Close your eyes and think about KTM bikes. What’s the first thing you see?
I see dark threatening clouds punctured by a giant orange lightning bolt, the huge Austrian company’s trademark colour infiltrating my very being and in fact leading me to appreciate a firm that I had previously not considered.
But perhaps that’s just me after two slightly ‘damp’ (to understate somewhat) days at the KTM press camp, down on the banks of the good old Attersee in Austria.
If you don’t really know much about the Austrian giant KTM here’s four facts that’ll get your dinner conversation going with a dull thud:
1. KTM made their first bike in 1964 and will therefore be celebrating their 50th birthday in 2014. Happy birthday.
2. KTM sell 200,000 bikes a year and have a turnover of 120 million Euros.
3. Of those 200,000, KTM sell 30,000 electric bikes a year. Now I only know one person with an e-bike and he only uses it to get back from the pub, so who are these other 29,999 people or does that mean I just don’t have many friends?
4. Apart from a few minor downhill products KTM will not produce any 26” mountain bikes in 2014. KTM are effectively replacing their whole MTB 26” line up with 27.5” and 29”. They’re not the only bike brand to do this for 2014, Kona for example are also ditching 26” but KTM go so far as to say ‘the 26” is dead’.
Carbon for the people?
For 2014 KTM are focusing a lot of attention on a line of bikes referred to as ‘carbon for the people’ – a bold statement considering a huge percentage of ‘the people’ live below the poverty line (I won’t go off on a rant, but I could).
I guess the correct nomenclature for marketing purposes should be ‘carbon for the pampered middle classes who want light bikes but are too tight to spend the money’, but that’s not so catchy.
The reality is actually a cheap and high quality (according to KTM) line of carbon hard tails and road racers. If this is correct, it’s a feat that should be applauded and one that I suspect KTM have managed to achieve through their industry connections and large buying power.
Key bikes and features for 2014
KTM have over 250 models stretching from e-powered granny razzers to high-end carbon AM and XC race machines via the usual mainstream bikes. KTM have 250 models, which makes it impossible for me to even begin to wrap my brain around the whole product range, so instead I picked a few standout bikes for 2014.
The high-end mountain bikes for 2014 look pretty well thought out with some interesting features such as: 142×12 axles, internal cable routing, tapered head tubes and optimised carbon for extra stiffness in the BB, headset and seat stays.
The lines on the carbon bikes are very slick and sculptured and precisely what you would expect for this newer generation of carbon bike, with conical seat tubes blending smoothly into stiffness wide bottom brackets.
The Aera MTB
In the ‘carbon for the people’ product line and one for the XC racer on a budget is the Aera 29 and Aera 27.
The geometry is more or less as you would expect for an XC weapon, but for me the top tube is relatively short (579mm med), with a quite steep head angle of 70° for the 27.5 and 71.5° for the 29er.
But they are no doubt good looking bikes, kitted out with two ‘how do they do it for that price’ component packages; ‘Comp’ and ‘Pro’. With complete race-ready bikes starting from €1700 for Comp and €1900 for Pro it’s hard not to get a little interested.
The Lycan is KTM’s longer travel bike. It comes in 2 flavours: the Lycan 275 and the Lycan LT.
The suspension platform is KTM’s very own patented PDS HD II system. This comes with the recommended bike industry standard high levels of BS. My doctor has advised me that for health reasons I can’t get angry anymore about bike industry acronyms, so in short the KTM PDS system is a four bar linkage; think Giant Anthem meets Turner 5 spot.
Riding the Lycan suspension very briefly, it seemed to pedal quite well without too much bobbing but I didn’t really get a chance to rate its effectiveness on any balls-out downhill or singletrack.
With 125mm of rear travel this bike is aimed at the endurance or trail rider. A carbon front end is mated to an alloy rear triangle, all of which make this bike look pretty tidy. The frame angles are (no surprises) what you’d expect for this type of bike, (robotic voice in my head repeating the words ‘industry standardisation’ – not a bad thing) with the exception of a slightly too steep 69° head angle you could call this bike ‘playing it safe’.
When riding the Lycan 275 the stem/bar combo gave me an instant nosebleed and I was more than a little surprised not to see a riser bar on the Lycan 275 (like on the Lycan LT). I would think ‘immediate upgrade’ would be front-of-mind at the point of purchase.
Angered by my bleeding nose, I cornered the head of R&D at KTM and asked him ‘what’s with the long stems and narrow bar combinations’, with the robotic response of: ‘They’re perfectly balanced to the geometry of the frame’.
The Lycan LT is bigger and with 160mm of travel it’s geared towards the all-mountain and enduro crowd. The frame angles are more interesting with a reasonably slack 66.5°. Strangely, the bigger Lycan LT has almost an extra 20mm of effective top tube (for a medium) making it longer than its shorter travel brother.
The component specification on both bikes is again what you’d expect to see on high end bikes: 142×12 bolt thru rear, tapered head tube, press-fit BB, direct mount front derailleur etc. The recommended max tyre clearance on both bikes is only 2.35 but I should think you’d be able to squeeze a 2.4 in the frame without too much trouble.
The Lycan pricing starts from €1700 and goes up to €5000 depending on specification and build.
Revelator 3300 Road Bike
The Revelator is a very sexy road bike, even though its name sounds a bit like something from an Anne Summers catalogue.
The Revelator weighs in at 6.5kgs and is available with varying degrees of (Prestige/Prime/Pro) component packages, covering Ultegra to Dura Ace.
All the usual trimmings are present: internal cable routing, optimised for stiffness carbon tubing and with geometry being what I would call ‘aggressive road’.
Priced at only €1499 the Revelator 3300 is definitely worth considering if you’re looking for a cheap training bike or as an urban sports utility device to complement your already cluttered designer lifestyle.
A teary farewell to Attersee
It struck me that for 2014 the orange giant is heading in the right direction, with some good ideas and products that might start getting KTM on the UK rider’s consideration list. It was a shame that I couldn’t get a decent ride on the bikes but believe me when I say the weather wouldn’t allow. Plus my nose wouldn’t stop bleeding.
For more info on KTM visit www.ktm-bikes.at