- 24 September 2016
- Author: Nikolas Perseputto
KTM is a well-known motorcycle manufacturer based out of Austria. The company is officially known as KTM-Sportmotorcycle AG. Though they are best known for their off-road motorcycles, KTM has started to find solid footing in the street motorcycle market during the past several years. The company is also currently developing a street legal sports car.
KTM has a long history as a motorcycle and automotive company. Their birth dates all the way back to 1934 when Johann Trunkenpolz set up a metalworking and locksmith shop in Austria. The shop was known as Kraftfahrzeug Trunkenpolz Mattighofen A few years later, in 1937, he started to sell DKW motorcycles and Opel cars out of the same shop.
The company got by during World War II largely by repairing diesel engines. After the war ended, times were financially tough for the shop. Repair work fell sharply during this period. It was around this time that Trunkenpolz started to think about producing his own motorcycles.
It wasn’t until 1951 that KTM produced their first prototype motorcycle. The model was known as the KTM R100. The entire bike was produced in house except for the engines.
Two years later in 1953, a businessman by the name of Ernst Kronreif took an interest in the fledgling motorcycle company. He became a sizable shareholder of the company and it changed its name to Kronreif & Trunkenpolz Mattighofen. This was the first time that a name had been officially registered for KTM.
With 20 employees, KTM began to built motorcycles at a rate of three per day in 1954. The model produced during this time was the R100. Though the motorcycle was a commercial success, a first place finish by the bike at the 1954 Austrian 125 National Championship helped cement the company’s place in the industry.
A number of new motorcycle models were created over the next several years. Motorsports events such as motocross and enduro racing were used as testing grounds by the company. By 1971, KTM had 42 different models for sale.
Though KTM motorcycles were not an uncommon site in North America, it wasn’t until 1988 that the company set up a United States subsidiary. The company was known as KTM North America Inc. and was founded in 1988.
KTM does not currently market a flagship model motorcycle although their KTM 350 XCF-W comes close. The off-road motorcycle was designed to combine optimum rideability and maximum enduro performance into a single package.
A compact, powerful DOHC engine, low weight, and perfectly tuned suspension help the 350 XCF-W excel both on the road and off the road. Even in the toughest off-road conditions, the bike performs above expectations. The motorcycle is noted for its playful handling that makes it almost as comfortable on the motocross track as it is on the trails.
The KTM 350 XCF-W is marketed towards beginners and experts alike. It is considered one of the best enduro machines for long-distance cross-country rides.
KTM currently produces a wide range of different motorcycle models. These include on-road, off-road, and four-wheel varieties.
The current offerings from KTM including the 50 SX mini, 65 SX, 85 SX, 105 SX, 125 SX, 150 SX, 125 EXC, 250 EXC, 300, 350 EXC, 400 EXC, 450 EXC, 525 XC ATV, 650, 650 SMC, 690 Enduro, 950 Adventure, 990 SMT, 990 Adventure, 1190 RC8 sport bike, 1190 Adventure, 200 Duke, 390 Duke, 690 Duke, 990 Super Duke R, and 1290 Super Duke R.
KTM has manufactured a wide range of models over the years that are no longer produced. The most famous among these is possibly their X-Bow car, their first attempt at developing a sports car.
The X-Bow uses an Audi engine and a chassis sourced from Dallara. It seats two people and is designed for racing although it is street legal in Europe. The X-Bow is extremely lightweight, produces about 300 horsepower, and utilizes a 6-speed gearbox.
KTM is very successful in motorsports racing, especially motocross racing. They have won motocross events in countries all around the world. The KTM team is also particularly well known for their dominate performances in rally-raid events like the Paris-Dakar Rally and Atlas-Rally.
Though KTM’s racing history is firmly rooted in off-road racing, they have recently started to dabble in road racing thanks to their new interest in developing street legal vehicles. For instance, they have started sponsoring and supporting road racing events in various capacities. Their most successful endeavors in this category have been in Supermotard and Supermoto events.
The latest road racing efforts made by KTM focus on Superbike racing. The company’s newly developed V-Twin engine is the backbone of these efforts. The engine is already used in the 990 Super Duke and a new superbike, dubbed the 1190 RC8, is already in the development stage.