February 12, 2007 Austrian motorcycle manufacturer KTM has consistently shown over 50 years that it can create fast, razor-sharp off-road motorcycles with qualities appreciated by the elite yet still evident to the ordinary rider. A better than average rider on a KTM steps up a class – from journeyman to expert, finding it’s possible to carry an extra few mph almost everywhere. There is nothing extraneous on the KTM – it’s uncompromisingly bare bones, just what you need to go fast. The company’s motorcycles have won world titles almost every year in every form of off-road competition, and apart from an ill-fated venture into MOTOGP, it has become competitive at everything it has attempted. The company went through a renaissance in 1992 courtesy of becoming insolvent, and the restructure conceived and built a framework for the future, forging a world class infrastructure to match its core expertise of designing and building no-nonsense, ready-to-race machinery. Over the last 15 years, the company’s average annual sales growth rate has been 21 percent with an even better growth in turnover of 25 percent. In that time, annual production has grown from 6000 to 85,000 bikes, the labour force has grown by a factor of ten and the Austrian marque is now the second largest motorcycle manufacturer in Europe. Its first ventures into roadgoing two-wheeled machinery such as the 950 Supermoto and 990 Adventure received global acclaim from the motorcycling press and sketches of a KTM Quad bike circulated last year. The company’s aspirations are seemingly a long way from fulfilled as it now intends to deliver the same purist, filterless riding experience to four wheels. The X-Bow is a four wheeled motorcycle track car for the road, air-conditioned to perfectly match ambient conditions – that is, when it rains, you get wet. Like most KTM fare, the X-Bow is ready-to-race – the suspension is designed to enable you to drive at ridiculous speeds safely. At less than ballistic speeds, it will be Spartan and uncompromisingly rigid. The sophisticated carbon fibre monocoque chassis probably weighs less than you do at around 70 kg, yet offers superb rigidity and safety. Built in cooperation with tradition-rich racing car specialist Dallara, the chassis is of an ilk currently reserved for use in Formula One and elite street sports cars. Through a new construction and production process, the development partners have created a method of mass producing the technology far more cost-efficiently than previously, cutting the traditional price from US$500,000 plus to less than US$100,000. The engine is a lightweight, compact four cylinder engine made of aluminium boasting the most modern engine technology: four valve technology, FSI direct fuel injection, high pressure injection valves, turbo charge, a smooth, adjustable intake camshaft and two balancer shafts. With this engine, the basic version of the KTM X-Bow will achieve 220 hp and a 0-100 km/h time under four seconds, but there will also be a version with 300 bhp at its disposal. All up, the car will weigh only about 700 kg. The EUR 40,000 basic version will make its first public appearance at the Geneva Motor Show next month and the first production run of 100 units will be available later this year. Read More
January 22, 2007 The world’s most dangerous sporting event is always full of surprises and this year the Dakar Rally continued to write remarkable scripts for its competitors. There was some predictability in that two more competitors died this year - Elmer Symons and Eric Aubijoux – maintaining the average of two competitor deaths a year, with the spectator death toll indeterminate. There’s another given about the motorcycle section of the competition and that’s that KTM will win - the Austrian brand filled the first four spots and 23 of the first 30 finishers. The winner was Frenchman Cyril Despres (Gauloisses KTM) who finished more than half an hour in front of the field. Despres’ win was unexpected as 2005 winner and the dominant rider of the last year, Marc Coma, had led Despres by 52 minutes with just one timed stage remaining of the 8686 kilometre event, after leading the field since January 9. Sadly for Coma, he crashed and could take no further part in the event. Coma and Despres rode identical 72 bhp KTM 690 Rally machines, built specially for the event and competing for the first time. Read More
January 30, 2006 In the recent Dakar Rally, which is surely the toughest and most dangerous motorsport event regularly held in the world, KTM motorcycles won for the sixth consecutive time, filling the first eight placings. Less than a month later, KTM has unveiled its new 990 Adventure – a motorcycle derived directly from the Africa-conquering experiences of the marque over the last six years, but with all the roadgoing niceties you’d like to have if you were travelling say, from Paris to Peking overland. Indeed, if wherever you’re going is a long way and very rough, the KTM Adventure and its Dakar-dimensioned Adventure S (35mm more ground clearance and 35mm taller seat) are now the most likely candidates for the job. The Adventure was unveiled to the world press yesterday. Our favourite quote from the release goes to the winner of the 2006 Dakar event, Cyril Despres: "At 190 km/h through knee-deep sand you have to feel confident on your bike. After more than 10,000 kilometers the 990 Adventure is practically a part of you." Read More
January 5, 2006 KTM’s dominance in the motorcycle section of the Dakar Rally continued yesterday with the fierce competition in the class now focussed between the Gauloises (second, third, fifth) and Repsol (first, fourth, sixth) sponsored KTM teams and a monumental battle between the teams’ lead riders, Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM) and Marc Coma (Repsol KTM). Yesterday Despres carved 3 minutes and 41 seconds from Coma’s lead during an 800 km stage down the Adraa Valley in Southern Morocco, but Coma still leads the rally by one minute 25 seconds. KTMs fill 13 of the first 14 places on the leaderboard with one third of the rally distance covered, with only the two-wheel-drive Yamaha of David Fretigne (seventh) preventing a complete whitewash of the results. Read More
August 21, 2005 Sadly, black litigious clouds have formed over the MotoGP paddock, specifically directly over the pits of KTM and Team KR, whose interpretations of what their relationship has been until now differ enormously. KTM announced a dissolution of the relationship on August 12, stating it was no longer intending to provide engines for the team’s grand prix effort and was cancelling all its activities with the team. Though it had been no secret that KTM was on the verge of pulling out for some time, Team Roberts has subsequently issued a statement refuting a number of KTM’s claims and claiming that it had been informed of the decision simultaneously with the public announcement. Read both parties' conflicting statements inside. Photo: O.Bergamaschi Read More
July 26, 2005 Austrian motorcycle manufacturer KTM had one of the most remarkable debuts of any racing machine in history when it gave its new KTM Grand Prix 250 its first outing in the hands of Australian rider Anthony West at the British MotoGP round. The 250 class is highly competitive with any one of a dozen riders capable of winning on any day, and a machinery war between Honda and Aprilia that keeps improving the two-stroke breed, minute-by-minute, making it nigh-on-impossible for a new bike to break into the top echelon of 250 racing. So despite KTM’s illustrious off-road racing pedigree, and a fine showing from its recently created 125 roadracer, it was not expected to be competitive for some time yet, given that it had only been ridden ONCE prior to arriving at the Grand Prix. Then West had the new 110 bhp motor seize up in practice at over 200km/h. Then, on race day it rained, LOTS!! But West had won an Australian dirt track title when he was 15 years old, and is comfortable with a bike sliding at very high speeds. What happened? Read More
June 25, 2005 The launch of the new KTM 950 SUPERMOTO was one of KTM’s biggest gambles yet. The Austrian marque has been undergoing the transition from niche purveyor of premium off-road competition machinery to fully-fledged motorcycle manufacturer and has its eyes set firmly on the road bike market with a 990 Supersport motorcycle set to spearhead its road machinery charge and successful forays into (125 and soon 250cc) Grand Prix racing set to give it credibility. So why it would choose to release such an oddball motorcycle as the 950cc supermotard to such great fanfare was a complete mystery … until the press rode the bike, which turned out to be a sensation. Our favourite quote on the KTM comes from Two Wheels Only: “The motorcycling equivalent of a man with a 1000 yard stare, a disturbing twitch and an unhealthy interest in firearms ...” Read More
The all-wheel drive motorcycle seems certain to become more widespread over coming years as yet another major motorcycle manufacturer has disclosed its activities in the area. Austrian motorcycle powerhouse KTM is working in conjunction with Swedish Company Ohlins in the development of a mechanical/hydraulic system for driving the front wheel. A 2WD equipped KTM 525 EXC has been race tested in Europe recently by KTM Sport Director and former Factory Rider Kurt Nicoll. Austrian motorcycle powerhouse KTM has been around longer than Honda, Yamaha and Ducati, but only really became a recognised international marque in the last 25 years, thanks to its fast and reliable off-road motorcycles. Read More
Wednesday October 29, 2003: The RC8 Concept Bike is a statement of KTM's long term vision for the road that employs innovative design to achieve a radical concentration of its mass around the compact 75' V2 engine. Read More
Friday October 10, 2003: For the last thirty years, the Austrian KTM brand has been known for outstanding dirt bikes. Light weight, usable power and fantastic suspension were the hallmarks of the brand which has won numerous motocross and enduro titles across the world over the last 30 years. Read More