Jorge Prado: Making the best better?
Posted in People, Racing MX2 World Champion Jorge Prado seems to have it all at 18 years of age. So, we asked those close to him: How can #61 possibly improve?
OK, firstly the essential data: Jorge Prado recently turned old enough to buy a drink but became an FIM Motocross World Champion in only his second full season of Grand Prix in 2018. He claimed a podium finish in his very first MX2 appearance as a wildcard in 2016 and won on his sixth outing as a Red Bull KTM rookie in 2017. He’s the first world champion from Spain. He owns the most holeshots from any rider in all classes from both 2016 and 2017.
Possessor of superlative technique and phenomenal starting prowess he rarely makes mistakes, is still blossoming with his physical condition and is a protégé of teammate Tony Cairoli and the De Carli camp inside Red Bull KTM. KTM Motorsports Director Pit Beirer recently claimed that Jorge could be placed in the same mold as other teenage sensations like Ken Roczen and Jeffrey Herlings.
Jorge Prado (ESP, #61) KTM 250 SX-F Pietramurata (ITA) 2019 © Ray Archer
So far in 2019 Prado is undefeated on the track. A haematoma on his left shoulder after a crash while training caused him to miss the British Grand Prix but every other moto and round has fallen to the reigning champion. Prado said that he decided to keep the #61 for 2019 (rather than simply remove the ‘6’) because he feels he has not done enough to earn the #1 plate in his career so far. It is an odd and humble self-assessment, and recognition that Prado is not the finished article. However, to the fans, the rest of the paddock, his rivals and even those tight with the Galician inside KTM there is not much more to add to his arsenal of talent and capacities.
“Riding-wise and technically I don’t see a big window for improvement anymore,” straight-faces KTM Motocross Manager Joel Smets. “His timing is almost spot-on perfect. He will look at a jump and from the first attempt he will clear it perfectly. His position on the bike [also good] and even his starts! You cannot imagine him to be much better with those.”
Team Manager Claudio de Carli’s son, David, has been working, training and tutoring Prado since he veered into the Italian’s circumference in the off-season of 2017. David may claim that “the second time is always harder” when it comes to claiming a championship, but Prado has looked simply superior in 2019 MX2. “When we started last year, we found some areas where we could improve the training but for 2019 I think he was on another level and, at the moment, this is really, really high,” David adds. “When he is training with Tony – which they do together a lot – it is almost like a race. They push each other to the limit, they are lucky, and it is good for both of them. Jorge is another year older and with another year of experience; it’s normal that he is better.”
De Carli’s role cannot be understated in Prado’s evolution. The family’s Roman home became a new base of operations as opposed to Belgium. From an inconsistent rookie term – where four wins were celebrated but the then-sixteen-year-old also pulled out of two Grands Prix due to exhaustion – the acceleration of his potential has hit the highest gears. “The more of a unit you are then the stronger you are … but of course it is not easy,” he says. “You need to know the rider’s character and how to take him. You need to talk direct to him – not confuse any issue – and then you’ll be on a good line.”
As well as being a training partner and focusing on his own efforts in the MXGP class, Cairoli has also been implicit. “Jorge is going really well and I think he has improved a lot compared to last year,” #222 claims. “He’s much faster and stronger physically. I think it will be an even better year for him in 2019 and he’ll be really good. He’s really down to earth and this is nice.”
“He has developed well,” says MX2 Team Manager and Red Bull KTM Technical Director Dirk Gruebel. “In the beginning there was a lack of strength but that was related to age and it seemed that he grew out of it in 2018. He is also just human and this season he made a mistake while training and crashed. Sometimes you don’t know what an injury will do to you but riding-wise, speed-wise it is tough to see how he can be better.”
Jorge Prado (ESP) KTM 250 SX-F Pietramurata (ITA) 2019 © Ray Archer
From 44 grand prix appearances at the time of writing Prado has 27 podiums: 20 of those being wins. It’s an impressive ratio in such a small space of time and he is already the most successful Spaniard in the history of the FIM World Championship by far.
But there must be some weakness. Surely?
“At the moment there is nothing to say,” smiles De Carli. “I think we have already improved a lot from 2018 and I think the training crash this year is the only thing we could have avoided.”
“Probably there is still room for improvement physically,” Smets demurs “but technically he is already so good and can beat everybody now.”
“A thing he could improve on is some race craft occasionally,” the Belgian says after some thought. “He can get a bit over-confident and then mistakes come. He reminds me a bit of Ben Townley [Red Bull KTM’s first MX2 World Champion in 2004] – he had the same thing: He could show so much confidence that it got scary! It’s about staying within your limits and your focus. Maybe Jorge has a bit too much nonchalance and it’s the same for some other guys. You see it with the scrubs and the way they move the bike because they feel great and are having a lot of fun. To judge everything about a race comes down to experience. I think this is quite normal for Jorge at his age [to miss that]. Once he gets his focus and confidence dialed-in I cannot see anybody that can beat the kid.”
Gruebel sees a slightly different side of being an elite athlete. “You need to be able to take the pressure,” the German says. “Everybody thinks it is so easy for him but they should also think back to what they were like when they were seventeen or eighteen! Probably they can’t imagine what it would be like to be the best MX2 motocrosser in the world. Of course, this is the dream of every kid trying to get in this sport but to actually get there and live through it with all the pressure from the media, all the other racers and sometimes even the family: It is not easy. He did well. He’s one of the youngest champions ever. He’s a handful!”
Jorge Prado (ESP) KTM 250 SX-F Pietramurata (ITA) 2019 © Ray Archer
The analysis leads on to where he will go and what Prado will do next. If he wins MX2 again in 2019 then he is obliged to leave the class. Red Bull KTM could contemplate a fantastical MXGP line-up of Prado, Herlings and Cairoli on KTM 450 SX-Fs. The path might change the dynamic in the De Carli faction of the team and would be the route for Prado to finally eye a righteous claim for that number 1 plate. It would also mean another challenge: Mastering the bigger motorcycle and far more experienced competitors. The difficulty of the task was highlighted by Jeffrey Herlings´ misjudgment in the early throes of 2017 and led the Dutchman to the kind of commitment and sacrifice that formed the basis of his ruthless 2018 title campaign.
“It will be interesting when he moves up a class because of his body size: Next to someone like Jeffrey he looks tiny but he’s growing and he is someone that rides more with talent and technique than strength,” says Gruebel. “I’ve seen him riding a 450 and it is pretty impressive … but that’s play-riding.”
“We are not thinking about it too much at the moment … but I think he will be a really good 450 rider because of his style,” offers De Carli while also warning: “Riding the 450 will mean another step.”
“The day he moves up to MXGP he will need a bit more muscle-power and all-around conditioning … but that will come because his body is still developing at the age of eighteen,” advocates Smets. “By twenty-to-twenty-one he will be even stronger and together with his skills you can imagine how it will be. I wouldn’t like to be one of his opponents at that moment.”
Then there is the USA. At the end of 2015 and into 2016 Prado spent a significant amount of time in California riding the supercross tracks and absorbing what it would be like to move across the Atlantic. “It was a lifelong dream, so I don’t know if it is dead yet,” says Gruebel. Jorge’s public talk of transitioning to SX has not been prevalent in the last eighteen months, maybe because of the effective blend with the De Carli setup. “Of course, I’m happy if he stays in Europe but it is a decision he needs to make by himself and we don’t want to turn him away from a dream,” says David.
Jorge Prado (ESP) KTM 250 SX-F Pietramurata (ITA) 2019 © Ray Archer
Prado is as bright a talent as they come, but he is also a product of the KTM program: The same kind of expertise that has already helped new rookie (another eighteen-year-old) Tom Vialle make a career breakthrough in 2019.
“He has been with us for so long and was picked out as a ten-year-old on a 50/65cc and since then he’s had support and done many training sessions with the team,” Gruebel reveals of the Spaniard. “He kinda grew into it and that helps with handling the spotlight and seeing how the other guys, the older guys, go about their racing. You can learn your lessons quickly as opposed to going through it alone. From our side we try to give him the best material possible like we do with all our guys. It seems we are in a good direction with that because we have produced many world champions so far.”
Red Bull KTM have helped Townley, Tyla Rattray, Marvin Musquin (twice), Roczen, Herlings (three times), Jordi Tixier, Pauls Jonass and Prado become MX2 title holders in the last fifteen years. There is a wealth of knowledge and excellence under that orange awning which means the praise that Prado receives from the crew – and considering what they have witnessed over the years with the KTM 250 SX-F – is something to treasure.
“It is almost magical,” Smets says of his ability. “I have seen him doing things where I think ‘wow, to do that from the first moment is special’. OK, he’s been riding some supercross but not much in the US and no championship races, so it is all just natural judgement. To see him handling the bike like that almost gives me goose bumps. I’m not talking about normal doubles or triples but obstacles that nobody else would think to hit. He sees new options, he will try them and they’ll work from the first attempt. That is natural skill, intuition and feeling. You can do things with your heart in this sport and there are people without fear but that either works or it doesn’t; with Jorge it’s different. He makes anything work.”
Lastly, what about the teenager himself? What else is there to do?
“When I see myself riding I think ‘I can get a bit faster there’ or ‘I can enter the corner quicker here, open the gas earlier or let the bike roll more’: Motocross is a sport where you never know the limit. A half second a lap can be a lot at the end of the moto. It is a tough sport and I’m lucky I have Tony next to me training and that means I have the best reference. Sometimes we’ll be at the track and he’ll pull a very good lap and I cannot get close to him! So I know there is still some room for improvement! I feel there is a lot of work to do to get to that standard. It is difficult now at this level to get better … but with Tony as a reference I’m able to push every day.”
Jorge Prado (ESP) KTM 250 SX-F Mantova (ITA) 2019 © Ray Archer
Photos: Ray Archer
VIDEO: THE KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RIDDEN & RATED BY RIEMANN
Globally recognized motorcycle adventurer, Adam Riemann, puts the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R through its paces at the 2019 Naxos Adventure Rally.
Adam Riemann (AUS) KTM 790 ADVENTURE R © Motology Films
Adam Riemann is the man behind some of YouTube’s most epic (and most viewed) motorcycle adventure films. In his latest release the Australian returns to the trails of Greece to try out KTM’s all-new 790 ADVENTURE R at the third edition of the Naxos Adventure Rally.
Extending a successful career as a motorcycle journalist into film making several years ago, Adam is the mastermind behind the renown MOTONOMAD film trilogy. From the Great Pyramid in Egypt to the Himalayan mountain trails, Riemann has ridden a motorcycle through some of the world’s most remote areas.
Spending a few days testing the new model in mainland Greece, Adam then headed to the largest of the Cyclades island group to participate at the three-day Naxos Adventure Rally. Completing several hundreds of miles in diverse terrain, mountain roads and stony trails, he wrapped up his experiences aboard this exciting new KTM machine in the short film review below …
Video: Motology Films
Posted in Bikes, Riding One engine with two different applications. We take a longer look at the LC8c engine that propels the new KTM 790 ADVENTURE/R and discover what makes it different to that of the KTM 790 DUKE.
The heart of every KTM 790 ADVENTURE and KTM 790 ADVENTURE R starts beating in a small Austrian town called Munderfing.
KTM 790 ADVENTURE MY2019 © Marco Campelli
The Motorenwerk (engine plant) is in eyeshot of the main assembly plant in neighboring Mattighofen and flanked by the gigantic WP facility, KTM Factory Racing, the KTM E-Cross Center, the offices of KTM Austria and the new KTM House of Brands. The plant runs 24/7 and over 200 people work here to produce 300 to 400 engines every day; 2-stroke and 4-stroke, single and twin cylinders – including the new parallel twin LC8c.
Until the arrival of the KTM 790 DUKE in 2018, single cylinders and V-twins were the only engine layouts on offer from KTM. But this typically dynamic, aggressive and sporty machine came powered by the all-new LC8c parallel twin – KTM’s first production inline twin cylinder (if we don’t count the 2-stroke engine in the 250cc Grand Prix bike …). So, why this change in configuration? We asked KTM Product Manager, Adriaan Sinke, that very same question at the KTM 790 DUKE media launch last year.
“There are many reasons for this,” Sinke replies. “But mainly to satisfy a need in KTM’s existing street line-up to bridge the gap between 690 LC4 single and 1290 LC8 twin; completing a DUKE capacity ladder and now giving all riders a KTM option in the highly competitive naked middleweight segment. For this capacity, a parallel twin offered the best packaging solution, in terms of its compact and narrow size. We call it LC8c – which means ‘Liquid cooled 8-valve compact’. This is an all-new engine that brings together experience from all KTM engine types – even from offroad. Calling it a 790 when it’s actually a 799cc just fits in with the brand naming logic.”
The extremely compact design of the LC8c has provided new packaging advantages for KTM. With its size and using the engine as a stressed member, the absence of a ‘rear’ cylinder and air box mounted above the cylinder heads gives more flexibility in terms of help create ergonomics to fit riders of all sizes no matter what the final application and type of bike.
History has shown us that KTM builds an engine for the intention of multiple uses. For example, the LC8 V-twin has powered superbikes, super nakeds, super adventures, super enduros and supermotos! That sounds like an easy way of making bikes, right? But KTM aren’t the kind of company who take the easy route, otherwise they’d have just used the KTM 790 DUKE’s engine in the new KTM 790 ADVENTURE and KTM 790 ADVENTURE R.
Physically from the outside, the two engines are identical. On paper, the ADVENTURE model ‘loses’ 10hp at peak power but has fractionally more torque. So, we asked Andreas Guehlsdorf, Project Leader for the KTM 790 ADVENTURE/R, to talk the torque and tell us what is the difference and why?
“Both the KTM 790 DUKE and KTM 790 ADVENTURE/R projects began at the same time, but the latter needed a longer development program. So, it wasn’t a case of changing the DUKE engine for the ADVENTURE – they were worked on in parallel, if you excuse the joke,” Andreas explains.
“The approach was that we wanted to have better torque; to get it quite low in the rev range. But of course, we tried the ‘DUKE’ engine in the ADVENTURE and it just didn’t suit this bike. It was almost too nervous because it just wanted to be let loose rather than cruising through a town. Adventure is all day riding – not a sprint!”
So that’s the riding positioning and reasons why, but what are the component differences?
“It is down to cam timing, a longer intake tract and of course different ECU mapping,” Andreas continues. “We started with the longest air intake snorkels possible in our package and adapted the inlet and outlet cam to reach the 95hp. It was the intention to keep at least 95hp and gain the maximum torque performance out of these measurements taken. In addition, with the new mapping, we got a really nice ridable torque line with smooth running in low revs and below 100g/km CO2.”
So, and like a lot of the development work the KTM 790 ADVENTURE and KTM 790 ADVENTURE R, KTM doesn’t favor the easy route and chooses to create a unique path. And that means that the Munderfing Motorenwerk will not be slowing down too.
To give you an idea of how life starts for an LC8c engine – and all KTM engines – each one is tested on the dyno. For the 4-strokes, this procedure consists of two parts. After it has been mounted on the dyno, each engine is turned without ignition by an electric motor (which is integrated in the test rig) via the output shaft. This serves to check if oil pressure is generated sufficiently and that water circulation works ok. If this is the case, the engine is started on its own for the very first time. This run lasts about two minutes and incorporates a predetermined testing procedure at different engine speeds. At the same time, a check for any leaks or unusual noises is done also the transmission is tested for smooth operation.
After the dyno test run each engine is back on the palette and transported again to the final assembly area. In this zone each 4-stroke engine is lifted and fixed on a working bench, where mechanics first drain the engine oil. After a new oil filter is installed the engine receives a fill of fresh oil. In addition, valve clearance is checked again and – if necessary – reset with appropriate shims. And once the engine is built into the bike, the engine is run up again on a dyno before the bike is packaged up and sent to the dealer – ready for a new owner to take it on heart-racing adventures!
Photos: Marco Campelli | Sebas Romero | KISKA
Interview of the Month: The ways of Webb – 4 ways the new Red Bull KTM star has blasted 2019 AMA SupercrossDe Dementor
Interview of the Month: The ways of Webb – 4 ways the new Red Bull KTM star has blasted 2019 AMA Supercross
Three seasons into life as a protagonist of the AMA 450 Supercross/Motocross scene and Cooper Webb has inked his entry in the record books. The 2019 SX campaign – the 23 year old’s first as a Red Bull KTM factory rider – has been nothing short of superlative as the former 250 SX/MX Champion (and with experience of only one other brand as a professional) has swept and surprised his rivals with 7 victories and 13 podium finishes.
Cooper Webb (USA) Las Vegas (USA) 2019 © Simon Cudby
The series hurried to a conclusion at Las Vegas last weekend and, just prior to the Nevada decider where Cooper finished on the third step of the podium, we asked him for four ways in which he managed to own the red plate and grasp one of the most sought-after titles in motorcycle racing.
1) Embracing the change …
“Everything moved so quickly! When I first came over to this team I knew it was a great opportunity for me: I loved it. I had some good results but when I boomed out the first win at Anaheim 2 – in my opinion – it happened pretty fast. Then to go on from there and get more wins and the red plate and to continue to hold it is definitely a lot different. I feel like I have done a decent job so far …”
“250 Supercross racing in the U.S. is definitely different because you only race half the guys, and what you ‘do’ in the 250s doesn’t always transpire to the 450s and that also goes for the program you are on. I feel like I had a great program in the 250 class and did things a certain way that worked great. The transition to the 450s is a tough thing. I did it for a year – my rookie season – and struggled. I had injuries and not great results. My second year was the same or worse so it was a case of saying ‘OK, now none of this is working’. On paper it was easy to see that this team checked a lot of the boxes: bikes, personnel, program, the way they handle things, pit presence – it was something to really respect.”
“Racing can be such a rollercoaster with the emotions, injuries and everything that comes with it. It’s not easy to handle and becomes about putting it into perspective. 2019 has been an incredible year I have to sit back and think that the results have been good and it is awesome just to be a contender again. I feel I have prepared myself well to handle any of the different situations and one of the best ways is not to live too much in the past or in the future. You have to grasp what is there right now.”
Cooper Webb (USA) KTM 450 SX-F Las Vegas (USA) 2019 © Simon Cudby
2) Keeping an open mind …
“The goal changed but the mindset stayed the same of getting better every weekend. I’m still learning stuff with the bike and the team and of racing seventeen rounds and being a contender.”
“I look at many things as a learning experience and coming to KTM I was open-minded. I feel like I always have been that way but I was in a place where the results were not coming so I was happy to sit back to absorb whatever these guys had to say and do it. The results now speak for themselves.”
“When you are not part of the Baker’s Factory then you hear a lot of stories … but I think going there without any set-ways or anything like that was a help. I think you have to be this way and just accept and trust Aldon. Whether it’s a figure like him or another team member then you have to trust what they say or it is not going to work. So that’s what I did and it’s worked out well. I’m still learning and continuing to get used to the program. It is not nearly what I expected actually. I mean, we work really, really hard but it’s fun and it’s a great group of people. I’ve enjoyed it more than any other [program] I’ve done yet. It was exciting, and I won’t lie: There were moments where I thought ‘man, I hope I can handle this …’. Not everything we do is public knowledge. There were some days where I hated life. In the first week I was actually puking on a bike ride! It definitely made you question some things but I never lost sight of the results it could bring. I had to adapt and push myself again.”
Cooper Webb (USA) KTM 450 SX-F Las Vegas (USA) 2019 © Simon Cudby
3) Placing faith in the new group
“I’ve always been quite a laidback guy and intrigued by learning.”
“In everyday life it can be hard to trust people – at least it is for me – but coming to KTM I didn’t have a doubt about a single person. I knew these people were the best in the paddock at what they do. That drew my attention. The group from the mechanics, to Roger, Ian and management and to Pit: Everybody has the same goal, and what I liked about it in comparison to some other teams was that it was smaller – in terms of personnel – and the communication from the CEO to Roger to the mechanics is non-stop and the goal is to win as much as you can and to perform. Just look at what they have done and with who for the last five years.”
“That appealed to me right away and I felt like I had the missing pieces. I had the mentorship that I was looking for. It was a huge gain when you have a solid group of people that you not only believe in but you also trust. It is a big thing and definitely a cool feeling.”
Cooper Webb (USA) & Marvin Musquin (FRA) Las Vegas (USA) 2019 © Simon Cudby
4) Not getting too wrapped up
“I had some good results but when I boomed out the first win, in my opinion, it happened pretty quick.”
“The biggest thing for me is to stay in the present: in the moment. The goal is the championship but the mindset is to try to win races and do the best I can. There is always room to improve and so I focus more on that rather the big championship picture.”
“There is always pressure … but I’ve always said I like being in this situation: It is what we train for and where we want to be if we desire success in this sport. You have to take the ‘things’ that come with it. I’d definitely rather be upfront rather than behind.”
“To be a champion and a premier guy in the sport I believe the mental training is just as important. It is a constant test mentally and physically and I try to embrace that. There has never been a lack of motivation. If I have lent on the guys in the team then it has been for a calming-down effect and they have put things into perspective a little better for me. You will have bad days: And that is where they step in and really help me forget those quickly and move forward. This group is really good at that.”
Cooper Webb (USA) & Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team KTM 450 SX-F Las Vegas (USA) 2019 © Simon Cudby
Photos: Simon Cudby
KTM LC4 – A single success story
One iconic engine is responsible for so many KTM racing successes and as the beating heart of its most legendary sportmotorcycles produced. The 2019 KTM 690 SMC R and KTM 690 ENDURO R both share the very latest version of the KTM LC4 engine; the most powerful production single cylinder available.
These two exciting and very different new machines benefit from an engine with 32 years of constant refinement that can be felt in each addictive power pulse. Through this development, clever engineering and the advances of ride by wire and fuel injection systems, the LC4 has shaken off the stigma that large-capacity monos are too aggressive in their delivery and vibrate too much to be practical. The latest generation LC4-powered machines offer versatility with a truly unique riding experience, but the path here wasn’t always smooth …
KTM LC4 2019 © Sebas Romero
In the 1980s, KTM were coming to prominence with success in offroad racing; Heinz Kinigadner became the world champion in the 250cc motocross class for the second time on a 2-stroker in 1985. In this same year, the 100,000th KTM engine rolled off the production line – a newly developed, half-liter 2-stroke motor delivering 60 hp. But the pressure was on manufacturers to reduce exhaust and noise emissions and so the super lightweight 2-stroke engines that had overtaken the 4-strokes in the 1960s were now under threat.
After growing used to the taste of world championship champagne, KTM engineers didn’t waste any time in developing an ultra-modern 4-stroke engine based on the 500cc 2-stroke housing to stay at the top. “Only the essentials – but only the finest essentials”: this was the philosophy behind this new liquid-cooled 4-stroke ‘single’, which became known as LC4.
After five years of development, series production of the LC4 began and a 553cc version made its debut for enduro racing in 1987: the 600 GS LC4. The introduction was nothing short of sensational with instant success as Joachim Sauer – now KTM’s Senior Product Manager Offroad – and Gianangelo Croci won the European Enduro Championship in the large class and in the 350cc class respectively.
Typical for the READY TO RACE company, the factory competition team proved to be the best testing environment and Sauer, who was a KTM development engineer too, was able to use his experiences from the race weekend to implement suitable improvements come Monday morning.
The ultimate aim for KTM was not only to design highly-desired competition bikes, but also a concept that was suitable for the everyday and that would master both challenging terrain and also riding down to the store. At this stage, the LC4 had a long way to go before it could demonstrate its unrestricted mastery on everyday roads.
KTM LC4 2019 © Sebas Romero
A NEW CHAPTER
When KTM relaunched as KTM Sportmotorcycle GmbH in 1992 under the management of Mr. Stefan Pierer, focus and development of the LC4 engine would increase to form the basis for a new generation of motorcycles. Staying true to the original philosophy, non-essential components were still left out – including an electric start or a balancer shaft – but Enduro World Championships secured by Mario Rinaldi, Gio Sala and Fabio Farioli contributed significantly to the popularity of the LC4 engine. Next up was to point it at the tarmac …
For the 1992 Cologne IFMA show, KTM engineers and Gerald Kiska (of KISKA Design) took a 553cc enduro, chopped the chassis up, fitted some 17-inch wheels and bored the LC4 engine out to 598cc. Billed as a ‘fun bike’, the ‘DUKE’ concept was also the first orange KTM to be shown and the reality was that it was a proper Supermoto for the road with no shred of practicality. The reaction was just what KTM hoped and development for production began.
With the KTM 620 DUKE’s showroom release in 1994, Supermoto for the masses was born; big corner fun, bigger wheelies and absolute wire-tight stupidity. Importantly, the orange remained and the tone and image for KTM on the street was set.
Development of the LC4 continued and spawned many different capacities to suit offroad and street applications. The largest bore and stroke variant, first seen in 1994’s DUKE I, saw implementation of the electric start in 1996 and as the years went on, the capacity, usability and refinement increased thanks to better components and advances in engineering – 640, 660 and 690 models were spawned including the beginning of the ADVENTURE series with the KTM 620 ADVENTURE in 1997.
In arguably the world’s toughest event on both competitor and machine – the Dakar Rally – LC4-powered KTM’s notched up stage wins in the 90s thanks to Kinigadner. But it was the KTM LC4 660 R in the hands of Fabrizio Meoni in 2001 that began an unrivaled 18-year unbeaten run in this prestigious event, the bike notching up 5 Dakar wins and 16 podiums from a possible 18 until rule changes saw the class capacity dropped to 450cc.
Despite no racing classes remaining to push the LC4 further, KTM still continues at full gas with development and commitment to the unique appeal of this iconic engine for both on and offroad uses. Today, the powerful single-cylinder engine is the beating heart of the KTM 690 SMC R, KTM 690 ENDURO R and the KTM 690 DUKE to firmly cement itself as the world’s strongest single-cylinder production engine at the cutting edge of motorcycle engineering.
KTM 690 ENDURO R MY2019 © Sebas Romero
Photos: Sebas Romero | KISKA