HooliGhana: A Super Hooligan racer builds a KTM drift bike

Andy DiBrino's KTM 790 Duke drift bike
It’s been a challenging year for most people. But the restrictions that have come from the worldwide pandemic have sparked new forms of creativity. For hooligan flat track racer Andy DiBrino, the result was a wild drift video titled ‘HooliGhana,’ with a BMW E36 and a KTM 790 Duke—both piloted by him.

Based in Tualatin, Oregon, Andy’s an experienced motocross, flat track and road racer. He’s also a two-time Super Hooligan AMA National flat track champion. But there hasn’t been much racing this year, so Andy discovered a new pastime: drifting at his local go-kart track.

Andy DiBrino's KTM 790 Duke drift bike
“I bought a late 90s BMW E36 drift car from a local Formula Drift competitor,” he tells us, “and drifting became a new hobby of mine. Not long after, I had the inclination to take the 790 out to a parking lot to see if I could drift it too.”

Andy had been toying with the idea of creating a gymkhana-like motorcycle video for years—but now, the idea of combining the car and bike was appealing. “I had seen it done before with the ICON videos, but not with the gymkhana format. And definitely not with a single person doing both the driving and riding.”

Andy DiBrino
“I felt I had a cool, unique idea. And it was the perfect time to make a video with all my other events postponed, and people sitting at home looking for entertainment.”

Andy has a lot of bikes in his garage, including a couple of motocross bikes and Kawasaki ZX-10Rs. But he opted to use his 2019-model KTM 790 Duke flat tracker—because he’s used to getting it sideways on dirt.

Andy DiBrino's KTM 790 Duke drift bike
Andy raced and developed this bike all of last year, and had it perfectly setup for this year’s Super Hooligan campaign. In stock trim, it’s a frighteningly agile 105 hp / 373 lbs weapon, that KTM have aptly nicknamed ‘The Scalpel.’ But Andy’s race bike is a long, long way from stock…

“I was the first guy to build a KTM hooligan bike,” Andy tells us. “I knew this bike could be a game changer, because of how light it is compared to the other brands racing like Harley-Davidson and Indian. The goal was to add a third consecutive Super Hooligan title to my belt, but I came up just shy in the runner-up spot. But not without a successful season though, with three race wins and five podiums on the KTM”

Andy DiBrino's KTM 790 Duke drift bike
“I went crazy on this KTM build. The customization of the bike was as fun as racing it for me. I got a lot of grief from hooligan racers, saying I was taking it too far or something. But I feel most people would agree, half of the fun is the build, and I wanted to make this one special”

Super Hooligan rules dictate that your race bike must be a twin with a displacement of at least 750 cc, and that its frame must remain stock. Harley-Davidson Sportsters and XG750 ‘Street’ models are popular, and relatively easy to modify. (Andy won both his titles on the XG750.)

Andy DiBrino's KTM 790 Duke drift bike
Getting the more complicated 790 Duke flat track-ready required some heavy lifting, but Andy had help from Savage Custom Fabrication. “They were responsible for all the custom work,” he says, “and the fabricator, Travis Johnson, is a true artist. I had the vision, and he brought it to life for me.”

“It was a lot of fun pioneering the KTM, and now he has built at least five other identical 790 Dukes for hooligan racers all over the country.”

Andy DiBrino's KTM 790 Duke drift bike
Savage Custom Fabrication built the KTM’s new fuel cell, and a one-piece fiberglass body kit. They also fabricated a new subframe, foot controls, and a bunch of relocation brackets, mounts and spacers. The arrangement’s capped off with a seat cover from Saddlemen.

Up front, a set of S&S Cycle Indian FTR750 triples holds 43 mm Öhlins forks. Out back, a custom-built Öhlins shock is hooked up to a specially designed flat track swingarm from C&J.

Andy DiBrino's KTM 790 Duke drift bike
Durelle Racing built a set of 19” wheels for the KTM, with a quick-change rear hub and Dunlop DT3 tires. The brakes are a combination of MotoMaster rotors, with a Brembo rear caliper and a MotoMaster Supermoto front caliper. The sprockets are from Superlite, matched to a D.I.D. ERT3 chain.

EDR Performance built and tuned the Duke’s 799 cc motor, adding a DynoJet Power Commander in the process. Tucked behind the bike’s right-side number board is a Competition Werkes muffler, and the exhaust’s catalytic convertor’s been eliminated too. There are less noticeable upgrades too—like a set of Samco hoses, and a MotionPro catch can.

Andy DiBrino's KTM 790 Duke drift bike
Up top are a set of ODI ‘McGrath’ bend handlebars on 2” Rox Speed FX pivoting risers, along with a set of Cycra hand guards. The hand guards and front brake aren’t typically seen on flat track bikes, but Andy had added them for some asphalt TT-style races that never happened.

The only mod he added for drifting was a set of axle sliders for crash protection. And he removed the custom steel skid plate and accompanying lead piece, that add weight to the bike to bring it within the rules for Super Hooligan racing. (Race bikes can’t weigh less than 400 lbs, but the KTM comes in at 340 lbs in this trim.)

Andy DiBrino's KTM 790 Duke drift bike
Andy’s hope with HooliGhana is that a major sponsor will catch on, and throw enough money at him to build a drift-specific machine for the next video. Because although he had fun throwing around the 790, there are better ways to set up a motorcycle for drifting.

“Purpose-built drift-bikes usually have much longer wheelbases and extended swingarms,” he explains. “My 790 Duke has a custom flat track swingarm that allows me to run the same wheelbase as a XR750 and FTR750, in the 54-55” range.”

Andy DiBrino's KTM 790 Duke drift bike
“The shorter the wheelbase, the more traction a bike produces, which is not what you want for drifting. Because the bike becomes way twitchier when slinging the rear end around. The biggest challenge was figuring out how to get the KTM to not hook-up and wheelie so violently all the time.”

“It took some adapting to, but I was able to make it work without making any modifications.”

Andy DiBrino's KTM 790 Duke drift bike
For the next bike, Andy’s leaning towards the new KTM 890 Duke R—which not only makes more power than the 790, but actually weighs a hair less. But for now, he’s content to keep slinging the 790 around whatever dirt track or gymkhana course he finds himself at.

And looking at the HooliGhana video, he seems to be having more than enough fun with it. If only we had a fraction of this skill.

Andy DiBrino Instagram | Images by Nick Zaback | Spotted on Asphalt & Rubber