KTM dirt bikes have been a staple of the off-road community for decades, but the orange brand is making huge strides on the street in recent years. Branching out into new segments and markets, KTM is producing exciting new models that retain that unique KaTooM vibe. For its accomplishments, new directions and bold global ambitions, MotoUSA selects KTM as Manufacturer of the Year.
The Austrian marque has been a powerhouse in off-road racing for a number of years, especially in series outside the U.S., but in 2012 Team Orange stepped up its game big-time. It finally clinched an AMA Motocross title, thanks to Ryan Dungey, who did so by a wide margin. Prior to that, Dungey finished the 2012 Supercross season in third, after missing a number of rounds due to injury. KTM has worked diligently for years to develop a bike and top-tier team to achieve the goal of winning an American title. Thanks to these efforts there is now a legitimate contender to the dominance of Japanese-made motocrossers.
On top of the off-road achievements in the States, KTM is one of the only manufacturers to house both a factory MX and Road Race program in-house. KTM also claimed the first Moto3 world title – a nice feather in its racing cap. This dedication to producing top-quality machines ready for competition has led to gains for consumers as well, since many KTM bikes come equipped with premium quality racing components right off the showroom floor and ring in at competitive prices.
In terms of future developments, KTM announced a number of Duke models that sport a naked, aggressive look and will come in displacements ranging from 200 to 1290, sure to attract new and experienced riders alike. The 1190 RC8 R Superbike has a futuristic look with sharp lines that rival the best looking Italian models in production, and the Adventure line of rally-inspired bikes offer true off-road creds for the ADV class. On that rally note, KTM rally riders remain dominant, with Marc Coma earning a near sweep of the Cross Country Rallies World Championship and Cyril Despres claiming the 2012 Dakar Rally win.
KTM has shown positive sales over the past few years while others have struggled. According to a KTM fiscal report, sales continued to go up during the first half of 2012 as compared to the same period in 2011, which was one of the brand’s best years ever. During that six-month period, KTM sold 43,158 full-sized motorcycles, marking a 1919 unit gain in off-road bike sales as compared to the same period in 2011 and a gain of 7195 street bike units.
KTM’s off-road success seems poised for similar results on the street. The company’s strategic partnership with Bajaj, the second-largest manufacturer of motorcycles in India, has produced sharp-looking small displacement rides like the Duke 200. Expected to be a big hit in the vast Indian market, the Duke 200 and similar models are poised to expand the KTM banner into the high-volume Asian markets – which are also developing a taste for more lucrative and larger-capacity mounts.
A final reason that KTM earned Manufacturer of the Year honors is its promising future in the US. In 2012 we saw the brand announce exciting prototypes for the Super Duke 1290 R and eagerly await the 1190 Adventure coming to the US in 2014. But it’s the 390 Duke that has us most intrigued – perhaps the most interesting of the latest crop of entry-level mounts being developed and we hope it arrives in America sooner rather than later.
KTM has shown it has a lot of room to grow and we expect big things out of the brand in the upcoming coming year. For its success KTM gets our selection as 2012 Manufacturer of the Year.
Motorcycle USA Best of 2012 Awards
Rider of the Year 2012: Max Biaggi
Manufacturer of the Year 2012: KTM
Best Cruiser 2012: Ducati Diavel
Best Sportbike 2012: BMW S1000RR
Best Street Bike 2012: Triumph Speed Triple R
Best Touring Motorcycle 2012: BMW K1600 GTL
Best Adventure Motorcycle 2012: Triumph Tiger Explorer
Best Enduro 2012: Beta 450 RR
Best Dual Sport 2012: Kawasaki KLR650
Best Motocross Motorcycle 2012: Kawasaki KX450F
Best ATV 2012: Can-Am Outlander 1000 XT
Best UTV 2012: Polaris RZR XP4 900
Motorcycle of the Year 2012: Kawasaki ZX-14R