KTM 390 Adventure a Step Closer to Production

It’s long been rumored that KTM was working on an adventure version of the 390 Duke and RC390, imaginatively titled the KTM 390 Adventure. Those rumors started back as far as 2013 in an interview with KTM CEO Stefan Pierer. Since then however, not much has been heard about the bike until now.

Indian customs documents reveal that KTM has imported two motorcycles from Austria, code named KT22 which is understood to be the internal name for the KTM 390 Adventure. The descriptions of the bikes for import are for ‘R & D Purposes’ and have an engine capacity of 374 cc – meaning it uses the same single cylinder engine as the 390 Duke and RC390.

That means an engine producing 43bhp of power and 35 Nm of torque, but it’s expected that the bike will arrive in a slightly different state of tune – perhaps with more lower range flexibility. When it goes into production, the 390 Adventure will be produced in India at Bajaj’s factory.

It’s expected that a whole range of entry-level ‘adventure’ bikes will be hitting the market over the next two years. The race is on between Benelli and Honda to be first. Benelli will apparently release an adventure bike based on the BN/TNT 302 naked bike (reviewed here) while Honda continues to tease us with their CX-01 concept which could morph into a CB300X.

 

KTM 390 Adventure a Step Closer to Production

 

2015 Yamaha R3 Review

The brand new Yamaha R3 is the latest learner friendly sportsbike to hit the market. Given that Yamaha has had longer to work on their entry into the now ultra competitive beginner bike segment of the market, does that mean that the R3 is the best choice for new riders? Can the Yamaha R3 better the Honda CBR300R’s comfort and practicality or the Kawasaki Ninja 300’s outright performance?

If it seems like we’ve been reviewing a lot of smaller entry level machines of late it’s because that so many have been released in the past six months. Consider that only four years ago, the Ninja 250 was all on its own but now is joined by faired and naked bikes from Honda, Suzuki, KTM and Benelli, with BMW joining the party later this year. Alongside the popular adventure bike segment, learner bikes are the biggest gig in town for motorcycle manufacturers.

Not only are they cheap, but they offer the consumer a gateway to the brand. Yamaha no doubt hopes that first time riders who buy an R3 will over time upgrade to an R6 or even an R1. And they may well be very tempted to do so, because Yamaha has made a nearly perfect little motorcycle.

The Yamaha R3 is powered by an all-new 321cc inline twin cylinder engine. According to Yamaha, the development concept behind this new engine was to create a ‘supersport machine you can ride every day’, and the architecture of the new powerplant is designed to ensure good rideability in the low to mid-speed range, together with a strong and responsive character at higher rpm. Thankfully, they’ve nailed it.

While the Yamaha has a small horsepower advantage over Kawaski’s Ninja 300, it’s not really noticeable in a straight line drag. What is noticeable is that you don’t have to continually keep the engine at high revs to access that power – power delivery is available across the rev range and makes for a very rideable machine. That means there’s a good amount of roll on acceleration and you don’t necessarily have to bang down one or two gears to overtake – an impressive thing for a low capacity bike.

The two-into-one exhaust also elicits a nice note and the aftermarket pipes from Akropovic that are already available sound absolutely brilliant. The engine has been mated to an excellent gearbox – shifts were smooth and the gearbox didn’t hesitate once. The fueling of the bike is excellent too – none of the jerky throttle response that earlier CBR250R’s suffered from. In fact if anything, the throttle response is slightly too soft – when throttle blipping on downshifts I really had to twist the right grip to get the engine to rev. This is a very minor criticism of what is an otherwise near perfect setup.

The brakes on the Yamaha R3 are another highlight. Both initial bite and progression were excellent and there’s a good amount of feedback provided for such an entry level machine. Depending on where you live will dictate whether you can get ABS or not. In Australia it sensibly comes standard and in the UK it’s available as an option. For some extremely strange reason, Yamaha USA decided that they wouldn’t even offer ABS – a frankly baffling decision for a motorcycle aimed at new riders.

Up front there’s a 298 mm disc attached to a 2 piston caliper, with 220 mm disc at the back. Our bike launch was hosted on a track with over 20 corners and the brakes felt great throughout – no fade was noticeable. And it was also noticeable how well the front end performed under heavy deceleration with minimal front end dive.

In fact, the bike felt composed all day. While the suspension is hardly groundbreaking it did a good job in providing feedback as to what was happening where the rubber met the road. Perhaps this is Yamaha’s greatest achievement with the R3 – it feels like a small racebike when on the track but on the road manages to be a comfortable commuter. They’ve somehow managed to combine the best of the CBR300R and the Ninja 300 into one package and have done it successfully.

That perhaps is partly due to the fact that our test bike was fitted with Dunlop Sport Maxx tires and not the Pilot Road rubber that comes standard. Unfortunately, those Pilot Road tires aren’t what you’d expect – they’re apparently specifically designed for the Yamaha R3 and use ancient bias ply technology. While we didn’t ride with them, the general consensus is they’re pretty poor. Yamaha’s not alone in taking the cheap option on tires – both Honda and Kawasaki fit bias ply tires to their beginner bikes too and it’s a practice we’d love to see cease.

That is probably our only real criticism of the Yamaha R3. Looks wise, it’s a beauty. The fit and finish is top notch and Yamaha have produced a bike that looks more expensive than what it actual. They also haven’t tried to mimic the appearance of either the R6 or R1 – it has a style and character of its own. Even the stock exhaust doesn’t look too bad, a rarity of late.

Overall, the Yamaha R3 ticks all the boxes. It’s lighter than the Ninja 300 and more powerful than both it and the CBR300R. Its suspension is better sorted than the KTM RC390 and it seems to offer a better riding experience both on the track and on the road than the competition. Yamaha may have been late to the party, but they made their appearance count.

 

KTM 390 Duke Road Test Review

The KTM 390 Duke is such a different machine to the RC390, it’s hard to believe that they’re basically the same bike save for fairings and rider position. The naked predecessor to the RC390, the 390 Duke is a fantastic machine and one that deserves far more praise, recognition and sales success than it has so far received. While the RC390 will go on to be the superstar, we think the 390 Duke is in fact a better overall package.

Depending on where you live, the 390 Duke has been available from anywhere between 18 months to just arriving in showrooms. KTM staggered the release of the bike originally due to production issues at their Indian plant but for the US market, there was a fear that it would be a sales flop, what with the US market favoring faired sportsbikes over naked varieties of motorcycles.

But thankfully KTM saw the huge potential in the Duke, a bike that blurs the lines between learner machine, standard and supermoto. It’s a huge amount of fun and we think is a bike that has the ability to seriously create a motorcycle addict after just one ride.

Like the RC390, the 390 Duke utilizes a 373cc single cylinder engine that produces 32 Kw (43 hp) @ 9,500 rpm with redline at around 10,000rpm. Like the RC390, it’s a little coarse down low, but once it gets going the engine is pretty smooth. For some strange reason, the Duke I rode felt like power came on about 1,000 rpm earlier than the RC390 but as gearing between the bikes is identical, I put it down the Duke’s engine having done more miles and therefore was a bit looser. Adding to this theory was that vibrations transferred through the handlebars also felt much less noticeable.

The first thing that really hits you about the 390 Duke is it’s nimble, really nimble. This thing would give some scooters a run for their money. And it shouldn’t be surprising seeing as it weighs only 150 kg with all fluids, including fuel inside it. Putting it into perspective, the 390 Duke is 8 kg lighter than Honda’s CBR300R and a massive 20kg lighter than the Kawasaki Z300 – and with more power too. Maneuvering through traffic and car parks is a breeze, almost a pleasure.

Styling of the 390 Duke isn’t too much different to its smaller brothers, the 125 Duke and 200 Duke, though the 390 gets a bright orange frame and wheels. In comparison to the RC390, I actually found the Duke a little bit too gaudy for my tastes and the black and orange doesn’t look as attractive as the splashes of grey paint on its faired brother.

When you swing a leg over the Duke, you’re pushed quite far forward an over the bars, supermotard style. This riding stance transfers into how you approach corners too – I constantly kept finding myself putting my foot out into the corners as if I was riding on the dirt. Don’t expect to drag much knee on it though. The pegs are positioned just too low for you to be able to really push the lean angle limits. But really, I think KTM had cornering styles of getting the rear wheel sliding around in mind rather than on maximum cornering speed and lean angles and it’s better for it.

Due to the seating position and the lack of wind protection, it’s certainly not a bike you’d choose for touring and the minuscule 11 litre fuel tank will see you stopping more frequently than you’d like. You really start to get buffted from the wind at speeds over 75 mph (120 kph) and in strong crosswinds it doesn’t feel overly stable due to it’s lack of weight. Like the RC390, I found the LCD dash far too difficult to read, especially the tachometer which is just a bar that spans the top of the screen – too small to be able to glance at and quickly see what you’re doing. The mirrors not unexpectedly just showed me vision of my arms.

Out of the KTM RC390 and 390 Duke, we actually found the naked bike far more enjoyable to ride. This is probably one of the most underrated hooligan bikes available. Quick, cheap, light and flickable. The RC390 will probably outsell the Duke 5 to 1, but if you’re in the market for a cheap daily commuter, we know which we’d choose.

 

KTM 390 Duke
Engine
Engine Type373.2 cc single
Bore And Stroke89 mm × 60 mm
InductionBosch EFI (throttle body 46 mm)
Compression Ratio1:12.5
Valve TrainDOHC, 4 Valves
Horsepower44 hp @ 9,500 rpm
Torque25.81 lb ft @ 7,250 rpm
Drive Train
TransmissionSix-speed
Chassis / Suspension / Brakes
Front SuspensionWP-USD Ø 43 mm
Rear SuspensionWP-Monoshock
Front BrakeSingle 300 mm
Rear BrakeSingle 230 mm
Front Tire110/70Z R17
Rear Tire150/60ZR17
Dimensions
Rake25 degrees
Trail98mm (3.9 inches)
Wheelbase53.8 inches
Seat Height31 inches
Wet Weight340 lb
Fuel Capacity2.9 gallons

KTM RC390 Road Test Review

The KTM RC390 was made with one thing in mind – to be the best possible learner restricted sportsbike in the world. After decades of Kawasaki having the playground to themselves with the baby Ninja, the last few years have really hotted up in beginner sportsbike category and after riding the KTM RC390, we think they may very well have gone to the top of the class.

To understand why KTM developed the RC390 with the specifications it has, we need to go to Europe, home of the A2 license. Europe is obviously KTM’s biggest market and in the European Union, newly licensed riders are restricted to what bikes they can ride for two full years. Bikes can be no bigger than 395cc in capacity and have a power to weight ratio no higher than 0.26hp per kilogram. KTM were a bit crafty here – they interpreted the rules to mean a power to wet weight ratio, not dry weight like most other manufacturers have done. That means that without fluids, the RC390 pumps out 0.29bhp/kg.

In real world terms, it translates to a much quicker bike than you may have initially expected and more importantly, you’ll find this is a beginner bike you can actually grow into more than say the Honda CBR300R which starts to feel sluggish to new riders after just a few months of ownership.

At the heart of the KTM RC390 is a 373cc single cylinder power plant as used in the Duke 390. Same power, same gear ratios, same air box and same exhaust as it’s naked brother. Like the Duke, it pumps out a modest 32Kw (43 hp) with redline at around 10,000rpm. Despite improvements in engine layout and configuration over time (and the inclusion of a balance shaft), you definitely know it’s a thumper. You really need to get the revs above 6,000 rpm before the bike begins to hustle and at that speed you do start to feel the vibrations transferred through the bars to your hands. It’s not terrible, but it will fatigue you over long distances.

You definitely get a nice surge in power as the motor spins up, much more than a bike of this size should have any right to do. Acceleration wise it’s no superbike, hitting the metric ton (62mph) in around 5 seconds. But it blasts off the line quickly, the punchy thumper motivating the lightweight bike with ease. Overtaking is generally a breeze two, just kick back a couple of gears and you’re away.

The gearbox is silky smooth, almost to a fault. Many times I wasn’t even sure that I’d properly shifted because there’s so little feedback from gear selector. Thankfully KTM has included a gear position indicator on the dash to let you know where the cogs are sitting. In another nice addition, a red shift light sits at the top of the dash, coming on at 9,500 rpm (but programmable to whatever you like).

The display is actually one of my main gripes with the RC 390. While many might say it’s upmarket for KTM to have included an all-digital dash for an entry level bike, in my opinion it not only looks cheap and tacky, it fails in its primary job – to quickly give a rider the information he or she needs. The tacho takes the form of a horizontal band across the top of the dash and it’s tiny. There’s almost no way you can quickly glance down at it and get an accurate idea of revs (especially in direct sunlight) – you’ll instead need to play it by ear and feel as you get used to the bike.

And while the display provides you with a good deal of information such as ambient temperature and fuel remaining, the buttons you need to press to change the display require a lot of force to register inputs – I ended up pulling over to the side of the road to change the display. Hardly user friendly.

Despite KTM aiming this machine at those who want as quick a bike as their license will allow them, it’s still a comfortable motorcycle to sit on. Upon first glance, I thought I’d be extremely uncomfortable on the RC390 with my 6’3” frame, but it’s surprisingly roomy. The sitting position is aggressive without being painful. The foot pegs could probably do with being slightly higher to avoid scraping them with spirited riding, but overall it’s a good compromise between comfort and outright performance.

The rider’s seat is quite high for a bike of this size at 820mm – a surprising 35mm higher than the Kawasaki Ninja 300. But shorter riders don’t need to fear as it’s fairly narrow, meaning only the most vertically challenged will struggle to touch their feet on the ground. The rider’s pew isn’t the most comfortable in the world, but at this price and class it’s to be expected. Behind the rider is something very interesting, however. What looks like to be a rear seat cowl is actually the pillion seat. The entire unit is made from a mix of foams and plastics with the grab handles underneath, hidden from view. Score one for KTM for “Why didn’t I think of that earlier?”

Apart from the obvious looks and riding position, the KTM also differs from the Duke 390 in suspension geometry. Upfront, suspension travel is 125mm (150mm on the Duke) while rear suspension remains at 150mm. The rear shock mounts directly to the frame, something KTM has brought over from its experience in offroad bikes. The steering head angle is reduced by 1.5 degrees and the wheelbase is shortened slightly too, down from 1,367mm to 1,340mm. That translates into a slightly sharper package than the Duke, though I wouldn’t necessarily call it better – just different.

As you’d expect from a bike at this price point, suspension adjustments are limited to rear preload (10 settings) and nothing else, so if you’re on the heavy side you may find the bike not exactly comfortable on rough surfaces. The front end of the bike is confidence inspiring though and is happy with quick directional changes. Just don’t come in expecting to get Yamaha R1 quality ride and handling from this bike – it’s made to a price but it does well with what it has.

Despite only wearing a single 300mm disc up front, the brakes are fantastic. Steel braided brake lines connect to a four-piston radial caliper unit from ByBre, which is actually engineered by Brembo but manufactured in India (where the RC390 is bolted together). Initial feel isn’t great but once you really pull the lever in, you’ll feel them bite and bite hard. They should be brilliant for track days. Not so brilliant is the lever. I realize cost is always a factor at this end of the market but considering how good the brakes are it’s a shame that KTM couldn’t have included adjustable levers. I wasn’t able use two fingered braking because of this – you’ll want to replace the stock levers as soon as possible. ABS is standard with the KTM RC390 but can be switched off.

Visually, not only do I think the RC390 is the best looking of the beginner bikes, I think it ranks up there with the best looking sportsbike, full stop. The under slung exhaust that is incorporated into the fairing and belly pan looks brilliant and as mentioned before the rear pillion seat that looks like a cowl is also very attractive. The front of the bike is unique with its twin bulbs up front. KTM’s signature orange frame also stands out as do the orange wheels.

KTM have a winner on their hands with the RC390 and this could well be the bike that knocks the Ninja 300 off of its throne. It’s stylish, it’s fun and despite its engine size, it has decent pace. Sure, it’s more expensive than the Ninja 300 and CRB300R, but if you live anywhere with licensing restrictions and are set on buying a new bike then I think it would be money well spent.

US: $5,499
UK: £4,999
Australia: $8,295
Canada: N/A

 

KTM RC390
Engine
Engine Type373.2 cc single
Bore And Stroke89 mm × 60 mm
InductionBosch EFI (throttle body 46 mm)
Compression Ratio1:12.5
Valve TrainDOHC, 4 Valves
Horsepower44 hp @ 9,500 rpm
Torque25.81 lb ft @ 7,250 rpm
Drive Train
TransmissionSix-speed
Chassis / Suspension / Brakes
Front SuspensionWP-USD Ø 43 mm
Rear SuspensionWP-Monoshock
Front BrakeSingle 300 mm
Rear BrakeSingle 230 mm
Front Tire110/70Z R17
Rear Tire150/60ZR17
Dimensions
Rake23.5 degrees
Trail98mm (3.9 inches)
Wheelbase53 inches
Seat Height32 inches
Wet Weight340 lb
Fuel Capacity3.4 gallons

 

KTM’s Fourth Record Sales Year In A Row

KTM continues to rise and rise, posting it’s fourth record sales year in a row. The Austrian brand moved 158,760 motorcycles in 2014 – up a whopping 28.2 per cent over the previous year. KTM has nearly doubled motorcycle sales since 2011 which is an incredible achievement given the difficult economic environment they’ve been operating in.

What’s most impressive is that KTM sold more motorcycles while maintaining strong profitability with total revenue up 20.2 per cent and earnings before interest and tax improving by 37 per cent. Total revenue for the 2014 business year was €864.4 million.

No doubt part of this rapid increase has been KTM’s strong presence in India where it manufacturers both the Duke and RC models (125, 200 and 390), but KTM has also made large inroads into the US market. These sales results are also purely from motorcycles – no scooters contributed to their record figures unlike some other manufacturers.

With a big push into the higher end adventure market this year plus the release of the RC 390 in the United States it’s highly likely that KTM will have a record 2015 as well.

 

Yamaha R3 vs KTM RC390 vs Kawasaki Ninja 300 – Road Test Preview

In the past few years, riders wanting an entry level sportsbike had to choose between the Honda CBR250R and the Ninja 250. Now, in addition to those two bikes (which are still sold in some markets), newbies can get their bigger brothers, the CBR300R and Ninja 300 and very soon they’ll be able to swing a leg over what will potentially be the best of the lot – the all new Yamaha R3 and KTM RC390.

The Ninja 300, R3 and RC390 offer the biggest capacity and power for riders in countries that have licensing restrictions for learners. Therefore, these three bikes will most likely attract the most buyers who want as much performance as they’re legally allowed to have while on bike restrictions.

Of the three bikes, we’ve only ridden the baby Ninja (in a test against the CBR300R in which we favored the Kawasaki). The RC390 hasn’t made it to the United States yet and the Yamaha R3 isn’t available anywhere until around March next year.

But with prices and specifications available we can already begin to see how the market is going to be pan out. Yamaha is clearly looking to dominate Honda and Kawasaki after coming so late to the party. The R3 has more horsepower than the Ninja and weighs less. In worse news for Kawasaki, the Yamaha R3 does all this while costing slightly less than the Ninja 300 ($4,990 for the R3 and $4,999 for the Ninja or $5,299 with ABS)

There’s one critical flaw the R3, though. For some reason that to us defies all reasoning and common sense, Yamaha Motorcycles USA has decided not to offer the R3 with ABS – even as an option. A motorcycle aimed squarely at new riders and you can’t even pay extra for ABS? In our view, ABS should be standard on learner bikes, but to not even offer it as an option borders on negligent in our view. We’ve contacted Yamaha to inquire why this is the case and will update accordingly.

We’ve banged on about the importance of ABS before and the science clearly shows its beneficial. Thankfully, KTM have done the sensible thing and are releasing the RC390 with ABS as standard. Costing $5,499, it’s obviously the most expensive of all the learner sportsbikes, but for that extra money you’re getting a lot. Firstly, the KTM pumps out 43 hp from it’s 373cc single cylinder engine. The Ninja and R3, both two cylinders output 39 and 42 hp respectively. Not much in it really, but the RC390 weighs 340 lb wet – a massive 43 lb less than the NInja 300 and a still impressive 28 lb less than the R3. That will make a big difference to performance. The KTM RC390 also provides slightly more powerful brakes and on paper at least, better suspension.

Of the three bikes, the RC390 is definitely the more aggressive, with the R3 offering the most relaxed riding position. In fact, the Yamaha R3 is probably more similar to the CBR300R in dimension and style, just with more grunt. Both the R3 and RC390 will be available early in the new year and we’ll bring you a full review of them soon thereafter. In the interim, have a look over the full specifications below.

 

KTM RC390Kawasaki Ninja 300 ABSYamaha R3
Engine
Engine Type373.2 cc single296cc 4 stroke, parallel twin321cc 4 stroke, parallel twin
Bore And Stroke89 mm × 60 mm62 mm x 49 mm68 mm x 44 mm
InductionBosch EFI (throttle body 46 mm)32 mm x 2 keihin with dual throttle valveTCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Compression Ratio1:12.510.6:111.2:1
Valve TrainDOHC, 4 ValvesDOHC, 8 valvesDOHC, 8 Valves
Horsepower44 hp @ 9,500 rpm38.89 hp @ 11,000 rpm42 hp @ 10,750 rpm
Torque25.81 lb ft @ 7,250 rpm19.91 lb ft @ 10,000 rpm21.18 lb ft @ 9,000
Drive Train
TransmissionSix-speedSix-speedSix-speed
Chassis / Suspension / Brakes
Front SuspensionWP-USD Ø 43 mm37 mm telescopic fork41mm KYB telescopic fork
Rear SuspensionWP-MonoshockUni Trak with gas charged shock and 5-way preloadKYB single shock
Front BrakeSingle 300 mmSingle 290 mmSingle 298 mm
Rear BrakeSingle 230 mmType Single 220 mm petal discSingle 220 mm
Front Tire110/70Z R17110/70-17 M/C 54S110/70-17M/C 54H
Rear Tire150/60ZR17140/70-17 M/C 66S140/70-17M/C 66H
Dimensions
Rake23.5 degrees27 degrees25 degrees
Trail98mm (3.9 inches)93mm (3.66 inches)94mm (3.7 inches)
Wheelbase53 inches55.31 inches54.3 inches
Seat Height32 inches30.9 inches30.7 inches
Wet Weight340 lb383 lb368 lb
Fuel Capacity3.4 gallons4.5 gallons3.7 gallons
Price
$5,499$5,299$4,990

The Rise and Rise of KTM

If you were to turn back the clock maybe five or so years, most pundits would have regarded KTM as still being a  niche player in the world of sports bikes. Though the company has been around in one form or another since 1934, it was best known for its off-road bikes rather than current screamers like the 1290 Super Duke R or the brilliant new entry level RC390.  Yet in the space of a few years, KTM is now regarded a serious competitor in the road bike marketplace and in many respects is now setting the trend for the industry.

It’s nothing short of an amazing turnaround for a business that became insolvent in 1991 and was split up into four different entities, one being KTM Sportmotorcycle.  This was when KTM first began to focus on road bikes and in 1994 the KTM Duke was born – a name now synonymous with the KTM brand. But it wasn’t until 2011 that KTM really began to assault the motorcycle world.

The KTM Duke 200 became the first bike KTM had made available world-wide. The little entry level machine was produced in India and complemented the Duke 125 which was available in Europe.  That same year, KTM produced their first superbike, the 1190 RC8 which gave them a breadth of motorcycle models that even the Japanese couldn’t match.

With the release of the 1290 Super Duke R late in 2013, KTM had solidly cemented itself as meaning serious business for both learners and hardcore enthusiasts.  The 1290 Super Duke R wasn’t just a silly ego driven motorcycle that pumped out good performance figures but was unrideable, it featured what was arguably the most advanced electronic package then available on a bike, with traction control and cornering ABS from Bosch.

And again at the other end of the spectrum, the KTM RC390 looks like it could be well on it’s way to dethrone the Kawasaki Ninja 300 as king of the beginner bikes.  Already the bike has been selected for sole use in young rider racing series in both the UK and USA.

So the bikes are impressive, but do they actually sell? They do and KTM is evidence that companies can be rewarded by the consumer for bringing out innovative and quality machines. In 2013, KTM had a 4% market share in the United States. That might not sound like an impressive number in isolation but it’s extremely good when looked at in the context of the US market.  Firstly, the United States market is heavily dominated by Harley-Davidson who in 2013 had 54.9% all new bike registrations, which leaves only 45.1% for every either motorcycle manufacturer to fight over.  Secondly, considering that KTM does not sell any cruisers which are the most popular form of motorcycle in the USA, the fact they were able to sell nearly 1 in 10 new motorcycles in the United States that wasn’t an HD is nothing short of amazing. Sales results for 2014 so far indicate that KTM are further increasing their market share. In Europe, nearly every 12th bike sold is a KTM.

So why have KTM been so successful and continue to grow at a rapid pace when the likes of Suzuki seem to be slowly circling the drainhole? Simply put, KTM seems to be quite comfortable in leadng rather than following.

The two aforementioned motorcycles, the 1290 Super Duke R and RC390 are cases in point. When Honda decided to enter the entry level market they pretty much copied the Kawasaki Ninja 250 by releasing a bike with similar capacity, power and weight. The inevitable happened and Kawasaki upped the power of their bike and released the Ninja 300.  Honda responded in kind and so on.

KTM decided to skip them altogether and released a bike that skirted the limits of Europe’s licensing restrictions and released the RC390. It was a bike designed to be enjoyed by learners and experienced riders in equal measure and will now be used in a number of racing series worldwide.

Similarly, the 1290 Super Duke R effectively began a trend of creating unique naked bikes. Large capacity nakeds have been around for ages, but generally were just stripped down versions from a donor sports bike.  KTM flipped this on it’s headed and created a dedicated naked weapon and since then, BMW and many other manufacturers have responded in kind.

KTM has also been at the forefront of technology, seriously challenging the likes of BMW and Ducati when it comes to sophisticated electronics that improve rideability and henceforth safety. Most impressively, KTM has done this without sacrificing its core heritage of offroad riding and racing. Come 2016, KTM will join MotoGP for the first time which will further enhance their ability to produce cutting edge sportsbikes.

KTM, we salute you. It’s great to see further competition in the marketplace, especially when it makes the opposition rethink what we as riders are willing to try.