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Posted in Bikes

What to know and what you need to know about KTM’s latest ‘statement’ for Adventure bikes: the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S.

The technical specs? Then click HERE. Prices? Then a quick click HERE will deliver an answer.

What else?

To best dissect the new KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S we spoke with Head of KTM Product Management Adriaan Sinke to delve into the spirit and technical acumen reached by the latest motorcycling flagship in the KTM range. Read on for some of the keen questions, issues and assets surrounding the bike…

Image1_resized.jpgHead of KTM Product Management, Adriaan Sinke at the Launch of the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S in Fuerteventura, Spain
PC @MarcoCampelli

Why would riders want the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S when they could be tempted by the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT?

AS: Well, I think a GT rider is essentially a KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R rider. They might have a different type of personality, different goals, different idea of what motorcycling is but with the aspiration to make long trips. While in our Adventure world the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S is for riders who are mainly on the street and will occasionally find a dirt road, but they don’t have ambitions to go further offroad. They want the riding position, the comfort, and the ability to do a couple of hundred kilometers on a dirt track: that’s not a problem, while on the GT that isn’t really possible. The GT is still a bike to get your knee down. It’s a Gran Turismo. A very fast Alpine tourer. I see the ‘S’ reaching far more corners of the world, and before you need a KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R to go even further.

Image2_resized.jpg“The KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S is for riders who are mainly on the street and will occasionally find a dirt road.” – Adriaan Sinke
(PC @SebasRomero)

Adventure bike relevance in 2021…especially with recent narrowing travelling possibilities…

AS: The big adventure segment is clearly booming. There is a big market there, specifically in Europe. I think the demographics [of the riders] help a lot. They are typically moving away from Supersport and other types of bikes in search of a different experience. The adventure segment combines everything that used to be sports touring on the tarmac – which is a category that has become very small and with the GT we are one of the few that still have a dedicated sport touring bike – and a lot have moved into adventure riding. In terms of reacting to the pandemic we’ve always promoted the adventure lifestyle and we live it; whether that’s with the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S or one of the R models. The situation hasn’t changed much for us. We are happy to see that sales are continuing and that people – maybe more than in the past – are starting to consider motorcycles as a form of transport because they don’t want to use public transportation. Adventure riding is an easy way to escape everyday life. Maybe people are looking at motorcycling again after all the restrictions.

Image6_resized.jpg“Adventure riding is an easy way to escape everyday life.” – Adriaan Sinke
PC @RSchedl

Should new riders curious about adventure bikes be worried about the size and bulk of the machinery?

AS: Comfort was one of the key topics for this bike. We have always wanted the rider to have as much contact with the motorcycle and the road as possible, so you always know what is happening. You have that sense of full control. In the past, with some other models, it meant we sometimes had to compromise comfort a little bit because we believe that performance is key. With this bike we went the extra mile to combine the two, to give you those contact surfaces, the seat, the fairing and to give more confidence by it being a bit lower, a bit more narrow in the middle, you sit closer to the bars and it’s balanced differently to make it easier to handle without losing any of the sportiness.

Adaptive Cruise Control and letting something else control the throttle: to some it’s the opposite of what biking is about…

AS: Well, in the real world – unlike in our advertising – I have to actually get to the mountain! I wish the whole world existed around super-tight twisty mountain passes but it’s not true. The huge advantage of adaptive cruise control is that it makes getting there much easier and fun and then when you arrive to those twisty parts you switch it off and enjoy that amazing Adventure bike. It’s very complicated technology. In a car it is relatively easy because the vehicle is stable and doesn’t lean. When the wheels turn you know in which direction the car is travelling. Lean angle doesn’t necessarily indicate this. It’s more complex. Motorcyclists ride differently, you are not always directly following the rider in front of you. You can be staggered. If a car system brakes aggressively then it is still going in the same direction whereas a bike has more at play so factors like how much you can accelerate and decelerate and how aggressively you can react means it’s difficult to achieve. A lot of working has gone into the settings to make it where it is today. It is a big project. The best thing about it is that it’s not a gimmick. It actually makes the bike better. It’s a more fun travel motorcycle. You can skip the boring parts.

Image3_resized.jpgThe KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S is the first bike on the market with Adaptive Cruise Control standard out the crate.
PC @SebasRomero

Together with WP, KTM have made the latest version of semi-active suspension. Talk about this…

AS: The suspension has really evolved since we had the first T model Adventure bikes. The last generation of semi-active was really good. One of the big differences now is that we are using different valves, and these are less complex. It is our own technology and it is something we developed in-house with WP. They react faster and are not as sensitive to tolerances of production. I wouldn’t say they are easier to set up, but they are more consistent in performance from one bike to the next. It helps us a lot because it means you can be very precise in the set-up of the various modes because you know the system has a smaller window of tolerances. The fact that we now have the 6D lean angle sensor and the digital sensor on the fork and swing arm make the data acquisition easier, faster, and cleaner. A lot of work has gone into the system itself. We have taken everything we have learned and applied it to the system of this bike.

With the various damping, preload and ‘mode’ options you can pretty much mould the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S as you want it…

AS: Yes, it’s very versatile. A massive advantage to the semi-active suspension is that you can set the bike to be very sporty if you want to ride it hard or to be very comfortable if you don’t; and then everything in the middle! You can pretty much have two different and extreme types of riding behaviour whereas if you only have conventional suspension then you can make it very comfortable or very sporty but not both. Even if you were to make those set-ups manually you still won’t have the spread of adjustment with the conventional system because you’d actually have to open the suspension.

Image4_resized.jpgAdriaan Sinke (Head of KTM Product Management) and Riaan Neveling (KTM Marketing Manager Street) presenting the 2021 KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S to the international press in Fuerteventure, Spain.
PC @MarcoCampelli

While the semi-active seems very techie and complex, the new ‘iPad-ish’ TFT display makes it very easy thanks to the new menu ‘graphics’. It’s an interesting contrast: some highly advanced kit but operated with simplicity…

AS: One thing that we always like to remember is that it’s still a motorcycle. It should still be fun and exciting. Semi-active suspension could feel very remote and distance the rider from the feeling of the road so we try to give people this proximity and the sensation of interaction with the street: for us this is the absolute key to the whole thing. It should not be about having to set your clickers – even though with the ‘advanced’ mode you actually can change the damping now – but making it accessible, making it easy and fun. The illustrations and graphics we have on the TFT really helped us. It’s a good combination.

Weight. It’s always a factor with Adventure bikes. The LC8 is now also Euro5 compatible and has a new cooling system. How tough is the fight to add (or innovate) more but keep the kilo count down?

AS: Very! It’s always a hunt for grams. For everything you win on one part of the bike you then have to compensate for something on the other side. You win some and lose some. We literally looked at every single component of the bike for weight control. We did not try to make it much lighter because it doesn’t have to be: it is super-well balanced. Lighter is always good but the key to this bike was to achieve the behaviour characteristics it has. Maybe chasing the achievement of being the ‘lightest motorcycle’ becomes an issue but at the moment it’s not something that these big bikes are about. Less weight costs money and development time. It means complex engineering, construction methods and materials, and sacrificing comfort in some cases. Making things light means minimalizing. We did that as much as physically possible without sacrificing our design goals for the bike.

Image7_resized.jpgHighly advanced features – operated with simplicity.
PC @RSchedl

KTM are using more and more 3D printing methods for prototype and bike production. Was that technique used in development of the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S?

AS: I would not be surprised if perhaps every single component has been 3D printed at some point. There are guys walking around the factory with 3D printed parts all the time. Designers have large 3D printers running 24hrs a day. We used to have one in R&D and now there are a few. The joke in R&D is that everything fits when it’s drawn on the computer! You have this little dark mark that shows when some parts are overlapping. But to then actually print it and apply it to a prototype bike? Well, this is where our mechanics come in. The engineer can design a part but then it’s the mechanic who has been working on adventure bikes for two decades who will then give feedback on its usefulness and whether it will fit, work, can be properly mounted or installed. Our production guys will come in and then say: ‘this won’t work in production’. I do think 3D printing is allowing a lot more possibilities though. It used to be called ‘rapid prototyping’ and that’s what it is: you can simply make a prototype. We do it with the screens. We design, print, put them on the bike and ride them. We’ll come back in, make a change, print another one and go back out on the bike until it’s right.

Get the complete insight by watching the video below:

Posted in Racing

2021 is the third year of collaboration between KTM and the Tech3 racing team. On the eve of the new season here are five facts you might not have known about the new ‘orange blur’…

Image1_resized.jpgTech3 KTM Factory Racing’s KTM RC16 machines of Danilo Petrucci and Iker Lecuona
PC @PhilipPlatzer

1. Tech3 KTM Factory Racing are one of the oldest teams in MotoGP and 2021 will mark the 20th year that the largely French crew moved from the peak of the old 250cc category (where they finished 1st and 2nd in 2000) to the premier class. Tech3 have always had diverse interests in Grand Prix racing and have been present in both Moto2 and Moto3 , while also currently fielding an effort in MotoE. After being one of the most prominent satellite squads in the paddock, Tech3 finally earns ‘factory’ status for 2021: both of the KTM RC16s in their care are works-spec machinery.

Image2_resized-1.jpgHervé Poncharal has been part of Tech3 Racing since its inception in 1990 – here he is pictured in 2019
PC @SebasRomero

2. Tech3 took their name from the three creators of the team: Hervé Poncharal, Guy Coulon and Bernard Martignac. Today just Poncharal (Team Manager) and Coulon are integrated into the racing set-up that began in 1990. They had competed with three other brands before allying with KTM in 2019 with Miguel Oliveira and Hafizh Syahrin as riders. Despite running an eclectic array of riders, experience and nationalities since 2001, Tech3 only won a single Grand Prix and that was in Moto2 with Yuki Takahashi at Catalunya in 2010. Oliveira ended that dry patch – as well as giving the team their maiden success in the premier class – last summer at the Red Bull Ring. Fittingly for an effort formed and based around the number ‘3’ it was their 373rd GP in Austria.

Image3_resized-1.jpgIker Lecuona begins his second season with Tech3 and in MotoGP in 2021
PC @PolarityPhoto

3. Iker Lecuona starts his second season with Tech3 and in MotoGP, and at the age of 21 he is the youngest rider on the grid. The Valencian is one of 9 Spaniards in MotoGP (from a total of 22 riders) and will be eager to jump out of the group of seven racers still looking for their first podium finish in the class. Iker does have two trophies from three full seasons in Moto2. He is the fifth Spaniard to race for Tech3 on a full-time basis, following Ruben Xaus, Toni Elias, Carlos Checa and Pol Espargaro.

Image4_resized-1.jpgIker Lecuona in action at the Losail circuit in Qatar, preparing for 2021
PC @PolarityPhoto

4. Like former teammate Andrea Dovizioso, Danilo Petrucci is one of few Italians to wear Tech3 colors. In fact, Marco Melandri was the sole other Italian racer for the squad in the premier class back in 2004. Danilo will be 31 years old in October, meaning he is not only the eldest of the KTM quartet but he has the most experience having been a factory rider for the last two seasons. 2021 will be Petrucci’s 10th in MotoGP and with two wins and 10 podiums he is already the most decorated among the ’21 line-up. ‘Petrux’ is one of only two riders in MotoGP to use a single digit number.

Image5_resized-1.jpgDanilo Petrucci joined the Tech3 KTM Factory Racing squad for 2021
PC @PolarityPhoto

5. Tech3 will now run a corporate KTM color scheme; the first time ever for the manufacturer in Grand Prix. The squad have won numerous ‘awards’ by media publications and fans’ votes for the best-looking bikes on the track. But take a look for yourself…

Image6_resized-1.jpgPetrucci is looking to add to his two MotoGP victories and 10 podiums this season
PC @PolarityPhotoImage7_resized-1.jpgIker Lecuona under the famous Losail lights which will host the opening round of MotoGP in 2021
PC @PolarityPhotoImage8_resized.jpgThe Tech3 KTM Factory Racing machines have been hailed a firm fans’ favourite for being the best-looking bikes on the track this year
PC @PolarityPhotoImage9_resized.jpgDanilo Petrucci prepares to head out on track aboard his KTM RC16
PC @PolarityPhotoImage10_resized.jpgIker Lecuona at sunset in Qatar
PC @PolartiyPhoto

Posted in Racing

KTM mark five years on the MotoGP™ grid in 2021, so to welcome the half-decade and the upcoming new season we dug up some trivia about the two Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders, both products of KTM’s GP Academy system.

Image-1_resized-1.jpgBrad Binder prepares for the start of the 2021 season in Losail, Qatar during pre-season testing
PC @PolarityPhoto

1. Before the Qatar double header officially opens 2021, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing will have completed a total of 72 Grands Prix. The journey started with a debut wildcard appearance at the 2016 season-ending Gran Premi de la Comunitat Valenciana in Spain. Their first event as full-time members of the grid came only four months later at the Losail International Circuit where Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith finished 16th and 17th. From the next 70 races KTM managed to score 3 wins, 9 podiums, 4 Fastest laps and 3 Pole Positions. They rose from last place to 3rd position in the 2020 Teams Championship and from 16th in the riders’ standings in 2017 to 5th in 2020. A fast turnaround!

Image-2_resized-1.jpgMiguel Oliveira joins the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing MotoGP team for 2021
PC @PhilipPlatzer

2. Miguel Oliveira is new to the team for 2021. The 26-year old is the seventh rider to wear Red Bull KTM MotoGP race colors after Mika Kallio, Espargaro, Smith, Loris Baz, Johann Zarco and Brad Binder. 2020 was Miguel’s 10th year in Grand Prix and he boasts wins for KTM in Moto3™ and Moto2™ (six in both divisions and all with the Red Bull KTM Ajo team). He moved from 12 career victories to 14 in 2020 by giving the Tech3 crew their maiden success in the premier class at the Red Bull Ring. Oliveira is the sole Portuguese racer in the FIM Grand Prix World Championship.

Image-3_resized-1.jpgBinder and Oliveira have previously been teammates in the Red Bull KTM Ajo team and are reunited for 2021
PC @GoldAndGoose

3. Brad Binder was the original KTM ‘hat-trick’ man last summer. The 25-year old was a rookie in the MotoGP class for 2020 and went from being more than two seconds per lap slower at the end of his first tests to MotoGP victory by over five seconds in just 10 months (five of which were inactive due to the COVID-19 pandemic). In his moment of glory in the Czech Republic and only his third MotoGP race, Binder achieved the ‘set’ of Moto3/Moto2/MotoGP victories in Red Bull KTM colors; which Oliveira could match in 2021. Both riders came through the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup (although neither earned the championship) and first coincided as teammates at Red Bull KTM Ajo in Moto3 in 2015. They reunited in Moto2 for the same squad in 2017 and 2018, appearing on the podium six times together. 2021 will be their four year of collaboration already. 

Image-5_resized-1.jpgOliveira is ready for the challenge of 2021 following the tests in Losail, Qatar
PC @PolarityPhoto

Incidentally this is not the first time that a Red Bull KTM Factory team have had a Portuguese and a South African in the same line-up. In 2008 Rui Gonçalves and Tyla Rattray were steering works KTM 250 SX-Fs in the MX2 class of the FIM MXGP Motocross World Championship and – promisingly – Rattray would go on claim the title that year. Gonçalves would be MX2 runner-up in 2009.

Image-4_resized-1.jpgBinder took his and KTM’s first MotoGP victory at only his third race in the premier class, which took place in the Czech Republic
PC @PolarityPhoto

4. The KTM RC16 crossed the finish line first at Brno on Sunday, August 9th 2020 for the Grand Prix české republiky. The win meant KTM became the first manufacturer to triumph in Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP categories and equalled Yamaha for wins in the most amount of classes: Red Bull KTM also won in the 125 and 250cc divisions in the ‘00s. Binder’s Czech feat was a milestone for the company and the first time KTM had led a lap in MotoGP. They would have many more by the end of the season. Moto3 – and the original KTM RC4 that won the championship at the first attempt in 2012 – helped towards the thinking and the creation of the KTM RC16; still the sole motorcycle on the grid to use a steel chassis and WP Suspension.

Image-6_resized-1.jpgKTM has lost its ‘concessions’ for development due to the Austrian manufacturer’s excellent results in 2020
PC @PolarityPhoto

5. 2021 will be a curious campaign for Red Bull KTM. For the first time the brand has lost their ‘concessions’ as a result of their excellent results in 2020. This means a cap on testing and modifications permitted during the year. The engine development freeze agreed by the manufacturers causes the beating heart of the KTM RC16 – which can make more than 345kmph – to remain largely untouched from 2020 to 2021. The effects of the global pandemic forced five-days of pre-season testing to take place at the Losail International Circuit which is the scene of the opening back-to-back races of the calendar. KTM riders accrued more than a thousand laps in the 35 hours of permitted track time. Oliveira and Binder regularly haunted the top 10 of the results sheets as they worked through suspension upgrades, different aerodynamic forms and electronics.

Image-7_resized.jpgOliveira under the lights of Losail, home to the opening round of 2021
PC @PolarityPhoto

The diversity of Losail was a challenge as hot, late afternoons turn to dusk and then cooler evening humidity forces adjustments and alterations to keep the speed through the flowing turns. The team were not only working for rounds 1 and 2 but for settings that have to be homologated for the duration of 2021 before the first ‘red light’ disappears. Nobody said MotoGP was a pressure-less environment!

Image-8_resized.jpgBinder completes laps in the Qatar sunset with his KTM RC16
PC @PolarityPhoto

Posted in Riding

By: Paolo Cattaneo @paolocattaneophoto

If bikers get their adrenaline rush by exploring new paths and pushing beyond limits, for me the effort to quench the endless thirst for adventure saw me cross more than 40 countries while clocking 200,000 km aboard my KTM 1190 ADVENTURE over the past six years. Across four continents and after many border crossings, here’s five of my best places to ride a bike in this world.

Image1_Chile.jpgThe end of the Carretera Austral makes you reflect about the beauty of Nature, after seeing 1300 km of some of its best work (Chile).
PC @PaoloCattaneo

In many ways, all of us Adventure riders are the new generation of explorers. The world is our playground, ready to be discovered, and our bikes our trustworthy steeds. We get our adrenaline rush by exploring new paths, by adventuring through dangers, by pushing their limits, in search of the perfect ride.

Image2-1024x648.pngThat’s what 200,000 km in 6 years of travelling through 4 continents, more than 40 countries on a KTM 1190 ADVENTURE looks like on a map.
PC @PaoloCattaneo

After loads and loads of hours spent on the saddle, it’s hard to pinpoint which one was the best ride for me. There have been so many great adventures on my KTM, so it’s impossible to simply choose one. Thus, here are my five favorites:

#1 Carretera Austral, Chile – South America

No doubt, this is probably one of the most famous roads in the world for bikers. Ruta 7 or Carretera Austral is a 1,300 km stretch of road that goes from Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins, in the very south part of Chile. This track is basically a paradise for any Adventure rider or photographer. The road is 50% paved and 50% gravel, perfectly doable with a fully loaded motorcycle and a set of 70/30 tires. 

Image3_Chile.jpgImpossible not to stop, take a break on my KTM 1190 ADVENTURE and gaze at the horizon on the Carretera Austral (Chile).
PC @PaoloCattaneo

What makes this road unique, and probably one of the most spectacular in the world, is the fact that it stretches right in the middle of the beautiful fjords of Patagonia and the majestic Andes, peaking over 5,000 m above sea level. When I got to ride this amazing piece of land on earth, it was autumn and, despite the sometimes-freezing temperatures, the colors were incredible.

That was probably the best natural spectacle I’ve witnessed in my life. Snow peaked mountains, trees in shades of red, orange and bright yellow, turquoise lakes and the most lavish green vegetation. The dangers in this part of the world are mostly related to two factors; first the weather conditions that could become quite extreme, and also the sketchy oncoming traffic. Being directly on the coast, the road gets often quite narrow and wet too. Regardless, Carretera Austral is an absolute must for all bikers. 

Image4_Bolivia.jpgFirst few km into the Eduardo Avaroa National Park and the first white lagoon already appears in the distance (Bolivia).
PC @PaoloCattaneo

#2 Eduardo Avaroa National Park, Bolivia – South America

This national park sits in between San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, and the famous Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia, the largest salt flat in the world. The park is absolutely unique and became quite popular between tourists for its colorful lagoons.

There are mainly two issues to overcome while riding through EANP on a bike: one is fuel – no gas station for more than 500 km – and second is the altitude. The park sits at 4,500 m so breathing and sleeping become difficult. I remember I started panicking at a certain point because I was running low on fuel and I wasn’t even at the halfway point. With low oxygen levels and the panicking, my riding was consequently compromised. Even with the extra gallon of fuel I had with me, I realized I wouldn’t have been able to reach Uyuni.

Image5_Bolivia.jpgAt 4,300 m above sea level this landscape is out of this world. Red lagoon with pink flamingos in the distance (Bolivia).
PC @PaoloCattaneo

It started to get late and I got lost few times, as there are no clear roads or signs to follow. When I was at the halfway point, right near the red Lagoon, I only had 50 km range left in my tank; the freezing winds and the altitude were already wearing me down (at night it gets easily -10°C). Luckily a 4×4 filled with tourists passed by and I was able to buy 10 more liters of fuel from them. They also pointed me to a hut nearby where I could spend the night, sheltered from the winds. What an adventure! Hands down this is probably one of the most spectacular and challenging places on the planet to ride motorcycles.

Image6_Peru.jpgThe majestic Huascaran National Park (Peru), peaking at 6,700 m of altitude. The view from up here and the lack of oxygen makes one lightheaded.
PC @PaoloCattaneo

#3 San Luis – Santa, Peru – South America

This road, that goes from the small town of San Luis, behind the 5,300 m high mountains of the Huascaran National Park, to the infamous Cañon del Pat, is somehow my favorite in the whole Peru. The riding through the NP is rough for its climates and terrain, as it easily reaches over 4,000 m above sea level. The climb up to the pass is rather challenging but absolutely magical, culminating at the top of the mountain, overlooking the mind-blowing canyon filled with turquoise lagoons. 

Image7a_Peru.jpgNo room for mistakes in the Cañon del Pato road (Peru).
PC @PaoloCattaneo

Once reached the valley, the offroad section ends and the fun begins. This part is known for the infamous Cañon del Pat Road, a two-way road the w of a small car, with pitch black tunnels, carved inside the mountains, and 80m canyon with no barrier on one side. The thrilling factor comes from the sketchy tarmac, with chunks missing on the cliff side.

Image7b_Peru.jpgSwallowed by nature at its finest. Riding up and down some of the deepest canyons in the world (Peru).
PC @PaoloCattaneo

What was shocking for me was the speed of oncoming traffic, which were mostly mining trucks and locals, driving their vehicles like maniacs on suck sketchy road. Needless to say that I got close so many times to a head-on collision and to fall into the canyon. This is, without a doubt, one of those roads you don’t want to talk to your mom about.

Image8_Scotland.jpgA modern “knight” and his iron steed (Scotland).
PC @PaoloCattaneo

#4 NC 500, Scotland – Europe

On the old continent there are many roads that are worth a mention. Every country has its long list of mountain passes, coastal roads or sketchy offroad tracks with incredible views. But I believe that somehow Scotland deserves to enter this list for many reasons. First of all for the uniqueness of its 500 miles of incredible coastal road. Secondly for the fact that it’s one of the few countries in Europe that allows free camping.

Image9a_Scotland.jpgScotland leaves one speechless for it’s pristine landscapes and white sand beaches. Water is only 6-7°C unfortunately.
PC @PaoloCattaneo

NC 500 is somehow famous also for its unpredictable weather and its strong winds. Also, the roads can become very narrow and with barely any safety net on both sides. Head-on collisions are quite frequent since lots of campers and tourists tend to come in this part of the world for leisure or holidays.

Image9b_Scotland.jpg500 miles of these kind of turns and colors in Scotland.
PC @PaoloCattaneo

I remember being completely mesmerized by riding through the beautiful Scottish Highlands, gazing at ancient medieval castles, nestled in pristine fjords – the famous ‘lochs’. It truly felt like going back in those times when knights and swords used to rule the lands. Those mystical hills and freezing waters made men and women tough. And riders humble and proud.

#5 Gibb River Road, WA – Australia

It’s no secret that Australia has a special place in my heart, since my trip around the world by motorcycle started from there. I rode around the whole continent and indeed there have been many highlights, like Tasmania – the motorcycle lovers’ destination.

Image10_AUS.jpgCrossing Pentecost River with my unstoppable KTM 1190 ADVENTURE (Australia).
PC @PaoloCattaneo

Being mostly a flat and inhospitable island, the adventurous part of riding down under comes from unconventional sources. The most adventurous ride I had was through the famous Gibb River Road. This part of Western Australia, called Kimberley, is one of the most remote of the whole continent. The challenging part comes from being comfortable with ourselves. I spend days basically being alone surrounded by nothing but dust.

Image11_AUS-1024x683.jpgBell Gorge. A 300 million years old natural pool in the middle of the desert (Australia).
PC @PaoloCattaneo

There’s only one roadhouse in the very middle of the 1,200 km track. The rest is dust, sharp rocks and sand. Temperatures vary between 34°C to 43°C all year long. There are three river crossings to reach the end of it. The rivers are infested with crocodiles and poisonous snakes. The road is popular, for some weird reasons, also for road trains – famous Australian trucks with 4/5 trailers attached – which can lift a red dust cloud that completely obliterates everything that gets struck by it. Not particularly good for motorcyclists, as you can imagine!

Image12_AUS.jpg1,500 km of this in 35°C heat could break some people’s spirit…
PC @PaoloCattaneo

The road is mostly made of sharp rocks. When I rode through it, a rock literally sliced my front tubeless tire, snapping two of the steel wires inside of it, after only 120 km. I had to use three tire plugs to fix the puncture and some cable ties to keep the plugs in place.

The world is out there waiting to be explored.

You just have to #GoAdventure!

Posted in Bikes

Think of the new KTM 890 DUKE as legendary boxer Sugar Ray Robinson. Why? Like the devastating middleweight, the new version of THE SCALPEL can easily move and outhit bigger opponents. Sister naked bike, the KTM 790 DUKE, has already been humbled and semi-retired by the new champ’s arrival. Like Sugar Ray, the KTM 890 DUKE is also mould-breaking.

Image1-resized.jpgThe KTM ​8​90 DUKE ​redefines the word ‘sharp’ by adding an extra edge
PC @RSchedl

We’ve seen the strut and the character of the feisty cousin – the KTM 890 DUKE R – and even read about some of the KTM PowerParts to juice things up but the latest addition to the 890 range is a confident all-rounder. Here are a few reasons to jump in the ring…

Image2_resized.jpgWith 115 Hp and 92 Nm, this compact, liquid-cooled 8 valve powerplant, is the most compact twin in class punching way above its weight in terms of output
PC @JamesLissimore

Feel the power: A bigger engine means bigger fun. The 890 makes 10 more horsepower and 5 more newton meters of torque than the KTM 790 DUKE. The mine of excitable goodness that is the LC8c engine platform has been excavated by KTM technicians once more for a larger bore and boosted excitement. Even though the internals have grown the motor remains the lightest and smallest twin in the midweight class (thinner engine cases, new conrods). New balancer shafts calm any worries of vibration and an all new crankshaft helps towards a 20% increased rotating mass. The effect? There is a noticeable difference in cornering stability and the feel of the throttle at lower revs. The KTM 890 DUKE will carry a rider faster and better than any midclass KTM naked bike yet. Despite the eye-catching mix of orange, grey and black the bike is also ‘green’. The LC8c hits Euro5 emission standards and will make a heady 4,8l/100km thanks to the updated, smarter fuel injection system.

Image3_resized.jpgPowered by an 889 cc parallel-twin nestled into one of the lightest and most compact chassis around, the KTM 890 DUKE boasts the agility you’d expect from a 600 cc​, ​but with the ​meaty punch of a bigger twin
PC @JamesLissimore

Feel the sway: There’s not much point in having extra power if it comes with ballast or an unappreciative chassis. The frame is made from chromium molybdenum tubular steel with a design brief to save and trim weight in every aspect. An example of KTM’s design-thinking is seen in the cast aluminum single part subframe. As well as the minimal function and aesthetic, the unit contains the airbox with air intakes located under the seat. The triangular construction weave of the material brings more strength. Using the LC8c as a stressed member of the chassis, the bike is compact and purposeful. The geometry is toned down from the extremism of the KTM 890 DUKE R but the 890 can easily cope with a winding mountain pass, a tight country lane or a set of curves on the track. New Continental ContiRoad tires emerged first from a comprehensive period of testing. The rubber has a very fast warm-up phase and was found to provide exceptional grip in the wet as well as stability and durability. WP Suspension bring their damper and reworked APEX technology to the package; of which several weight-saving modifications have been made (lighter springs) compared to the KTM 790 DUKE. The whole show thunders ahead with an improved gearbox through lighter spring action and shorter lever travel. Those who cannot live without Quickshifter+ (let’s face it, who doesn’t these days?) will benefit from an overhauled system.

Image4_resized.jpgIt clearly takes some of its design cues from the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R, showing off distinctive sharp lines and compact proportions, perfectly set off by signature KTM graphics
PC @RSchedl

Feel the lines: Aesthetically the KTM 890 DUKE is fresh and stylish. The idiosyncratic blend of attitude and minimalism is as much about character as it is functionality. Want an example? Check out the new lower seat, relocated airbox and the full integrated taillight and rear seat section. The subframe is a work of art when it comes to containment. Brackets, plastic and unnecessary components are an extinct enemy. The open lattice swingarm is not just for show; the design brings the desired level of stiffness and flex. Further along the bike the lines are made for comfortable ergonomics but with the right level of feeling and sensation to make the most of the nimble chassis.

Image5_resized.jpgLike all rider, DUKE riders need easy access to information. In that regard, the KTM 890 DUKE features an intuitive multicolor, light variable TFT display

Feel the options: The multicolor, light sensitive TFT display (with rev lights) will show riders the choices they can make on their journey. The KTM 890 DUKE may look raw and is primed to deliver that pure naked bike experience but there is electronic sophistication inside to reach a full level of control. Winding the ride-by-wire throttle (goodbye to judders, jolts and surprises) engages the new engine mapping logic for more efficient response. Then, there are two braking preferences: Cornering ABS and Supermoto ABS (for those who like to break rear wheel traction now and again). Motorcycle Traction Control (MTC) works thanks to a new 6D lean angle sensor that informs the computer as to the position, pitch, drift, lean and overall status of the KTM 890 DUKE. Traction control (Motor Slip Regulation for low grip conditions) is administered through two different sensors to provide greater linear acceleration and anti-wheelie. Riders who might be bristling at this level of interference can adjust or disengage to find the ideal setting for either the trip or the conditions. The 2021 modes of RAIN, STREET, SPORT are self-explanatory and standard but TRACK is pretty exciting to unleash the full rasp of the KTM 890 DUKE. Say ‘auf wiedersehen’ to anti-wheelie and MSR but being able to modify throttle and traction control at will with a few easy button-presses of the handlebar selector.

Image6_resized.jpg​The KTM 890 DUKE doesn’t rewrite the mid-sized naked bike rule book. It obliterates it
PC @RSchedl

The KTM 890 DUKE can make use of special electronic ‘bundles’. The Tech Pack applies all the available additions to the bike: Track pack + Quickshifter+ +MSR). The Track Pack ensures maximum thrill capacity: Track mode + anti-wheelie mode disengage capability + launch control + slip adjuster + throttle control.

More customization means brake and clutch levers, triple clamps and 760mm handlebars can all be turned or tilted.

Image7_resized.jpgChoosing the KTM 890 DUKE is reflective of a lifestyle choice: it’s a statement
PC @RSchedl

Feel the love: Look around the street. Some motorcycles you see are clearly made for transportation. There is little thrill or identity about these bikes. This accusation can never be thrown at a KTM, especially one with the performance and the profile of the KTM 890 DUKE. Choosing this model is also reflective of a lifestyle choice: it’s a statement.

When the DUKE becomes part of day-to-day existence then there is a fondness or a desire to make it even more ‘yours’. This is where the KTM PowerParts and KTM PowerWear accessories really come to the fore. The catalogues are ‘Aladdin’s caves’ for the DUKE owner. Over 100 special parts for the KTM 890 DUKE will either help tweak performance, settings, colours, practicality or carrying potential while the possibility to personally ‘sync’ further with the bike comes through a raft of KTM functional and casual apparel and co-operative unions with renowned industry brands like Alpinestars, Gimoto, Shoei and Ogio. You can go ‘full DUKE’. Check out our last Blog post for some of the essentials.

So, overall, five strong points to back this particular ‘slugger’. Now we just need to find an opponent.

Seconds out…

If you want to stay up to speed with the latest KTM news, subscribe to the monthly KTM NEWSLETTER.

Posted in Bikes

German know-how from Bosch has been integral to the electronics and innovations seen on KTM machinery for over a decade, and some of the sophistication on the new 2021 KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S means milestones are still being set. It was time to get someone from the firm to talk about their involvement with the orange…

Image-1_resized.jpgThe technologies of Bosch contribute to making the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S a real-world, versatile Adventure package.
PC @RudiSchedl

KTM’s alliance with Bosch has helped fashion the latest wizardry of algorithms and hardware seen on more and more Austrian machinery and especially for flagship motorcycles like the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R & the 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S. Whether it’s for direct contributions to safety systems or rider assistance tools, the synergy has put energy into the tech that the KTMs now carry. Think of Motorcycle Stability Control (MSC), Motorcycle Traction Control, Motor Slip regulation, Cornering ABS, the fresh generation of ride modes, WP Semi-Active suspension and the excellent ACC, the Adaptive Cruise Control fitted as standard on the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S.     

Bosch’s tagline of ‘Invented for Life’ could be tweaked to ‘Invented for living’ if applied to the sensations of motorcycling and this is where KTM’s Bosch technician and KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S Project leader, Davide Olerni – a keen motorcyclist himself – comes into play. We grabbed some time with the engineer at the launch of the bike through the pouring rain on the island of Fuerteventura. The electronics were getting a thorough testing in the climate both for their effectiveness and their resistance.

Image-2_resized.jpgThe electronics were getting a thorough testing in the climate both for their effectiveness and their resistance at the launch in Fuerteventure, Spain.
PC @SebasRomero

We’d already heard from Dominik Bodner, the Chief Engineer of LC8 R&D, when he said “Bosch for us was the most competent partner for such a new project, and for years we have a very tight collaboration to get everything right. There was a lot of testing and approval steps together”, and we knew of the origins of the union for the KTM ADVENTURE bikes in particular with the ground-breaking MSC emerging on the 2014 models.

Olerni has been with Bosch for 15 years and between bases in both Italy and Germany. “I started on the engineering side and initially with cars,” he explains. “In the last three years I moved to the two wheels and Powersport department. I’m a rider myself, so I was happy to have this chance. As a supplier we deal with more customers. We have a dedicated team for each one and I work only for KTM. The relationship we have built is awesome and there is a big difference to the passenger car world. Motorbikes and powersports are much more intimate with very passionate people; they want to do a good job for a product that will really serve other people in the end. The relationship is day-to-day.”

Image-3_resized.jpgThe new LED Headlight has been designed to integrate Bosch’s front Radar Sensor on the 2021 KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S.
PC @SebasRomero

How does the working relationship with KTM function exactly?

“I used to visit the factory a lot but that changed in the bizarre year that was 2020. We also have one of our team based full-time in Mattighofen; installed there to work on the radar topics and new technology. KTM are better served by having someone there.”

How many people do Bosch have in their two-wheel division?

“Difficult to say exactly. I don’t’ know a number but it is beyond hundreds. We have people for the development of systems, hardware development and hardware applications and software. It is spread across Japan, India and Germany. It’s a pretty big team.”

Image-5_resized.jpgIt would seem that motorcycling has become more important to Bosch in recent years…
PC @SebasRomero

It would seem that motorcycling has become more important to Bosch in recent years…

“It has become more of a priority and the fact that the two-wheel and powersport department was set-up just over five years ago is an indication of how much Bosch are looking at this market. Bosch has always been an innovation leader for assistance systems and electronics: this was always our ‘bread-and-butter’. Maybe it wasn’t so focussed on motorcycles before, but our work derived from passenger cars and has grown a lot in five years. Traction control is a good example and how it developed to what it is today.”

Are bikes more limited for development or do they offer more challenge and variety compared to a car?

“You might think carrying a system from a car to a bike would be pretty easy in terms of the basics but it’s not always like that for obvious reasons. For instance, in the Adaptive Cruise Control and the RADAR sensor we implemented for the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S we had more of a challenge because of the lean, and you don’t have things like the angle of the steering wheel. You have to rely on the measurement from the 6-axis unit which is also one of the main innovations on the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S. Overall the motorcycle world has some significant benefits and challenges.”

Image-5.2_resized.jpg“…with the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R we were really able to take advantage of the additional information we gained for the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S…” – Davide Olerni
PC @RudiSchedl

The 6D lean angle sensor was first seen on the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R. Are we talking about very advanced kit?

“The 6D lean angle sensor is the highest level of technology for an inertia measurement unit we have today. With the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R we were really able to take advantage of the additional information we gained for the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S ACC but also the traction control, which takes advantage of more detailed data and gave us a big benefit for this next version of the system. The end user might not necessarily have more options to choose but you can feel and appreciate that the controls are much better and smoother on the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S.”

How do you think people perceive your work at Bosch? Some might really appreciate all the safety and user-friendly systems. Others might be turned off by all the electronic assistance…

“First of all, we are all motorcycle riders in our division and personally – perhaps I can also speak for the other guys – we always think about safety first. It’s a big priority…while also trying to keep the fun spirit of the bike. Assist systems are important, and it’s important we have them. Many people might not agree. Some change their mind after using them or trying them for the first time, luckily, and people who don’t want them are able to switch them off or tone them down. I respect everyone’s opinion. Even the ABS and Cornering ABS was met with a lot of scepticism in the beginning and people ended up changing their mind.”

The all-new KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S comes right out of the factory with Adaptive Cruise Control. Together with a host of more innovative features and rider aids, it is like an inter-continental, heat-seeking missile.

What about the future? Will it be about making existing systems better and cheaper or something totally new?

“I guess both. We think the innovative systems we see on the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE S will gain more acceptance and they will start to be present on more bikes, maybe not only the high-end models. At the same time, it is important that we find new ways to support the riders actively or passively. There is much more still to go.”

Check out a series of videos on the KTM YouTube channel to discover the Features & Benefits that make the KTM 1290 SUDER ADVENTURE S the ultimate high-performance Adventure bike.

If you want to stay up to speed with the latest KTM news, subscribe to the monthly KTM NEWSLETTER.

Posted in People, Racing

In 2021 the 31-year old has been part of the AMA Supercross and Motocross paddock for a decade so we decided to make a call and ask #25 about coming back to the Indoor series after a year away through injury, making an impact in a crazily close ’21 contest, KTM longevity, his career and more…

Image1_resized.jpgMarvin Musquin – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
PC @SimonCudby

“Can you hear me?” Marvin Musquin is surrounded by hissing and squirts of air. It sounds like he’s in a submarine. “I’m just sitting in a hyperbaric chamber…so it’s a good time to talk!”

Twelve and a half years submerged in Red Bull KTM colours means Marvin is the longest-serving racer for the company, bagging two FIM MX2 world titles, a 250SX crown, Motocross of Nations glory and a seven-figure cheque at the Monster Energy Cup. It’s been quite a career since his protracted move into the factory Grand Prix team in 2009 and the likeable Florida resident is still operating at the highest level, earning podium finishes already in the current 450SX supercross campaign.

Image2_resized.jpgMusquin got back into the swing of Supercross at the opening round of the 2021 series in Houston, Texas
PC @AlignMedia

We might be disturbing his post-training moment of tranquillity, but it is a rare occasion to get the Frenchman during some ‘downtime’ while the hectic supercross season is running…

Why exactly are you in a hyperbaric chamber?

It’s something Aldon [Baker, trainer] has at his house, in his gym. It’s a cool machine to help with recovery and I’ll do it after a workout or any time really. It’s good to put my headphones on and take a nap or listen to some music for an hour or so. It’s relaxing.

So, you must be in there a few times a week?

Well, at least once a week. The way the pressure works in here is like going to altitude.

Image3_resized-2.jpgTraining with his teammate Cooper Webb helped Musquin get back up to Supercross speed – here they are together on the AMA Supercross gate
PC @AlignMedia

How are you feeling generally? The biggest question around you for 2021 – after missing a year of racing – is about the time it takes to get back to the highest level of performance…?

Good. I had the pace in some qualifications and was right there for the top three in some rounds. My speed has been pretty good. I missed 2020 Supercross with the injury and came back for the outdoors, which was slightly easier to do; I noticed how much of a totally different ‘game’ supercross is and supercross tracks are for any kind of injury. That question was one I had for myself: I thought ‘can I come back to my potential?’ and the good thing about being here in Florida with Aldon’s program is that I get to ride with Cooper [Webb] and Zach [Osborne] and we had RJ Hampshire as well. It was a good comparison and in the first few weeks I was not doing what I wanted to do, but that was normal. I wanted to get better every day and that’s how it turned out, both physically and mentally. I started getting closer to those guys and battling in practice. It was good because it was pushing me and gave me more confidence. I had two good months of preparation without any injury worries and went to Houston [round one] pretty excited. I knew I was capable of racing to my full potential for twenty minutes but, wow, the level [of the riders] going for the podium surprised me. At Houston the top 15 was inside a second in practice. Starts became so important. It was amazing to take third at the first race. I had a few crashes and mistakes in the other rounds.

Image4_resized-1.jpgMusquin won the 2009 FIM MX2 World Championship

Is that just the rustiness of being back in a race situation?

I think it is. The season has been so hard, especially if you cannot get a start. Bad times, bad gatepicks, bad starts, chaos on the first lap trying to pass: it all rolls into each other. So, it’s been frustrating to be in positions where I shouldn’t sometimes…but at the same time I’m showing decent speed.

Image5_resized.jpgMusquin battled hard in 2009 to showcase his talent

The parity in supercross seems crazier this year. It’s similar to MotoGP and MXGP now where there is such a spread of riders that can win or be on the podium…

I feel it was like that last year already. I wasn’t racing but I was watching and the level went up. A few years ago – two, three or four – it wasn’t that close. If you look now then a rider like Adam Cianciarulo can qualify first but then in the Main Event he’s struggling. I feel like everybody can be fast for one lap this year. The tracks were quite basic in Houston and they started to get a little bit more technical after but some are – I don’t want to say ‘too easy – but….well, the bikes are close, the riders are close and everyone can do the same thing on the tracks. I really feel we need to look at the tracks of 15-20 years ago, maybe make the jumps steeper so we don’t go as flat, far and fast. This season is definitely tough. When you go back to the truck and you look at a paper that says you are P14 in qualifying then you start to go a bit crazy about it and think ‘I suck…’ 

Even with your experience I guess that could stress you out…

It does! But then you have to look at it a different way and see that you are just half a second from the top five. Still, it’s hard not to think about the position only!

Image6_resized.jpgMusquin went on to defend his title for KTM aboard his KTM 250 SX-F in 2010

Twelve and a half years now with Red Bull KTM. Behind the wins, titles and achievements is that something you’re proud of?

Yeah, for sure. I’ve always said KTM are like family. Especially in the way I moved to KTM. There are a lot of stories and it’s quite unique. Without their support I would never have done anything like I did. It was the beginning of my career and I was in a bad position in 2009.

I remember it well…

You do! KTM did a lot to help me, Pit Beirer especially, so I feel a lot of loyalty and always wanted to move forward with them and keep climbing. Moving to America was a joint project and goal, and we did that together. Of course, things didn’t always work out the way I wanted to, and I chased better results but I won a supercross championship and did my best to win races. In the 450 class I was right there for a few seasons and was close for the title.

Image7_resized.jpgMusquin with some of KTM’s key management after his championship win in 2010

One consequence of that long association is the fact that you’ve ridden different generations of the KTM 250 and 450 SX-Fs. Have you seen or felt much variation in the bikes over the last decade?

Yeah! At the same time I feel that I have done really well with those changes. When I first rode the KTM 250 SX-F in 2009 it was with the PDS shock: remember that?! I won one of the most prestigious GPs by winning both motos at Lommel [deep sand track in Belgium]. Nobody expected that. We moved to a new bike in 2010 and we did some great things but a lot of guys were fast on that bike, like Jeffrey [Herlings] and Ken [Roczen]. It’s a cool story. One strong example for me with KTM was the electric start. I know now practically every brand has them now but people were still getting excited about them only a couple of years ago. Man, my KTM 250 SX-F had an electric start back in 2011! That’s only one example of how KTM always try to improve and be ahead of the rest. They do a lot of work. Here in America we have the production rule for racing but they still push to provide the best bike for sale so we can race it.

Image8_resized.jpgMusquin went over to the US in 2011 to race Supercross – here he is pictured in 2012 aboard his KTM 250 SX-F

You’re 31 now. How is the physical cost of your career? I remember being at the Bercy Supercross in Paris when you suffered your first knee injury…

That was at the end of 2010, going into 2011 and I was racing Bercy before starting my career in America. I ended up missing supercross. I mean those injuries like ligaments and tendons…I wish I’d broken bones. Do you know what I’m saying? But that’s how my body is. Surgeons and physios have told me that I’m very flexible so I tend to injure ligaments and tendons more than anything. My last knee problem was probably the biggest and where I had the most things repaired. The other knee – that I hurt twice – is actually pretty good but this last one was big. It’s a bummer. My hand also in 2015. I don’t feel that they are ‘massive’ injuries but little ones that bother you over a long time. I’m still capable of training and racing but I do think about the effects on my body now and again and, unfortunately, that’s part of racing. I know my body is not 100% ‘normal’.

Image9_resized-1.jpgMusquin won the AMA 250 East Supercross title in 2015

You’re one of the most technical riders I’ve seen. Can that skill and feeling still get better or do you think it’s an area where you peak and then look for improvements elsewhere? Can you still surprise yourself?

I have to say: ‘unfortunately not’. [pause] Also it’s harder on the 450 compared to the 250. It’s also nice to hear what you just say. There is a part of me that always wishes to be a bit better.

I guess that’s the never-ending ambition for a racer or an athlete…


Image10_resized.jpgGood memories – Musquin high fives the fans in 2015 with the #1 plate on his bike

You put a rare old photo of you battling former MXGP racer Clement Desalle on 85cc bikes on Instagram the other day. Clement, and your countryman Gautier Paulin, both retired in 2020. Does watching your peers and former teammates like Ryan Dungey walk away make you reflect on your own career?

For sure I still follow MXGP so I saw that Clement and Gautier had both retired. Racing in Europe is quite a bit different to what I’m doing here in America. Every single rider has a different type of career. I mean, they both already had kids and a wider family whereas I don’t. Clement had been on the 450 for a very long time whereas 2021 is just my sixth. Everybody is so different. Also Dungey: another type of career. So, it is always hard to compare but it does make me think about things. When you turn 30-31 you think about the future and I always said as long as I’m having fun and good results then I’ll keep going. Obviously if I cannot fight for results then there is no point. I don’t want to race if it’s not to my full potential.

Can you see yourself doing a ‘Tony Cairoli’ and making it to 35-36?

Er, no!

Lastly, you were the last guy to win the big million-dollar bonus at the Monster Energy Cup in Las Vegas [2017]. Have you blown any of the cash yet or is it sitting in the bank?

Haha! We didn’t spend anything. Unfortunately, I want to say that what you see on paper is not what you actually get! The plan was to put it in the bank and watch it grow.

Image11_resized-2.jpgThe 2021 season has seen Musquin back at the sharp end of Supercross following injury
PC @SimonCudby
Image12_resized-1.jpgWith a stacked field, starts have been even more key in 2021 – the #25 has enjoyed some strong gates so far this season.
PC @AlignMedia
Image13_resized-1.jpgBack on the podium – Musquin proved that despite time out he’s back on top form.
PC @AlignMedia
Image14_resized.jpgThere’s still more to come – Musquin is enjoying his racing in one of the toughest championships in the world.
PC @AlignMedia
Image15_resized.jpgAnd to finish – a customary heel-clicker from the Frenchman aboard his KTM 450 SX-F.
PC @SimonCudby

Posted in Racing

“I’m part of the inventory,” Wolfgang Felber smiles from behind his glasses. The 58-year old is sitting – socially-distanced – in the dark reception area of KTM’s Motorsport building in Munderfing and is being quizzed about his role in the rapid evolution of the KTM RC16; from MotoGP newboys and learners to Grand Prix winners and front runners.

IMAGE12_resized.jpgWolfgang Felber – KTM Factory Racing
PC @PhilipPlatzer

The former racer’s fingerprints have been over a large slice of KTM’s track efforts: from the first MotoGP V4 at the beginning of the century to the victorious Moto3 project, WP’s progression in offroad and Supercross and then the company’s current bustling Grand Prix tech. The KTM RC16 is a machine that went from being two seconds-a-lap adrift of the leaders to the peak of the MotoGP pack in just four seasons.

IMAGE21_resized.jpgFelber has been part of KTM for many years – here he looks on intensely with Heinz Kinigadner, Pit Beirer and Hubert Trunkenpolz as KTM riders battle for the front row in qualifying at the team’s home Grand Prix.
PC @PolarityPhoto

Felber has been in KTM for almost four decades. He is well placed to have seen the dynamism in Mattighofen since the turn of new millennium and how the distinctive orange livery became prominent in virtually every FIM motorcycling competition.

Image3_resized-1.jpgFelber has helped shape the KTM RC16 into the competitive package it is today – here in Brno 2020 it took a first victory with Brad Binder
PC @PolarityPhoto

“Looking back, I could never have imagined how KTM in general would have developed over these years,” he admits, wistfully. “It is a massive difference. It is like jumping from stone age to modern times. The company rocketed from being a local brand of dirtbikes to a global player in the motorcycle business…” he pauses, “but I can honestly say that every single day of those 38 years was exciting, challenging and never boring. I love my job. It is my passion.”

IMAGE41_resized.jpgBinder has his eyes on new goals for 2021
PC @PhilipPlatzer

What has been your role since you came back to the heart of the road racing project in the last two years?

Maybe I’m something of a counterpart to all the young engineers here that are much better educated than me, but sometimes you need a guy with a bit of feeling, experience and who might think differently. Perhaps that has been my part in the game. I’m always happy when one of our new guys come along with a new idea. It means the level of the company is rising up and the younger generation also learn and develop their knowledge. I used to race, and this is a plus, even today when I cannot remember every detail of what I was doing on my bikes decades ago! I can still imagine what a rider needs and how the connection between a rider and the bike must be. It’s a philosophical approach.

IMAGE51_resized.jpgThe 2021 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing RC16s of Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira
PC @PhiliptPlatzer

What about your journey with the KTM RC16?

I was more of a specialist for the layout of the chassis but I can say from when I arrived [on the project] there were single components or areas – like the engine or the electronics – that were already with a very good base. It just didn’t fit together 100%. So, we had to meld a union and hone the package.

IMAGE61_resized.jpgDanilo Petrucci joins the KTM family for 2021 – he will race for the Tech3 KTM Factory Racing squad
PC @PhilipPlatzer

Much has been made of the chassis changes and the role of Dani Pedrosa in the last version of the bike…

Dani brought his approach of how to ride a MotoGP bike over a full race distance or through a qualifying lap while bearing in mind the 20 different tracks and aspects like different temperatures. He had a general picture of what a MotoGP bike should be. First of all, it has to be good and reliable and a package with which the rider can be confident from Friday morning. Time on a race weekend is very limited. You have the four Free Practice sessions then Q1 and Q2, warm-up and into the race. There is not much time to work on the set-up. If you are ‘off’ on Friday morning then you will suffer all weekend. Dani has this picture, and every modification we test with him, every part, every strategy he keeps this in mind. He doesn’t think only about the next race, he is looking for the next years.

Image-7_resized-1.jpgSpecial memories – KTM’s first MotoGP victory in Brno, Czech Republic in 2020
PC @PolarityPhoto

That’s where you’ve had fantastic success last year because the 2020 bike was competitive at a much greater range of circuits compared to 2019 where low grip conditions were very tough…

Yeah, that was a big target. Also, another one was to make the bike competitive for all our riders. Until 2019 it was obvious that the bike was very much designed for the needs of Pol Espargaro and the others struggled a bit. Now it is designed more to Dani Pedrosa’s way of thinking and it’s astonishing that also Pol, Brad and Miguel and Iker could all embrace it. We have a very good package now for the riders because their styles are every different. It is a big plus.

Image-8_resized-1.jpgKTM has progressively gotten closer to the front of the grid throughout the last four years
PC @PolarityPhoto

How difficult was it to make a big change on the chassis but also keep the KTM DNA?

We didn’t think about the KTM DNA that much. We wanted to make the fastest, most competitive bike. A bike to win. This is automatically the KTM DNA.

Image9_resized.jpgFelber has been working with KTM for many years – here he is pictured in 2010 at the German IDM Superbike series

So, you didn’t have to keep a strict principal with the frame?

The strict principle was to make it from steel, and we are using the newest technology available with this material. Additive manufacturing: the more common term is ‘printing’ steel. The main parts of the frame are printed and welded together. 70-80% of the parts are printed and this gives us a lot of freedom with wall thicknesses and stiffness variations. It’s a big advantage. The philosophy for this chassis – and all the bike – was to deliver more confidence to the rider. A good example for me was the final race in Portimao and the Q2 qualifying laps of Miguel and Pol. The last corner is that fast downhill right hander and both were totally on the limit with their fast laps. The bike was sliding on the front and the rear with about 60-degree lean angle and around 200kmph and you could see the confidence they had: this is the package of rider and bike working fast together. If you can create it then it’s a great thing.

IMAGE11_resized-1.jpgMiguel Oliveira will line up alongside Brad Binder for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing in 2021
PC @PhilipPlatzer

What’s your emotion when you see something like Miguel and Pol fighting on the last corner for a MotoGP win?

Not just for me but for all the people involved in the in-house development here in Munderfing it was a special feeling because we are all racers to a degree. Even if the guys are sitting in front of their TV watching the GP in their mind they are also on the bike together with the rider because they have built and developed the motorcycle. They all have their connection to what is going on.

Image11_resized.jpgFelber’s knowledge and experience play an important role within the team
PC @SebasRomero

Lastly, the KTM RC16 seemed to make a big step in 2020. Is there another sizeable gain still to come in the 2022 model? Or is it about small tweaks from here?

I believe it will be small tweaks from now on because we have reached a good level. It’s different compared to when the project started four years ago and the bike was 2-3 three seconds off. When you start from scratch then you are ‘nowhere’, that’s normal, and you can quickly make big steps to get closer. Now we are in the ballpark and it is very difficult to find improvements. When we are testing we’re happy if we find something which makes the bike five-hundredths of a second faster and it is difficult to identify if it is an improvement or not, even with all the data. You always have the tires and their rate of drop also, so it is hard to judge. The next KTM RC16 also has to be a better bike to ‘fight’. This is also KTM’s DNA because we know motorsports and have been racing for so long. We know from other categories how important this is.

IMAGE13_resized.jpg2020 race winners Binder and Oliveira are looking forward to making further steps forward in 2021
PC @PolarityPhoto

Posted in Bikes, People

As it is hard to really grasp what a book is about by looking at its cover, it also takes time and effort to discover what truly lies behind that facade of plastic and metal when you first see the KTM 890 ADVENTURE. After using the bike daily and clocking almost 10,000km on it, I finally got to appreciate all the small details that make it one of the most technical motorcycles on the market.

By Paolo Cattaneo – @paolocattaneophoto

Image-1_resized.jpgBetter together: me and my KTM 890 ADVENTURE – 10,000km and counting
PC @PaoloCattaneo

When I first saw the KTM 890 ADVENTURE in the flesh at the home of KTM in Austria, I was immediately struck by its unorthodox lines. The protruding headlight and unconventional tank shape surely make it stand out from the others. Well, that was almost six months ago and since then I’m proud to say the odometer on the digital dashboard of my 890 ADVENTURE will be reaching the 10k mark soon.

What is interesting to understand for this bike, is that its unique design delivers incredible advantages while riding. Better aerodynamics and improved visibility are just few of the perks in having a narrow and aerodynamic front. During the last six months, there were quite a few moments when the benefits this design provides were pretty apparent.

Image-3_resized.jpgThe bike is a true pleasure to ride, really smooth and stable…
PC @PaoloCattaneo

One of these moments was when I had to cover 500 km in one day traveling from the north to the south of the Italian peninsula. On the highway, the bike is a true pleasure to ride, really smooth and stable even at high speed. The steering damper that comes as standard helps keep the bike steady and the tall windshield is effectively protecting me from a couple of tiny yet annoying rocks that might be shot from the car in front.

Fuel consumption on the KTM 890 ADVENTURE is great, especially on highways. With cruising speeds up to 120 km/h, you can get it to consume as low as 4.5 l for every 100 km, which allows for a fuel autonomy of way over 400 km.

Image-4_resized.jpgDifferent riding modes allow you to take your adventure to the next level
PC @PaoloCattaneo

Another thing you get to quickly appreciate is the user interface, which is simple and intuitive even for non tech savvy users. TFT display is bright and quite detailed, able to host “roadbook style” turn-by-turn GPS information, fed directly from your mobile phone. Several riding modes, Bluetooth connectivity, traction control, slip control and cornering ABS are just some of the brilliant technological advancements I like about this bike. There are several combinations to be made in terms of ride modes and it doesn’t take time to find the one that fits every riding condition the best.

While riding through the Amalfi Coast for instance, it was a great advantage to have the Cornering ABS and Rain modes enabled. Those narrow and winding coastal roads can get very slippery and dangerous when wet! Riding with the needed peace of mind was a huge plus. In cases like that, the electronics are there to let you enjoy the ride a lot more.

Image-5_resized.jpgThe KTM 890 ADVENTURE really is the ultimate gravel traveler (Crete, Greece)
PC @PaoloCattaneo

After all the time on its saddle, what impresses me the most about the KTM 890 ADVENTURE is its versatility. The new parallel twin engine is silent with very few vibrations, but really torquey when needed. The bike “purrs” in low to mid rpm and it’s quite easy to handle through traffic. It doesn’t irradiate heat and it has a wide steering range, ideal for making U-turns or sharp turns. The lower center of gravity gives the sensation of riding a much lighter bike, especially in the city. The throttle response is progressive and very intuitive.

During the past few months, I got to spend a few days riding in Athens, Greece, a city that is famed for its big traffic congestions. I remember getting stuck in some pretty tight spot in the Greek capital. The gentle throttle response and the great low to mid performance of the engine matched with the agile riding position deliver a pleasant cruising feeling even in these hectic urban conditions.

Image-9_resized.jpgThe gentle throttle response and the great low to mid performance of the engine matched with the agile riding position deliver a pleasant cruising feeling
PC @PaoloCattaneo

The KTM 890 ADVENTURE presents some features that belong to the travel segment but also some others that are purely associated with the offroad world. For instance, the Cruise Control unit comes preinstalled on the handlebar switch. A good touch that symbolizes the affinity to the travel segment, proper of much bigger touring bikes. A safety feature that comes embedded with the optional cruise control software is the fact that it cannot be engaged if the MTC is disabled. This prevents accidental rear wheel slippage while throttle management is regulated by the computer. Road stability is excellent, just like a 1200 cc motorcycle.

I never really had cruise control on the bikes I owned before. And trust me, it is great! It helps in adopting a more neutral and relaxed position while riding long stretches of highway. For instance, getting from the Dolomites mountains to Tuscany, was quite a trip in one day! A full day of sharp turns and mountain passes and then a 300 km liaison to Florence. I was pretty tired from the intense riding in the morning and I was glad I could rest my back and my arms while riding on a highway with the aid of cruise control. 

Image-6_resized.jpgThe bike comes standard with wide pegs and brake pedal
PC @PaoloCattaneo

To enhance its offroad potential, the bike comes standard with wide pegs and brake pedal, and removable rubber vibration absorber; a detail that marks the connection with the off-road nature of this motorcycle. In the dusty roads, the bike behaves like a bigger enduro. Spending the last couple months based on the island of Crete, there are many spots to explore the bike’s offroad potential.

Somewhere in the mountains, there’s a plateau at around 2000m of altitude, called Pakhnes. The road to get there is an absolute adventure itself.  Sand, mud, landslides, rocks and snow are just some of the obstacles to overcome to reach the beautiful location. Riding the KTM 890 ADVENTURE up there was simply incredible. It felt like exploring for the first time a new planet.

Image-7_resized.jpgRiding up on those steep Greek mountains definitely requires all the traction and power available!
PC @PaoloCattaneo

The different riding modes deliver totally different experiences. The three standard ones are Rain, Offroad and Street. Rally is available after installing the RALLY PACK, which is highly recommended to obtain full access to the “beast”. Rally mode has three different throttle responses available for the rider to choose from: Offroad, Street and Rally. Like in a video game, it’s easy to understand that the different mapping configurations allow different levels of riding difficulty to be unlocked. Progression from one level to the other gives the user access to gain proper confidence with the machine and tune it accordingly to his/her own skills.

With several different modes to select from depending on the riding conditions, the Rally mode is where things get exciting. Riding up on those steep Greek mountains definitely requires all the traction and power available!

Image_8a_resized.jpgThe tires performed excellently in all terrains I’ve covered in this past six months between Austria, Italy and Greece
PC @PaoloCattaneo

Last but not least, the KTM 890 ADVENTURE comes with some new Avon Trailrider V54 tires. The soft tire compound allows the motorcycle to be pushed to its limits in all tarmac situations. Ideal for mountain roads and even cold climates the tires performed excellently in all terrains I’ve covered in this past six months between Austria, Italy and Greece. They always gave me confidence in approaching turns and even riding down a rocky hill.

Overall, the KTM 890 ADVENTURE is a real pleasure to live with. Especially during these weird moments we’re going through, it is a tool to escape the limits of the cities and explore what lies at the end of the dusty roads. In my opinion, it features one of the smoothest, most torquey and powerful engines ever designed by KTM. Agile yet powerful, it is an easy bike to handle yet has all the performance features to transform every ride into an exciting experience you’ll remember for days, or even years…

Image-2_resized.jpgPakhnes – the road to get there is an absolute adventure itself
PC @PaoloCattaneo


The KTM 890 DUKE R slashed into the mid-weight naked motorcycle category with a surgeon’s precision. As sharp as it is out-of-the-box, here are 5 areas to focus on to take THE SUPER SCALPEL from backroad blaster to track day terror.

Image3_resized.jpgTHE SUPER SCALPEL, KTM 890 DUKE R – a track weapon that almost obliges you to get your knee close to the tarmac.

The KTM 890 DUKE R isn’t lacking. In fact, it’s probably one of the most complete mid-weight packages available on the market right now. A glance at the impressive spec sheet will confirm this. But, like all things, and knowing what we know about KTM riders, there is always room to make READY TO RACE even RACIER!


With 121 HP and hammer-blow levels of torque, the KTM 890 DUKE R isn’t short on power. However, there is one modification which we would say is an absolute must-have when tuning THE SUPER SCALPEL into the ultimate track-day assault weapon – the AKRAPOVIČ KIT “EVOLUTION LINE”.

Image-1aa_resized.jpgAn absolute must-have: the AKRAPOVIČ KIT “EVOLUTION LINE”
PC @HeinzMitterbauer

Made from high-grade, lightweight titanium, the AKRAPOVIČ KIT “EVOLUTION LINE” not only looks like it belongs on the starting grid, but delivers substantial performance gains (+5 hp), and weight savings too (- 4.5 kg). As a bonus, the AKRAPOVIČ KIT “EVOLUTION LINE” also produces a commanding soundtrack that won’t go unnoticed.


There isn’t much more we can strip off this mid-weight NAKED. However, like the AKRAPOVIČ KIT “EVOLUTION LINE”, the KTM PowerParts catalog has several weight-saving add-ons which will make the KTM 890 DUKE R even leaner.

Newsletter_PP_Seat.jpgSave even more weight with the RACE SEA.
PC @HeinzMitterbauer

The GRP RACE SEAT is an absolute must-have for every ambitious racer. Thanks to its glass-reinforced plastic construction, the RACE SEAT is extremely light and saves more weight by eliminating the need for the standard seat. This also aids in a more direct feel to the motorcycle.

The RACE SEAT comes primed and ready for painting. A Neoprene seat cowl pad is also included.

Newsletter_PP_Number-Plate.jpgGRP START NUMBER PLATE KIT
PC @HeinzMitterbauer

Save more weight by swapping out the KTM 890 DUKE R’s menacing headlight with the GRP START NUMBER PLATE KIT. Developed for use on the racetrack, the START NUMBER PLATE KIT is perfectly integrated into the motorcycle and gives it that real race bike look.

Some race tracks and series regulations will also call for a removal of the side stand. Luckily, we’ve thought of that too with the SIDE STAND REMOVAL KIT. This plug and play system effectively simulates a folded up side stand, and includes all the parts needed to replace the entire side stand bracket. Best of all, it also saves about 1 kg of sprung weight.

Image1_resized.jpgUltra-sharp, extremely precise and ready for the track – the KTM 890 DUKE R.


This is the reason we refer to the KTM 890 DUKE R as THE SUPER SCALPEL. It’s ultra-sharp and extremely precise. For those who want the ultimate race-day advantage, look no further than the WP APEX PRO line of suspension componentry. These high-spec suspension parts have been forged on racetracks around the world, and offer complete setup control.

The FACTORY FOOTPEG SYSTEM is another race-day add-on which dramatically improves race-setup and rider-feel on the bike. CNC milled from high-strength aluminum and anodized for longevity, the Factory footpegsystem allows riders to find their perfect positioning on the bike thanks to 8 different positions of adjustability. Knurling on the footpegs also ensures riders maintain boot grip when getting their elbows down.

Image4_resized.jpgThe WP APEX PRO suspension parts have been forged on racetracks around the world, and offer complete setup control.
PC @HeinzMitterbauer


With all that ‘GO’, you’ll need some ‘WOAH!’

The floating Wave brake disc set has been specifically developed for use on the race track. They deliver consistent, high-level braking performance with the perfect dosing capacity to scrub off speed, fast! Best of all, they’ve been engineered to perform in all conditions, wet or shine, with no distortion, no brake juddering and optimum braking feel across the entire temperature range. They also look the business with an anodized inner ring and stainless steel high-performance brake outer ring.

Image2_resized.jpgSharper than ever focused on the hardcore KTM naked rider.


Now that your KTM 890 DUKE R has all the ‘go faster’ parts, you’ll need to look the part.

The FRONT SPOILER KIT is a well-designed, and perfectly fitted GPR fairing which is also mandatory for some race regulations. The glass reinforced construction is extremely lightweight and made to the highest level of fit and finish, perfectly integrating into the KTM 890 DUKE R’s already aggressive stance.

Newsletter_PP_Spoiler.jpgThe well-designed and perfectly fitted FRONT SPOILER KIT for the KTM 890 DUKE R.
PC @HeinzMitterbauer

The KTM PowerParts catalog is also jam-packed full of bits to take your ride to the next level, like the orange anodized BRAKE and CLUTCH LEVER.  These are precision CNC milled from high-strength aluminum, and not only look great but have technical and ergonomic added-value too. These are adjustable for reach, extremely lightweight and the levers fold upwards in the event of a crash to prevent breakage.

For added lever protection, the FACTORY BRAKE LEVER PROTECTION is also CNC milled from high-strength aluminum and is mandatory in many competitions. This robust level protector gives added protection to the lever in case of unintentional ground or rider contact.

And lastly, in the event of an off, the CLUTCH and IGNITION COVER PROTECTORS ensure the engine covers stay safe from any damage. These have been specifically adapted to the shape of the engine cover for a precise fit, and are made from special, high-strength plastic which are largely friction resistant, and will slide, rather than grind, if they hit the deck.

If you’d like to find out more about the astonishing KTM 890 DUKE R or any of the KTM PowerParts mentioned above, visit KTM.COM.

Posted in Racing

Kilometer after kilometer the concentration, the energy, the navigation, the physicality and all while keeping the throttle absolutely twisted. Desert dunes, to rocky mountains, the Dakar Rally is a battle of endurance for both rider and machine.

Image1_resized-2.jpgThe 2021 Dakar presented some outstanding landscapes, here Toby Price is powering past the ocean.
PC @RedBullContentPool

The 2021 Dakar was a whirlwind from start to finish. Not just because of the challenges the teams and organisers faced to even get there and make the event happen, but because of its intensity, its landscapes and incredible stories. The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team are no strangers to victory at the world-famous event, having won on an incredible 18 occasions, and while victory wasn’t orange in 2021 this January, the team took the battle to the wire to finish with a podium result.

Image1A_resized-1.jpgSam Sunderland clinches a podium finish at the 2021 Dakar Rally.
PC @RallyZone

With a three-rider line-up all with Dakar winning experience, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing had made its pre-season preparations in Dubai. Matthias Walkner, Sam Sunderland and Toby Price were especially happy to be back on their KTM 450 RALLY machines after a rather empty 2020 season due to the pandemic. We know racers have to be fully immersed in their sport, and Price committed five months to living in a hotel away from home – in his words ‘all for the hope of that moment of glory’. The 2021 Dakar, which moved from South America to the Middle East two years ago, provided a high level of competition with big desert battles, rocky and stony terrain, a variety of weathers and a race to remember. Making the most of his pre-race prep, Price put the hammer down with a stage win on day one and six and would claim the lead of the race on reaching the rest day after stage six.

Image3_resized-2.jpgThe Dakar stories are legendary – Toby Price repairs his tire with tie-wraps and gaffa tape.
PC @RallyZone

Incredible stories are a mainstay of this tough race, which navigated this year over 7,646 km and the marathon stage, which began the day after rest day, particularly brought its challenges. A cut tire for Price after hitting a rock and no intervention allowed from team members overnight meant he had to make a special repair with gaffa tape and cable ties, which amazingly held out over 709 kilometers the next day. It’s a legendary tale; he made it back, with one cable tie remaining and in second position on the stage despite riding ‘conservatively’. Whether the fatigue associated with that incredible feat was a factor or not, the two-time Dakar winner was injured on stage nine and unfortunately had to abandon the race.

Image4_resized-2.jpgSam Sunderland blasts through the rocky landscape.
PC @RedBullContentPool

Talking about digging deep and overcoming challenges; Austrian ace Walkner made an incredible comeback from a technical issue on stage two, where he lost approximately two hours over the leaders. He battled day by day to fight for an impressive ninth overall. With Sunderland the only man in the fight for the number one spot, the British ace had ridden consistently throughout and a stage win on the penultimate day after an astounding effort put him within a handful of minutes of the race leader. After a Dakar where the pendulum of results swung each day, he knew that opening the final stage would possibly be a disadvantage, and while he battled to the final moments, Sunderland concluded the event in a commendable third after one of the toughest Dakars in recent memory.

Image2_resized-2.jpgMatthias Walkner fought back from a technical issue for an impressive top 10 finish
PC @RallyZone

“After losing over two hours early on, I knew fighting for the podium would be almost impossible. From then on, my plan was just to take each day as it comes and aim for good stage finishes and a nice, safe end to the race. To finish ninth overall is really good, especially with such a high level of competition. Now I’m hoping we can get more racing done this year and come back next Dakar for a better result,” said Walkner. 

Image6_resized-1.jpgSanders celebrates with his mentor, Jordi Viladoms, KTM Factory Racing team manager and former racer.
PC @RallyZone

A hugely notable performance was from KTM rookie Daniel Sanders. A face planting crash and a hugely swollen lip due to a bee sting could not slow the Aussie down. With top three stage finishes and consistently fast performances, the former enduro racer did an incredible job to finish fourth. He’s set the bar high; Dakar was only his second Cross-Country Rally, but with the mentoring of the KTM Factory Racing Team Manager Jordi Viladoms, as well as the opportunity to learn from his peers, Sanders has made the best of his opportunity in the KTM Factory Racing Junior Rally Program to establish himself as a serious contender.

Image7_resized-1.jpgSunderland battles the terrain with the Heli following at speed.
PC @RallyZone

All in all, it’s been a pretty perfect first Dakar for me. It started off with a good Prologue and then day-by-day I learned a little more and gained as much experience as possible. I’m really pleased to come away with fourth overall and as first rookie, so that’s cool. I’ve only really spent four months on the KTM rally bike, learning as much as I can for this, so I can’t thank Jordi and the whole team enough for all the hard work they have done and the faith they put in me,” said Sanders on completing the rally.

Image8_resized-1.jpgWalkner tackles the rocky ground aboard his KTM 450 RALLY.
PC @RallyZone

The team of course had hoped for more but as stated by Viladoms, it was an incredibly tough event: “After fighting for the whole race, to come away with a podium is positive, but of course we had hoped for more. Clearly, this event has been hugely challenging for all competitors, a true test of character and a true test of not only the riders but all of our team. I’m very proud of the effort everyone has given.”

Image9_resized-1.jpgAnother impressive image of Sam Sunderland, who made time up in the final few days to finish on the podium in third.
PC @RallyZone

On reaching the finish with a podium third Sunderland said: “I’m glad to be here safe at the finish line and in third place. I honestly think that has been one of the toughest races I have ever done – the pace at the top is so high, we’re having to fight every single day and there is no time to relax.”

The Dakar Rally is a huge team effort, with the travelling bivouac that follows and supports the event for its 12 stages. The magic of this thrilling race, which also includes other classes such as cars, trucks and quads is so special and we’re already looking forward to next year. In the meantime, check out some of the incredible images from the second half of the 2021 Dakar Rally.

Image10_resized-1.jpgSanders navigates the sandy conditions.
PC @RallyZoneImage-11_resized-1.jpgWalkner at speed through the changeable terrain of the 2021 Dakar.
PC @RallyZoneImage-5_resized-1.jpgDaniel Sanders finished as top rookie after a fast and consistent performance at only his second cross-country rally.
PC @RallyZoneImage12_resized-1.jpgJordi Viladoms congratulates Sam Sunderland on his podium result.
PC @RallyZoneImage14_resized-1.jpgExhausted but at the finish – Sunderland, Sanders and Walkner complete the 2021 Dakar Rally.
PC @RallyZoneImage-15_resized.jpgSanders grabs Sunderland’s bike as he does a celebratory burnout.
PC @RallyZone


A 29-year-old Austrian is proving that KTM can ripple four sets of rubber compared to two, and with the fresh KTM X-BOW GTX now rolling from pitboxes, the car racing world had better watch out for more fast orange.

Image-1_resized.jpgLaura Kraihamer in her first official season with KTM back in the days – True Racing KTM X-BOW GT4
PC @JoelKernasenko

When we call Laura Kraihamer she is on the road. It seems somehow appropriate. Even though we’re sure she’s doing our interview in a completely legal manner while on Austrian highways, we still have an image of a very fast commute at the other end of the line. The conversation is relaxed and calm however, much like the racer herself in GT competition.

When Kraihamer is not spending half of a (normal) racing season competing in two series and key Endurance events she’s pushing the marketing campaigns for the X-BOW. There is probably no other KTM employee with such rigorous knowledge of a product; whether in competition, during development or through the refined presentation of a press pack. She has her fingerprints all over the cars.

Image-2_resized.jpgWhen Laura is not competing in two series and key Endurance events she’s pushing the marketing campaigns for the X-BOW
PC @GruppeCPhotography

Like many of her peers Kraihamer was a sponge for adrenaline through karting. When the door to single-seater racing started to close however due to a lack of funding, she looked for alternative means to keep on the asphalt and a chance X-BOW track day opened a new line for her.

“That was in 2012,” she explains, through her exceptional English. “The X-BOW was something to try for fun but I liked the car and found a way to race the X-BOW series; it was really hard the first year but I won it in the second and that brought me closer to KTM. I was working for Audi at the time. However, the more intense the racing became with the X-BOW the better the connection was with KTM. I started working for them in 2016.”

Her sportscar marketing role had the added kick of racing the X-BOW, and more…

Image-3_resized.jpgThe new KTM X-BOW GTX – Laura’s racing car for the season
PC @JoelKernasenko

You must have seen and felt changes in the X-BOW cars over the years. Have you been closely involved in development?

Yes, I had the honour to be involved in the latest models actually – the GTX and the GT2 CONCEPT. The other factory driver, Reinhard Kofler, developed the very first X-BOW and I was right by his side. He has so much experience and I learned a lot. We gave some feedback and info in the first tests and it was very detailed work. It is incredible how many aspects there are – some you wouldn’t think about at all.

Image-4_resized.jpgLaura on a development test drive with the KTM X-BOW GTX
PC @JoelKernasenko

An example?

Well, the ABS functionality. There are ten different settings and they are determined by percentages that are very difficult to feel. You need to know the car very well…but if you can define the setting then it can make a huge difference. The way to do that is very hard because it is so detailed. But, it’s really interesting, and satisfying when you get it right so the customer will benefit.

Image-5_resized.jpgTeam True Racing celebrating a win at Red Bull Ring (Austria)
PC @JoelKernasenko

Have you driven many other cars in the last few years? Can you describe the sensation behind the wheel of a X-BOW? Many people will only know about KTM bikes…

I started karting when I was 12, so quite late, until I was 16. Then, as I explained, I finally had that connection with KTM and thanks to winning in my second year it meant I’ve mainly been racing X-BOWs since. Except for 2020. We didn’t have a factory car last year because we were so busy with the new models so I was allowed to drive two TCRs just to get some race time and to have some fun. I also raced the X-BOW in 2020 but it was not a full championship entry.

The feeling? The X-BOW is definitely built for racing! The biggest difference to any other car is probably the weight. The X-BOW GTX now has 530hp and weighs just over 1000kg. There is 650Nm of torque banging on the ground. The power is huge and it is incredibly quick through corners. It feels like a proper race car. I think the older models – the X-BOW R and RR – they felt a bit like huge, open karts, very pure and almost unique in their design. The new GTX and GT2 CONCEPT are a step onwards because you add power-steering, ABS, traction control and aerodynamics. They are race cars through-and-through. The older X-BOWs for the road are very quick because they weigh even less and don’t have the driver aids. You really get what you give when you are behind the wheel.

Image-7_resized.jpgVictory at the 24H Barcelona in 2019
PC @JoelKernasenko

Having raced in different countries and at different circuits what is the attitude of people in paddocks to the X-BOW? Are they puzzled by a car made by a bike brand?

When we took the X-BOW GT4 internationally people were really surprised by the performance of the car. It won races and championships straight away. The GT4 was a proper race car but the GTX is now on another level. I think people racing in GTX will be very impressed. I’ve not heard one negative comment. I think they are pleasantly surprised by how such a small manufacturer – when it comes to cars of course – can develop a car with such performance in such a small period of time. With the prototype we were leading the Monza 12hr ahead of all the GT3 cars. Besides racing with the GTX I can’t wait for the GT2. The homologation process is currently underway for the full carbon racing car, which weighs just 1,045 kilograms and will have around 600 hp. The output is mind-blowing.

Image-6_resized.jpgMorning hours at the 24H of Barcelona in 2019 with the KTM X-BOW GTX prototype. “One of the most beautiful and difficult times at a 24H race” – Laura Kraihamer.
PC @JoelKernasenko

The X-BOW GTX and GT2 CONCEPT seems like a decent statement of intent by KTM. It feels like the X-BOW was initially a fun and eccentric side project over the last ten years but are attitudes inside the company changing towards it now? Is KTM getting more serious?

It’s really developed a lot and we have to be thankful for the all the support we’ve had from the company and the synergies we’ve been able to enjoy with the bike side. Internally I get a lot of messages and interest about the product. As an example, when we launched the new cars I was told we had more organic reach through the KTM social media channels than for any other product. It was crazy! I think many people realise how much effort is going into the X-BOW inside KTM. It’s not just a side project but something we are working really hard for. It’s not easy to be compared to the motorcycles because it involves completely different customer and price groups. We’ll never have the unit sales that the bikes produce. But I feel there is a lot of respect now.

Image-8_resized.jpgGetting Ready To Race at the 24H Barcelona 2019
PC @JoelKernasenko

The X-BOW uses an Audi engine. Is it like a 2019 Moto2 bike where KTM bring the chassis and other parts? What element of the new X-BOW is 100% KTM?

A lot. The design, chassis and aerodynamics is all KTM. Of course, there are a few parts that come through suppliers and the car is so special that we had to adapt everything we have. Hardly anything is ‘standard’. As an example; the steering wheel is totally made to spec by us. We only looking at around 100 models for the range – which is still quite a lot for our current resources – so they are very specialised.

Image-9_resized.jpgFully Focused before the start at the GT4 European Series
PC @JoelKernasenko

Back on the track: you’re pretty busy in terms of competition…?

I’d say between 28-32 weekends in a normal year. A race week starts with travel on Wednesday and ends with departure on Sunday evening. There are some test weekends and days. You have to be really flexible and very efficient with the day-job! I organise a lot when I’m on the road and I have a team and colleagues that are great for backing me up. There’s not much time for anything else between racing, driving, training and work. I get up at 5.30am to train from 6-7.15 and then drive to work.

Image-10_resized.jpgVictory at ADAC GT4 Germany in Oschersleben with teammate Reinhard Kofler for True Racing
PC @JoelKernasenko

What’s the plan for 2021? How many series will you be racing in?

At the moment two. There are some where I’ll drop in for one-two events. You have to co-ordinate well between the championships and watch for the overlaps. Luckily, I don’t decide. It’s a luxury to be told when and where I have to race and to test.

Image-12_resized.jpgRacing, testing, developing and promoting a race car – sounds like a dream job. Photo: KTM X-BOW GTX
PC @JoelKernasenko

It sounds like a dream job – and you have a relatively new car to race and promote – but how much longer can you continue at that rhythm?

It’s a good question. It takes a lot of energy, I’m not going to lie, and you have to live your life with all the ups-and-downs involved with racing. If it didn’t give me so much then I would have given up a long time ago. As long as it still keeps giving me all that energy back then I will carry on with the five-hour nights! But, honestly, after a year like this I had a taste of what it would be like not to race anymore and I was desperate! Really! I know it is a luxury problem, but I really missed it. I hope for a better 2021. I was not able to really race that much between the ages of 16-22 and I know that feeling, so there is nothing I want to avoid more! It’s just my thing.

Image-13_resized.jpg“As long as it still keeps giving me all that energy back then I will carry on…” – Laura Kraihamer, Ready To Race at the start of the GT4 European Series in Zolder (Belgium)
PC @JoelKernasenko

Read all about the X-BOW range on

Posted in Racing

The 48th AMA Supercross championship begins on Saturday January 16th in the NRG Stadium in Houston so here are 14 pieces of trivia and facts to whet the appetite…

Image1a_resized.jpgThe 2021 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing trio of Cooper Webb, Max Vohland and Marvin Musquin
PC @SimonCudby

1)  Supercross is an American creation but the first two winners of an AMA-sanctioned ‘Supercross’ event in 1974 were Dutch and Belgian. Pierre Karsmakers and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s own Roger De Coster owned the 250 and 500cc Main Events at Daytona in Florida. Karsmakers would prevail across the three rounds of the 250cc series (Daytona and Houston in March and Los Angeles in June) to be the first quarter-litre champion. By 1977 Supercross had grown to 10 rounds and by the mid-1980s it was already touching 16-17 fixtures.

2) From 1976-1984 AMA Supercross only had one class: 250cc. In 1985 the 125cc division entered the contest and has been split between East and West coasts ever since. AMA Supercross did not align ‘450’ and ‘250’ until 2012. From 2006 until 2012 the old 125cc category was known as ‘Lites’.

3) KTM’s first ever Supercross win? It came with the KTM 125 SX, 27 years after that Daytona inauguration. On April 21st 2001 South African Grant Langston claimed the 125cc West Coast Main Event in Irving, Texas. By mid-00s KTM were in 125cc title contention with Josh Hansen and Nathan Ramsey winning races in both East and West competition but the first crown did not arrive until Ken Roczen ruled the West in 2013 with the KTM 250 SX-F thanks to a narrow two-point championship success over Eli Tomac.  Jason Anderson (2014 West) and Marvin Musquin (2015 East) followed.

Image1_resized-1.jpgRyan Dungey enjoyed a strong season in 2012 with three victories including KTM’s first in the 450SX category

4) Red Bull KTM had to wait even longer in the 450SX premier class. 11 years after Langston’s breakthrough Ryan Dungey crossed the finish line first with the KTM 450 SX-F in Phoenix on 14th January 2012. He would add three more wins that season and accumulate 27 in total (including three championships) until the end of 2017 when he retired.

5) For the last 15 years AMA 450SX Champions have also earned the distinction of ‘FIM World Champion’ due to the international governing body’s association and working link with the sport.

Image2_resized-1.jpgCooper Webb won the AMA 450SX Supercross class in his first year aboard the KTM 450 SX-F FACTORY EDITION
PC @SimonCudby

6) Dungey’s consistency and work with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing helped the brand become the most prolific name of the last half decade of supercross. His three titles in 2015-16-17 were followed by Cooper Webb’s fantastic effort in 2019. The American won 7 Main Events in his maiden season for KTM, waiting only two rounds before his first (at Anaheim II). 2019 was KTM’s best inside the stadiums. The KTM 450 SX-F was the outstanding motorcycle in the gate with 10 victories from the 17 rounds in the hands of three riders (Webb with 7, Marvin Musquin with 2 triumphs and Blake Baggett with one) and three bikes in the top six of the standings.

Image3_resized-1.jpgHaving finished runner-up in 2020, Webb is fully prepared to battle for the crown in 2021
PC @SimonCudby

7) Watch the progress of Cooper Webb (2020 runner-up), 2020 title-holder Eli Tomac and 2018 #1 Jason Anderson this season. Why? Premier class medal winners have a tendency to repeat their feats. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 1997 and Jeff Emig to find the only example of a one-time champion. Who holds all the records? Despite his last success coming in 2000, Jeremy McGrath still boasts the most crowns (7) and wins (72) as well as the most in a season (14) and in-a-row (13); both of those last two achievements were matched by Ricky Carmichael in 2001.

Image4_resized-1.jpgMarvin Musquin is a veteran of Supercross and will be aiming to challenge for the title in 2021
PC @SimonCudby

8) Could Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin be a dark horse? The 31-year old is entering his 11th season of supercross racing, all with Red Bull KTM. The former double FIM MX2 World Champion and 250SX East Champion missed 2020 through injury: it was the first time in four years that he couldn’t register at least one 450SX Main Event triumph. He entered the class as a rookie in 2016.

9) The 2021 series is aiming to reach 17 rounds between January 16th and May 1st but is only visiting seven stadiums as the COVID-19 pandemic is still in full flow. Four of the sites (Houston, Indianapolis, Arlington and Atlanta) will run tripleheader races in one week with a Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday schedule. For the first time AMA Supercross will not visit the state of California; home of KTM North America (based in Murrieta, south of Los Angeles).

10) Too close to call? For the last four years the 450SX championship decider has gone down to the final round. The rules state that in the event of a tie the title is determined by the highest number of Main Event wins. If still equal, the riders are separated by the number of second position finishes then, if necessary, 3rd position results are counted. The ultimate tie-breaker will be the result of the final race of the season.

11) A memorable moment! In 2012 Ryan Dungey created one of the more memorable sights in recent years of Supercross racing. After damaging his gear lever on a tuff-block in Las Vegas for the season-ending Monster Energy Cup (MEC), the Red Bull KTM man resorted to shifting with his hand while using air-time at the Sam Boyd Stadium. Dungey, who had made his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing debut at the same event the previous year, still managed to finish second overall at the one-off annual invitational. 

12) Red Bull KTM have won the MEC just once since the event’s inception in 2011, thanks to Marvin Musquin, who also pocketed the 1-million-dollar bonus prize in 2017 (only three riders have banked the seven-figure check). There is no word on the traditional Vegas curtain-closer for 2021 and, aside from the money, the spectacle and the possibility for teams to use the October fixture as a chance to test for the following campaign, the MEC has allowed AMA Supercross promoters Feld Motorsports to experiment with the supercross format. The MEC has staged novelties such as longer, simplified tracks, split starts, Joker Lanes, open technical regulations and triple moto billing; the last feature entered the AMA Supercross calendar as ‘Triple Crown’ contests three years ago.

Image5_resized-1.jpgRed Bull KTM Factory Racing is Ready To Race Supercross 2021
PC @SimonCudby

13) In 2021 Red Bull KTM will again have representation in two classes and will run two different bikes for the first time in six years. 250SX duties had previously been filled by the Troy Lee Designs team but youngster Max Vohland will steer an official Red Bull KTM 250 SX-F alongside the KTM 450 SX-Fs of Cooper Webb and Marvin Musquin.

14) Will KTM soon repeat their finest ever evening of Supercross? At Anaheim 1 in 2014 Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey took their KTM 450 SX-Fs to first and second positions respectively at the opening race of the season while Jason Anderson used his KTM 250 SX-F to win the initial 250SX West round. Orange everywhere!

Posted in Racing

The Dakar Rally is one of the most notoriously difficult and famous races on the planet; a spectacle full of varied terrain, hundreds of stories, and where the best of the best rally riders battle it out for supremacy. As we reach the halfway point of the 2021 edition, which began with a prologue on January 2nd, we’ve already seen some spectacular images, heard some fantastic stories and seen the tactics, fatigue and changing terrain challenge the riders.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price currently leads the standings going into the ‘rest day’, but in his words ‘there’s a long way to go’ with six more days of racing before the finish line, where riders will have completed a total of 12 stages and covered 7,646km in distance. Price’s teammates Sam Sunderland, Matthias Walkner and KTM Factory Racing’s Daniel Sanders will also be enjoying a day off their KTM 450 RALLY machines in preparation for the stages ahead.  We took a look through some of this year’s incredible images so far…

To learn more and get deeper into the Dakar Rally check out The Dakar Dirt podcast, which takes listeners behind the scenes of the famous race and features interviews with riders past and present. The Dakar Dirt mini-series is available now on all popular podcast platforms with more episodes coming soon.

Image1_resized.jpgMatthias Walkner in the spectacular terrain during the opening stage of the 2021 Dakar Rally
PC @RallyZoneImage2_resized.jpgInto the wilderness – Toby Price aboard his KTM 450 RALLY en-route to a stage three victory at the Dakar
PC @RallyZoneImage3_resized.jpgSam Sunderland tackles the terrain – this year’s Dakar event has already included a big variety of challenges for the riders
PC @RallyZoneImage4_resized.jpgRookie Daniel Sanders has impressed on his Dakar debut aboard his KTM 450 RALLY
PC @RallyZoneImage5_resized.jpgHaving won the previous day, Price had the difficult task of leading out the stage on day four of the rally
PC @RallyZoneImage6_resized.jpgSunderland in the bivouac – the base for the teams racing at the Dakar Rally – as he prepares for the day ahead
PC @RallyZoneImage7_resized.jpgWalkner tackles the stony ground in style on Dakar stage four aboard his KTM 450 RALLY
PC @RallyZoneImage8_resized.jpgIf you look closely enough you’ll see Toby Price – the vast desert ensures the navigation is tough with riders using a roadbook with simple directions to find their way across the terrain
PC @RallyZoneImage9_resized.jpgAnother cool picture in the rocks as Sunderland keeps the throttle on whilst navigating his way through
PC @RallyZoneImage10_resized.jpgKTM Factory Racing Rally team manager Jordi Viladoms, a former Dakar racer, advises Sanders during his second ever rally
PC @RallyZoneImage11_resized.jpgWalkner blasts through the sand as one of the organization helicopters follows
PC @RallyZoneImage12_resized.jpgPrice tackles the rocks on stage five – the variation of obstacles requires skill and concentration for the long days of Dakar
PC @RallyZoneImage13_resized.jpgSunderland excels in the sand and enjoys the desert aboard his KTM 450 RALLY
PC @RallyZoneImage14_resized.jpgPrice leads the rally after stage six and heading into the ‘rest day’ after a consistent performance
PC @RallyZone

Posted in Racing

The Dakar Rally is one of the most notoriously difficult races on the planet. With the 2021 event just days away, we caught up with KTM Rally Team manager Jordi Viladoms to get an insight into Dakar, what’s new for 2021 and the team’s goals.

Image1_resized-4.jpgKTM Factory Racing Rally Team Manager Jordi Viladoms at the 2019 Silk Way Rally.
PC @RallyZone

Rally is who I am, it’s what I do…

“I’m Jordi Viladoms, team manager for the KTM Factory Racing rally team. I’ve completed the Dakar Rally 15 times – 10 as a racer and more recently five as a team manager. The Dakar is a really tough race with lots of kilometers and lots of days racing. It’s always challenging with the conditions in the desert. It’s not an easy event for the riders, or the teams. It is so long, you have to be both physically, and mentally strong to survive.”

Image2_resized-3.jpgThe 2021 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rally line-up of Toby Price, Sam Sunderland and Matthias Walkner
PC @MarcinKin

Once you start it’s hard to stop…

“The Dakar Rally is like a drug for me. When I raced, what kept me motivated was setting goals and then reaching them. My first goal was to finish, then it was a top 20 finish and then top 10, and when you reach the top 10 the goal is to win. Now, on the management side, it is the same for our team and the riders. We race to win and so far we are really happy with the results that our riders have achieved. We’re focused on pushing to win more Dakars in the future.”

Image3_resized-3.jpgViladoms concluded the 2014 Dakar as runner-up to teammate Marc Coma.
PC @MaragniM

Success is never easy in the desert…

“It’s been great for KTM to win the Dakar Rally as much as we have (18 consecutive victories from 2004-2019). From the outside it may look easy, but it really isn’t. It is really hard work for the whole team and the riders. Not winning the Dakar in 2020 gives us an even bigger motivation for next year and the years ahead. Of course we want to be back  at the top of the podium and we’re hungry for victory. It’s a really tough race where every competitor and team pushes really hard for success.”

Image4_resized-3.jpgViladoms crosses the finish-line for his career-best finish at the Dakar Rally in 2014.
PC @MaragniM

Three riders all focused on winning…

“With Toby, we have a good contender with a lot of experience and wins at the Dakar. The 2020 race didn’t quite go his way, but I am confident that he can overcome the challenges he faced and return to the top step of the podium. Sam was unlucky to crash out in 2020. The terrain was what he excels in so it was unfortunate, but crashes can happen at any time. He’s now full recovered and ready to be a contender again. With the route looking like it will need strong navigation skills, this should really suit Matthias. This is his strength, along with his fitness, so there is a big chance of a strong result. All three riders are really well prepared and capable of winning, so we are confident going into the race.”

Image5_resized-3.jpgComa and Viladoms celebrate their 1-2 success at the 2014 Dakar Rally.
PC @MaragniM

Testing, training, working for the future…

“The team has been testing and training a lot over recent months, we’ve worked on adapting the bike to suit the terrain and conditions that the riders will face. We’re pleased to have made positive steps and the bike is working better than previous years. At the same time, we have been working on our future rally bike so all in all, it’s been a lot of work, all concentrated into the end of 2020. The riders have been riding similar terrain to what we will face in January while also focusing on strengthening their roadbook skills. It’s been a really busy time for us and I’m hoping that this hard work pays off in the race.”

Image6_resized-3.jpgA long history in rally – Jord Viladoms racing at the 2006 Dakar.
PC @PeukerH

Focused on what we need to do to win…

“We are really motivated to reclaim the title. With KTM winning 18 Dakars in a row it was painful to lose the title in 2020. Since then, we have focused on what we need to do to win again. It’s a really competitive race and it is a huge effort by all the teams and riders. After not winning last year, there is now an even bigger effort to try and win again.”

Image7_resized-3.jpgViladoms has been working in a managerial role for the KTM Factory Racing rally team since he concluded his racing career – here he is talking to Toby Price during the 2020 Andalucia Rally.
PC @RallyZone

Adapt, understand, slow the pace…

“For the 2021 race the roadbook will be handed out to each rider in the morning of each stage, which is new for everyone. This is the same for all competitors and our riders have been training for this. There’s also been changes with the safety regulations and it’s now mandatory for all riders to wear an airbag, which is a positive move from a safety aspect. Also, our riders and all elite class riders are now limited to six rear tires and just one piston change throughout the whole race. This should make riders think and slow their pace as it won’t be possible to push throughout the whole race. All in all, they’ll adapt for these changes.”

Image8_resized-4.jpgToby Price is prepared ahead of the 2021 Dakar aboard his KTM 450 RALLY machine.
PC @MarcinKin

Strategy, what strategy?

“The route for 2021 looks much slower than 2020. There are many changes of direction, which should mean tricky navigation. It’s going to be hard on the riders, not knowing until the morning of each stage how technical that day will be. Therefore, there isn’t really a strategy like in previous years. Each rider will need to think each and every day to do their best.”

Image9_resized-4.jpgThe increased technical navigation expected at Dakar 2021 should suit Matthias Walkner.
PC @MarcinKin

Remove the pressure, keep it relaxed…

“We created the KTM Factory Racing Junior Rally Program with Daniel Sanders to run in parallel with the factory team. The idea behind this is to bring in a new rider without them feeling the pressure of racing for the factory team, and to allow them to enjoy a more relaxed approach to their racing. Part of the idea is to plan for the future, and the junior program will be a feeder team into the factory team. Within this structure there is much less pressure on Daniel, he has time to learn with the goal of progressing step by step and perhaps being able to reach the factory team. He has all the tools he needs, and can learn from our three very experienced and successful rally racers, so his position is perfect for developing his skills, without any pressure. He’s actually learning really fast and we’re very happy with the progress that he’s made since joining the team.”

Image10_resized-4.jpgSam Sunderland has a lot of experience in the dunes, which should be a help to him at the 2021 Dakar.
PC @MarcinKin

Step-by-step with an eye on the future…

“With Daniel, we knew he had great potential. He won the International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) on a big bike, so a rally bike wasn’t going to be too difficult for him to get used to. He knows high speeds and his riding skills are very good. As soon as he arrived, he started learning with the roadbook and understood it quite quickly. His first race as a rally rider was the Andalucia Rally and he won a stage there, so everything is really promising with Daniel. For now, though, we don’t put any pressure on him, and we take everything step by step. In the future, I’ve no doubt that he will be a contender at the Dakar Rally.”

Image11_resized-2.jpgDaniel Sanders joins the KTM Factory Racing Junior Rally Program for his first Dakar in January.
PC @MarcinKin

The prologue for the 2021 Dakar Rally begins on January 2nd 2021, and the event concludes after 12 stages on January 15th with one rest day on January 9th. There are 108 motorcycle competitors entered into the race, which is being held for the 43rd time. KTM’s four-rider line-up hopes to bring the title back to Austria, but with an event held over 7,646  kilometers, with nearly 5,000 competitive kilometers,  anything can and does happen. The team is based in a bivouac, which is a base that travels to follow the race and is where the rider departs from and arrives to each night aboard his KTM 450 RALLY.

Image12_resized-2.jpgThe team will be aiming for more podium results and victories – here they are celebrating Toby Price’s third place finish in 2020.
PC @RallyZone

We at the KTM blog would like to wish the KTM Factory Racing team the very best of luck! Head over to the Racing News on for the latest 2021 Dakar Rally news.

Posted in People, Racing

Red Bull KTM classified as 2020 MotoGP eSports World #1 in the capable hands of 23-year old Adrian Montenegro. The Spaniard cleaned-up in the eight rounds of the championship with his ‘virtual’ KTM RC16 so we decided to ask how and why…

Image1_resized-3.jpgAdrian was proud to represent Red Bull KTM Factory Racing.

Adrian Montenegro has the same official shirt and arguably the same competitive spirit as the 2020 Red Bull KTM MotoGP quartet of Brad Binder, Pol Espargaro, Iker Lecuona and Miguel Oliveira. The Gran Canarian does however have a different set of ‘controls’ when it comes to the saddle of his KTM RC16. Montenegro registered five wins and two more podiums in the burgeoning eSports version of Grand Prix racing after coming through a series of regional challenges and a Pro Draft to make the cut as one of eleven best competitors with the official MotoGP game.

Image2_resized-2.jpgAdrian explained how he raced the championship at home.

As a member of the Williams eSports team (the F1 squad has gaming representation across a number of motorsports)  and with a MotoGP world ranking of 5th in 2019, Montenegro was selected by Red Bull KTM for 2020 and – happily wearing the number of his favorite racer, KTM test rider Dani Pedrosa – laid waste to the competition.

“There are a few guys who were already signed up by factory teams but I was pleased to be chosen by Red Bull KTM,” he said in a call from his home. “Since I was small, I always liked watching Dani; so, I raced with his number 26 and I also liked his helmet and used his livery. It was cool how it worked out.”

Image3_resized-2.jpgThe graphics in the game are incredible – it’s also extremely competitive.

Montenegro’s ability had been spotted by the Williams crew as the world of eSports and competition continues to sprout at a rapid pace and on a wide international scale. In a recent article renowned business magazine Forbes stated that global gaming revenue is set to reach almost 160 billion dollars in 2020 and eSports in particular will top 1 billion, with expectations to rise by another 50% in the next two years. Vast streaming and online viewership is helping to boost numbers while companies and investors are backing elite gaming ‘factions’ to the tune of millions of dollars. Sports like MotoGP and F1 are trying to react to this surging market.

Image4_resized-2.jpgAdrian is the 2020 MotoGP eSport World Champion.

“Williams have a good team in Sim Racing and also Gran Turismo and have now started out in MotoGP,” he claims, as one of a large roster of official drivers/riders/representatives. “They provide me with a computer, headset, controller and everything I need to play.”

Like any focused racer ‘Williams_Adrian’ had to work on his weak points for competition and the eight events in Mugello, Jerez, Red Bull Ring, Sepang, Misano World Circuit, Phillip Island, Silverstone and the Ricardo Tormo Circuit, played out online in 2020. Sadly, the Grand Final couldn’t place at its traditional slot at the ‘real’ Valencia due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Image5_resized-2.jpgBy live link Adrian was awarded his MotoGP eSport World Championship trophy.

“I improved a lot this year with my starts and that really helped,” he commented on his rise from mid-top 10 runner to race winner and eventually champion with the prize of a brand-new BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupé to park alongside his KTM RC 390 in his garage. “I was around 7th-6th-5th last year and I found it really difficult to comeback, so I prepared this season to start further forward and it worked.” He won five of the first six races and had two more podiums to head the final standings by 23 points.

Image6_resized-2.jpgThe graphics in the game allow riders to personalize their leathers.

“It was still pretty nervy to race from home but of course it would be better to have been at the circuit,” he adds. “It would be amazing to win there with things like the trophy presentations and this year would have been the keys to the car! It’s a little ‘colder’ when you’re at home.”

Montenegro has the reactions and the co-ordination to excel at a game that is played online by hundreds of thousands of fans and a healthy section of the MotoGP grid themselves (as evidenced by the Virtual Grands Prix among the riders during the mid-year pandemic lockdown). Nevertheless, he is not a fanatic and doesn’t spend every waking hour behind the PlayStation. His brother, Williams_Cristian, also competes and has also won prizes in MotoGP eSports.

Image7_resized-2.jpgRiders from around the world competed for the championship representing the MotoGP teams.

“We play a few hours a day when it’s competition time but, for example, I’m studying now and the championship is over so I don’t play at all,” he explained. “I cannot sit there connected for hours and hours because it would drive me crazy and I also don’t like overdoing it! If I feel I need to be better at something then I’ll work at it, but I also put the controller down when I get bored or tired of it.”

Montenegro admits that he only plays MotoGP and occasionally FIFA. It means he has intimate knowledge of the game developed by Milestone. The Italian studio has been curating the official MotoGP title since 2007 and have evolved their portrayal of the sport in that period.

Image8_resized-3.jpgAdrian runs the #26 like his favourite rider Dani Pedrosa.

“It’s good but it still has a few things to improve,” assesses Montenegro, a rider himself and very familiar with the sporty performance of the KTM RC 390. “The developers are always improving the game, so that’s a positive thing. An improvement? For my taste the braking time into the corners is really short, very deep. You just brake and turn, and it doesn’t feel quite right. A good thing? The graphics and presentations of the circuits and the bikes are fantastic. I would alter the physics of the game, but that’s just my opinion. Other players might really like how it is.”

Image9_resized-3.jpgAdrian said his improved starts off the grid were a big improvement this year.

In March 2021 Montenegro has to go again and classify among the elite of Europe and make the cut to attempt the Global series and defend his crown. MotoGP eSports will reach a fifth edition next year and the reigning champ believes it is going places. In 2019 the six-round competition logged 20 million video views with more than 3 million engagements and was distributed by 15 broadcasters. Those figures can only increase.

“I think there is a lot potential for growth,” he opines. “When I won the championship a couple of weeks ago I received so many messages and I still do every day. You can see how much people like it around the world. I think the series has some strong sponsors, like Red Bull, and a lot of interest. I hope it gets a bit bigger next year…and I can still be there to win it!”

Image10_resized-3.jpgAdrian is the 2020 MotoGP eSport World Champion

For more information about MotoGP eSports check out the official website here:



Posted in Bikes, People

From the home of KTM in Mattighofen, Austria, to the seaside roads of mainland Greece, here’s a 3,000km trip across three countries, rain, sunshine and even some snow aboard the new KTM 890 ADVENTURE.

By Paolo Cattaneo – @paolocattaneophoto

Image10_resized-2.jpgPaolo Cattaneo: “In 2015 I quit my job, sold everything I owned and started riding around the world with my motorcycle”.
PC @FrancescMontero

It was a hot and humid summer afternoon in Como, Italy. I remember I was sitting in my backyard, boringly staring at the worn-out tires of my KTM 1190 ADVENTURE, pondering about my next journey. Suddenly, the soothing sound of the crickets was abruptly interrupted by my smartphone chime. With a reluctant but still curious attitude, I opened my mailbox and… almost fell off my chair!

Image-Bolivia_resized.jpgTravelling South America on my KTM 1190 ADVENTURE back in 2016 (Eduardo Avaroa NP, Bolivia)
PC @PaoloCattaneo

Being an avid traveler and a KTM owner, I could hardly believe I was reading an email coming from KTM HQ in Austria and asking me if I wanted to take one of their bikes for a trip! I was ecstatic to know more details about the project, but because the motorcycle hadn’t been released to the public yet, the rest of the information had to be kept confidential.

Image_resized-Death-Road-Bolivia.jpg“It’s key to have the support of a machine that would allow us to push our boundaries even further.” (with my KTM 1190 ADVENTURE on the Death Road, Bolivia, 2016)
PC @PaoloCattaneo

All this secrecy built up a lot of excitement from my side, to see what kind of bike we would eventually ride. The only thing they told me was that the project involved me and another seasoned traveler, Anna Grechishkina which, like myself, had been riding for the past years aboard KTM 1190 ADVENTURE bikes. 

Image-390_resized.jpgTaking the KTM 390 ADVENTURE on a ride through the Austrian mountains together with Anna Grechishkina.
PC @PaoloCattaneo

Some weeks later, together with Anna we landed in Mattighofen and the plan was eventually revealed to us; we were going to ride two brand new KTM 890 ADVENTUREs from Mattighofen to Nafpaktos, Greece. Other than a fantastic opportunity to be able to test these new motorcycles, for me It was finally a dream to visit the KTM HQ, after almost 200,000km ridden with one of their machines.

It felt like when kids go to Disneyland and finally walk in that fantastic world they have been dreaming and seeing only on TV. For the first few days we got to ride two KTM 390 ADVENTURE bikes. Coming from a big bore machine, it was very interesting for me eventually to try all these different kinds of adventure bikes. Three different machines, somehow capable of similar adventures, but with three completely different engines, weights and sizes. 

Image-Motohall_resized.jpgDreams do come true – visiting KTM HQ and the KTM Motohall in Mattighofen, Austria
PC @AnnaGrechishkina

We also had the privilege to take a private tour of the incredible KTM Motohall, their interactive museum. The brand new building is constructed with the intent of involving the audience into a full 360 degree experience, from the conceptual designing of the motorcycle to the “heroes room”, showcasing all glorious actions of the legendary riders that made the brand what it is today. 

After the project guidelines were explained to us, we finally headed to the Workshop to pick the bikes up. What a beautiful moment that was! It felt like when somebody brings to the table your favorite food. Our two KTM 890 ADVENTURE bikes were equipped with Akrapovič exhausts, KTM PowerParts seats, panniers racks and fog lights.

Image4_resized-1.jpgGetting a taste of the first snow at Giau Pass, Dolomites
PC @PaoloCattaneo

The bikes were also pre-configured with Quickshifter+, cruise control, rally mode and KTM’s MY RIDE system, which enables Bluetooth connectivity with smartphones. This last feature allowed us to enjoy the perks of having all GPS info right on the motorcycle screen. Finally, no more cellphone exposed to rain or phone mounts sticking out from the handlebar!

So, the adventure began and we decided to opt for Italy as our gateway passage to Greece. Because we were riding in autumn, in this part of the world, we had to face some challenges right away. The beautiful Grossglockner Pass, in the south part of Austria, was unfortunately closed for snow, so we had to ride around it. There were also a lot of roadworks on our way to the Italian border so, at first, I found myself testing the motorcycle in heavy city traffic. 

Image1_resized-2.jpgQuick stop at Lake Misurina, on our way to Cortina D’Ampezzo. The Italian Alps never disappoint.
PC @AnnaGrechishkina

Needless to say that the new parallel twin engine behaved extremely well in this “1st-2nd gear” filled environment. The riding position was great and the slimmer KTM PowerParts seat provided also good comfort during our whole trip. Crossing to Italy and reaching the Dolomites, was certainly a change of pace and circumstances. Our days filled up with balmier temperatures, perfectly paved twisty roads and snowcapped mountains, where the KTM 890 ADVENTURE felt like being in her natural environment.

Image5_resized-1.jpgGiau Pass, Italian Alps. A drone shot that captures the incredible 360 degrees view people get once reached the top of the pass.
PC @PaoloCattaneo

The lower center of gravity and the smoother delivery at low rpm are great characteristics to have on a motorcycle in this kind of terrain. The bike was also equipped with Avon Trailrider tires, which provided excellent grip and stability throughout the entire trip, even at low temperatures. In my opinion, there’s nothing better for a motorcyclist than riding through some mountain passes on a beautiful sunny day.

Being born and raised along the shores of lake Como, Italy, I grew up riding these kinds of roads and… I simply love it! After the steep Italian mountains, it was time to test the machine on some proper fast turns. Can’t get more picturesque and challenging for this type of riding, than the beautiful Tuscan Hills. The KTM 890 ADVENTURE behaved splendidly even on wide and progressive turns.

Image7_resized-1.jpgVal D’Orcia, Tuscany. Endless hilly gravel roads, surrounded by vineyards.
PC @PaoloCattaneo

With 105 hp and over 100 Nm of peak torque, the engine wanted to be the protagonist of our adventure, once again. The bike is built with state-of-the-art technology and It can be configured while riding. Different ECU mapping options allowed us to control the experience to the very detail. I love it when you can choose to enjoy a nice smooth ride in all safety, taking your time and gazing at the landscapes, or turn the machine into a raging beast and focus 100% on your ride, with the flick of a switch!

The “Eroica”, the notorious off-road track that crosses Tuscany, was an excellent terrain to test out KTM 890 ADVENTURE on fast gravel roads. Off-Road riding mode and Off-Road ABS settings were absolutely spot on for this kind of surface. I always felt I was in complete control of the motorcycle, even on these unpredictable terrains.

Image6_resized-1.jpgAmalfi Coast. One of the most iconic coastal roads in the world.
PC @PaoloCattaneo

From the glorious Tuscan hills, we rode to the Amalfi coast, in the south part of Italy. As we were running out of time, we had to hit the highway and ride those 350km, which separated us from the Parthenopean shores, in one go. With the help of the tall windshield and cruise control, we were able to make our way through this section with no fatigue at all.

Fuel consumption was great and the large 20 liters fuel tank also allowed us to propel our machines for over 400 km. Once we reached Naples, we were challenged by some unfavorable weather conditions. Again, having technology at our service, it was easy to tune the bikes accordingly and enjoy even this part of the adventure, with the peace of mind of knowing that the motorcycle was under our control.

Image3_resized-1.jpgVal D’orcia, Tuscany. Gravel road (and food&wine) paradise.
PC @PaoloCattaneo

Cornering MTC and ABS, ride by wire throttle control and rain riding mode, were surely a great help, in managing more than 100 hp on the wet and slippery turns of the Amalfi Coast. Our last stretch of adventure had us catching a ferry from Bari to Patras and arriving in the beautiful coastal town of Nafpaktos, Greece.

Image9_resized-2.jpgKTM 890 ADVENTURE – the ultimate gravel traveler.
PC @JamesLissimore

We were then greeted by the whole KTM team, which was excited to hear our personal feedback about the bikes. We also got to meet the journalists that came from all over the world to test the new KTM 890 ADVENTURE. The riding loop that the KTM guides prepared for the event, was simply perfect. A mix of fast and sharp turns, for the tarmac section, and some muddy and gravel sections for the off-road part. The motorcycle was a surprise to everybody for its abilities of handling on and off road.

As travelers, we constantly face difficult situations. We move from town to town, from country to country, most of the time on roads that we never rode before, in an ever-changing environment and under all sorts of weather conditions. We often put ourselves in tight spots and we may have to ride out from challenging environments all by ourselves.

Image2_resized-1.jpgTesting the KTM 890 ADVENTURE stability and brakes on the perfect greek mountain turns.
PC @JamesLissimore

This is the feeling of adventure. To move forward and to explore the unknown. To dare to try something new. To get outside of our comfort zone and to do something that we have never done before. That is why it is fundamental, to ride a motorcycle that can assist us the best way possible in overcoming whatever new challenges we may have to face. It’s key to have the support of a machine that would allow us to push our boundaries even further.

Image8_Resized-2.jpgNafpaktos, Greece. Perfect terrain to push the KTM 890 Adventure to the max.
PC @JamesLissimore

Spending a few weeks on the KTM 890 ADVENTURE and riding it in various conditions, it was very clear to me why KTM call it the ‘Ultimate Gravel Machine’, it’s a bike that will make every trip more fun, safer and a lot more enjoyable. It’s a bike that will let you ride from right outside your home’s door to the ends of this amazing world…

Posted in People, Racing

If you find yourself admiring some of the extreme Supermoto or DUKE photographs on the KTM website, then there is a good chance that one of those riders in the frame is Lukas Höllbacher. Not only is the Austrian a world championship racer and deft hand with his motorcycle skills but leads a curious double life; he helms one of his country’s oldest surviving businesses. We asked the 25-year old to explain a bit more…

Image2_resized.jpgLukas Höllbacher coming in hot on the 2021 KTM 450 SMR.

“We start our ‘day’ at 1am…”

Lukas is an unusual Grand Prix winner. The rider from Ranshofen kneads the demands of competing in the FIM Supermoto World Championship with those dictated by being part of the Höllbacher family, overseers of ‘Klosterbäckerei Höllbacher’: a renowned bakery that has been in existence since 1125. Austria’s oldest.

Image_resized.jpgLukas Höllbacher at the FIM Supermoto World Championship – Busca, Italy in 2020
PC @GerwinvanRosmalen

“From one o’clock we are baking until about eight and the shop is open until six in the afternoon. I’ll sleep from 9am until 12 and then again, like normal, in the evening. So, two sleep periods but I have the afternoon completely free.” Höllbacher has used those afternoons to become one of the prominent names in international Supermoto.

Image9_resized-1.jpgRanshofen monastery with the “Klosterbäckerei Höllbacher”- Austria’s oldest bakery
PC @KlosterbäckereiHöllbacher

It’s an unconventional means of training and development for competition but Lukas is fortunate to have close support. “My parents will help, and that means I can have a couple of nights free to change routine for the race weekends,” he explains. “Otherwise it is a big drain on the body. I need those one-two nights to prepare properly and it works quite well.”

Image6_resized.jpg“I like the baking. If you are not happy then you won’t do well in racing or the job and I like the mix of both of these things in my life.” – Lukas Höllbacher
PC @KlosterbäckereiHöllbacher

Four generations of Lukas’ family have directed the Klosterbäckerei Höllbacher and they marshal the work and efforts of ten employees. Since the end of the last decade though Höllbacher has been trying to master two vocations. Ranshofen is located a short distance from Mattighofen, which meant that motorcycling – and the KTM ‘orange’ – has never been far away and the allure to two wheels was strong.

Image4_resized.jpgLukas’ skills are highly appreciated at KTM photoshootings – here on the 2021 KTM 690 SMC R
PC @SebasRomero

“When we were both kids my sister got the chance to ride a KTM 50 SX and, yeah, after seeing that I fell in love with the bike! It helped also that all my family had a history in motorsport and with KTM:  my uncle was long-time engineer and developer for a lot of KTM offroad bikes at the company,” he says. Progress was fast on the asphalt, largely thanks to the amount of competition. “There were a lot of races in Germany and Austria and for young riders. I was very fast from the beginning on the 85s and 250s and year-by-year I made a big step. When I was sixteen, I won in the German S1 category against the Pros and that really opened the door for me in Supermoto. We almost raced every weekend between Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Europeans.”

Image5_resized.jpgLaser focus on the track, Alcarras, Spain (2020)
PC @IvánTerrón

Höllbacher excelled with the KTM and track machines like the KTM 450 SMR (the 450 version is now new for 2021). He had an urge to thrill that had to be satisfied and rose through the sport like one of his famous loaves. He started to rack-up national titles and by 2010 was among the hottest starlets on scene with S3 class European and Austrian titles. Germany, also, would soon be toast.

Höllbacher fostered a relationship with the KTM factory that saw his riding proficiency and tendency towards flamboyance eventually end up on the cover of brochures and catalogues and large posters for more than half a dozen different bikes. Then, come 2016, he wanted a change.

Image13_resized-1.jpg“The KTM 450 SMR is a full race bike and you can win in the top class with a stock model. It’s that good.” – Lukas Höllbacher
PC @PhilipPlatzer

“I had a lot of bad luck at the S1GP races when I wanted to bring really good results on the table to be in a good position for 2017…but that didn’t happen,” he remembers. “So, then there was a meeting with Husqvarna Motorcycles and they gave me a good contract do to the Austrian Motocross championship.” It was the fresh challenge he needed, and a challenge it proved to be. “There were a lot of downs with some bad crashes and injuries but on the other hand I also had good races, some victories and a lot of holeshots! Motocross is a really hard sport, it takes a lot of pain sometimes, but I was happy with my improvement as a rider. I can say it helped me a lot with mentality, fitness and riding technique. All-in-all, a good journey.”

Image8_resized-1.jpgHöllbacher celebrating his victory in the 2020 Spanish Supermoto Championship with Team Manager Franco Mollo and Franco’s wife Anna. PC @IvánTerrón

Höllbacher was again at a crossroads but one direction pulled harder than the others. “In my three years away from Supermoto, there were a lot of requests from teams. So, I thought ‘I’d like to return and fight again at the top of this sport’. Franco Mollo’s request was for me the best way and best choice I could make.”

Joining KTM MTR team led to more success. To-date he has three victories at world championship level until the COVID-19 pandemic put the brakes on. He was also crowned Spanish Supermoto Champion recently.

Image10_resized-1.jpg#72 flying high in Busca, Italy in 2020
PC @GerwinvanRosmalen

All the while Höllbacher balanced his family responsibilities with his hunger for RPM. In fact, he had to focus on baking time rather than lap-times as the bakery remained open and active during the lockdown phases. “We stayed open and it was a lot of stress, but we ended up with 30% more sales, so it was good that we were offering something,” he says. He has now taken control of the business from his father since September 2020. “I like the baking. If you are not happy then you won’t do well in racing or the job and I like the mix of both of these things in my life. We are still a real handmade, authentic bakery, with high quality bread. It is hard work too, but it has a few advantages like fresh, good bread every day and pretzels! I can always adapt my energy to the situation in front of me.”

Image7_resized.jpgLukas Höllbacher appreciates the advantages of managing a bakery: fresh, good bread everyday – seems like amazing fuel for a championship winner.
PC @Landlust

Höllbacher cherishes his recent victory in the Spanish championship and his three world championship race wins but also values his ‘hidden’ role with the KTM photographers that have led to some spectacular images over the years and is a very visual ingredient of the company’s branding and marketing drive. Lukas is many people’s first contact with some of the rasping appeal of a track weapon like the 2021 KTM 450 SMR. “It’s different to racing but also not that easy! I’m completely unused to bikes like the KTM 125 DUKE but it makes me really happy when the photographer looks at you with the thumbs-up and he knows he has the shot. It is important to ride the bike to the limit and aggressively early on. It’s challenging but a really cool thing.”

Image12_resized-1.jpgHöllbacher claiming victory at Circuit d’Alcarràs, Spain (2020)
PC @IvánTerrón

Aside from the buzz of photoshoots, Höllbacher also gets to sample the latest and best of the KTM bike range. His opinion of the 2021 KTM 450 SMR and the KTM 690 SMC R are particularly valid. “For me – as a racer – the KTM 450 SMR is an ideal machine for the track. It’s a full race bike and you can win in the top class with a stock model. It’s that good. The KTM 690 SMC R is a perfect bike for the street because it’s powerful and you can also make longer trips. It’s not just for the city. Both bikes want you to use that same type of riding style…and that means a lot of fun.”

Image1_resized-1.jpgLukas Höllbacher on the 2020 KTM 790 DUKE getting the photographer’s thumbs-up.
PC @R.Schedl

Whether he’s rolling a special assortment of dough or a bike across tarmac bumps, #72 is used to the ‘heat’ of the kitchen and the competition. Where will he grow next?

Posted in Bikes, People

As we are looking for the ULTIMATE DUKE RIDER through a Social Media contest, we’ve asked a few well-known DUKE personalities to tell us what it takes to be crowned as the ultimate DUKE pilot. 

Image1_resized.jpgKTM is looking for the ULTIMATE DUKE RIDER through a Social Media contest – sign up on

The KTM DUKE range is something of a phenomenon. In fact, it’s thanks to the first-ever KTM DUKE that has seen KTM grow into the superpower it is today. A quick history lesson…

1.1994-Duke1-1024x708-1.jpgKTM 620 DUKE MY1994

In 1994, KTM’s first road bike with a 4-stroke engine dubbed the KTM DUKE 1 was born. The concept was simple – stick to the essentials and build a high-performance, high-quality machine around a potent single-cylinder engine. From there, the DUKE became a formidable street motorcycle, growing – not only in engine capacity – but in fans too.

Image-4_resized.jpg“It takes complete and utter bravery to try to tame THE BEAST.” – Alex Hofman

Fast-forward to today, and the proudly NAKED sub-brand has evolved to include an entire royal family of DUKEs, from the small but mighty KTM 125 DUKE to THE BEAST – the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R.

Image-5_resized.jpgTHE SUPER SCALPEL – KTM 890 DUKE R

But it’s not only powerful engines and lively handling that makes the DUKE range what it is. A big part of that success lies with the riders themselves. Here are a few insights into what makes DUKE riders tick and what it takes to be the ULTIMATE DUKE RIDER.

Image-6_resized.jpgRiaan Neveling (on the far right) with his team and the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R they raced at the 24-hour race on the Red Star Raceway, Delmas, South Africa (2017)

Riaan Neveling – Marketing Manager KTM Street Segment

Riaan has a long and lustrous career in motor racing and has competed on an international level in almost all disciplines of racing. He is a demon on track and embodies the DUKE spirit in all he does. He raced a 24-hour race on a KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R and even rode a KTM 390 DUKE up a flight of stairs into a recording studio. It’s quite fitting then, that he’s in charge of the DUKE range here at KTM HQ.

Image-7_resized.jpg12 o’clock with Riaan Neveling at the Launch of the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R at Algarve International Circuit, Portugal (2020)

“The Ultimate Duke Rider is someone who lives and breathes the DUKE attitude. Someone who wears their heart on their sleeve and craves adrenalin. The engine capacity is irrelevant – it’s not about how much power you have underneath you – it’s how you use it that counts.” – Riaan Neveling

Image8_resized.jpg“The Ultimate DUKE Rider for me is someone who pushes the limits beyond the norm.” – Lyndon Poskitt
PC @LyndonPoskitt

Lyndon Poskitt – KTM Ambassador

Lyndon doesn’t need too much introduction. Most will know him from his epic Races to Places video series. What many don’t know is that Lyndon is as capable on the tarmac as he is off it, having been racing motorcycles since he was ten years old. He’s raced everything from the Dakar to Erzberg and everything in between.

Image9_resized.jpgLyndon Poskitt with his KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R
PC @LyndonPoskitt

“For me, any DUKE rider gets their thrill from the asphalt, be it commuting, exploring or tearing around a race track. They are someone who screams agility and attitude, no matter what engine capacity. It’s their personality that’s expressed through sharpness and aggression, but without compromising comfort. That’s who the The Ultimate DUKE Rider is for me – someone who pushes the limits beyond the norm.” – Lyndon Poskitt

Image11_resized.jpgAlex Hofmann with his track laps bike – KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R at Automotodrom Brno, Czech Republic (2020)
PC @PolarityPhoto

Alex Hofmann – KTM Ambassador

On weekends, you might catch a glimpse of Alex hanging around on the MotoGP™ grid. Or, you might recognize him from many KTM press conferences at the EICMA Motorcycle Expo. But many will remember him as a former MotoGP racer himself, who was instrumental in the development of the RC16 MotoGP project as one of our test riders.

Image10_resized.jpgAlex Hofmann trying to tame THE BEAST at Automotodrom Brno, Czech Republic (2020)
PC @PolarityPhoto

“The rush that you get from riding a DUKE is something that I’ve rarely experienced in my life. And it’s identifying that ‘rush’ that defines The Ultimate Duke Rider. It takes someone who understands what the DUKE attitude is all about and uses that to their utmost advantage. And of course, in the case of the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R, it takes complete and utter bravery to try to tame THE BEAST.” Alex Hofmann

Rok Bagoros – Stunt Rider

As a teenager, Rok Bagoros took to the streets on a humble scooter. But in his hands, that scooter started a world craze, and gained the title of the best scooter stunt rider in the world.

Image12_resized.jpgRok Bagoros at one of his “ROKON! SHOWS” in Slovenia in 2019
PC @HeadLensMedia

Combining aggression and elegance in his own style, Rok is, together with his KTM DUKE, the embodiment of the DUKE attitude.

Image13_resized.jpgRok is travelling the world entertaining people with his amazing stunt skills on several DUKE models – here in Kuwait City at the Red Bull Car Park Drift in 2019
PC @HeadLensMedia

“The Ultimate Duke Rider is not only someone who owns a DUKE, it is someone who knows how to ride a DUKE. It’s someone who thinks above the machine and feels its spirit. Someone who makes the road his playground” Rok Bagaros

Image15_resized.jpgJeremy McWilliams, Chris Fillmore and Alex Hofmann with a 2014 KTM 950 SUPER DUKE at the Launch of the new KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R in Portugal in 2020

Jeremy McWilliams – KTM Legend and Ambassador

53-year-old Northern Irishman Jeremy McWilliams is a legend. Not only did he ply his trade in MotoGP, he’s been working feverishly in the KTM stables developing the very beasts we admire. As KTM’s leading test rider for the DUKE range, Jeremy knows a thing or two about what it takes to be the Ultimate Duke Rider.

Image16_resized.jpgJeremy McWilliams racing a KTM RC8R at the Hockenheimring, Germany (2009)

“What does it take to be the Ultimate DUKE Rider? For me I have pleasure and satisfaction every time I ride a KTM DUKE. As a lead test rider for the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R and KTM 890 DUKE R, we’ve had a lot of time to get to know each other. And what I’ve come to realize is – a DUKE is not just a mode of transport – it is so much more than that. They are motorcycles which define us as a person. The Ultimate DUKE Rider knows this. He, or she, is demanding with high expectations, who is passionate and lives life on the edge. You could even call The Ultimate DUKE Rider obsessed. We obsess about the details and how they look when we stand back to admire it after thrashing along a B road. We are excited to be part of this unique family because we stand out from all the others.” – Jeremy McWilliams

Image17_resized.jpg“You could even call The Ultimate DUKE Rider obsessed.” – Jeremy McWilliams, here on the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R at Algarve International Circuit, Portimao, Portugal in 2020

So, you think you have what it takes to join the ranks of DUKE royalty? Show us by putting up your DUKEs and entering via social media.

There are 3 easy steps that can lead you to the finish line:

  • Go to and fill out the contest form
  • Post some photos or videos on your social media starting your caption with “I’m the #UltimateDukeRider because…”
  • Make good use of the hashtags so KTM can find you – #UltimateDukeRider #GetDuked

Want to earn your place on the rostrum of DUKENESS? Then hit the link below for more information. 


Posted in People, Racing

The Spanish star ends a special four-year arc with Red Bull KTM and after helping the MotoGP project move from the back to the front of the grid. Here’s some of the story…

Image1_resized-2.jpgPol Espargaro giving full corner commitment on the KTM RC16
PC @PolarityPhoto

In 2016 KTM signed former Moto2™ World Champion Pol Espargaro to complete their first Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team line-up for a maiden MotoGP season in 2017.

Image2_resized-2.jpgPol has been with the KTM RC16 development from early on in the project – here he is testing ahead of KTM’s first full MotoGP race season in 2017
PC @GoldAndGoose

The Spaniard had claimed 6th place in his debut year but had since stalled in his development and was looking for a fresh challenge and full ‘works’ backing for 2017.

Image3_resized-2.jpgPol took KTM’s first MotoGP podium in Valencia, Spain 2018
PC @SebasRomero

He tested the new RC16 for the first time at the end of 2016 and then finished 16th and just out of the points in Qatar for his debut in ‘orange’ for the opening event of the ’17 campaign.

Image4_resized-1.jpgThe first podium was a very special milestone for Pol and the team
PC @SebasRomero

“We always want more and more but it’s the first race and we need to know what is our position, and where we are right now,” he said at the time. “We need to understand that the 33 seconds [off the lead time] we were today is good.”

Image5_resized-1.jpgThe Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team celebrates KTM’s first MotoGP podium in 2018
PC @SebasRomero

Pol’s commitment, character and amiability helped drive the programe from that point. He had five different teammates at various stages up until his final event for KTM at Portugal recently.

Image6_resized-1.jpgPol always gave the maximum and was pivotal in the development of the KTM RC16
PC @PolarityPhoto

He mixed milestone and injury but was always a reliable factor: his sheer effort was a strong platform on which KTM based their RC16 race evolution. No matter what experiment, theory or new part the technicians at the factory wanted to try they always knew they’d get maximum application from #44.

Image7_resized-1.jpgWith five podium finishes in 2020 Pol finished fifth in the championship
PC @PolarityPhoto

By Brno and the Czech Republic – round ten of 2017 – Espargaro had clocked KTM’s first top ten finish. At the final event of 2018 he took the RC16 to 3rd place and that landmark podium in damp conditions in Valencia.

Image8_resized-1.jpgPol Espargaro at the final race of 2020 – the KTM RC16 is now a true contender in the premier class
PC @PolarityPhoto

His first trophy in the premier class was actually the most special recollection of the four years – and his career – for Pol; it came half a year after his scary crash and back injury at testing in Malaysia.

Image9_resized-1.jpgPol Espargaro and KTM Motorsports Director Pit Beirer
PC @PolarityPhoto

“I came back after one of the hardest injuries I ever had,” he reflected in Portimao last week. “It was not only the best moment of the project but of my whole career. For sure to be world champion was great but when you feel you are ‘destroyed’ and you will not go back on the bike – or when you do you have this fear that you will never be fast again – to make the podium in Valencia meant the feeling was indescribable. Something crazy.”

Image10_resized-1.jpgPol Espargaro at Le Mans, France in 2020
PC @PolarityPhoto

Front row qualification positions, first Pole Positions and five podiums in 2020 led up to 5th place in the world championship standings, tied on points with 4th. Pol propelled Red Bull KTM from rookie learners to the 3rd best team on the MotoGP grid and with a fantastic path of opportunity ahead. The RC16 became a Grand Prix winner in 2020.

Image11_resized-1.jpgPol celebrates his Le Mans, France podium
PC @PolarityPhoto

He now joins another brand for 2021. “When he joined our project he had finished 6th with another brand and the goal was always to help him be better,” says Red Bull KTM Race Manager Mike Leitner. “I think he has had a good four years and we wish him all the best for the future.”

Image12_resized.jpgThe Red Bull Ring in Austria is the home GP for KTM
PC @PolarityPhoto

Espargaro’s approachability and professionalism rubbed off on the whole structure. “Pol’s been a great reference for me this year,” said 2020 Rookie of the Year and Pol’s final teammate Brad Binder. “He has been super-fast at every track. It’s always awesome to see his data too. Honestly, I really enjoyed being his teammate. He’s a cool guy and he makes life in the box a pleasure. I’ll miss having him around.”

Image13_resized.jpgPol celebrates clinching pole position in Styria, Austria
PC @PolarityPhoto

“I feel proud of what we have achieved as a factory and of what I have done as a rider,” says the man himself. “All I can do is say thanks for what we’ve done together. It has been tough at moments but all the people around me and the whole crew in the pitbox helped me to smile every day. They gave me the confidence and the love to be who I am.”

Image14_resized.jpgPol Espargaro leans in the KTM RC16
PC @PolarityPhoto

Crucially he summed up his legacy as part of KTM’s narrative with a simple comment at Jerez and the first Grand Prix of 2020 when he was already circulating with similar lap-times to the leaders: “Now, we are on the level of the others.”

Image15_363007_Pol-Espargaro_KTM-RC16_MoEspargaro switches bikes in pit lane
PC @PolarityPhotoImage16_resized.jpgEspargaro’s time with KTM has come to an end – the team celebrates a successful partnership over the last four years
PC @PolarityPhoto

Posted in People, Racing

Travelling the planet and working with some of the most insanely talented racers to chase world championship glory is a career many would dream of; but just what does it take to become a mechanic for a rider like Jeffrey Herlings or recently crowned FIM MX2 Motocross World Champion Tom Vialle? For the second of two parts to this blog, we caught up with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Wayne Banks and Harry Norton, who both have moved halfway around the globe for their jobs as factory mechanics …

Image8_Herlings_resized.jpgWayne Banks – mechanic for Jeffrey Herlings
PC @RayArcher

Wayne Banks – Mechanic for Jeffrey Herlings, 35 years old.

Australian Wayne Banks entered Red Bull KTM after working for the satellite Hitachi KTM team and a smaller structure. He began in Grand Prix in 2009 and has been part of the factory crew since 2012. He’s currently the only mechanic in the group to win titles with two different riders (Jordi Tixier in 2014 and Jeffrey Herlings). For Wayne the path began locally. “I was an apprentice at a bike shop at home. My service manager was a racer beforehand and knew people as part of the scene. It was just luck and timing that I went for the interview and got a job,” he explains. “I personally believe it is better to come from the practical side of things and having done the hard work and gained that experience. Although I can appreciate people who have studied and taken the time to get theory under their belt as well.”

Image9_Herlings_resized.jpgBanks works on Herlings’ bike
PC @RayArcher

It’s a long way from Australia to the European hub of Red Bull KTM’s Austrian workshop and the Belgium-based extension. The FIM World Championship is also largely European centered. Banks was able to make the continental hop thanks to his amiable character and the contacts he’d made as a result. “There was an Australian mechanic in Europe working for another Grand Prix team and there was a job opportunity. I flew over and needed to settle in the first month because I had never been overseas before!”

“The people that you know are crucial and it means that you can find out where and when opportunities will come up,” he adds. “When you get to factory level then usually it is a small group and you have to wait for a gap to appear and then decide if it is the best move for you. Some teams change mechanics quite frequently whereas others really take atmosphere, personalities and working relationships into account and the staffing remains regular for quite a few years.”

Image-10_Herlings_resized.jpgJeffrey’s crew celebrating victory earlier in the year
PC @RayArcher

Wayne’s career trajectory and positive impression at KTM helped pave the way for a fellow countryman in 2019…

Harry Norton – Mechanic for Tom Vialle, 26 years old.

As the latest member of Red Bull KTM Harry Norton had to move from his employment with KTM Australia in Sydney, immigrate and gel with a Grand Prix rookie all within the first months of his new job. His connection with Tom Vialle is one of the freshest and youngest in the KTM Motorsport department but it has had an instant sway. Success has come quickly for Vialle and Norton, but the Aussie had to walk the long ground beforehand…and also be handy with some cooking tongs!

Image11_Vialle_resized.jpgHarry Norton pit boarding for Tom Vialle
PC @RayArcher

“I raced Enduro when I was young,” he says. “I come from a little town in Australia. I did some work experience at the local KTM dealer when I was 15 and the shop offered me a job based on that week. I did a four-year apprenticeship there which would be the equivalent of a mechanical school in Europe. So, I picked up knowledge through the apprenticeship scheme and then through building my own stuff for racing as well as being in the dealership every day. My main job there was diagnostics, and I was leading a team of three people at quite a young age. I got to see a wide variety of issues and servicing for many different bikes. A dealership is not like a racing environment where you are working on the same bike every weekend: we had everything from a KTM 1090 ADVENTURE to a 250 SX-F. If you understand a mechanical item then you know how to problem-solve and think mechanically.”

Image-12_Vialle_resized.jpgNorton looks on as Vialle talks to his father ahead of the race start
PC @RayArcher

Norton then devised a plan for where he really wanted to be: MXGP. “Every year the national motocross series would come to my home state just for one race. The Technical Director for KTM Australia was a guy called Rob Twyerould. I called him when I was 16 and asked if I could come to the race to hang out and meet people and see how it worked, so for four years I cooked the BBQ for the factory team! In the fifth year they offered me a job and I moved from Adelaide to Sydney. That’s when I started to work in the motocross and enduro team. Over lunch one afternoon I said to Rob that I’d love to go to Europe. I wanted to continue my evolution and to learn and experience new things, preferably as part of an MXGP team. I knew he was going to Austria and the factory the next week. I think it was across the weekend of the Motocross of Nations at RedBud in 2018 when Dirk [Gruebel, Red Bull KTM Team Manager] called me and said he’d seen my resumé and spoken to a few people about me and offered the chance to come to Europe. Three months later I was in Austria!”

“The history this team has…It’s arguably the best in the paddock. I’d never been to Europe and never met the team. I didn’t even know who Tom Vialle was! In a way this was quite good. I didn’t have any preconceptions or notions of what Europe was like. I came in with an open mind. As a kid this job was the dream. I had a picture of Ben Townley on my wall in 2004. I remember thinking ‘that’s where I want to be…’ I come from a very small town so to have the possibility to come to Europe and do this job is crazy.”

Image_13_Vialle_resized.jpgNorton and Vialle in the pit box – Norton explains how dirtbikes are his passion
PC @RayArcher

Again, the combination of work, a diligent attitude and proactivity to make contacts paid off. “I was lucky enough to work with Rob on the technical side and as an apprentice. He got me into the KTM Australia role and then he is very good friends with Dirk and had been going to the factory for 18 years. Without him it would have been a lot more difficult to be here,” Harry says.

Like Properzi, Norton believe there is one trait that is essential for doing a job that many crave but not many understand or are ultimately prepared to take on. “I was so passionate about dirtbikes in general,” Norton summarizes. “My life was – and is – all about them. So, I would say to anybody else wanting to be in this position: keep that passion, take opportunities and show that you are willing to do the small work and do it really well. Passion shows through above everything, always.”

Posted in People, Racing

How do you get to the very top of motocross? Do you have to be a technical genius? Lucky? A boisterous team player? Or well connected? We asked the Red Bull KTM mechanics for their stories

Image1_resized-1.jpgThere is a range of ages and characters in the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team – all of whom are fully committed to their job
PC @RayArcher

Red Bull KTM have won both classes of the FIM Motocross World Championship in the same year seven times in the last decade with largely the same technical crew and band of experts both at the circuits and back at the Motorsport HQ in Munderfing. The team can rightfully claim to be one of the very best in Grand Prix. Behind the riders and champions like Tony Cairoli, Jeffrey Herlings, Jorge Prado and recently crowned FIM MX2 Motocross World Champion Tom Vialle is a diverse spread of race mechanics: some of whom who have been on the spanners for more time than the riders have been alive and others who have come into the squad and made an immediate impact.

In a quest to understand how two Australians, a Belgian and an Italian ranging from their mid-twenties to their late fifties came to be the cornerstone of a KTM racer’s weekend, we ventured (with a facemask and at a safe distance) into the MXGP awning.

Image2_resized-1-1024x654.jpgNazzareno Properzi – Tony Cairoli’s mechanic (and who has been with the De Carli outfit since the beginning of Cairoli’s pro career)
PC @RayArcher

Nazzareno Properzi – Mechanic for Tony Cairoil. 59 years old.

Any visitor to an MXGP paddock and Claudio De Carli’s team in the last fifteen years might have spotted a small bespectacled Italian quietly prepping the #222 machine. Properzi has been part of De Carli’s unit from the early 1990s and remembers when they decided to take a chance on a skinny 18-year old teenager in 2004. “Tony was a kid that really wanted to work and had the right attitude to get results,” ‘Nazza’ says. “We knew of him because he was from Sicily and there were not many riders from his country in the Italian championship. He was unhappy and about to quit motocross after his first international season in 2003 but a friend of Claudio’s – a former racer – that said we should give him a chance. We made a test at Malagrotta with one of Claudio Federici’s bikes and then we started the journey.”

Properzi initially aligned with De Carli after working in a motocross and enduro workshop in Rome. The bond between the two extended from the race team’s humble beginnings with Federici in the European Championship, to world titles with Alessio ‘Chicco’ Chiodi, through the Cairoli era (six crowns in KTM colors) and into the present day where the union is trying to grasp that amazing record. “My motivation is still connected to winning,” he reveals. “I want ten titles with Tony and cannot stop until he does!”

Image5A_Prado_resized.jpgThe team works together to ensure everything is prepared
PC @RayArcher

Properzi has seen a shift in his work over the years and as De Carli became an integral part of the Red Bull KTM structure in 2010. Factory status meant responsibility for the bike became wider and shared between groups such as WP for suspension and chassis configuration. Instead of being a custodian for every part and component of the motorcycle, a mechanic’s role became more defined. This was not necessarily a bad thing with MXGP growing to a globe-trotting series of 20 rounds. Properzi thinks that the travelling demands of working in Grand Prix could act as a deterrent for some who dream of filling the same role as him and the 3-4 other technicians in the team. “I don’t see much interest around now from people to do this job,” he admits. “If you want to do it then you need to be ready to break links with the family and home at an early age. There are some people that can do this…but it’s a big change in the lifestyle. I would also recommend starting with a small team, learning all about the job and growing as a professional. Then you will know if it is for you.”

Image3_resized-1.jpgFrom left to right: Bart Dirkx, Claudio De Carli, Davide De Carli & Jorge Prado
PC @StefanoTaglioni

Bart Dirkx – Mechanic for Jorge Prado, 50 years old.

At first sight the pairing of Bart Dirkx and Jorge Prado seems an odd match: one of the older mechanics in the MXGP class spannering for the youngest racer in the category. But the Belgian and the Spaniard have a strong link that predates their GP union that has been active since 2018. Dirkx has been present in the MXGP paddock for more than 15 years and actually worked for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing previously as the mechanic for Max Nagl. He followed the German to IceOne Husqvarna but returned to the De Carli side of the awning for Prado’s second Grand Prix year and the first of his two MX2 title campaigns.

Image4_Prado_resized.jpgDirkx and Properzi working on Prado and Cairoli’s KTM 450 SX-Fs
PC @RayArcher

Dirkx was Prado’s first mechanic when he moved from Spain to be based in Belgium as a KTM Junior rider working through the ranks. Nagl had a back injury that kept him out of racing for seven months. Dirkx’s open attitude led to him working for a prepubescent Prado when he was racing a KTM 85 SX in the European Championship. The Prado family even stayed at his home for a month as they waded through EMX competition. Dirkx then returned to Nagl’s side once his ‘Pro’ racer was fit.

“Many people at the time said: ‘what do you think of this kid?’ and, even then, I was saying: ‘he’ll be a world champion one day for sure’. He could really ride a bike. On the 85 he was the smallest kid of the group. At 12 he was racing guys who were 15. Unbelievable starts, even back then. When Max started riding then we went our separate ways and I remember Jorge crying about that because we had such a good bond.”

Image6_Prado_resized.jpgDirkx and Prado have worked together since Prado was racing as a junior
PC @RayArcher

Dirkx’s beginnings as a mechanic come through his family. “My father had a motocross shop, so I was always working on motorcycles with my brother. I studied maths, marketing and then did a three-year course to be a mechanic but I was always working in the shop before and after school and also weekends.”

His break in motocross came when he worked for a young amateur racer and saved the day at an international event in China where his rider was representing Belgium at Under-17 level. “On the first day he broke the crankcase,” he recalls. “It was a 250 four-stroke so I had to take everything apart. I worked all night and by the morning we had it running again. We finished all three days with that same bike. It was a tough job. I didn’t have the tools with me that I would have had at home. It was an adventure. When we came back the news got around the small racing community that I kept the bike running and I had some more calls. One of those was to work for Claudio de Carli’s team.”

Image5_Prado_resized.jpgDirkx and Properzi working on Prado and Cairoli’s KTM 450 SX-Fs
PC @RayArcher

Dirkx warns of the misconception of the job. “From the outside it looks nice, but it really isn’t easy. It looks glamourous and a lot of fun it is also a lot of work and commitment. Races, tests and practice. You start as a practice mechanic normally. But there is a lot of build-up and a lot of driving. One year with Max Nagl I did 22,000km in the van before we even started the GP season! It is important to find a balance.”

Like his coworker, Dirkx encourages wannabe mechanics to get the best grounding possible before aspiring to the top level. “Working for a small team can be interesting because you are very hands-on with all aspects of the bike and build-up the knowledge and the experience. But you’ll also need to have a basic base and that can come from schooling or from working on engines from a young age. Some people can come into factory teams at a young age…but you still need all that experience behind you, and a good contact!”

Image7_Prado_resized.jpgMechanics have a wide range of tasks from bike prep, to technical control, bike cleaning and working with the rider
PC @RayArcher

It’s an intense yet exciting life to be a mechanic at Grand Prix level and every team member has an individual story on how they ended up travelling the world, passionately working with some of the best riders on the planet. We hear the unique stories from the mechanics of Jeffrey Herlings and recently crowned FIM MX2 Motocross World Champion Tom Vialle in the second part of this blog.

Posted in People, Racing

Among the many stories of the MotoGP year, Brad Binder’s rise from being more than two seconds off the pace in pre-season tests to a race winner is one of the brightest. We asked him about the adjustments he had to make to reach that incredible level…

Image1_resized.jpgBrad Binder and the KTM RC16
PC @PolarityPhoto

2020 MotoGP is pinned in sixth gear towards the finale of a hectic, unpredictable and gripping season. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rookie Brad Binder has been one of eight different winners and one of two for KTM in a milestone campaign for the factory and the KTM RC16 in only its fourth year of Grand Prix.

Image2_resized.jpgBrad explains that he is still learning and is gaining a lot of experience in his maiden MotoGP season
PC @PolarityPhoto

The 25-year old South African made the breakthrough on August 7th at the Automotodrom Brno Circuit in the Czech Republic for only his third race and followed it up with a strong 4th at the Red Bull Ring two weeks later. Since then he has endured what might be classified as a typical ‘debut’ year with mistakes and misjudgments mixed in with the promise and potential. 

Image3_resized.jpgBinder has worked closely with his crew to make huge improvements since the pre-season
PC @PolarityPhoto

It has been a gratifying but steep learning curve, and Binder has made pleasing upward progress since initially appearing out of his depth during tests in Valencia and Jerez in November 2019. In those first runs with the KTM RC16 he set a best lap that was an average of 2.5 seconds away from the top of the time screens. His subsequent evolution has been staggering. Much of it was related to the way he could stop and turn the race bike. We were keen to know how he managed to excel and how he feels about it…

Image4_resized.jpgGetting used to the KTM RC16’s sheer power and acceleration has taken some time
PC @PolarityPhoto

Go back to Valencia 2019: does it seem like a long time ago? Do you feel like a different rider?
It was a while ago! Luckily, we have made some good steps forward since then. I didn’t expect things to go as well as they did straight away. It was so tough at the beginning in the tests but I was just trying to understand the bike and I just needed to ride it. Whenever I jump on something new I always find it important to take my time and understand it. Once I know how far I can push things – and get a good feeling – then it all comes naturally. Time is the biggest thing.

Image5_resized.jpgAlso riding the bike in different conditions has been a learning curve like here in Le Mans, France in the wet
PC @PolarityPhoto

In Valencia you were excited and almost overwhelmed but in Brno for the Grand Prix this summer you seemed like a MotoGP veteran. Are you surprised with how that turnaround happened?
Well, it was surprising to get a win, that’s for sure. It was fantastic but it’s true that it was an overwhelming first couple of days in Spain. You have all these electronics and options and things to watch out for. You realize how much power you have and how much speed the bikes carry. Maybe I was overthinking too much instead of just treating the RC16 like a ‘normal’ bike and getting on with the job. If I could go back to that time I’d be a bit more chilled and take it as it comes but that’s easier said than done. It was exciting!

Image6_resized.jpgBinder clinched a sensational victory in only his third MotoGP race, which took place in Brno, Czech Republic
PC @PolarityPhoto

In debriefs with the media you were using the word ‘insane’ a lot in the first months of riding and racing but that has tapered off. It seems that you have less sense of awe. Is that because of familiarity, some good results and confidence?
It’s funny how things change. At first, every time I got on the bike it was like a shock. You feel like you are flying. It is amazing how your body adapts to everything. Now when I am on the straight and I’m flat out I don’t feel crazy anymore. I don’t feel like I need to hold on super tight or do anything different compared to when I was riding my old Moto2™ bike down the straights. You get super adapted and with this championship in 2020 we’ve been riding week in week out. It becomes the norm, and I’m glad it happened because in the beginning it felt like it would never change.

Image7_resized.jpgThe incredible braking power of the KTM RC16 has also taken some time to understand to know where the limits are
PC @PolarityPhoto

You mentioned having to get used to MotoGP braking points but at what point do you lose the fear or gain enough knowledge to think: ‘I’ve mastered this now’…?
The main thing was the amount of brake you can use. When you think you are using the most then you realize that you can pull the lever even more and stop even better than you ever expected. With these carbon brakes and the way these bikes are set-up the deceleration is insane! The amount of speed that you can kill in such a short space of time is hard to really understand at the beginning. You start to realize that the limit is when the tire starts to lock. The limit isn’t just by lifting the rear [wheel], you can lift and lock the front: that’s when it is hard to find confidence. It’s something where I have made good improvements, and I feel like I am quite strong on the brakes at the moment. But I need to keep working hard. We’ve had a few ‘wake-up calls’ with the tires and managing grip and the wear. There are small things I need to learn and that’s where more experience comes in.

Image8_resized.jpgThe straights used to feel a little ‘crazy’ when Brad first rode the bike due to the speed of the KTM RC16
PC @PolarityPhoto

What are the braking habits you need for MotoGP?
You use a lot more rear brake. In Moto2 I used a ton, but at a completely different time. I never used it on the straight and pretty much only on angle, whereas here you use the rear from when you start braking until you are on the throttle already! You also use it out of corners to keep the wheelie down. There is a lot to get used to. In general, it is tough to pinpoint one thing or habit. At the end of the day it is still a motorcycle and MotoGP involves a different way of going fast.

Image9_resized.jpgBrad has enjoyed testing with the team and evaluating new parts
PC @PolarityPhoto

Your mechanics mention that you love to work and to test and that’s part of being a factory rider but has that experimentation also disturbed some of your own personal progression?
For me it is not rocket science. The guys behind the scenes do all the hard work to make the bike better and I literally get on it and give my feedback. I tell them what I like and what has potential and what doesn’t. I try to keep it as simple as possible. I give the feedback and they handle the rest and I don’t feel it has stopped me in any way.

Image10_resized.jpgEach session is an opportunity to learn and Binder has had an exciting first season in MotoGP
PC @PolarityPhoto

Lastly, did you create tougher conditions for yourself by making it all look so easy, so quickly?
It is not easy! That’s for sure. I don’t feel I am making it look that way. It feels like a huge effort and sometimes – like in these last few races – it feels like you don’t get much in return to be honest! I’ve had some good sessions and a couple of good races but, more than that, I’ve made too many mistakes. I need more experience. But, it’s MotoGP. It’s the pinnacle of the sport. I’m sure I’ll get there.

Image11_resized.jpgUnderstanding how to use the rear brake, plus corner entry and exit on a MotoGP bike has been completely different to a Moto2 machine
PC @PolarityPhoto

Posted in Racing

What do Pol Espargaro and Brad Binder see and use on their dashboard and handlebars when in full flight with their KTM RC16s in MotoGP? We decided to ask…

Image-1_resized.jpgBrad Binder and Pol Espargaro.
PC @RobGray/PolarityPhoto

Thankfully, MotoGP is not F1. The riders do not have a set of controls equivalent to a small aircraft but the KTM RC16s are still instruments of outstanding motorcycle tech and engineering. They are two-wheeled racing machines that can be fine-tuned to enable a consistent lap time gain of tenths of a second. Physically, Pol Espargaro – a rider who has been with the KTM MotoGP project from the first Grand Prix in 2017 and Brad Binder – a 2020 rookie in the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing crew who is learning the demands of the premier class and the equipment it entails, both have major input for the behaviour and performance of the RC16 with their riding, but there are some essentials they need to hand.

Image1A_resized.jpgThe right side of the handlebars on the KTM RC16.
PC @RobGray/PolarityPhoto

Brad Binder: It’s quite self-explanatory. I’ve got my throttle, brake, kill switch and the neutral lever, which I will hit when I come into the pitlane. The lever is like that so it’s harder to hit it and send the bike into neutral when you’re on track.

Image4-resized.jpgIn changing conditions it can be necessary to have different setting options on the bike. Here Binder is racing in the wet in Le Mans, France.
PC @RobGray/PolarityPhoto

Pol Espargaró: We obviously have so few buttons on the right side because my hand is busy with the throttle. For me the position of the brake lever is not super important. It doesn’t need to be in the perfect place but what is important is the feeling of the lever. It needs to be spongey and not far away. My fingers are not so long. I need a ‘soft’ feeling on the lever and I have it quite close to the bar.

Image5-resized.jpgPol Espargaro celebrates a podium finish in Le Mans. France.
PC @RobGray/PolarityPhoto

Brad Binder: I’m not too fazed with the type of handlebar grip I have. Last year in Moto2 I used slightly thinner ones but on this MotoGP bike I’ve gone a bit thicker. It feels a bit strange in the beginning…but you get used to it so quickly.

Image7-resized.jpgHere you can see a lot of information can be delivered via the dash. Each rider has different preferences on what info they need when on track.
PC @RobGray/PolarityPhoto

Pol Espargaró: We played with a lot of grips in tests. With my previous manufacturer in MotoGP we used one that was a bit too hard and I had problems with my hands. I had to put on a lot of tape. When I moved to KTM one of my amazing mechanics was proposing different grips in the end we settled on one that has a gel inside. It’s a bit bigger but even if I’m riding for three days in the heat of Malaysia my hands don’t suffer. It’s a big improvement.

Image2-resized.jpgHere on Binder’s bike you can see most of the controls are colour coordinated and on the left handlebar.
PC @RobGray/PolarityPhoto

Brad Binder: I don’t really look at the colours anymore, I just know the order the buttons are in: the top (red) is engine braking, middle (orange) is for traction control and the third (green) is the throttle demand maps. We also have the pitlane limiter (black) and the top one (blue) is launch control. We often have to play with the buttons during the sessions to get some more information for the guys to set up their electronics. It is one thing that has been difficult for me to adapt to: remembering what I have to switch to and when.

Image6-resized.jpgBinder explains that they try different traction control and throttle maps during a race weekend.
PC @RobGray/PolarityPhoto

Pol Espargaró: Arriving to KTM the button set-up was different compared to the other bike I’d been riding. I had to get used to them, train how to use them and use the tests to experiment with them. The adrenaline is going during the race so to press something during a fast lap can be tricky. I think it is something ‘automatic’ for me now and, to be honest, it has to be.

Image8-resized.jpgEspargaro explains that the grip and lever feeling is important for him.
PC @RobGray/PolarityPhoto

Brad Binder: I haven’t played much with the engine braking because I tend to find we have it set up quite well from the beginning of a weekend. Often, we play with the TC and the throttle maps because you have to try more power in some places on the track and less in others. You try and set it all up through a Grand Prix weekend.

Image9-resized.jpgEspargaro and Binder at the Aragon circuit in Spain.
PC @RobGray/PolarityPhoto

Pol Espargaró: Long corners can be a moment to change the buttons. When you are leaning over and on the throttle you have time to push one, especially during practice compared to a race. I don’t need to look at them to press. I know the position. But for sure it is better to do it on the straight. That way you avoid mistakes and often in a race you are fighting with other guys and are under stress. You can make errors at a critical part of the race like going up with engine braking instead of going down. Sometimes you can have a ‘moment’ on the bike and it throws you up and onto the buttons. Mistakes can also happen when you are riding to the grid; you are thinking about many things and you end up pressing the wrong one! Then there are times when you are racing and want to adjust the engine braking but the bike might be shaking and you hit another button. You really need to know the base numbers you start with. If you make a mistake then you pay for it because you need to cycle through to the old set-up.

Image10-resized.jpgRiders both have a number 1 and 2 bike – each pair is set-up identically, but may be tweaked with different settings during practice sessions.
PC @RobGray/PolarityPhoto

Pol Espargaró: We are using a different dash compared to the one we had originally. This new one is clearer. Together with the team we set up the display and maybe mine is different to Brad with some colours and signals but the messages are the same. I like to see the split times in the sector. I also like to see the difference; for when I am doing something different or not and whether it’s working. I think the colours are the main difference to Brad’s.

Image11-resized.jpgWhen margins are as close as they are in MotoGP every small detail matters.
PC @RobGray/PolarityPhoto

Brad Binder: Everyone has their personal ways of doing things. Some like to see their sector times whereas I don’t, I just prefer the overall lap time and even that can be a distraction sometimes. In general, the dash has everything I need and a whole lot more. To be honest all I look at are the shift lights and my lap time that pops up when I cross the line. The shift lights are on the top. [The ones to the side?] Good question! [laughs] I know when we put on the pitlane limiter – to make the bike stick at the speed allowed for the pitlane – then we have some more lights there, but they are also on when I activate launch control. Basically they are guide lights.

Image12-resized.jpgRiders work with the team throughout the race weekend to find and adjust the settings of the KTM RC16 to suit the track and the conditions.
PC @RobGray/PolarityPhoto

Pol Espargaró: You might see a big ‘1’ on the top of my triple clamp and that’s just to let me know what bike I have. For instance, I might start the weekend on bike ‘2’ but then have a crash and switch to ‘1’ and then we’ll try both in the warm up. It’s just for clarity and for explaining to technicians about any electronic settings. I’ll say I like something from bike ‘2’ but something else from a different setting on bike ‘1’.

Image13-resized.jpgSpeed is restricted in pit lane and the pit lane speed limiter is activated by the rider when he enters this area or by the team when he leaves the pit box.
PC @RobGray/PolarityPhoto

Brad Binder: I use the shift lights on top of the dash mostly in FP1 and FP2, after that I pretty much know when I need to shift. You can tell by the sound of the engine as well. When you have a long straight, somewhere like Qatar or Malaysia, then it is always good to watch the lights so you are hitting the optimum moment for shifting. These bikes have so much power so if you short-shift a little bit then it doesn’t make much difference at all. The lights are a good indicator then, once you find your points, you don’t use them too much.

image14-resized.jpgEach rider has two bikes each – once they’ve found their personal base setting both bikes are set-up identically.
PC @RobGray/PolarityPhoto

Pol Espargaró: Sometimes we’ll have the Dorna TV camera pointing at us as well from inside the bubble screen. I haven’t had it that often and I’m not sure I like it that much! When you are really happy or really angry that should be a private moment, but I appreciate the fact that the cameras are nice for bringing the people closer to us and showing something a bit different.

Posted in Racing

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing lost two of their five Grand Prix athletes to injury during the intense and condensed 2020 FIM MXGP World Championship. What happens when Pro racers are forced away from the track? We asked Jeffrey Herlings and Rene Hofer to check in from their sofas…

Image1_resized-1.jpgHerlings took victory at his home GP in Valkenswaard, The Netherlands for round two of 2020 MXGP
PC @RayArcher

Jeffrey Herlings is familiar with the peaks and troughs of his sport. Four world championships and the third highest total of Grand Prix wins by the age of 26 means the Red Bull KTM stalwart, with more than a decade of world championship experience, has been through the crash/injury/operation/rehab/recovery/return cycle repeatedly.

Image6_resized-1.jpgHerlings is one of the greatest riders of all time with his 90 Grand Prix victories
PC @RayArcher

Herlings has interspersed results that have made him one of the greatest riders in the history of the motocross with problems that have caused a degree of absenteeism. In 2010 (his debut season as a 15-year-old), 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019 and 2020 he has kept surgeons busy with various reparations. Amazingly, from of all the substantial injuries Herlings has suffered (a dislocated shoulder, three broken collarbones, a broken femur, little finger, dislocated pelvis, two broken feet, fractured vertebrae) all except two were sustained while he was holding a championship red plate. It seems like it is all or nothing with #84.

Image3_resized-1.jpgHerlings leads the world with the championship red plate in Faenza, Italy – he was 60 points ahead in the standings after six rounds
PC @RayArcher

While leading 2020 MXGP the Dutchman crashed during Free Practice for the Grand Prix Citta di Faenza in Italy. The neck and back injury effectively ended his bid for a fifth world crown as he had to sit out the next four rounds. “This one was easier to deal with…but it was still tough,” he says now, and after a subsequent process to repair complications from his foot operation from 2019. “That one last year was ‘OK’,” he references “because the championship hadn’t even started but I was leading with such a big gap in 2014 and 2015; I guess 2020 might count as the third championship I’ve chucked away. If you look at the math then it doesn’t add up: I’ve won 90 GPs but only four championships.”

Image4_resized-1.jpgHerlings looks on – the level of MXGP is so high but the margin for error is very small
PC @RayArcher

“I’m definitely devastated but when you are on the ground and you don’t have any feeling in your body for half an hour you are just happy to walk away,” he adds. “The results don’t really matter. You are just relieved to be healthy, and now I don’t have any pain in my back or neck. Every setback is difficult, but the sport is moving so fast, the bikes are so fast that you are just waiting for it to go wrong. That is part of the sport and we have to accept it.”

Image5_resized-1.jpgThe sandmaster! Herlings is known for his incredible ability in the sand
PC @JPAcevedo

In contrast to Herlings’ 11 seasons and plethora of races and trophies, 18-year-old Rene Hofer is at the beginning of his story. The Austrian had already found the top five of the MX2 class before the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Upon resumption of racing in Latvia in August Hofer hit a jump awkwardly at the Kegums circuit and landed on his right side, breaking his shoulder. After a visit to the operating theatre Hofer has been working through his own rehab.   

Image2_resized-1.jpgThe Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team wishes Hofer a quick recovery after his injury in Latvia
PC @JPAcevedo

“At first the doctors thought the shoulder had popped out. They tried to put it back in!” he smiles and half-grimaces at recollection of the accident. “The bone broke close to the shoulder. The first x-rays looked quite horrible. The bone was stuck in the muscle and the doctors had to do some good surgery! It feels good now. I was able to train properly for the first time at the beginning of October and that made me really happy. I still don’t know how it broke. I threw the bike away while jumping and after that I don’t know how it snapped.”

Image7_resized.jpgHofer has risen to the challenge of racing for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team – his focus is now on 2021
PC @JPAcevedo

Hofer is younger than Herlings but has had his own bitter taste of losing a potential title when an accident during an ADAC MX Master event in Germany in 2018 ended his year while leading the EMX125 European Championship. “2018: That was harder to deal with compared to this year,” he reveals. “The Covid break meant that this season didn’t feel ‘real’. We’d only had two races. In 2018 I was on my way to winning the championship so it was heart-breaking. I was younger then; it was much harder to accept. This time the first two weeks were tough but I think overall it was mentally easier to come to terms with.”

Image8_resized-1.jpgHofer and teammate Tom Vialle put on a great show of speed in Matterley Basin, Great Britain at the opening round of the series
PC @RayArcher

The darkest period of motocrossers’ careers tend to come in that void of ‘lost time’ post-crash and post-operation. Typically, their days as racers are carefully planned around riding, training and recovery and suddenly the switch to physical difficulties and a lack of mobility means a crushing contrast. For people so used to living life at a fast pace it feels like the brakes are clamped on at full velocity.

Image9_resized-1.jpgNo stranger to digging deep – the world looked on during this memorable day as Herlings rode just 8 weeks post femur break to battle for the 2014 MX2 World Championship. PC @RayArcher

“There is a point where you think ‘I’ve done all the work, all the winter prep and all the races for nothing’,” says Herlings of the mental battle. “The end goal for me is always to win a championship and that was the hardest thing to deal with for this 2020 injury because, once again, I messed up due to a crash. The pain wasn’t so difficult this time. I did not have that much…and I knew I would heal up 100%. The real pain was messing up.”

Image10_resized.jpgHerlings at the 2014 MX2 season finale with Dirk Gruebel. After seeing his series lead diminish as injury halted his 21 moto victories, he was runner-up in the championship by just four points. PC @RayArcher

“For me I think the boredom is worse,” claims Hofer. “At first you’re happy that the operation is done and the pain is either much less or it’s gone. When I broke the shoulder I was almost 24 hours in the hotel with just painkillers but as soon as I got to Austria I went straight to hospital and was in the hands of some great doctors and facilities. There is a relief to getting it fixed. But once you are home and you really cannot do anything then boredom sets in. If you can bring yourself to watch the races it even makes you pretty sad sometimes.”

Image11_resized.jpgHofer is hoping to be back on his KTM 250 SX-F in December
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“At first I really needed some time alone,” he adds. “Then I was watching TV and doing nothing. Once you can start moving or doing some rehab – even some training – then it is mentally easier to move on. You have too much time to think when you are injured…and you are thinking about the bad things. You have to do something as soon as it’s possible: go out with your friends, distract yourself. The worst thing you can do is sit there and think about motocross: it gets you down.”

Image12_resized.jpgHofer aboard his KTM 250 SX-F
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Herlings has been able to get even more reflective. He missed large stretches of 2019 and is now again pushed away from the racetrack. When he’s on the KTM 450 SX-F he is a force of nature, but denied his all-encompassing ‘day job’ (something that he confessed had him existing like “a monk” in 2018 when he claimed 17 of 19 GPs) and he has had to learn about a new way of life. “I’m 26 now and motocross is part of your life for a certain amount of time,” he explains. “When I was a kid I didn’t think about anything apart from racing but the time off and stuff like the Coronavirus break gives you a moment to think about the years to come. We’re investing in things now, so I’ll still have income when I eventually stop. I still love racing and hopefully the foot will get back to the point where I can enjoy it again.”

Image13_resized.jpg‘The real pain is messing up’ – Herlings will focus his recovery on being at his best again to line up on the MXGP gate in 2021
PC @JPAcevedo

Both racers are eying next year. Having a goal for various stages of their recovery is another part of being a professional athlete. It is a normal trait for the kind of person that is dedicated or even obsessed with bettering themselves. “I’ve been at the Red Bull Athletes performance centre in Salzburg doing my rehab for two months,” says Hofer. “I should be ready to ride again in December but we don’t know yet if we’ll get back on the bike straightaway or get the plates in my shoulder removed first. We’ll decide at the end of November. We’re firmly looking at 2021, so there is no hurry now and I can focus on my rehab properly.”

Channelling adrenaline and reaching new levels of performance in racing is just one challenge of being a top-level motocrosser; one good enough to ride for Red Bull KTM. There are many unseen aspects and uphill struggles away from their efforts on the bike. It can be in these moments when much is also ‘won’ or ‘lost’.