The competition at Dakar is heating up, and KTM is rising to the challenge with a new bike.
Although Team Orange has dominated the world’s most famous desert rally raid for years, the competition is getting stiffer. Honda’s re-entered the race, and Cyril Despres, always in first or second in the standings, has left for Yamaha. Other racers like Kurt Caselli will likely make an impact in Despres’ absence, but KTM isn’t going to sit around and hope it all works out.
Instead, says CEO Stefan Pierer, the company is working on a new 450 Dakar bike, and this time, it will be built around a 450 chassis.
The previous 450 has done well in the Dakar, but the bike wasn’t built around the motor. The race’s switch to 450 motors meant KTM had to come up with a challenger for the series when the rules changed, so they simply installed the 450 motor in a chassis originally intended for 600 cc machines.
In theory, the new machine should be much more capable as a result of its purpose-built design. Could KTM be making the right moves to stay atop the standings at Dakar for a long time to come? We’ll find out next January.