fast bends. The engine pulls hard from as low as 2500 / 3000 RPM right up to 9500.
• New Australian motorcycle company
• Lightweight two-stroke café racer
• Starts as brand new KTM 300 EXC TPI
• Upgraded to 52 horsepower
• 111kg dry weight
• Premium suspension and brakes
• Hand crafted fuel tank and bodywork
• Custom stainless steel expansion chamber
• All Australian design
• Bespoke build