I would hate to work in KTM’s press department back in Austria, mostly because KTM CEO Stefan Pierer seems to be quite difficult to corral – he always seems to be spilling company secrets.
This reality is great for us, however, as there is never a shortage of juicy gossip to report from the “Ready to Race” brand, and this week has been no exception.
We already reported on Pierer’s vocalization about his desires to own the Ducati brand, which certainly caused a stir in the motorcycle industry these past few days.
Now we have more news from Pierer’s interview with Germany’s Speedweek magazine, with the CEO dishing details on the company’s plans in the middleweight categories.
Bring on the Supermoto
The first tidbit is that we will see another motorcycle added to the 790 lineup, now that the Duke and Adventure models are out. This new model seems set to be a large street-focused supermoto, a KTM 790 SMT.
Such a bike would fit nicely into KTM’s lineup, straddling between the Duke and ADV machines with its 17″ wheels and long-travel suspension.
The KTM 790 SMT would be a direct competitor to the new Ducati Hypermotard 950, and likely offer similar performance specs, though seemingly for considerably less cash than what the Italian brand is asking.
One has to imagine that a Husqvarna version of the machine could be made as well, which could be an interesting addition to the brand’s lineup, and we are still waiting to see what the blue and white version of the 790 street bikes will look like.
No Half-Measures, Just Half-Liters
The other morsel of news is KTM’s plans for a 500cc street bike family. Set to be a twin-cylinder platform, these bikes will be made in Indian by Bajaj (a minority holder of KTM stock), and will be pitted against similar offerings from Japan.
These bikes will continue KTM’s premium position in the market, but do so in emerging markets where 500cc is considered a large-displacement machine.
This still bodes well for Western markets though, as it could mean high-performance 500cc bikes from KTM, which would see relatively little competition from the other European brands.
This move isn’t that different from what we have seen from Aprilia recently, with its RS 660 concept, which is also a twin-cylinder machine.
KTM would do well to take a page from Aprilia’s history, and with that we are referring to the Aprilia SXV 550. A well-sorted twin-cylinder supermoto around 500cc and with 70hp – 80hp could really get the market’s attention…just saying.
Hurry Up and Wait
With these rumors, we have some time to wait, though that timeframe is going to differ depending on which new motorcycle we are talking about.
For the KTM 790 SMT, we see no reason why such a machine wouldn’t debut at EICMA next year.
KTM has done well releasing one new 790 model each year, and there is nothing particularly challenging in making a big supermoto motorcycle from the pieces KTM already has at its disposal.
As for the 500cc models, we would expect a longer wait – three years, or maybe more.
Pierer’s talk to Speedweek seems to peg the machines’ development in the early stages, as the technical elements appear to be already thought out by the folks at KTM, but there isn’t a physical bike yet being tested.
The Austrians could surprise us though, so we will keep our eyes out to see how this news progresses.