KTM Motorcycle History

KTM Sportmotorcycles has a deeply rooted motorsport tradition, building race-ready motorcycles for competitive and recreational riding. More than 130 world championship titles, victories at Dakar and countless national championships are proof of the company’s great technical expertise. Recently, the company has entered into the streetbike category with a variety of sporting and adventure-touring road-going machines.
  • 1934 Austrian engineer Hans Trunkenpolz opens a metal-working shop in Mattighofen, Austria. The name of the business is Kraftfahrzeuge Trunkenpolz Mattighofen
  • 1951 The company’s first motorcycle is developed – the R100.
  • 1953 The company becomes officially known as ‘Kronreif, Trunkenpolz, Mattighofen’ (KTM). A team of 20 employees is producing three motorcycles per day.
  • 1954 The 100th KTM motorcycle is delivered.
  • 1955 A businessman, Ernst Kronreif becomes a sizeable shareholder of the company, which is renamed Kronreif & Trunkenpolz Mattighofen.

     KTM Tourist (125cc) model is developed.

  • 1957 KTM builds first sports motorcycle – the Trophy 125cc.
  • 1959 Motorcycle production ceases. First KTM Pony scooter and moped are introduced.
  • 1963 The Comet moped is introduced.
  • 1966 The 10,000th Comet rolls off the line.
  • 1968 The cross-country Penton Six Days dirt bike is produced and exported to the United States.
  • 1970 KTM begins producing its own engines. (Previously, many of the dirt bikes had been equipped with Sachs motors.) New 250cc motocross bike is developed.
  • 1973 KTM begins production of the 250 Cross and Enduro bike.
  • 1974 Production of the KTM Hobby III begins.
  • 1975 KTM introduces the road model Comet Grand Prix 125 RS.
  • 1976 KTM produces its own 125cc engine.
  • 1978 KTM America Inc. established in Lorain, Ohio. 50cc product range extended.
  • 1981 Production of first water-cooled 125cc motocross bikes.
  • 1982 Motocross models outfitted with new Pro Lever rear suspension. Company develops its first 4-stroke engine with water cooling.
  • 1986 KTM becomes the first manufacturer to offer front and rear disc brakes on an off-road machine.
  • 1987 Production begins on the KTM 4-stroke engine – single cylinder, 560cc, overhead camshaft.
  • 1988 KTM stops production of scooters.
  • 1989 Hans Trunkenpolz, founder, dies.
  • 1991 KTM files for bankruptcy. The company is split into four independent arms – radiators, motorcycles, bicycles and tooling.
  • 1992 Newly formed motorcycle division opens – KTM Sportsmotorcycle GmbH.
  • 1994 KTM Sportsmotorcycle GmbH renamed KTM-Sportsmotorcycle AG. Production of Duke series of road models begins.
  • 1995 Company acquires Husaberg AB and takes over White Power Suspension (NL).
  • 1996 Production begins for KTM LC4 engine with electric starter.
  • 1997 LC4 Supermoto road model is introduced. Also, KTM’s first adventure bike – the LC4 Adventure – is introduced.
  • 1998 PDS Linkless suspension system is developed for 2-stroke models. Also, new 125 and 200cc engines and new Z design are introduced.
  • 1999 Production begins on new 4-stroke engine – RACING 400/520. Also, the first KTM engines with separate lubrication (125 and 200cc) are introduced.
  • 2001 Fabrizio Meoni wins the Dakar rally on an LC4 660R. KTM completely dominates the motorcycle class for the future of the event, which runs for the last time in 2007.
  • 2003 Company introduces 950 Adventure and presents 990 Duke.

    Backed by Red Bull, the company enters the 125cc World Championship. After a couple of challenging years developing the machine, Mika Kallio will finish second overall in ’05 & ’06.

  • 2004 KTM launches the 990 Super Duke and introduces the 990 RC8 Venom and the 950 Supermoto at the Intermot in Munich.

    After earlier agreeing in principle to supply motorcycles to two out-of-work actors, so they can make a documentary about a trip across Eurasia and North America, KTM abruptly drops the project. Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman get BMWs instead, and make “The Long Way Round.”

  • 2005 KTM launches the 950 Supermoto and introduces the 990 Adventure and the 950 Super Enduro R.

    The company announces a strategic partnership with Polaris, with the goal of shared R&D, and more importantly shared distribution networks. The plan is to try this relationship out for two years and, if it proves fruitful, to merge the two companies.

  • 2006 The partnership with Polaris is dramatically downgraded. KTM announces that from now on, the company will simply supply Polaris with a few motors for ATVs.
  • 2007 The company supplies all the 125cc motorcycles for the Red Bull Rookies Cup.

    An experiment if there ever was one, KTM builds the ultimate go-kart in the X-Bow.

  • 2009 Wanting to get its feet wet in road racing, KTM enters a factory-backed team fielding RC8s in the IDM (German) championship. At the end of the year, factory rider Stefen Nebel ties for the championship.
Prepared with historical input by Mark Gardiner and other sources.
Information taken from KTM’s official site (http://www.ktm.com/History.101.4.html)
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