After making a name for themselves on the dirt in the 70s and 80s, KTM found itself floundering by the early 90s and ended up filing for bankruptcy.
It forced them to splinter the company into four independent arms; tooling, radiators, bicycles, and, of course, motorcycles. It was this move that effectively pushed them in a new direction, now fully focused on making motorcycles, they focused most of their energy consolidating their already very good dirt bike range but also poured development money into what became the legendary LC4 motor. It would find a home in their first proper modern road bike; the 620 Duke.
10 620 Duke
Without really knowing it at the time, KTM launched the first ever supermoto class motorcycle.
It was tall, handled very much like a dirt bike and had incredible torque. It wasn’t all that fast, but it was extremely fun to ride, and the bike was a huge hit for the company. 27 years later KTM are still making LC4 motors and the Duke range became a staple for the company.
9 RC 390
After entering into a partnership with the Indian motorcycle giant Bajaj, the small displacement 390 series was the first fruit of the partnership.
By making the bikes in India, the costs of production were drastically reduced without too many compromises in quality. It has been a smash hit for the company and still serves as the only genuine sport bike in their lineup.
8 690 SMC R
Effectively the torch-bearer for the original Duke, the LC4 motor continues its long and illustrious career in this more dedicated supermoto.
It is a bike that serves no real purpose aside from fun. With a lot of low-down grunt, it isn’t so much ready to race as it is ready to wheelie.
7 390 Duke
The latest version of the little entry level bike has really taken it up a notch, packed with tech and features you would normally have to shell out far more for or turn to the aftermarket.
It is very difficult to find better value in this segment, most of the kinks have also been worked out over the years it has been in production, and it remains a fun, torquey bike anyone can enjoy.
6 990 Super Duke
Wanting to offer something with a little more out-and-out performance in their lineup, they tweaked their new LC8 V-twin and set to work on a Super Duke.
It was truly “Super” in comparison to the old 640, making 120 horsepower it would give most sport bikes in the 2000s a good scare, especially with its precise handling.
5 1290 Super Duke R
Making 180 horsepower, the latest Super Duke is all about excess, it has far too much power for its own good and that is exactly why we love it so much.
It is a bike that should only ever be ridden by more experienced riders, with enough torque to power wheelie in every gear, this bike is an absolute monster.
4 990 Supermoto R
With the Duke evolving into an out and our sport-naked, there was a gap for a proper large displacement supermoto.
After a couple other players entered the market, KTM answered the call and certainly delivered. The 990 is arguably still the best large displacement Supermoto money can buy, able to blend agility, power and fun like no other.
3 1190 RC8
By the late 2000s, KTM were feeling rather adventurous and put their first, and to date only, superbike into production with their sights set on racing.
It famously cost more to make than they could sell it for, and the lucky few who were able to get one absolutely love it. It is, in a word, scary, with incredible power delivery throughout the rev range. Ultimately, KTM changed tack, deciding to invest more in grassroots racing until they eventually entered MotoGP instead of the SBK series.
2 1290 Super Duke GT
Adventure bikes and sport touring bikes have seen incredible growth in recent years, one of the very best sport tourers has to be this touring version of the Super Duke.
It is an interesting concept, as the hooligan still resides within, but it gets a host of upgrades that make it a pretty decent touring bike. It has a different, marginally less aggressive map, upgraded wind protection and luggage all neatly disguising the beast.
1 450 SMR
Technically, the SMR isn’t a road legal bike, but we will argue that with all the dirt bike conversion kits out there it can easily become road legal.
It is another sensational tool for enjoyment, taking all the proven race winning technology KTM have developed for their motocross bikes and bringing it to the street, sort of.
The Story Behind KTM’s Rise To Motorcycle Greatness
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