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KTM is a brand known primarily due to racing motorcycles and bikes. Nowadays these two-wheel monsters are pet projects of KTM-Sportmotorcycle AG company, a division of the former KTM group. Vehicles introduced by an Austrian-based manufacturer have become legends in the world of various sports competitions, including Rally Dakar. Yet, its inventory has been recently expanded by street motorcycles which are to compete with its major American and Japanese rivals.
Despite the fact that KTM-Sportmotorcycle AG drew the first breath in 1992, the history of motorcycle manufacturing has started long before that. It was in 1934 that Johann Trunkenpolz established a metalworking shop in Mattighoffen. In a few years, the shop has grown into a selling point: its main goods were Opel cars and DWK motorcycles.
In post-war period Trunkenpolz set about the development of the first proprietary motorcycle – R100. The prototype consisted totally of in-house components save for the Rotax engine. In 1953 a local businessman acquired a considerable amount of KTM’s shares, just to proceed with a serial production of R100. The next step was the design of a scooter, known as Mirabell. During the 1950s KTM has introduced Tourist 125cc model, Trophy 125 cc sports bike as well as Mecky, Pony and Pony II mopeds.
In 1988 the company founded a US-based subsidiary – KTM Sportmotorcycle USA Inc., which in 2003 turned to KTM North America Inc. (Lorain, Ohio). This subsidiary is preoccupied with the distribution of motorcycles and dedicated parts in the USA and Canada.
In 1991 the manufacturer filed for insolvency that resulted in the split of the group into four independent companies, sharing the same brand. A year after the disintegration KTM Sportmotorcycle AG started its operation. Today it has several subsidiaries, including Husqvarna, KTM-Racing AG, KTM Dealer & Financial Services GmbH.
In 2005 An Austrian designer entered into partnership with Polaris Industries – an ATV manufacturer. The cooperation went in for the creation of additional distribution networks; however, the agreement fell short of expectations but KTM continued providing Polaris with engines (450cc/510 cc RFS) after the failure.
KTM is honored for the adopting glorious traditions in motorsports. Its bikes started paving the way to the racing pedestal from Motocross competitions. Then it showed its best in Atlas-Rally and Paris-Dakar Rally. The latter has been always considered to be the toughest race ever. Despite this fact, KTM team was lucky to become winners 14 years straight. Since 2003, the company has sponsored Road racing, Supermotard and Supermoto events.
The manufacturer also plans to join Superbike competitions with their 950 Adventure motorcycle, equipped with V-Twin engine. For differentiation purposes, KTM has adopted a traditional color scheme for all sports bikes – black, silver and orange.
Off-Road & Street Bikes
KTM’s current lineup falls into two large families - off-road and street, - which are further on fall into various series.
Off-road bikes are intended for the riding on a non-conventionally paved ground (sand, gravel, mud, etc.). The family includes Enduro series that consists of four-stroke and two-stroke models. All of them have got an updated XC4 motor for the recent model year. Motocross series embraces SX and SX-F lines of motorcycles, while Cross-country series boasts XC line. The latter comes equipped with stiffer suspensions, close-ratio gearboxes. The XC-W line is differentiated by plusher suspension and a wide-ratio transmission.
Street family is represented by Supermoto and dual-sport Adventure lines. It should be noted that KTM was the first producer to showcase a race-oriented vehicle, ready for competition at the start. No wonder that Supermoto motorcycles have received all enthusiastic reviews from authority US and UK automotive magazines.