KTM is one of the few bike makers who have gotten the affordable performance formula right making them the king of the hill
A few years back, Indian’s had hardly heard of Austrian bike maker KTM. Most of us were not aware of the small company that was about to make big waves in the world of motorcycling. They were the dominant force in the smaller MotoGP classes as most of the top riders were riding a KTM machine. But we Indian’s got a taste of Austria when Bajaj Auto bought a lot of stakes in KTM. They then decided that it was time for KTM to make its Indian debut. And with the Duke 200, it made everyone stand up and take notice. A new revolution had started in India. A revolution that introduced affordable performance biking to the masses. Suddenly our roads were bright orange thanks to the huge number of KTMs on our roads.
This clearly portrayed the company’s success in India. Soon after the launch of the Duke 200, KTM India launched the Duke 390, which showed the world that performance can be within the reach of many. This single cylinder naked bike was redefined performance biking. For less than Rs 2 lakh, you could buy a 44 PS motorcycle that came with all the associated thrills. Before the 390, it was hard to imagine a motorcycle with that kind of a price tag and performance.
But the story did not stop there. To attract a different kind of audience, who were interested in fully faired supersport bikes, KTM introduced the RC series. I remember being at EICMA in Milan, Italy, when the RC series made its debut. The KTM stand had no place to stand and everyone was interested in knowing more about the RC 200 and RC 390. These two radical looking small capacity supersport bikes were the star attraction at KTM stand and the world was eager to know more. Soon after it’s EICMA debut, the bikes were launched abroad where they received rave reviews. On their Indian debut, the journalists were so impressed that many of them called these two motorcycles the next big thing in India motorcycle industry.
Apart from great reviews by experts and novice alike, the KTM RC series also opened up a whole new segment of bikes in India. Earlier, we had stuff like the Honda CBR 250R and the Kawasaki Ninja 250. However, after the RC series manufacturers started adopting odd capacities for their bikes. Honda launched the CBR 300R on foreign soil, Kawasaki upped the Ninja 250’s capacity to 300 and Yamaha also introduced the R3, which is a 321 cc twin cylinder bike, instead of the R25, which was specifically designed for Asian markets. Anyway, the arrival of the KTMs changed a lot in the Indian motorcycle industry. It introduced a type of motorcycle that was easy to own, thanks to its ultra-affordable price tag and it delivers the performance that, before the KTMs, was only reserved for expensive twin-cylinder bikes.
I am glad that I was one of the first people in India to have ridden much of the KTM line up and it gives me immense pleasure to say that these bikes are good and within the reach of many aspiring Indians. I hope KTM continues this trend of affordable performance by launching products that entice to no limit. However, other bike makers have also taken notice of KTMs success and in the near future; we will see quite a few bikes that will have affordable performance. However, for many of them bridging the gap between performance and affordability is an uphill task. Till then, KTM seems to the king of the hill. Until next time, Ride Hard!