KTM Off-road bikes have proven to be very popular for decades and were actually introduced to the market over 50 years ago. The first KTM enduro competition motorcycle was in the two-stroke era in the 1960’s and it was in 1964 when a KTM factory team showed up at the ISDE for the first time.
At that time the engines were sourced externally before KTM developed its own engine (125cc), which was produced in-house as of 1971. The legendary Italian rider Imerio Testori won the first European Championship title for KTM, which was the highest competition level at that time, in 1974.
The next enduro milestone was when the first KTM-made four-stroke machine won the European Championship with Angelo Croci (over 500cc), with the heavy-duty LC4 engine and Joachim Sauer (350cc) in 1987. Production started for four-stroke machinery in 1987.
However, the beginning of the unrivalled off-road success story came more than 10 years later, when KTM developed the more compact 400 EXC RACING four-stroke engine fitted with an electric starter. In its fi rst test year in 1999 the new bike dominated the toughest series right away. Giovanni Sala won the World Enduro Championship, a clear statement on what would be the future of lightweight enduro bikes.
The turn of the millennium saw these compact four-stroke machines go into production, and the range was increased with bikes from 250cc up to 510cc soon after. The electric starter has proven to be a big advantage for KTM riders, and finally, despite formerly being discredited for not being very ‘manly,’ the electric starter was also introduced to the 250 and 300 EXC two-stroke bikes in 2008.
The latest technological revolution on KTM’s enduro range was in 2012 when fuel injection was introduced to the four-stroke machines, although development of these ever-popular bikes is always continuing to bring the very best advancements to production models ridden and enjoyed by many.
KTM’s extensive racing program, which is really at the heart and soul of the company, is a perfect proving and development ground for these machines to assist with the advancements that reach the models rolling off the production line in Mattighofen. Since 1974 KTM has never had a break from any of its racing activities. In the present era more than 200 engineers and mechanics work day and night to develop the very best bikes, while also celebrating many world championship titles in the process.
Romania was the ideal launch pad, at the background trails are the setting of the world most famous and treacherous enduro of Red Bull Romanics in Sibiu, Romania, just four weeks more to the real thing, the Red Bull Romaniacs Extreme Enduro Rally, which was held here for the tenth year, has evolved to the world’s toughest Hard Enduro Rally.
We got a taste during this launch and believe me, KTM EXC’s were in flying ORANGE colours when meeting these wet and slippery conditions of the trails that has been repeatedly used during the Red Bull Romaniacs race, up in the Paltinis Mountains.
In summary, there are various refinements across the range. Aside from updated plastics and graphics, the bikes come standard with orange frames and black Giant rims. There’s now a MAE digital speedometer, black Neken handlebars, softer compound grips and improved hand guards.
There’s also a refined power delivery on the two-strokes due to new carburetor tuning, plus an updated PDS shock for the 125 and 200. In addition, the 200, 250 and 300 EXC models feature a lighter 3h battery.
The chassis has a modified swingarm in terms of wall thickness, which makes it lighter, but still performs at optimal stiffness. There’s updated mufflers on the 350 EXC-F, 450 EXC and 500 EXC models, intended to reduce noise without affecting overall performance.