During a high-profile visit to Milan Avenue in Amherst, Ohio, KTM North America Inc. was able to welcome some very special guests. On the second weekend in March, members of the Penton Owners Group gathered for an anniversary celebration, as almost 50 years ago to this day, the first Penton motorcycles arrived in the US. To mark the occasion, we took a look back at John Penton’s legacy and his motorcycles that paved the way to KTM becoming the long-standing leader on the offroad market half a century ago.
Not a single gram of fat; just muscle. With the KTM 690 DUKE R, KTM created the most revolutionary single-cylinder street bike on the face of the planet. “Only the essentials – but only the finest essentials”: this was the philosophy behind the ultra-modern LC4 ‘single’, which was unveiled thirty years ago in 1987.
When the young KTM MotoGP team racked up the first world championship points in Termas de Río Hondo (Argentina) at the beginning of April, road racing at KTM already had a tradition spanning several decades. Sixty years ago, the star of Erwin Lechner first began to shine. The young rider achieved success after success in both road and offroad racing. At the same time, KTM designer Ludwig Apfelbeck conceived both the 4-valve racing engine and a small 2-stroker for the moped “Mecky”.
KTM had been unbeaten since 2001 when more than 140 riders lined up for the start of the 39th edition of the Dakar Rally in Asunción on January 2, 2017. Orange was once again the predominant color at the start line – over half of the competitors had opted for the machine that so often wins this event, the KTM 450 RALLY.
Orange – this mixture of yellow and red is much more than just a color to KTM; it has also been the company’s philosophy for two decades now. In the world of motorcycles, KTM Orange carries the same meaning as “Ferrari Red” for motor vehicles, and when other manufacturers paint their motorcycles orange, the motorcycle world thinks only of KTM.
When all the motorcycles are lined up in the parc fermé on the eve of the 91st International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) in Navarra, Spain, one color will dominate, as it has for many years: orange. But six decades ago, KTM started out small at the 31st International Six Days Trial. Egon Dornauer and Kurt Statzinger won the first two gold medals for KTM, to be followed by many more in the decades to come.
KTM is one of only a handful of manufacturers to have won a title in all classes of the Motocross World Championship since it was first staged six decades ago. Following in the footsteps of Gennady Moiseev, who claimed the first 250cc victory in 1974, Trampas Parker won the 1989 125cc title, and exactly 20 years ago, New Zealander Shayne King completed the series with his triumph in what was at the time the “premium class”: 500cc.
Last weekend, the Red Bull Ring played host to two comebacks at once. Austria is back on the MotoGP calendar. And KTM presented its MotoGP plan for 2017. The Red Bull Ring, formerly known as the Österreichring, was the perfect stage for both.
Spectacular racing success and popular production machines: there is often a whole team of engineers behind successful designs, but things were different right up to the 1970s. Just as the name Kiska now represents the distinctive design of KTM models, many motorcycles were previously closely associated with their designer’s name. Precisely six decades ago, Hans Trunkenpolz, the head of KTM, succeeded in bringing the famous designer Ludwig Apfelbeck to Mattighofen.
We regularly bow down before all the great personalities, heroes and legends of racing. It has already been more than 15 years since we said goodbye to one of the most successful road racers of all time. In Joey Dunlop, we lost a fine human being, who is still revered as an unforgettable role model.