Jonny Weisman from The Ride Shop has done it again! Just when we thought we had seen it all, Weisman shows up with a machine that blows our minds. His latest creation for long-time customer Scott Whittington, who has racing in his blood (his dad competed in and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1979), is a late-’90s/early-’00s KTM 380cc engine put into a highly customized 2023 GasGas 450 chassis. Since the last bike Weisman built us was blacked out and called the “Dark Knight,” we decided to call this one the “White Knight.”
BUILT FROM SCRATCH
Unlike most builds, this one was done in pieces, mainly because it was not a complete bike to begin with. The main frame, subframe, swingarm and suspension components were all acquired separately. This made the tear-down process easy, but added some stress about proper fitment. With the chassis basically torn down, it was time for specialty coatings. The main frame and swingarm headed off to Condello Customs for a white powdercoat finish, while other miscellaneous bolt-on items would follow once the build started to take shape. The fork and shock also got some specialty coating, but in a bright-red color that popped against the otherwise white bike.
Weisman would work some magic internally on the suspension, installing a Ride Shop KYB conversion in the WP fork with custom valving and a spring setup for Whittington. The shock was valved and sprung to match the front, and a Xtrig preload adjuster was also installed to make quick sag adjustments. Xtrig’s splitdesign triple clamps with PHDS bar mounts are designed to reduce rider impact and now hold the highly modified front fork.
When Weisman explained the detail of the engine, our brain almost exploded! Combining a late-’90s/early-’00s KTM-anything generally ends in someone being committed to the loony bin. In that era, not many people knew what was actually on the bikes unless you worked at KTM, and even then it wasn’t even that clear.
To make a long story short, Weisman essentially told us this: “The cases on that motor are from a 2001 KTM 380. The cylinder, crank and transmission are all from a 1998, which was a cable clutch. I wanted to go hydraulic, plus the cases were broken internally. I bought the cases not realizing how many differences there were compared to the 1998. The transmission input shaft is a different length, as well as a kickstarter stop for the kick mechanism. The stock cylinder normally has a big resonance chamber on the front. I welded the cylinder up and used a front powervalve cover from a 1996 KTM 250SX.”
With all that completed, he added some white coatings and a Specbolt hardware kit; slapped it all together; bolted it in the frame; strapped in a Keihin carb, custom pipe and carbon fiber Rocket Exhaust silencer; and called it good. Well, there was a lot more details along the way with just about every part, but if we had to put Weisman through the trauma of telling us every detail, we might have had to drive him to the loony bin ourselves.
The list of aftermarket parts used on this build is impressive and high-end. Moto-Master handled all the stopping needs with rotors and a complete factory-level billet brake system. They also made it with a red rear sprocket, matching the build theme and gold racing chain. Dubya USA built the custom wheelset that featured red Haan hubs, stainless steel spokes with redanodized spoke nipples and silver D.I.D Dirt Star rims, all wrapped up in Dunlop MX33 tires. Other companies included on the build are TM Designworks, Rocket Exhaust, Works Connection, IMS Products, Seat Concepts and P3 Carbon, with Rad Custom Designs topping the build off with a custom graphics kit featuring metallic flakes.
THE FINAL PRODUCT
We are extremely lucky that Weisman has very generous customers that not only bankroll these insane builds, but also let us ride them when they are completed, because the White Knight does not disappoint! Surprisingly, it’s very easy to start; you have to put all your weight into kicking it, but most of the time it fired right up. The multi-year combination of the engine parts and the number of modifications afterwards had us worried, but it flat out hauled the mail! The power is a cross between a big 500cc Honda or Kawasaki two-stroke from the late ’90s and a modern-day Yamaha YZ250. When the track is deep and loamy, it likes to be on the revs, but when it’s hard-packed, keeping it in the meat of the powerband by short-shifting, like on a 500, is what works best.
When he’s not in mad-scientist mode fabricating, Weisman is dialing in suspension for a wide variety of disciplines, including the Sherco factory off-road race team for riders like Cody Webb and Cooper Abbott. Weisman put a lot of effort into making the suspension look wild on the outside with custom coatings, but the work done internally is what impresses us. This machine handles better than most modern-day production-built two-strokes we have tested that utilize the same chassis.
More attention to detail: The swingarm is coated white and makes the red accent parts from TM Designworks, Moto-Master and Dubya USA really pop out.
Bling factor on the White Knight is high, but is the overall look for everyone? No, but everywhere we go with it, people comment on it and conversations are started, usually long conversations that 100 percent of the time are positive and end with all parties walking away with smiles on their faces. In our book this makes it another successful build. Don’t worry, we have another build in the works with Weisman and The Ride Shop AZ crew.