10 years of KTM

    The KTMs taught India about life with fast bikes.

    Published on Sep 28, 2021 07:00:00 AM


    10 years of KTM

    My 2014 390 Duke taught me heaps, and it was the first bike I got my knee down on!

    Ten years? Ten years! God, I feel old… I remember the excitement like it was yesterday. It was early 2012 and I was a junior journalist at Overdrive. Of course, I didn’t get to be the first person to ride the new KTM 200 Duke at the office, but just like everyone else, I was listening wide-eyed and awestruck as bike-editor, Shumi, described the KTM with words like “hyperactive”, “thrilling”, and “nothing like it!” 

    Shumi promptly went and bought one of the first 200 Dukes, and this was the first KTM I ever rode. Oh god, what a little ball of energy the bike was. I still have vivid memories of its rear wheel spinning away as the hilariously short-geared engine spiked through the revs on Mumbai’s dusty roads. It was on another level compared to my R15 at the time and I was so, so smitten. But with great restraint, I’d convinced myself to wait for the 390 Duke that was due a year later. 

    When that finally happened, Rs 2.08 lakh on-road for a bike that could match a Porsche Boxster in a 0-100kph run was a game changer – it was the only way I could afford a truly fast bike at the time. Like so many tens of thousands of riders over the years, the 390 taught me what performance meant, and how to handle it. Despite being someone who had experienced plenty of fast cars by then, it took weeks to get used to the bike, and even today, it never feels slow or boring. I’ve since moved on to the 790, but my younger brother is now that particular 390’s latest pupil in the school of speed.

    But the 390 taught us so much more. It was also a lesson to the masses that fast bikes get hot, that fast bikes don’t care for your comfort, and even fast bikes can have their faults and niggles, but you brush them aside because of how damn good they make you feel. 

    The 390 also taught folks that it’s okay to spend money on an expensive bike: many of those very same people are now customers of much bigger and more expensive machines. 

    It wasn’t just the showrooms that benefitted, but the racetracks too. The RCs are quite easily the most popular bikes at track days and the RC 390 even led to the creation of a whole new 300-400cc class of racing in India. Riding schools and track days in 2021 owe quite a lot of their popularity to Bajaj bringing a certain orange brand to our shores 10 years ago.

    Today, there’s a big range of KTMs available, and while most of them are more mellow than the excitingly violent originals (and far more expensive) – they’re still the go-to option for the performance enthusiast on a budget. Moreover, we now have the Adventure range, and while I’m not a fan of what KTM has done with the bike, there’s no doubt that it (and all the brand activity around it) will do wonders for the adventure motorcycling space.

    Clearly, the Indian motorcycling community owes a great deal of gratitude to KTM, whether you’re a fan of the bikes or not. Happy ten years KTM India, stay awesome!

    Photo credit: Indimotard 


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