The KTM 490 Duke and its siblings will be made by Bajaj Auto for global consumption
The news of KTM working on a 500 cc multiple-variant platform is not new. Back in late 2018, the Austrian motorcycle brand’s CEO Stefan Pierer went on record to confirm the existence of this project. He also added that Bajaj Auto would be developing the medium-displacement architecture in India with KTM’s input.
In a recent interview, Pierer gave an update on the progress of this project. He stated that the COVID crisis has made the 500 cc motorcycle segment a very important one in advanced markets (for example, A2 motorcycle segment in Europe) as more people seek private urban transportation. In Asian markets, the same set of products would enjoy premium positioning. So, KTM is focused on getting the new family of middle-weight motorcycles to the market without delay.
Speaking about the timeline, Pierer confirmed that the first product out of this platform will be ready by 2022. Without detailing the variants, the top official said that the 500 cc models will serve as viable upgrade options to its existing 125, 250 and 390 Duke, RC owners across the world.
The KTM 490 Duke is likely to lead the way while Adventure and RC models are expected to follow at later stages. The CEO also confirmed that the 500 cc engine will adopt parallel-twin architecture like the larger 790 and 890 Dukes. The performance gap between the current 390 and 790 stand at 43 hp and 105 hp. Knowing KTM, we can expect the upcoming half-liter engine to be position somewhere in the middle, making it one of the most powerful motor in its displacement category.
As far as other hardware, the KTM 490 Duke and Adventure will be equipped with trellis frame suspended by WP system. KTM is likely to equip its upcoming medium-displacement motorcycles with twin disc brakes at the front and a single rear disc. Dual-channel cornering ABS, IMU-enabled traction control, configurable color TFT instrument console and several other electronic gadgets would be on board.
Needless to say, the KTM 490 Duke and its siblings will be manufactured in India by Bajaj Auto for global consumption. Indian R&D and manufacturing would help KTM position the products at very competitive price points. The platform will also spawn Husqvarna variants to take advantage of the economies of scale.
In the recent years, global two wheeler OEMs have been shifting their focus from liter-class superbikes to tech laden medium displacement models of varying flavor. It looks like medium is the new big.