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#inthisyear1998: Technology and Design Offensive

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Dementor

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179_Adventure-m2-1024x612.jpg

#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.

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KTM 950 ADVENTURE © KTM

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.

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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
      KTM 790 ADVENTURE: Which path to take?
      Posted in Bikes, Riding With the arrival of the new limited edition KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY in 2020, KTM will soon offer three LC8c-powered ADVENTURE models. So, what are the differences of these bikes and who are they for?
      KTM 790 ADVENTURE, KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY & KTM 790 ADVENTURE R © KTM
      To help answer that, we first have to ask what is adventure? The craving to explore new places and travel to the unknown? To take risks? A state of mind? Adventure isn’t governed by length, rules or agenda; it has a unique meaning to us all.
      From its experience, KTM knows that a rider of one of its ADVENTURE machines is someone driven by curiosity, a hunger for performance and – of course – adventure. That nagging wanderlust and a desire to discover the hidden thrills and pleasures that lie just beyond the horizon.
      To match the attitudes and ambition of such riders, they need a motorcycle that takes everything further; machines that channel the adventure mindset and allow them to exploit any path in front of them – even the ones yet to be explored.
      KTM responded to customer feedback and demand by using its experience, talented engineers, incredible KISKA designers, development feedback of some of the finest adventure riders and partnerships with leading component suppliers such as WP Suspension, to create arguably the most exciting Travel Enduro machines ever.
      But what are the differences between the three members of the KTM 790 ADVENTURE model family and who are these exciting new machines for?
      POSITIONING:
      KTM 790 ADVENTURE: The most offroad capable travel bike
      KTM 790 ADVENTURE R: The most travel capable offroad bike
      KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY: The most travel capable rally bike
      For those who spend more time on the tarmac but with the bravery to push their personal boundaries, and curiosity to explore trails, the KTM 790 ADVENTURE quenches this thirst. Addictive street performance that will make every ride – no matter the distance – a memorable adventure.
      The KTM 790 ADVENTURE R satisfies the most hardcore riders; enduro and rally pilots who demand that same extreme offroad performance but in a package capable of doing the distance all-day – no matter the terrain – while carrying all the essentials to keep going over the horizon and the one after.
      And when it wasn’t expected that more could be possible, the new arrival KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY is for those riders who demand the most extreme performance and the very best suspension equipment available. This is the machine that will easily cross continents in order to ride to the start line of a multi-stage rally.
      KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY © KTM
      BODYWORK:
      The KTM 790 ADVENTURE has a front fender, mounted closer to the wheel while retaining enough clearance from the tire even for offroad use. The ‘R’ and ‘R RALLY’ have an enduro-style mudguard, mounted under the headlight for maximum ground clearance.
      The KTM 790 ADVENTURE is available in orange or white versions, with the ‘R’ a combination of orange, white and black. The ‘R RALLY’ is in blue and white with a unique graphic design together with carbon fiber tank protectors to finish off the unique package. Aside from the graphics differences, the ‘R’ also features orange handguards and black rear panels, as opposed to black and white, respectively, on the KTM 790 ADVENTURE and the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY.
      Rear pillion handles combined to a luggage plate come installed on the KTM 790 ADVENTURE but are also supplied with the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R and KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY.
      SCREEN:
      The ‘R’ and ‘R RALLY’ use a shorter design (tinted and clear finishes, respectively) to allow for less restriction when riding offroad standing up, as opposed to the larger, weather-deflecting, transparent design employed by the KTM 790 ADVENTURE. Each screen is 40 mm h adjustable, by way of undoing a single Torx bolt, and are interchangeable between both models.
      KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY © KTM
      SUSPENSION:
      This is the biggest difference component-wise and to the riding character between the three bikes. The KTM 790 ADVENTURE uses a split fork design (rebound controlled in the right tube, compression in the left) with an APEX shock absorber. Apart from rear preload, these are not adjustable but provide ultimate feel and control in all types of riding situations; from street to dusty trails, riding solo or with a passenger.
      The KTM 790 ADVENTURE R’s fully adjustable WP XPLOR setup is the result of an incredibly intensive testing program to help it be the most offroad capable Travel Enduro bike with true street comfort.
      The KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY is equipped with a WP XPLOR PRO suspension, built in the same department as WP’s Factory Racing equipment, which offers similar levels of performance for extreme riding. An additional 30 mm of suspension travel front and back helps clear the most demanding obstacles and also creates a seat h of 910mm for this unique model.
      SUSPENSION TRAVEL
      KTM 790 ADVENTURE: 200 mm front/back
      KTM 790 ADVENTURE R: 240 mm front/back
      KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY: 270 mm front/back
      CHASSIS:
      Physically, the chassis and swingarm are identical on both bikes, but the main chassis and subframe are painted black for the KTM 790 ADVENTURE and orange for the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R and KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY.
      To suit its more offroad focus, the ‘R’ has slight geometry changes; wheel base of 1,528 mm (compared to 1,509 mm), steering head angle of 63.7° (compared to 64.1°), trail of 110.4 mm (compared to 107.8 mm) and benefits from a ground clearance of 263 mm (compared to 233 mm).
      Featuring the same orange frame, the ‘R RALLY’ has minor geometry changes due to its extra 30 mm of suspension travel. The ‘R RALLY’ also receives KTM rally footpegs for comfort and grip when standing for long days, together with a longer sidestand to compensate for the longer suspension.
      KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY © KTM
      SEAT:
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      The KTM 790 ADVENTURE R has a seat h of 880 mm and uses a one-piece design with only a small bump stop to allow maximum movement on the bike for a variety of riding situations.
      The KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY has a seat h of 910 mm and uses a one-piece design with a high, straight racing seat to improve racing ergonomics.
      All seats are compatible with each bike and multiple KTM PowerParts options include Ergo seats in standard (with three stages of heating control), +20 mm and -10 mm hs. An official lowering kit is also available for the KTM 790 ADVENTURE that brings the seat h down to 805 mm.
      ELECTRONICS:
      All three bikes feature a comprehensive suite of electronics and are navigation ready thanks to KTM MY RIDE, only requiring an app for onscreen, turn-by-turn directions.
      The KTM 790 ADVENTURE R & R RALLY come ready with the new Rally ride mode installed (an option on the KTM 790 ADVENTURE) while the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY also comes as standard with Quickshifter+ and cruise control, which are optional for the other bikes.
      WHEELS/TIRES:
      To give riders free choice of tires without changing their wheels, identical sizes are use on both bikes.
      The KTM 790 ADVENTURE is fitted with Avon Trailrider; a road tire in an offroad size that provides incredible street handling.
      The KTM 790 ADVENTURE R wears Metzeler Karoo 3 to suit its more offroad orientated attitude but still with street performance.
      The KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY also uses Metzeler Karoo 3, but with narrower rims with tubes for hardcore offroad riding conditions.
      There you have it … Three different motorcycles that give confidence to push boundaries both mental and physical. Vehicles to chase dreams, satisfy wanderlust or to begin the rally that never has to end. Adventure is what you make of it and it appears that whatever the ride, route or rally, a KTM 790 ADVENTURE is the best way to make it. So, which path would you take?
      KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY © KTM
      Photos: KTM
    • De Dementor
      Wheelie Academy with Rok Bagoroš: Lift it up
      Everyone who’s ever watched a motorcycle stunt show, will have felt that urge; I want to do that! But as easy as it looks, the sort of stunts and tricks guys like Rok Bagoroš bring to the table are incredibly difficult to master. You’ll find that out soon enough once you book a lesson at the Slovenian stunt rider’s Wheelie Academy.
      For years I tried to piece together an acceptable wheelie for the motorcycle magazine I worked for as a road tester, but unfortunately, the end result would never involve any sort of excitingly high lifted front wheel – or at least not to a point I felt in control. Lifting it up at a call kept getting me down. Especially when looking at the photographic outcome afterwards, it was hardly anything to write home about, though it felt like an incredibly high-flying frontend; it really wasn’t ever. Mere decimeters from the deck every single time. Knowing exactly what makes it such a hassle to achieve only fuels the frustration; I’m simply too afraid to flip the bike. Weirder still is the fact I’m sure I’ve never even come close to the infamous point of no return.
      I’ve considered buying something cheap I could practice wheelying on, but never followed through. As I kept trying, I was more and more giving up on that illusive, controlled wheelie. Until I heard of Rok Bagoroš’ Wheelie Academy. As of last year, the Slovenian freestyle motorcycle stunt rider shares his knowledge of how to ‘lift it up’ – without crashing bike after bike, obviously.
      © Jowin Boerboom
      Mounts of dirty dishes
      Of course, I knew Rok Bagoroš as the YouTube stunt sensation he’d become over the years, throwing around bikes on videos. The sight of him near effortlessly swinging a bike around on one wheel – front or rear; it’s all the same to him – is bizarre to say the least. But as with any masterfully skilled person, the time and effort put in pays off tenfold – even though it takes both time and effort a plenty. Bagoroš grew up in Radenci, a tiny Slovenian town with barely 2,000 inhabitants, on the border with Austria. Humble beginnings didn’t stop Bagoroš from chasing his dreams. Selling newspapers and going through mounts of dirty dishes at a local restaurant, a 17-year-old Bagoroš made enough money to buy himself a scooter. Not to take him to work or to school, no; so, he could go out and stunt! “I loved Andreas Gustafsson’s stunt videos. He stunted scooters and I wanted to do that, too.” Rok turned out to be quite talented and after putting in the hours, he learned to up his game as he got better at more advanced tricks. “Back then I had gotten into Chris Pfeiffer’s stunting. Pfeiffer was the first stunter who got a contract with a manufacturer.” That outlined Rok’s mission; becoming a professional freestyle stunt rider. He worked as hard as he could, with his tricks catching on with fans. In 2011, the Slovenian caught a major break when KTM asked him to ride the orange machines professionally. “It really was a dream come true. Though I had always hoped I could one day stunt for a living, I did not expect things would go this fast.”
      © Jowin Boerboom
      Doing laps
      Eight years on, Rok Bagoroš and his team are taking on the next challenge. Of course, Rok and his buddies will still be doing the stunt shows we know and love them for, making awesome videos as they go, but as a sort of side gig they’ve started their very own Wheelie Academy. In a small group Rok teaches motorcyclists how to make a controllable wheelie. “No more than eight riders at a time,” he makes very clear. “I’m not interested in doing large groups; I want to focus on making sure students get the quality time to learn. That’s just not an option if you get too large of a group.” During the four-hour course, students start with a very simple looking exercise; doing laps. Rok has thrown me the keys of a brand-new KTM 390 DUKE, explaining me what I’m about to do, as we roll up to a marked-out course. “We’re going to make really tight circles, so you can adjust to using the rear brake.” It’s been a while since I did my road test, so I’m curious to see how I’ll do in a handling course like this.
      © Jowin Boerboom
      Just three laps in, Rok stops me. “Don’t worry, you’re doing fine. But I can see you’re grabbing the clutch using all four fingers. That’s not how we’re going to be doing things today. We want to have the handlebars firmly in hand, and to do that, you’ll need nothing but your index finger and middle finger to operate the clutch lever. We’ve adjusted the cable to get the clutch engagement point just right to be able to work with those two fingers alone.” As I carry on making set out laps, I find myself having to switch directions occasionally, not to get sick. Soon enough I’m able to stay within the circle, only to be stopped again by my Slovenian teacher. “Not bad at all,” Rok tells me with a smile. “But now we’re going to try and tighten the circle up even further. Keep focusing on that rear brake.” Back to the circle we go, clockwise first then counter-clockwise. Occasionally I need to put a foot down real quick, but Rok seems to let those moments slip. It’s time to stop again. This time we’re parking the KTM 390 DUKE for now. “See, using the rear brake you can turn the bike much tighter than you first imagined, right? That’s easily overlooked, but very important part of controlling a wheelie.”
      © Jowin Boerboom
      Baby get higher
      After a short breather, Rok goes into the anatomy of a wheelie. “Firstly, what we’ll be learning today is to perform the wheelie in a controlled fashion. Basically, anyone can lift the front wheel off the throttle alone, but that is not what we’re here to do. It’s all about balance and knowing what you’re doing.” No wonder the Wheelie Academy uses a small fleet of KTM 390 DUKEs. “You don’t need a lot of power to wheelie, as you’ll find out. A light bike like the 390 is just perfect to get you going, with the torquey single-cylinder engine to help you lift that wheel off the ground.”
      © Jowin Boerboom
      In order to give the whole group the attention they need, Rok has enlisted Radislav Mihajlov – a fellow stunt rider from Serbia – as a second instructor. He’ll be getting me up to speed for the first wheelie session. “Biggest advantage to how we teach our students to wheelie, is that it’s impossible to flip the bike. Once you go over balance point, the rubber mats basically catch you. When you do hit the rubber mats – and you will – don’t touch the clutch; stick to using the rear brake. You’ll come right back down.”
      © Jowin Boerboom
      To set me off, Radislav allows me to get used to riding on the five-wheeled contraption. The KTM I’ll be wheelying today has been rigged with the weirdest pair of training wheels I’ve ever seen, keeping the bike upright. The cart hanging from those wheels carries the rubber mats that catch you, plus the additional rear wheel. Like riding a motorcycle with a sidecar, I try to get accustomed to the weird five-wheeler, going up and down the wheelie strip.
      © Jowin Boerboom
      Not long after, it’s time to put the theory into action. Without a second thought, I let the clutch go with just a hint of throttle and before I know I’m lifting the front off the ground. Only to drop it right back down again. Four desperate attempts later, Radislav stops me again. I’m afraid I’m about to get a slap on the wrist here. “You’re not doing too bad, actually, but you should try to get more elevation; lift the front wheel higher. Try it, don’t worry!” His encouraging word should’ve calmed my nerves, but they haven’t. A sort of mental barrier keeps me from really taking flight, ending the first session with a wheelie that can only be described as moderately high. Most students are in a similar situation at this point, with a few of them going up and over, hitting the rubber mats that are there to catch you. Don’t think any of us can say they’re very much in control of anything at this point, but at least we’ve come to experience what it’s like to get a bike vertical.
      © Jowin Boerboom
      As I head into my second session of learning how to wheelie controllably, my focus is on elevation. Luckily, it’s not just Radislav that’s noticed my progression; I can feel it, too. Rok chips in every now and again with an additional pointer or two. “If you just drop the clutch, you won’t need much throttle at all; your body weight should help lift the front as it moves back. Most students tend to do this; they’re trying to physically pull the front up, unknowingly transferring weight over the front in the process.”
      © Jowin Boerboom
      No problem at all
      As I conclude my second session, I’m starting to feel confident. Rok Bagoroš seems satisfied with my progress, even more so than I am. “You’re starting to get a hang of it; not bad at all. Right now, you seem to have the separate actions under control. Time to string those actions together.” I can tell you, practicing wheelies for long periods of time is pretty tiring, so I’m glad to get a little break, using my fellow Wheelie Academy students for entertainment as I catch my breath. Got to hand it to those KTM 390 DUKEs; they’re getting a beating, but they don’t seem to miss a single beat. Just a bit of fuel every now and again, and they can do this all day long. “Certainly, in the beginning, students really drop the front quite hard, giving the front suspension a hard time. So far, the 390 DUKE has been taking it on the chin like a champ,” Tomaž Bratusa, Rok Bagoroš’ mechanic tells me. “Students tend to think we’re constantly replacing clutch plates and front suspension parts, but that’s really not the case. We keep up with regular maintenance and that’s pretty much it. Of course, we check all the bikes before packing up at the end of the day. That way we can be sure all the KTM 390 DUKEs are good to go for the following group.”
      Session three is when I really start to get a hang of it; a sense of control is slowly but surely creeping in, though it’s still no easy task pulling a textbook wheelie out of the hat.
      It’s a mix of not shifting my weight back right on one go and being too eager on the throttle on the next. Still, as I get off the bike to hand it over to another student, it’s near impossible to keep the smile off my face. Rok gives me a thumbs up as I sit down on one of the comfy seats in the KTM awning. More than anything, I’ve come to the conclusion you don’t just go out and learn to wheelie. The Academy is a tough nut to crack. There’s so many bits and pieces you need to put together – that takes some serious focus. Sooner than expected, though, I’m back on the 390. The day is starting to draw to a close, I’m going all out; I want to put on that fully controlled wheelie Rok’s been trying to teach me all day. It seems the harder I try, the harder it gets. Focus on technique has made room for frustration, set on by me just wanting it too much. So, by session five I’ve really lost all focus and concentration – my fellow students are also feeling the strain. It just all seems so easy; you pay the man, you get on the wheelie machine, and there you go, you can wheelie. But it’s simply not that simple – one of the main things Rok Bagoroš’ Wheelie Academy has taught me above all. It still takes practice, you still learn to wheelie by doing it. Four hours of trying to lift it up later, the Slovenian freestyle stunt rider sends us off back home, but not before he sits us down for a few final words. “Consider learning to wheelie like learning to swim,” he says. “You don’t learn to swim in just one morning or just one afternoon. If it’s a good wheelie you want to make, you’re going to have to put in the hours of training. You’ve done a good job getting a hang of the basics, now you need a closed-off area to go and build on those basics – you need to practice. Do remember, though, today’s course hasn’t just saved you a lot of money in repairing a bike you will have crashed a few times before finding control, but you’ve saved yourself a few broken bones as well. How we teach, you can safely go up to and over balance point, without writing off a motorcycle. I believe, from what I’ve seen today, all of you could master a perfect wheelie at some stage. For now, it just requires you to invest the time and the energy to perfect it.”
      © 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!”
      It was the end of May and the Iron Giant wasn’t in the mood. On a freezing, stormy day, 1800 riders gathered at his feet to try their luck. Among them, 34 fun and fearless women in muddy boots were waiting for the Iron Road Prologue to start. The toughest girl in motorsport was feeling like a rookie again. As a Dakarian, she knows only too well the thrill of the unknown, yet nothing compares to the Erzbergrodeo.
      To Laia Sanz, the gnarliest, one day hard enduro race in the world was not only a new race but also a new discipline to get to grips with. She was way out of her comfort zone, for the first time in her life, saddling a 2-stroke bike, tackling a brand-new adventure.
      Laia Sanz (ESP) Erzbergrodeo (AUT) 2019 © Future7Media
      Mission Erzbergrodeo
      We are sitting under the Iron Giant, chatting about the madness she was about to endure. “I don’t know what I was thinking! I should have competed here last year, it was sunny, and the track was shorter. This is quite a challenge for a hard enduro rookie,” she said, and I thought: “This is what you always do, lady. You love challenges. You never shy away from anything. You are not afraid to stare fear in the face. You even know how to lose. That’s why you always win.”
      And this is more or less how Laia Sanz’s first Erzbergrodeo affair went.
      Her goal was to become the first woman in the event’s 25-year history to finish the infamous Red Bull Hare Scramble. Her time ran out at the moment she passed the CP 20, or in other words: She didn’t finish the race, but she placed herself among the 30 best competitors.
      Speaking of the race with 500 contenders, but only 16 finishers, no extra comment is needed. Anyway, the best thing Laia took out of it is the knowledge that the hard enduro is too much fun to put away into a box of memories. 18-times world champion in trials and enduro, as well as the most successful female in the cross-country world is already planning a comeback to the Erzbergrodeo.
      Laia Sanz (ESP) KTM 300 EXC TPI Erzbergrodeo (AUT) 2019 © Future7Media
      30 days before the storm
      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.
      “I wanted to train with the best, this is the only way you can push your limits. Though those first days training were a nightmare. The guys were taking on impossible uphills, it completely freaked me out. But I had no choice, it was take it or forget Erzberg. At first, I was rolling down the hills, but in the end I pulled it off. And it just felt amazing! Luckily the team also made an amazing bike. The tires have fantastic grip, the suspension is perfect and it’s simply incredible to see what the bike can do. Each day of preparation I learned something new. My confidence was growing, but I was also becoming aware of the fact I couldn’t be physically ready in time,” she confessed right before the Iron Road Prologue. “I wish I could have started to prepare straight after the Dakar. Unfortunately, I picked up an injury in the last stage and it was more serious than it originally seemed. I knew from the beginning of my preparation that I could run out of steam before the finish line,” she added.
      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
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