KTM spotlights Adventure 950

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A mandatory event for retailers planning to carry the all-new 2004 KTM 950 Adventure, an on/off-road bike, KTM North America’s annual business meeting, held here Aug. 10-12, attracted 83.5% of the Austrian manufacturer’s U.S. and Canadian dealers.
The meeting, formally titled “Nashville Twin Sound Adventure 2004” — an apparent nod to KTM’s twin-cylinder LC8 motor — served to formally introduce the 300 retailers in attendance to the 950 Adventure (MSRP $11,998) and 950 Adventure S ($12,498); the four-model line of supermoto, or SMC, bikes; newly designed mini, motocross and off-road bikes; and a healthy dose of new KTM branded accessories, specialized parts, tools, marketing and finance options.
Racing costs take up 8.5% of KTM’s revenues. Underscoring KTM’s continued devotion to racing, KTM North America President Rod Bush told assembled dealers that the company holds the number three market share position in the off-highway competition motorcycle segment and described the successes of the various factory riders competing in KTM orange throughout the world.
While the 950 Adventure was a bike built using 95% of the same components and specifications as the full-race unit Fabrizio Meoni used to conquer the Dakar Rally, the $20 million KTM invested to bring the consumer model to market suggests a slight deviation from a strict off-road focus and an intention to begin serious production of dual-sport and on-road product.
“What we’re doing is offering unique products to the marketplace, product areas other manufacturers may choose to either ignore or not pick up on,” Scot Harden, KTMNA vice president of media relations, told Powersports Business while explaining the company’s intended direction. “Just look at our line — we’re giving a big push to the supermotos and offering the 950. Both represent niches we feel will make up our future growth.”
Both also represent niches that include on-road riding. Mate Harden’s comment with KTM’s ongoing 125cc road race program, plus the expected 2005 release of the 950cc Super Duke, and the vision becomes more clear.
KTMNA has over 30 bikes entering the U.S. during 2004 in categories labeled as Sportminicycles, Motocross, Off-road Cross Country, Off-road Enduro, Hard Enduro LC4, Adventure LC8 and Supermoto.
Bikes introduced in addition to the 950 Adventure — available as of Dec. 2003 — included the 105 SX ($3,798), 400 EXC RFS ($7,098), 450 SMC ($6,898), 525 SMC ($6,898), 625 SMC ($6,298) and 660 SMC ($6,998).
Many of the bikes returning from 2003 featured upgrades. For instance, all 50cc Mini Models received a new kickstarter shaft and seal, new clutch cover, competition oriented Pirelli tires, reed-valve housing from the 65 SX and new trim.
Updates to the previous incarnation of the 85 SX include a new engine with centrifugal exhaust control and chassis components upgraded to match 125cc machines. The 85 SX, produced in limited quantities for 2003, will enter full-scale production alongside the new 105 SX and become widely available as of October.
Further updates were made to the 450 SX RFS ($6,498), which received new, more stable valve springs; a redesigned clutch; a higher handlebar; and a single pipe exhaust system with new silencer. And, not to be forgotten, the 250 EXC ($6,248) received a completely new engine; single piece rear end; new exhaust system and silencer; and rear wheel brake with integrated reservoir.
Ryan Ragland, KTMNA’s first R&D hire, says the manufacturer concentrated on chassis development and suspension set-up while preparing its 2004 model line-up. Ragland said tests showed North American riders had a totally different riding style compared to European riders, a difference he said warranted chassis and suspension tweaks for bikes destined for the U.S. and Canada.
Dealers, after having a chance to test KTM’s 2004 line-up during a demo day at TMT MX Park in Mount Eagle, Tenn., seemed to recognize the changes and described a stiffer ride more in tune with an aftermarket set-up.
But motorcycles were not the only new products to be introduced at the dealer meeting. Set up smack in the middle of the RCA Dome and Convention Center, KTM hard parts and equipment also took center stage. Riding and casual apparel; accessories; graphics; engine, suspension and chassis parts; luggage; shop equipment; and, to bolster the “Adventure” message, even an assortment of KTM camping gear was shown. Private labeled brand names included Ogio, Braking, Renthal and Akropovic, among others.
Transamerica Distribution Finance, Ganis Credit Corporation and GE Commercial Distribution Finance were there, too, with GE Retail Sales Finance reps extolling the virtues of the all-new KTM Card, a part of the FUNancing program.
In his speech to dealers, Bush reviewed KTM’s highlights from 2003 and talked of plans for 2004. Despite an unattractive dollar to Euro exchange rate, Bush says KTM successfully managed to use hedging and currency management techniques to maintain pricing and margin, add staff, improve logistics and boost production.
“Production during the past 10 years has grown from 6,800 bikes in 1993 to 72,500 for 2003,” Bush said prior to sharing a production target of 88,000 units for 2004 and 100,000 for 2005.
Regarding parts and other support, Bush said a strategic parts pricing matrix that balances cost, turnover and market acceptable pricing was mated with a new parts distribution center with 30% more staff and management and a 70% increase in inventory to result in consistent 24-hour turnaround on standard parts orders and express guaranteed same day shipping for emergency/priority orders. KTM parts and hard equipment sales were up 46% during the past year, Bush said, and the average parts order fill rate was over 93.5%.
Bush says KTM’s plans to aid dealers in 2004 include increased sales and marketing support and the creation of new regions with more regional sales managers. He said the manufacturer hopes to aid dealer profitability by using hedging and currency management techniques to maintain pricing and margins, manage supply and demand to avoid surplus model quantities, and focus on exclusive models with great profit potential — i.e., the SMC bikes and 950 Adventure.

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