Regardless of type – street, pure dirt or adventure – the total number of middleweight motorcycle choices is set to skyrocket over the next few years. New and younger riders are turning away from bigger bikes. Manufacturers are finally catching on to this, injecting more energy and cash flow into small-to-medium-engine motorcycles. Honda brought back the Supercub and the Monkey and expanded its mid-tier off-road line; Kawasaki introduced the Ninja 125 and Z125 pro sportbikes; there were rumblings of smaller Ducati Scramblers earlier this year. But it’s a one-two news punch – KTM toying with the idea of buying Ducati from Volkswagen and a SpeedWeek interview with KTM CEO Stefan Pierer – that signifies a major change.
“The theme is a 790 adventure,” says Pierer. “We want to sell 15,000 of them next year; the middle class is becoming more important. In this segment, we will come to other models, an SMT and so on.” But Pierer continued, “In the 500 cc class, we will bring a two-cylinder machine, which is manufactured by our partner Bajaj in India and with which we compete against the Japanese. Growth is happening in the emerging markets today, and in these emerging markets ‘premium’ is the mid-range of 500 to 800 cc.”
It sounds like KTM is already on a path to build more middleweight engines. Based on KTM’s M.O, it’s likely the company will build an engine then give it triple-duty in a sportbike, an off-road bike and then a road going supermoto version. If KTM does bring a 500cc and an 800cc engine to market, it’s easy to assume we’ll get at least six new bikes in orange, black and white. If and when KTM acquires Ducati as an asset, those plans to increase production numbers and options throughout the segments and engine sizes will probably accelerate.
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