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Incoming 500cc bikes from KTM expected 2021 and 2022

KTM is reported to be working on a range of 500cc naked and adventure motorcycles alongside production partner Bajaj

KTM boss Stefan Pierer has confirmed in an interview that the manufacturer is working up a new 500cc platform that could spawn naked and adventure machines from both KTM and Husqvarna.

In the interview, he confirmed that the Austrian manufacturer will be subbing the development of the new machines out to production partner (and 48% shareholder in KTM AG) Bajaj. Pierer also admits his faith in the 500cc segment worldwide, going onto admit that the economic impact of COVID-19 is one reason that Bajaj will be overseeing all the oily bits of the bikes.

KTM won’t be taking a total backseat role in the machines though, as the projects will be partly managed them but located at Bajaj’s R&D Centre in Pune. He also states that KTM’s own R&D team will be hands-on with the design, development, and testing of the new bikes.

What could the new range of 500cc KTM bikes look like?

KTM have for many years being the masters of platform manufacturing. The idea of taking a common chassis and engine and building multiple models for differing applications really does come very easy to the company.

Take the naked Duke models and their faired sports bike siblings the RC range for example, and more recently the 390 and 790 Adventure machines.

It’d be sensible to expect Pierer and his team to tread the path most trodden and produce nakeds, adventure motorcycles, and maybe even a 500cc sports bike.

What about the engine in the new Bajaj-built KTM machines?

In the interview, the ever-candid CEO also gave some fairly big pointers to the design and configuration of the engine, in turn helping us to gauge its performance and main competitors.

The new 500cc range will be powered by a parallel twin-cylinder, liquid-cooled motor, which in itself points to a possible new frame for the mid-capacity machines.

The previous frame of the 390 (powered by a single-cylinder) would most likely be too narrow to carry a parallel twin and it’s more bulbous airbox. Likewise, the chassis of the 790 Duke and Adventure would probably be too large, heavy and over-engineered for the lightweight machine.

While the new frame is highly likely to follow the look and style of KTM’s current trellis frames, the design will more than likely be all-new and bespoke for the new 500cc range of bikes.

It’s also probable that the machines will continue with ’90 nomenclature, meaning when the motorcycles hit the road they’ll be named as 490 Dukes, Adventure, and RCs.

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