#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.
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.
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.
KTM 790 ADVENTURE R MY2019 © KISKA/F. Lackner
Photos: KTM | KISKA/F. Lackner
The KTM Factory Racing Team is prepared for Dakar
Posted in Bikes, Racing The Dakar Rally is not a race where you can be complacent. Despite 17 consecutive wins for the KTM Factory Racing Team, each member of staff involved in the rally program is meticulous in the preparation for one of the toughest and most famous races in the world.
Toby Price (AUS, #3), Luciano Benavides (ARG, #77), Matthias Walkner (AUT, #1), Sam Sunderland (GBR, #14) & KTM 450 RALLY © Sebas Romero
The countdown has begun for the 2019 edition, which will be solely hosted in Peru, and with a vast majority of the 10 challenging stages being held on sandy terrain. It will not be easy.
The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team includes three Dakar champions; Toby Price (2016), who recently won the Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, Sam Sunderland (2017), Matthias Walkner (2018). They will be joined by Red Bull KTM Factory Racing young-gun Luciano Benavides, and KTM Factory Racing’s Laia Sanz – the fastest female rally racer in the world – as well as Mario Patrao. It’s a strong line-up that will definitely be a force to be reckoned with in January, as they begin the journey for one of the most difficult races on the planet aboard their KTM 450 RALLY factory machines. With 5,000 brutal kilometers, sleepless nights, difficult navigation, marathon stages and the test of endurance for both rider and machine, anything really can happen.
With the team’s final test ahead of Dakar complete, we wanted to share with you a cool video of the KTM factory racers in action just before their race machines were loaded onto the boat at Le Havre last week. With the bike and support vehicles’ journey overseas started, the final preparations are being made and in a month’s time we look forward to the start of Dakar 2019.
Photo: Sebas Romero
Video: Luca Piffaretti
A Kid’s game? Talking Junior SX bikes and the ground-breaking arrival of the KTM SX-E 5
It’s not all 4-strokes, 450s and flying horses: KTM have also kept a sharp eye on their Junior bikes and the progress of the KTM SX-E 5 electric bike means a special step forward for the kids and the SX range. We asked how, why and when …
Among all the hype and homage to flagship motocrossers like the KTM 450 SX-F, the 2019 launch of the SX range had some surprises when it came to the Junior models. The recent EICMA show in Milan also upped the stakes with arguably one of the most important bikes in the offroad range being unveiled for the first time.
In a way the small SX´s – 50, 65 and 85 – are some of KTM’s purest expressions of riding and especially racing. The factory has equipped the machines with similar or the same components as their ‘bigger brothers’ with WP suspension, chromium molybdenum steel frames and a list of other features while the racing pedigree is obvious through the attention to competitiveness. If in doubt then simply look at the amount of KTMs in the top ten of the 2018 EMX 65 and 85 European Championships in the Czech Republic (6 in both classes respectively) last July.
A potent line-up of offerings for kids is basic marketing and sales sense. The machines may be mini but they should not be undervalued or underestimated. After all they could well be carrying KTM riders and customers of the future. “The kids are important to us and to get them on KTMs you need to get them early; you can see that even with our factory riders,” opines KTM Product Manager Offroad Joachim Sauer. “We have a very ambitious team for the minicycles.”
KTM 85 SX MY2019 © KTM/R. Schedl
The essential toy & tool
KTM looked at ease of use for the 50 with an adjustable multidisc automatic clutch, lightweight WP AER air fork, PDS shock and a priority for easy handling. The 65 went a little more toward ‘race mode’ with the frame and high-performance cylinder equipped with pressure controlled exhaust valve (providing lots of torque for the competitive 65 class). To accommodate the step-up in experience and the needs of kids to continue learning meant a demand for the SX´s to keep setting standards on the track.
This was especially relevant with the KTM 85 SX. “The 85 was taken very seriously because it is a completely new bike and we adopted the same strategy of development as the big bikes but perhaps with a little less intensity,” says Head of Motocross Platform R&D Manfred Edlinger. “A strategy usually means moving step-by-step and area-by-area to make improvements. We looked at this very closely on the 85 and we took one of our best – and smallest! – test riders to do the concept work because with kids it is always really difficult to get good feedback. We did the main comparison tests with him and for the next stage of feedback we checked with a Junior racer at a high level and in this case it was [2018 EMX 125 race winner] Rene Hofer. That collaboration in 2016 fitted really well with our schedule of development because it was the last year for him on the 85 and he used the prototype in almost all the races and won the championship with that bike. It was great, and we did the whole process together. We looked at new topics, implemented them on the test rider’s bike and then Rene was immediately riding and racing with that.”
KTM 85 SX MY2019 © KTM/R. Schedl
The 50 and 65s were not left behind. “We are always working to improve these models,” Edlinger adds. “The ergonomic development is a lot simpler because we use the same principals and surfaces but on a smaller scale. There are some small details that we improve frequently, such as smaller grips.”
If there is one regular observation when it comes to the Junior SX´s then it involves the bikes’ sheer strength and power. They really are READY TO RACE. Perhaps they are slightly overwhelming for the total beginner who has missed the 50 or 65 stages. “We have a restriction kit for the KTM 50 SX MINI and this works pretty well but the bikes are race-orientated and even the KTM 50 SX is quite powerful but it is difficult to find that balance between racing and slower riding with such a small engine,” Edlinger admits.
It is at this stage where KTM’s next project for the little SX´s comes to the fore. “The kit works well … but to be honest with the KTM SX-E 5 we’ll solve that problem and we can make different engine settings quite easily,” Edlinger says.
Flick the Switch
KTM have dabbled with e-mobility before. The Freeride concept for Enduro and Street have been explored and represented a benchmark of more than a decade of R&D and heavy investment. CEO of the KTM AG, Stefan Pierer, also underlined how important e-bikes will be to next generations of the company in a press presentation for the latest KTM FREERIDE E-XC model at the end of 2017. It was in October of the same year that KTM first talked about the KTM SX-E 5 and with a tentative date of 2020 for the technology to sit alongside the KTM 50 SX. The EICMA show pushed that date much closer to the present with the fetching 5kW low voltage battery powered already in finished form.
The motivation with the KTM SX-E 5 is not only to explore alternative power. It is a significant first rung on the ladder for motorcycle riders and KTM customers generally. “[This] is a great way to get more kids on two-wheels,” says Sauer. “This bike will be super-user friendly. Our 50s currently are almost race bikes and for beginners they are too strong. With electric you can make any type of power or power-delivery that is much more controllable. This will open the field and for the minicycles I’m confident that 50 is just the start.”
“We have quite a bit of experience with electric drive and batteries from the FREERIDE E but for concepts like the KTM SX-E 5 then you need a completely different development even if the department is the same,” he adds on the longer delivery time for what is one of KTM’s simpler but remarkably progressive motorcycles. “From year to year we gain more experience with e-mobility.”
“We are very confident,” says Edlinger by way of an update. The engineer also admits that he’d used his own kids as unofficial test riders for the various stages of evolution! “The performance of the prototype was already on a very satisfying level, even better than what we expected. We worked on different settings for the power delivery but even with the fastest setting we saw that unexperienced kids could handle it well.”
The KTM SX-E 5 also ended up having a few more appealing traits. “We are happy with our plans to make a ‘growing’ system, so you can change the h of the bike; this is a really nice feature and provides a bridge between the mini and the larger wheel SX.”
KTM have worked to keep their Junior offerings as (arguably) the number one choice for kids and parents. KTM SX-E 5 is just an example of how seriously they view this compartment of their motorcycle portfolio.
KTM SX-E 5 MY2020 © KTM
Photos: KTM/R. Schedl | KTM
Collecting Moments #9: Finally READY TO RACE again!
I may have dialed things down a notch over the past year while I got over my injury, but only in preparation for the new adventures to come. After 238 days I was back on the bike and after 363 days I was full of energy, commitment, and READY TO RACE again!
Over the past few months it has been the little steps forward that have slowly brought me back to my KTM 300 EXC. The first few steps without crutches, the first weights in the gym, the first mountain bike ride with my Jekyll, the first time back on skis, the first ride out on the bike, and finally the last – and probably biggest – step: back on the race track. It was important to me not to allow an entire year to pass between the accident and my next competitive appearance.
© Anna-Larissa Redinger
I was staring at the calendar for the Austrian Cross-Country series throughout the entire season, with the same thought constantly rattling around my mind: “Will I be able to come back? When will I get back on the starting grid?” In my last blog entry I spoke of my first ride after my crash in October 2017. It was a special moment, even if I was more cautious, a little slower, and somewhat clumsier than before the accident.
I used the summer to try to rediscover my old form, which admittedly took longer than I had expected. A few times in training I simply expected too much of myself and became disappointed with the slow rate of progress. It was only when I set myself a goal – to compete in the final race of the Austrian Cross-Country season in Mattighofen – that my training started to kick off. And how! Suddenly it was back: that indescribable sense of freedom as you fly from one bend to the next. This was when I decided that I was definitely going to be there lining up for the start of my home race. The anticipation was huge – but with a hint of nerves too.
It had been a long time since I’d had that wondrous feeling of putting on new tires, adjusting the chassis to the perfect setup, and getting my bike ready to race. Loading the trailer, working through my race checklist, and finally getting prepared for race day. A truly special feeling. It was only once I’d got everything loaded up that I realized just how much I’d missed these moments over the previous year.
© Anna-Larissa Redinger
Race day for me started at 1 pm in the guest class for male competitors. Why not in the women’s class, I hear you ask? Well, considering that I hadn’t raced for a single minute of the year’s championship and I really was only a guest, I felt it was more appropriate to compete in the guest class.
My start was nothing spectacular, but after deciding that I wanted to pursue an intelligent and careful strategy out on the track, I didn’t want to risk everything right at the start of the race. There were 90 guest riders in total and I lined up at number 78 on the grid. Amazingly, I quickly found a great rhythm and felt better with each corner mastered. As the race progressed I trusted myself more and overtook 20 or more riders.
One part of the course in particular asked a lot of my mental resolve. It was pretty much identical to the situation where I had injured my knee before. A steep downhill section with a rut as the track. During the warm-up lap I had noticed how my heart rate shot up when I reached this point. I was nervous. My memories of the fall played back in my mind and I could hear the sound of tearing ligaments. “Think of the Romanian forest, Larissa, you’ve already mastered far more difficult sections! You can do it!” – I had to build up my courage! But it worked: with each passing lap I completed this downhill section with more and more authority.
KTM 300 EXC © Anna-Larissa Redinger
I also stood up to the physical demands better than I had expected. While training at home I had never ridden this sort of distance, so I was really jumping in at the deep end – I couldn’t be sure if I could hold out for the full two hours or not. But as I never overcommitted or pushed myself to my absolute limit during the race, I was able to conserve my energy through to the end. I didn’t feel anything from my knee at all. It was as though nothing had ever happened. My goal was to complete the race without an accident or injury in order to gain some confidence, but also to enjoy myself. In that respect, I definitely succeeded and I am incredibly proud of that!
I am grateful and so happy that it didn’t take a whole year to get back on the race track after my injury – and that the experience was so overwhelmingly positive. The motivation to train hard through the winter and get ready for the 2019 season is indescribable! I am once again ready for many new moments on my KTM, including on the race track!
© Anna-Larissa Redinger
Get to know more about Larissa on the KTM BLOG – Collecting Moments #8: 238 days and I´m back in the saddle! – or check out her website!
Photos: Anna-Larissa Redinger
A new 690 roar with the 2019 LC4
Posted in Bikes, Riding It can be great to be ‘Single’ – plenty of people will tell you – and KTM’s feelings are the same when it comes to one of their most effective and innovative engine concepts. What new 690 delights await?
2018 EICMA and the reference for motorcycling exhibitions saw KTM unveil several models that caught the eye. Among the 790s, E-bikes and other updates for 2019 was the augmentation of the wide KTM catalog with the renovation of the LC4 single-cylinder engine. The revised ‘mono’ – first created back in 1987 and a mainstay in the KTM R&D halls since – sits at the heart of the new KTM 690 SMC R and KTM 690 ENDURO R: two curious bikes that satisfy the specific tastes of supermoto and offroad riders but are also configured for sturdy road and everyday use.
KTM 690 ENDURO R MY2019 © KTM
The SMC R harks back to KTM’s street origins when the company transitioned their punchy and exciting offroad technology directly to the tarmac and became the Supermoto rider/racer’s bike of choice. Towards the end of the second decade of this century the firm have now embellished what was once a raw and rugged motorcycle into one that still delivers thrills but boasts the type of specs demanded by users young, old, experienced and fresh to the potential of the ‘slide’.
Standing out on the KTM 690 SMC R is that engine, and with 74hp at 8000 rpm it is renowned as the world’s most powerful production single. KTM have sculpted the slimmer but more voluminous (13.5 l) fuel tank as a load bearing component for extra rigidity and precision and, together with more compact bodywork, the chassis houses an LC4 that is smoother and more sophisticated than ever. The SMC R comes with two ride modes and has cornering ABS, lean angle-sensitive motorcycle traction control, motor slip regulation (MSR) and Quickshifter+, and the familiar Supermoto ABS mode aiding rear slides with front-end confidence.
Four years ago, the KTM 690 ENDURO R was a revelatory trail bike: brutish power delivery on-tap but – somehow – as docile as a cat and with the handling of a KTM 350 SX-F. ABS braking was new fangled on such a hard enduro offering.
For model year 2019 the ENDURO R has received a hard shot to the vein with the LC4 promising yet more connection between throttle hand and power play, an even smoother pull and increased efficiency. The ENDURO R also fastens a 13.5 l tank into the brand-new chassis, WP XPLOR suspension and split damping. Electronics might seem arbitrary on such a motorcycle but the provision of lean angle sensitivity to braking and traction functions, two different ride modes, offroad ABS, Quickshifter+ and motor slip regulation (MSR) to prevent rear wheel lock means this is a state-of-the-art and versatile dirt-cum-all-purpose bike. As the promo material packaged and sent with the KTM 690 ENDURO R states: ‘No road or route is impossible’.
KTM 690 ENDURO R MY2019 © KTM/F. Lackner
The LC4 continues to prosper … and means KTM are still prioritizing diversity of choice in their motorcycle line-up. Just what will EICMA 2019 bring?
Photos: KTM | KTM/F.Lackner