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#inthisyear1998: Technology and Design Offensive


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#inthisyear1998: Technology and Design Offensive

Full-speed ahead in every respect – that’s what KTM is all about. This also means keeping on top of what’s going on in the world of motorcycling, be it touring bikers or owners of powerful single-cylinder beasts. The KTM 790 ADVENTURE in particular, presented in two versions at the EICMA, and the return of the completely overhauled KTM 690 SMC R caught the attention of KTM’s army of enthusiasts. Two decades ago, as the global market leader in the offroad sector, KTM also successfully gained a foothold in the sporty street and touring bike segment with a successful technology and design offensive. Even from first glance, KTM bikes have boasted an unmistakable KTM design pedigree for years – we don’t need our logo to stand out!

KTM has been READY TO RACE for more than six decades. In the mid-1950s, Erwin Lechner went from victory to victory on the “Apfelbeck-KTM”, and in the late 1960s, the start of series production of offroad bikes marked the beginning of KTM’s journey into becoming the global market leader in offroad models for years to come. As early as 1974, KTM bagged its first international title win. Gennady Moiseev from the then Soviet Union won the first motocross world championship for the Mattighofen-based manufacturer, and Imerio Testori from Italy became European Enduro champion in the 500cc class – the Enduro world championship having not yet been launched. These were two titles that would be followed by countless others over the years.

In 1992, KTM was under new management following the insolvency of the former KTM Motorfahrzeugbau AG, meaning that the R&D department was devising new concepts for the future. Just two years later, the range of offroad bikes was expanded to include the KTM 620 DUKE – a street version with a powerful LC4 single-cylinder Enduro engine. KTM has manufactured both offroad and onroad machines ever since. However, the KTM 620 DUKE, which was designed as a “fun bike”, was not produced in high volumes in order to close the gap with major industry players. As long-distance touring was the fashion of the time, it made perfect sense that Wolfgang Felber, who was head of R&D at the time, entitled the next project “All Terrain Enduro” – a twin-cylinder machine for long-distance touring bikers that could be used both offroad and onroad. In fact, there had already been some talk of getting ready for the future some years previously. A V2 engine with two 553cc LC4 cylinders was produced in collaboration with Jens Polte from Darmstadt, who is known for his racing achievements at the “Battle of the Twins”. This monster promised power in abundance. Those responsible for the “All Terrain Enduro” project also opted for a slim twin-cylinder V-engine, which offered considerably more possibilities than the tried-and-tested LC4 single-cylinder motor. The 60 mm short-stroke design provided for a low construction h, while the cylinder angle of 75° ensured compact dimensions. Called the LC8, the V2 engine delivered a good 100 hp from 950cc by the time the KTM 950 ADVENTURE concept bike was presented in 2000 at Intermot in Munich. At the 2002 Dakar Rally, Fabrizio Meoni was the first to cross the Lac Rosé finish line in the Senegalese capital on the rally version of the KTM 950 ADVENTURE. This was the second KTM victory at what is probably the most popular motorbike rally in the world – a distinction unmatched by any other manufacturer to date. The introduction of the KTM 950 ADVENTURE onto the market followed in 2003, the year of KTM’s 50th anniversary. By the time KTM introduced the KTM 990 DUKE concept bike at the EICMA in autumn, it was clear that KTM did not wish to surrender the large-volume street bike segment to its competitors.



However, the developments did not represent a departure from the offroad sector – quite the opposite in fact. With the LC4 Super Competition having previously raised the bar for 4-stroke engines in Enduro and motocross races, a second range of 4-stroke racing engines (starting from 400cc and 520cc) then went into series production. Alongside the move to the new factory building in autumn 1999, production of the EXC-Racing and SX-Racing models – which were intended exclusively for competition use – began.

The LC4 motor was also further engineered – with an increased displacement and now called the 640 LC4, it was most powerful single-cylinder series engine in the world. It was used in various Enduro and Supermoto models and also in the KTM 640 DUKE 2, which is still hailed as a “design masterpiece” by some journalists today.


KTM 640 DUKE 2 © KTM

For KTM, the days of only being able to identify a motorbike by the brand logo on the fuel tank were long gone. The legendary Mint & Pepper models from the early 1990s are still remembered by many owing to their extravagant colors, but somehow they did not succeed. Great success only came several years later when KTM turned orange. At the time, Gerald Kiska, a young designer to whom the KTM design contract was awarded, and who has been responsible for the distinctive KTM design ever since, was in agreement with KTM CEO Stefan Pierer that all future models should be recognizable at first glance.

The original orange color was refined further, and in the world of motorcycles, “KTM Orange” soon became the equivalent of “Ferrari Red” for cars. This not only applied to the paintwork on the motorbikes, but also to the entire brand image – from letter paper and trade show stands through to dealer showrooms.

In the late 1990s, Kiska perfected the topic of “Edge Design” for KTM, which had become popular in the automotive sector. To this day, all KTM motorcycles bear the hallmark of Kiska’s unique handwriting style.

And long before anyone ever thought of LED signatures, the KTM DUKE 2 was immediately recognizable as a unique KTM model even from the rearview mirror. The reason for this was the two ellipsoid headlights one above the other; a unique styling element in the motorcycle sector. Over the years, KTM did not produce any more bikes with two adjacent headlights, let alone one above the other. Even today, a DUKE or ADVENTURE is still recognizable at just glance thanks to its typical “face”.

Twenty years later and things have come full circle at the EICMA – two decades after the first multi-cylinder concepts, the KTM 790 ADVENTURE (in two versions) with the compact LC8c motor complements the mid-range class in the Travel segment. And just like the one-time “All Terrain Enduro” project, the bike is well suited to adventure tours and offroad voyages of discovery on tough terrain.

256853_LFA2292 miwi B flat790 Adventure 2019 256810_PVW_0303 2 miwi B flat790 Adventure R 2019

KTM 790 ADVENTURE R MY2019 © KISKA/F. Lackner

Photos: KTM | KISKA/F. Lackner


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    • De Dementor
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      © Jowin Boerboom
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      No problem at all
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      © Jowin Boerboom
      Do you feel like having a crack at Rok Bagoroš’ Wheelie Academy? Well, you can! The next courses are on June 25-27 in Murska Sobota in Slovenia. Check out Rok´s website for all you need to know. Oh, and definitely have a look on Rok’s YouTube channel. It’s full of … let’s just call it inspiration!
      Photos: Jowin Boerboom
    • De Dementor
      About the queen of Dakar and the Erzbergrodeo: “I’ll be back to finish it!”
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      Laia Sanz (ESP) Erzbergrodeo (AUT) 2019 © Future7Media
      Mission Erzbergrodeo
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      Laia Sanz (ESP) KTM 300 EXC TPI Erzbergrodeo (AUT) 2019 © Future7Media
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      It was only a month before the toughest single hard enduro race in the world, when she finally felt good enough to start with hard enduro training. First, she called her good friends from trials Alfredo Gomez and Pol Tarres, 4th and 9th place in the Red Bull Hare Scramble 2019 respectively, and said to them: “Guys, I need some help. I have enrolled for the Erzbergrodeo.” The two were happy to assist her in pursuing the newest challenge, threw her into deep water and she needed to pick it up fast. For the first time she also ride a 2-stroke KTM 300 EXC TPI, specially prepared for the event.
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      Laia Sanz (ESP) KTM 300 EXC TPI Erzbergrodeo (AUT) 2019 © Future7Media
      Partners in crime
      Jaume Betriu, her boyfriend as well as one of the most skilled enduro and motocross riders, was with her most of the time. “I consider myself very lucky. Jaume knows me better than anybody. On the one hand, he is super supportive, but on the other he always pushes me over my limit. It’s hard and funny at the same time when you are emotionally involved. I can easily imagine telling him where to go when he patronizes me, completely exhausted in Carl’s Dinner; this is the most dreadful section of the race where help is allowed. While stressful, the whole process of training together was a fantastic journey. Well, after this, he will either ask me to marry him, or he will leave me for good, there’s no middle ground,” she joked.
      Laia Sanz (ESP) Erzbergrodeo (AUT) 2019 © Future7Media
      Wining and dining with Karl
      Everybody knows how the story went by now. Laia Sanz achieved an impressive time in the first run of the Iron Road Prologue and rode even better the next day. Still, the 13.5 km long track was completely ruined after a stampede of 1800 riders. Thanks to a wild card the organizer gave to the best two female riders of the prologue, on a Sunday race she attacked from the first line. She started well and avoided a big traffic jam at the foot of the Three Kings section. Passing the first checkpoints riding between 16th and 18th place. At this point, her goal of becoming the first woman to finish the race was still within reach. After that the unpredictable factor kicked in and her race changed. She made a mistake just before Carl’s Dinner, slipping down on a snowy slope. She used up her energy trying to climb back with a slightly damaged bike.
      When Laia reached the scariest part of the race, the so-called Carl’s Dinner, she was completely exhausted. “To understand the level of difficulty of Carl’s Dinner you have to experience it. The problem is the length, it’s a psychological war you are fighting within,” she explained. Every year the genius boss of the Erzbergrodeo, Karl Katoch, is more a fan of slow food. Luckily, among the iron rocks there was also Alberto Cano, Laia’s mechanic, to join Jaume in helping her. “Normally Alberto is just watching me. If I don’t have any issues with the bike, he can’t do much during the race. This time he played his part really well, I’ve never seen him so busy,” she laughs.
      Laia Sanz (ESP) KTM 300 EXC TPI Erzbergrodeo (AUT) 2019 © Future7Media
      Hard enduro is so much fun
      When asked if she wants to come back, or even try some other hard enduro races, Laia replies: “If you had asked me this on Sunday after the race, I would have said no way. Today it’s a yes, for sure. What’s more, I think I will quite miss all of this. The Erzbergrodeo is somehow magical, the atmosphere is quite unique. And most importantly, hard enduro is fun. I had already had so much fun preparing for it. In the first days I hated it, that’s true, but then I got hooked. So yes, I will be back, with more experience and better prepared. The only problem is that every year the race gets longer and more difficult. Karl is a very nice guy, but a little crazy.”
      The bottom line: Laia and Jaume are still together and she still has the same goal to become the first female rider in history to finish the impossible Erzbergrodeo and Karl will never change.
      The challenge continues …
      Laia Sanz (ESP) KTM 300 EXC TPI Erzbergrodeo (AUT) 2019 © Future7Media
      Photos: Future7Media
    • De Dementor
      #Inthisyear1969: New models and motorsport success
      The opening of the KTM Motohall was a hugely important day for Europe’s biggest motorcycle manufacturer. The “Friends Opening” was attended by 400 guests, including Roger DeCoster, KTM Motorsport Director for North America, whose protégé Cooper Webb had won the fourth AMA Supercross Championship for KTM just days before at the Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas. Another American, without whom KTM might not have become what it is today, also traveled to Mattighofen for the event. John Penton, now 93 years old, set things in motion in the late 1960s when he placed a major order with KTM for the production of light enduros with 100cc and 125cc.
      Hobby Automatic © KTM
      In the mid-1960s, interest in the motorcycle slowly began to pick up once the great crisis at the end of the 1950s was over. Unlike many motorcycle manufacturers in German-speaking countries, KTM survived because it didn’t make the mistake of trying to compensate for the decline in sales by producing a car. And also due to the fact that the motorcycle also gained a sporty image when Japanese manufacturers entered the European market. Instead of being seen as a conventional way of getting to work, the focus had turned to the thrill of the 2-wheel ride. The KTM program did also contain a “proper” motorcycle with 100cc and a Sachs four-speed engine, sold as the “Hansa” in the USA, but the 50cc vehicles were initially the center of attention in the model range. Due to driver license regulations, these were suitable for both for everyday use and for young motorcycle enthusiasts.
      The “Hobby Automatic” was launched in 1969 as the new entry-level model – “the new formula for the perfect ride” according to the KTM brochure at the time. “No need for technical knowledge”. And it delivered on its promises. The 2-hp Sachs engine with centrifugal clutch and 1-speed transmission made for a carefree ride.
      KTM Comet 504 S © KTM
      When it came to weather protection, the various Comet models with fan or airflow-cooled Puch engines couldn’t keep up with the Ponny II moped, which now had a Puch four-speed engine in the “Super 4” version, but the Comets were also reliable everyday vehicles.
      KTM presented a super-hot motorcycle with the Comet 504 Super – narrow fenders and a chrome-plated 10-liter specially shaped fuel tank made for an unmistakable line. While the German competitor models still had an undamped fork or an antiquated-looking front swingarm, KTM fitted an oil-damped fork in the Comet 504 S. Coupled with the two slender silencers and the special airflow-cooled KTM cylinder instead of fan cooling, the Comet 504 S was the undisputed star among KTM’s motorcycles.
      KTM Penton 125 © KTM
      However, the highlight of KTM’s 1969 program was the KTM Penton 125, which brought in the bulk of the 25% increase in sales compared to the previous year.
      Two years before, John Penton, an American motorcycle dealer from Ohio, contacted KTM because he was looking for a manufacturer for lightweight offroad and motocross bikes that lived up to his expectations. The first prototypes were ready by the end of 1967 and one year later, the small offroad bikes passed the acid test in the USA and at the “Sei Giorni”, the International Six Days Enduro in San Pellegrino, Italy. As soon as the Penton riders, including Penton’s sons Jack, Jeff, and Tom, identified weaknesses on tough offroad races in the American New England states, solutions were sought in Penton’s workshop, which were immediately incorporated into the series in Mattighofen. Of course, this did not escape the notice of engine manufacturer Fichtel & Sachs in Schweinfurt and it came as no surprise at the International Six Days Enduro in 1969, when ultra-modern, aluminum cylinders were used on the Penton bikes, while the bikes from German Sachs subsidiary Hercules still had to make do with the old cast iron cylinders. Five gold medals, six silver and two bronze medals for the American and European riders that started out on KTM Penton is more than a respectable result for the tough International Six Days Enduro in the Allgäu Alps around Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
      While John Penton’s (initiator of KM Penton) team triumphed no less than 38 times in the 100cc and 125cc class, Arnaldo Farioli won the Italian 125cc offroad championship and Jouka Laaksonen became the Finnish offroad champion.
      John & Jack Penton KTM Motohall 2019 © Penton
      If you would like to take a closer look at this piece of motorsport history up close, we recommend a visit to our KTM Motohall in Mattighofen, where you can marvel at a 1969 Penton, along with many other victorious bikes.
      The KTM Motohall is open Tuesday to Sunday, 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. Closed on Mondays.
      Photos: KTM | Penton
    • De Dementor
      TPI engine development for enduro – improving the breed
      Since the arrival of KTM’s TPI models for 2018, the evolution and development of these fuel injected 2-strokes has been ongoing and a “steep learning curve”. The MY2020 model launch in Bassella, Spain gave chance to check how KTM R&D and the factory racing teams have pushed to improve the new breed …
      KTM EXC MY2020 © Sebas Romero
      By now we are familiar with the ground-breaking move KTM made in the enduro world for model year 2018 with the introduction of the KTM 250 and 300 EXC TPI models. The transfer port injection engine was a step change in the history of motorcycles, an revolution of the 2-stroke.
      That first generation of TPI proved more economically, made life easier with no need to pre-mix fuel and removed the age-old problems of needing to understand and change carburetor jetting to meet weather conditions and altitude. It was a new breed.
      KTM 300 EXC TPI MY2020 © Marco Campelli
      Though an instant success, the R&D team didn’t rest on their laurels. Before the first year of production was complete, they were taking feedback from owners, plus factory racing teams and already improving the TPI.
      KTM’s Head of Engine Offroad and Motocross, Michael Viertlmayr, says it has been a steady process of improving the engines ever since and a learning curve that has seen improvements to the hardware and perhaps most importantly, the electronic software controlling the TPI engines.
      The racing department played a big part in the evolution of the TPIs since day one. Factory racers like Jonny Walker and Taddy Blazusiak took on the TPIs for the 2018 season with both hands and the bikes immediately proved themselves in the World Enduro Super Series.
      Jonny Walker (GBR) KTM 350 EXC-F MY2020 © Marco Campelli
      All the time the development of the TPI engine was marching forward and the racing teams played their role helping develop software and mapping to improve that consistency and rider feel for power and rear wheel grip.
      Racers always want more bottom power, to be smoother and more controllability so when the racing department meets those demands the knock-on effect also benefits the regular rider and the production machines.
      Most obviously we have seen this as new and different engine maps have become available to existing first generation TPI customers to get installed at their KTM dealer.
      “I have been working on the development of the TPI bikes nearly almost from day one,” explains Blazusiak. “We had a long process until the TPIs were ready to hit the market with even some bikes that weren’t good to ride, but it’s the same process that happened with four strokes.”
      “But it’s a process like everything and in a couple of years we’ll look back asking ourselves ‘how did the carbureted bikes last that long?’” says Taddy.
      Taddy Blazusiak (POL) KTM 350 EXC-F MY2020 © Marco Campelli
      Ringing loud and clear at the MY2020 model launch in May 2019, was the message that the latest fuel injected KTM engines were more ‘on point’. “The tolerances should be minimum and that’s what we have been working on for the new bikes,” says Joachim Sauer. “The TPI technology itself hasn’t changed much, it has improved in performance. It has been an optimization of the bike, now the power valve in the new cylinder is working together perfectly with the new exhaust system, the adding of a new ambient pressure sensor and a new throttle body that gives a more precise power delivery.”
      Viertlmayr adds the software is now of equal importance as the hardware in R&D terms and he is quick to point out the mind-boggling number of working hours each one of the 100 software updates the TPI has swallowed up.
      The aim, always, is to improve the all-important rider feeling with the bike and this has been a key element for the MY2020 models. Along with a new cylinder head with an increased compression ratio on the 250cc engine, new exhaust port windows for improved precision, new exhaust systems, air filter boxes and ECU mapping we have a “rounding up” of the model as Sauer puts it.
      The result is a new generation of TPI models (three now including the all-new KTM 150 EXC TPI) which are somewhere between the first TPI and a carburetor model in feeling.
      “We have tried to maintain the positive side from both worlds,” says Viertlmayr, “the controllability and the rich feeling from the carburetor version but the benefits from fuel injection; the clear running, not filling the engine with fuel when going downhill and the immediate and clean response – which lots of people liked from the beginning with the TPI, and I think we have accomplished that with the MY2020 models.”
      Where to next in the evolution of the TPI? “We have a lot of ideas and plans to make it even better in the future,” continues Viertlmayr. “We stay pretty hard focused on the development of the 2-stroke TPIs. We are highly focused on lowering the emissions on the bikes and we are also working in close collaboration with the racing department to have an even better rideability.”
      It is hard to think of a bolder step in terms of offroad motorcycle development in recent times than the transfer port injection, 2-stroke engines. In a world that is increasingly all enveloped by software and technology, the KTM EXC TPIs stand at the front of the queue pushing to take offroad motorcycles forward for the next generation.
      KTM EXC TPI MY2020 © Sebas Romero
      Photos: Sebas Romero | Marco Campelli