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Orange and black: The story behind KTM Bike Industries

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8 Mar 2018
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KTM has a long history in the bike industry, its earliest creations having emerged from its Austrian factory as far back as 1964. Today KTM produces a huge range of bikes, as you would expect from a major bike manufacturer.

It also backs a range of riders and teams across Europe, including a UCI ProContinental outfit, and is title sponsor of the British Cycling-registered Team KTM UK.

Despite its impressive heritage, however, KTM is probably better known in the UK for its motorcycles, which are produced by a completely separate company.

However, awareness of KTM’s bicycles has increased massively in recent years thanks to their growing popularity with amateurs and high placed finishes at pro races like last year’s Tour de Yorkshire, where four Delko-Marseille Provence KTM riders finished in the top 20 overall.

The brand’s full name – Kronreif, Trunkenpolz, Mattighofen – is taken from the surnames of founders Ernst Kronreif and Hans Trunkenpolz, and the Austrian town of Mattighofen, where Hans Trunkenpolz was based and the company’s manufacturing plant was built.

KTM’s expansion into bicycle production initially came about thanks to American bicycle company Fleetwing, which commissioned KTM to create a ‘futuristic design’ for the US market in the early 1960s.

The result was the KTM Fleetwing, which came with 26” wheels and stayed true to its American roots with beach-cruiser steering.

Building on the Fleetwing’s success, KTM soon began rolling out bikes for the Austrian and wider European markets with its own branding.

In 1986 KTM made the leap forward into producing dedicated road bikes with the release of the KTM Formula Road Bike. It was very much of its time, but over the years has steadily evolved with the times into what we know today as the KTM Revelator.

Before 1991, KTM’s motorcycle division was under the same umbrella as the bicycles. But a decision was taken to split the company into four separate entities – bicycles, motorcycles, engines and radiators – which were then sold off separately.

The bicycle company was bought by the Urkauf family and its official name changed to KTM Fahrrad GmbH, but here in the UK it is known as KTM Bike Industries.

Despite the split, almost a decade later in 2000 both the motorcycle and bicycle companies took on the distinctive orange and black branding and colour scheme that can be spotted on bike rides and motorbike ride-outs around the country.

But while the orange and black branding is KTM's most prominent and recognisable colour scheme, the brand does have a range of other colours including the "Marseille Blue" seen on the Delko Marseille Provence KTM team bikes.

KTM Formula Road Bike

In 2010 KTM became the first company to conceptualise and produce an e-mountain bike, the Bionix system e-Race, which laid down an early marker in an area of the bicycle market that is now flourishing.

KTM’s e-bike range is now a big part of the company’s portfolio, and today covers over 65 different models – a fact KTM is very proud of.

Bucking the trend of Far East production, KTM still produces its bikes at its base in Mattighofen. This HQ has a full assembly line, plus powder coating and wheel building departments.

There is also a large testing facility on site, where a bike’s complete life cycle can be simulated and tested in just 70 hours.

KTM is a major player in Germany and its home market in Austria, but availability has been steadily expanding and today its bikes can now be bought in 50 countries around the world.

KTM first arrived in the UK in 2012, brought over by Yorkshire-based company FLi Distribution, and its range now covers 250 models, including everything from full carbon road bikes to city bikes and full suspension mountain bikes.

The flagship road offering is the newly launched KTM Revelator Lisse Prestige, which is a disc-equipped aero bike priced at £6,599. In all KTM has 13 road bikes in its range, both disc and non-disc, and they start from as little as £909.

In 2018 you should once again see KTM bikes raced in UCI and local races alike. And on the domestic scene, look out for the talented crop of riders on Team KTM UK, which KTM has been supporting as title sponsor since 2016.

They shouldn’t be hard to spot in that iconic orange and black branding.

FLi Distribution is the exclusive UK supplier of KTM Bike Industries products. For full details of KTM's range, visit flidistribution.co.uk or ktm-bikes.at