KTM to un­leash mid­dleweight weapon in bid to win sales war

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Andy Downes

This is the new KTM 800 Duke in the clos­est-to-pro­duc­tion spec­i­fi­ca­tion yet seen. The bike will be launched as the first of a new range of par­al­lel-twin mod­els over the com­ing years.

This lat­est spy shots show a se­ries of sig­nif­i­cant changes over pre­vi­ous images and give a clearer view of how the fin­ished bike will look.

KTM are fran­ti­cally busy with the devel­op­ment of new mod­els, with com­pany boss Ste­fan Pierer con­firm­ing to MCN that the 800 Duke is im­mi­nent, soon to be fol­lowed by an Ad­ven­ture ver­sion. Pierer made this of­fi­cial con­fir­ma­tion to MCN at the re­cent open­ing of the new KTM UK head­quar­ters.

This lat­est pro­to­type KTM 800 Duke has new styling and dif­fer­ent brakes com­pared to pre­vi­ous in­car­na­tions. The en­gine has evolved from ear­lier ver­sions, too. Mean­while, the sub­frame and rear sec­tion have been up­dated and there is now a high-level ex­haust which has not been seen be­fore.

The bike was spot­ted on public roads near KTM’S Austrian head­quar­ters in Mat­tighofen, and looks a lot more fin­ished than any of the 800cc test bikes we have seen be­fore. All of the bikes we have seen in the past have been rel­a­tively early-stage test mules.

The new 800cc par­al­lel-twin will be a key pil­lar of KTM’S fu­ture devel­op­ment (and that of sis­ter com­pany Husq­varna), as it will be an im­por­tant step­ping-stone be­tween the cur­rent range of 125 to 690cc ma­chines in the KTM range and the much larger 1090, 1190 and 1301cc mod­els. It will en­able the firm to keep all their 125 and 390 buy­ers on-brand as they step up to a big­ger bike.

This strat­egy makes per­fect sense for the part In­dian-owned KTM, and there is a pos­si­bil­ity that this model will only be sold in emerg­ing mar­kets, but this seems un­likely as KTM have been fol­low­ing a global sales plan, rather than pick­ing and choos­ing bikes for each ter­ri­tory.

KTM are al­ready the largest Euro­pean mo­tor­cy­cle man­u­fac­turer in terms of sales, but have am­bi­tious plans to keep this suc­cess on an up­ward curve.

Re­cent ex­pan­sion has been in­tense, with the com­pany more than dou­bling its Re­search and De­sign staff num­bers, and in­vest­ing heav­ily in ex­pand­ing the Mat­tighofen fac­tory, build­ing a new Rac­ing De­part­ment and al­low­ing WP sus­pen­sion and WP Ra­di­a­tors more room to bring even more work in-house. And of course there’s the Mo­togp project, too. All of this has been in ad­di­tion to the suc­cess­ful link-up with In­dian firm Ba­jaj, which has seen the Austrian de­signed small-ca­pac­ity range of Duke mod­els, which goes from 125 to 390cc, be­ing built in In­dia for a lower cost and higher profit op­tion. ■ Turn to page 70 for KTM’S im­pres­sive per­for­mance dur­ing Mo­togp test­ing at the Red Bull Ring

The pro­to­type was spot­ted out test­ing on public roads near KTM’S head­quar­ters

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