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In 1934 an Austrian engineer Johann (Hans) Trunkenpolz set up a metal working and locksmith shop in Mattighofen. In 1937 he started selling DKW motorcycles and Opel cars the following year. His shop was known as Kraftfahrzeug Trunkenpolz Mattighofen but the name was unregistered. During the Second World War his wife took care of the business which grew mainly of diesel engine repairs.
After the war, demand for repair works fell sharply and Trunkenpolz started thinking about producing his own motorcycles. The prototype of first motorcycle R100 was produced in 1951. All of the components of the motorcycle were produced in house, except for the Rotax engines which were made by Fichtel & Sachs.
In 1953, businessman Ernst Kronreif became a sizable shareholder of the company which was then renamed and registered as Kronreif & Trunkenpolz Mattighofen. KTM started serial production of R100 in 1954. With just 20 employees, motorcycles were built at the rate of three per day.
The company’s first title was secured shortly thereafter with the 1954 Austrian 125 national championship. KTM first made an appearance at the International Six Days Trials (Enduro) in 1956 where Egon Dornauer secured a gold medal. Racing continued to be a testing ground for production technology, but next in line was its first scooter, the Mirabell. It started providing a factory team for the ISDE in ’64. As the company continued to expand, the workforce totaled 400 in 1971, and forty years after it was founded, KTM was offering 42 different models
In 1955 Tourist 125cc model was developed. In 1957 KTM built the first sports motorcycle Trophy 125cc. KTM's first moped, called Mecky was launched in 1957, followed by Ponny I in 1960 and Ponny II in 1962. The 1960s saw the beginning of the bicycle production. Beside, KTM was also able to produce motorcycles for the racing industry.
Ernst Kronreif died in 1980. Two years later in 1982 Hans Trunkenpolz also died of a heart attack and his son Erich Trunkenpolz took charge of the company's management. Its name was changed back to Kraftfahrzeug Trunkenpolz Mattighofen. At that time, KTM had about 180 employee and a turnover of €3.5m.
In 1988, US subsidiary KTM North America Inc. was founded in Lorain, Ohio. International business then amounted to 72% of the company turnover. In 1990, it was renamed KTM Motorfahrzeugbau AG.
Scooter and moped turnover sank rapidly, and production had to be halted in 1982. Erich Trunkenpolz died in 1989 and in 1991 KTM applied for insolvency. Its management was taken up by banks who split the company into four new entities in 1992:
KTM Sportmotorcycle GmbH started operation in 1992 and later took over the sibling tooling division KTM Werkzeugbau. In 1994 KTM Sportmotorcycle GmbH was renamed KTM-Sportmotorcycle AG. In the same year it started production of Duke series of road motorcycles.
In 1995 KTM acquired Swedish motorcycle maker Husaberg AB, and took control of the Dutch company White Power Suspension.
In 1997 LC4 Supermoto and LC4 Adventure motorcycles are introduced by KTM.
KTM-Sportmotorcycle AG is owned by KTM AG (formerly known as KTM Power Sports AG). In November 2007, Bajaj Auto Limited of India acquired 14.5% stake in KTM Power Sports AG and increased their shareholding to 47% by 2012.
At present KTM AG is 51% owned by CROSS KraftFahrZeug Holding GmbH, a subsidiary of CROSS Industries AG and 47% owned by Bajaj Auto. CROSS Industries is founded by KTM's current CEO Stefan Pierer.
In present KTM-Sportmotorcycle AG has the following subsidiaries:
KTM started exporting their GS model to USA in 1968 through an American importer, John Penton under the Penton brand. This JV lasted until KTM established KTM America Inc. in Ohio in 1978.
In 2005, KTM-Sportmotocycle began a partnership with ATV manufacturer Polaris Industries with the goal of shared R&D, and more importantly shared distribution networks. This partnership was a two-year trial arrangement, at the end of which both parties had the option of merging the two companies into one. In 2006, KTM announced that the partnership with Polaris had been downgraded, and would instead only supply their 450cc and 510cc RFS engines to Polaris.
In January 2008, Bajaj announced that it would jointly develop two new 125cc and 200cc bikes for Europe and the Far East. The bikes would be badged KTM. In January 2012, Bajaj launched the Duke 200 model in India.
In 2015, KTM announced that it will invest US$5 million in a plant in the town of Campana (Buenos Aires), and begin production in Argentina, one of the models of their bikes, for which it will partner with SIMPA Group. Initially produce the KTM Duke 200, a motorcycle that the company plans to sell in the domestic market and the projection for 2015 it's produce six models in total.
Since 1990, KTM motorcycles and automobiles (X-Bow) have been designed by KiskaDesign, a Salzburg-based design firm. It is responsible for the overall branding for KTM; including the design of the vehicles, shops, exhibits and printed material.
KTM began in motorsports competing in motocross racing. KTM won its first championship in 1974 when Guennady Moisseev claimed the 250cc Motocross World Championship. In the last few years KTM has gained more success in motorsports by dominating rally-raid events such as the Paris-Dakar Rally and the Atlas-Rally. In 2003, KTM started sponsoring and supporting Road racing in various capacities, with the most successful results stemming from their Supermotard or Supermoto efforts. KTM's new road racing focus will soon grow to include Superbike competition with the help of their newly developed V-Twin engine dubbed the LC8 as employed in the 950 Adventure dual-sport motorcycle, and more specifically the 2005/2006 990 Super Duke followed by the superbike contender known as the 1190 RC8. The Super Duke will have a higher output, second generation version of the LC8 engine, geared for high rpm peak power as required in road racing and superstreet applications while the RC8 will sport a 1,190 cc version of the LC8 for more midrange.
KTM riders took wins in every race of the Moto3 class during the 2013 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season. The company won a third consecutive manufacturers MotoGP title during the 2014 Moto3 season. They also supply the spec bike for the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup.
KTM offers a range of different engines for its larger motorcycles, all liquid-cooled.
KTM's official company/team colours are orange, black and silver. To create a strong brand identity, all competition-ready KTMs come from the factory with bright orange plastic with "KTM" emblazoned on the side of the radiator shrouds. All KTM bikes also come from the factory with a Motorex sticker on the outside of the motor. All first fills of oil come from Motorex as well. Some official KTM teams use different colors for their bikes, most noticeably in the Dakar Rally.
KTM announced plans to launch a UK-based UCI Continental cycling team. The team, known as KTM Cycling Team – Road and Trail.com, made its debut in 2014, albeit without UCI Continental status. Subsequently in November 2014 it was announced that they would supply bikes to Team La Pomme Marseille 13 from 2015, with the team becoming Team Marseille 13 KTM.
KTM manufactures multiple variations of off-road motorcycles.
Motocross – The current Motocross line designated by SX includes 65, 85, 105, 125, 150 and 250 cc two-stroke models, and 250, 350, 450 four-stroke models. In 2005 KTM released the new 250SX-F to the general public. For the 2007 model-year, all of KTM's four-stroke SX motors were re-designed similarly to the 250 SX-F, in a dual-overhead cam 4-valve line dubbed the "RC4". The SX-F's are KTM's new racing motocross range introduced in 2007.
KTM now produce a 150SX (144 cc), which was developed to take advantage of AMA rule changes in the amateur classes.
Cross-Country – The current line designated by XC includes a 250 XC and 300 XC two-strokes models, and the 250 XC-F, 350 XC-F, 450 XC-F, and 500 XC-F four-stroke models. They have a close-ratio gearbox, stiffer linkage suspensions, and the four-strokes have a shorter-stroke motor design, mirroring their SX counterparts. The XC line updates and replaces their old MXC bikes.
Enduro – KTM began manufacturing competition Enduro motorcycles in the 1960s and started competing in 1964. By 1968 their 125cc GS model was imported into the US market as the Penton Six Day. In 1973 they began production of their first 250cc two-stroke Enduro bike and in 1974 Italian rider Imerio Testori won KTM their first European Championship title. In 1981 they produced their first liquid cooled motor and soon thereafter applied the technology to four-strokes culminating in the 1987 LC4 (liquid-cooled four-stroke) motor and two more championships. 1997 marked the beginning of KTMs domination of the off-road/Enduro market with the introduction of the LC4 based, electric-starting, 400 EGS-E. The electric-starting bike became the RFS (Racing Four Stroke) 400 EXC in 1999 and dominated the World Enduro Championship.
The EXC line has been a long-time favourite for Enduro market, and outsell other brands. The RFS motor available in 250 cc, 400 cc, 450 cc and 510 cc models between 2000 and 2007 was replaced with the XC4 motor beginning with the 2008 model year. Despite the popularity of the four-stroke KTMs the company also leads the market in two-stroke enduro bike development, adding electric-starting to the 250 and 300 EXC two-strokes in 2008, and to the 200 EXC in 2013.
The EXC Enduro versions of their cross-country bikes are supplied with plusher non-linkage suspension, a wider-ratio gear box and lights. The XC-W replaced their old EXC two-strokes, a move the company made in order to comply with EPA restrictions in the United States. The international versions are still designated EXC. The current line consists of 250, 350, 450, 500 (actually 510 cc) four-strokes, and 125, 200, 250 and 300 cc two-strokes. Beginning in 2007 some of the four-stroke enduros were reintroduced to the US market with the designation EXC and are plated street-legal enduro bikes.
Free Ride – A KTM original class of off-road motorcycle. They are a cross between enduro and trials bikes. Models include the two-stroke Freeride 250R, the four-stroke Freeride 350 and the all electric Freeride E-SX and Freeride E-XC. Other manufacturers with similar offerings include the Beta Xtrainer, Ossa Explorer 250 and the Sherco X-Ride 125 and 290.
Since the major rule changes in Motocross to make 4-stroke bikes more competitive in motocross and being given a 125 cc 2-stroke to 250 cc 4-stroke advantage the cheaper, simpler 2-stroke bikes have been dying out.
Since other manufacturers have decided to discontinue their 2-stroke models, KTM has continued with creating and improving their 2-stroke models and taking up a very high proportion of the 2-stroke bike market.
KTM has also created a new 2-stroke MX bike with 144 cc to comply with the 2008 AMA motocross class changes. This change has been made to bring back the 2-stroke bikes to encourage more entry to the market as the 2-stroke bikes are cheaper to maintain and repair than the expensive 4-stroke bikes.
Environmental agencies have tried to remove 2-stroke machines because they produce more pollution than 4-strokes. However, with newer advances in technology 2-strokes have begun to burn cleaner and pass stricter green standards.
In recent interviews KTM has revealed that they will continue to produce and improve 2-stroke bikes and have already begun looking at Direct Fuel Injection (DFI). A DFI fuel induction system injects fuel at high pressure, over 100 bars (1,500 psi) into the combustion chamber, after the exhaust port has been fully closed. This eliminates almost any unburnt fuel escaping the combustion process and entering the atmosphere.
In 2011 KTM changed the look of their two-strokes, also in 2012 they re-introduced linkage suspension on the SX and XC models. KTM had dropped linkage suspension in favor of their PDS system in 1998.
Supermoto KTM produces several supermoto race bikes with displacements ranging from 450 (a supermoto version of the 450sx-f) to 690 cc. They also make four non race-oriented models in 625, 654, 950 and 990 cc displacements. KTM was the first manufacturer to offer a competition-ready Supermoto bike to the public, and their sponsored racers currently sit atop the US Supermoto racing circuit. The new LC8 SuperMoto 950 has received rave reviews from all the bike magazines and newspapers in the United Kingdom.
Dual-sport Adventure bikes offered with both the LC4 Engine (Adventure 640, 640R, 660, and 690) and the LC8 Engine (Adventure 950, 950S, 990). The 640R is the base of the Rally 660 which has won many Dakar Rallies.
KTM has a lightweight street legal (Europe) car known as the X-Bow. It uses an Audi engine and a Dallara sourced chassis. This car seats two people.
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