Does KTM Make a Side-by-Side?


There is a very short answer to the question of “does KTM make a side-by-side, and the answer is no.

KTM does not make a side-by-sides and they never have. There are a lot of things that go into why KTM does not make side-by-sides and that is precisely what we are going to discuss in this article.

Now typically I write about side-by-sides. We hear about companies like Polaris, Can-Am, Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki. KTM is not a well-known name in the side-by-side world and that is because they do not produce side-by-sides.

KTM is, however, a very well known name in the Powersports world as a whole. In fact, they are some of the pioneers in Powersports and off-road racing. In order to understand where KTM is at and why they produce what they produce we have to first look at their history.

KTM History

1930s

The history of KTM started in a small town called Mattighofen in Austria back in 1934. The original name of the business was called Kraftfahrzeuge Trunkenpolz Mattighofen, good luck pronouncing that, and it was a metal-working shop.

The Trunkenpolz company eventually became an official supplier of motorcycles with the sale of the DKW motorcycle. By 1938 KTM had expanded exponentially and had become one of the biggest motorcycle and car repair shops in all of Austria.

However, simply repairing motorcycles and cars just was not enough. Like with all good companies, expanded growth allows you to get into different niches within a market, or a whole new market completely.

1950s

So in 1951 KTM developed their very own motorcycle, the R100, which was a lightweight 99cc motorcycle. Despite us always knowing and addressing the company as KTM, the “KTM” title did not come until 1953 when the company became officially known as Kronreif, Trunkenpolz, Mattighofen.

At that point in their history, the company was producing three motorcycles a day with a team of 20 workers. Over the span of the next five years, KTM gets re-named once more by a large shareholder by the name of Ernst Kronreif and the company is named  Kronreif & Trunkenpolz Mattighofen.

Because if you have a large number of shares in a company, a simple comma will not suffice distinguishment and an “&” needs to be put into place.

Throughout those same five years KTM would also go on to win various motorcycle races and the first sports motorcycle is made, the Trophy 125cc. In 1959 KTM hit a bump in the road and the production of motorcycles ceased to due to a crisis in the two-wheel industry so KTM produced scooters and mopeds instead.

1960s

The mopeds sold quite well, especially the Comet, first made in 1963, having reached 10,000 units made in 1966. Motorcycles began producing again in 1964 and racing resumed with KTM taking home more wins.

1970s

The 1970s held more than just Woodstock and a great era of music though, especially for KTM. In 1970 KTM began to produce their own engines (previously many engines had been from Sach, a German-based motorcycle manufacturer).

New, larger, 250cc motor-cross bikes began to be made and with those larger bikes came a larger workforce for KTM, bumping them up to 400 workers.

By 1975 KTM had gone on to have their bikes win the Austrian Motorcross, but also the European Enduro, and the Motorcross World Championship. KTM had a selection of 42 different models and were winning races right and left.

In 1978 KTM expanded even more with a US subsidiary in Lorain Ohio and in 1980 the KTM name change once again, this time to “KTM Motor-Fahrzeugbau KTM.”

1980s

The 1980s was a time of upgrades for KTM and for the motorcycle industry as a whole. 1981 held the production of the first water-cooled 125cc Motorcross bike, and in 1982 the “Pro Lever” back wheels suspension is integrated into bikes, and development of 4-stroke, water-cooled engines commences.

KTM also began to manufacture radiators in the 80s and were producing even larger bikes such as 500cc and 560cc model motorcycles. In 1986 KTM was the first company to offer disk brakes on the front and rear of the bike, something we have come to see as standard on motorcycles everywhere.

In 1988 KTM stopped producing scooters and focused solely on motorcycles and in 1989 Hans Trunkenpolz, the founder of KTM, died.

1990s

The 1990s is where KTM got rocked but came back with a vengeance, for in 1991 KTM files for bankruptcy and the company is split into four independent arms: radiators, motorcycles, bicycles, and tooling.

The bankruptcy really did not affect the motorcycle division though because in 1992 KTM Sportmotorcycle GmbH, the name of the motorcycle division opens and the Enduro motorcycle design, recently created, takes the World Championship title.

Just in 1995 alone, KTM went on to acquire Swedish Husaberg AB and takeover of White Power Suspension, produce 12,000 motorcycles, and take two Enduro World Championship titles.

The years following that KTM would win a slew more World Championship titles, create the KTM LC4 engine with an electric starter, construct a new assembly plant with an R&D center, and open a subsidiary in Spain.

2000s

In 2000 KTM opened a Marketing subsidiary in France and went on to have a very good year for competitions winning 6 World Championships.

In 2003 KTM launched their 950 Adventure model and announced the 990 Duke model motorcycle.

In 2006 KTM announced that their partnership with Polaris would be extremely downgraded and that they would only supply a few motors for ATVs.

During 2004-2008 KTM made race-ready ATVs, however after the economic crash in 2008 they really just sidelined the whole production of them altogether. The economic crash did not affect the Motorcross world for KTM at all though.

They would continue to go on and win many more titles and in 2010 KTM achieved what seemed impossible and brought home all Motocross World Championship titles.

KTM has flourished throughout the 2000s and have brought in quite a bit of revenue and continues to bring in racing titles. Their primary focus right now is in motorcycles as it was since the beginning.

Why Not Side-by-Sides?

Since you have gotten a pretty good understanding of the history of KTM, and what they have accomplished over the years, you can see why they do not produce any side-by-sides.

They were just never in the side-by-side market. The business started as a motorcycle and car repair shop worked its way into motorcycle production and became known as one of the top-ranking motorcycle Powersports companies in the world.

While they did make ATVs for a short while, they stopped the production of that rather quickly during the dry period for ATV production in the 1990s. Simply put KTM has always been focused on motorcycles, that is and has been their niche since their creation.

The side-by-side market has only really been gaining traction since the past decade, and once companies like Polaris, Can-Am, Yamaha, and Kawasaki, got their teeth dug into it, it has been a hard fight to get past them now that they have made an established presence in that market, although since KTM already has a large presence itself in the Powersports community it should not be too hard.

KTM just knows what they are and what they are good at, and honestly, you have to respect a company that excels at what they are good at, and only continues to improve and progress, that is what great companies do.

Are Side-by-Sides in KTM’s Future?

While KTM has been dedicated to motorcycles, and they will most likely never take their focus away from that niche, there may actually be some rumblings that KTM may dip their feet into the side-by-side world.

In May of 2018 KTM AG, and CF Moto announced the construction of a 1,000,000 square foot production facility. While KTM AG produces motorcycles under the KTM and Husqvarna brands, CF Moto produces more ATVs and side-by-sides.

A partnership between the two companies may raise some eyebrows amongst fans and even executives within the companies themselves. Could it be that partnered with CF Moto, KTM could be putting some of their R&D into side-by-sides?

Only time will really tell, but with the growing popularity of side-by-sides, and with more and more races such as the Dakar rally focusing on the side-by-side class, it would not be surprising to see KTM, if not make a side-by-side completely, at least help produce components for CF Moto vehicles.

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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