After announcing they won’t be building large-capacity motorcycles in India earlier this year, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer has backtracked on the statement, confirming made-in-India big bikes from the Austrian brand. Pierer was speaking to an international publication, wherein he disclosed plans of KTM to develop a new 650cc twin-cylinder platform specifically for emerging markets including India and other neighbouring countries.
Pierer said that these twin-cylinder bikes will be locally made, much like its single-cylinder range, in partnership with Bajaj Auto. The KTM boss explained that the company decided to shelve the much-awaited 490cc platform that was set to be the step-up for KTM 390 owners worldwide. It also aimed to bridge the gap between the 390 and the 790 in the company’s portfolio. However, the 490 platform wasn’t turning out to be financially feasible. Instead, the company is now working on a new 650cc platform that will be derived from the existing KTM 790 Duke platform and promises to be more practical in a lot of ways.
The upcoming KTM 650cc platform will spawn a new range of models starting with the Duke streetfighter. Apart from India, the 650cc range will cater to markets like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Indonesia, Australia, and more. The bike maker is already discussing the supply chain for the new platform, which could begin with the local assembly of the 790 Duke in the country.
Much like Bajaj, KTM has a similar partnership with China’s CFMOTO. The latter leverages the 790 platform and engine for its own range of models, while also locally assembling KTM bikes in China to cater to domestic market needs. KTM’s locally-built motorcycles make their way to Latin America as well, creating different sets of customers for its China and India operations.
The news is certainly a big win for KTM enthusiasts and existing owners who have been waiting for the big bike upgrade for years now. KTM did give us a taste of it officially with the 790 Duke but the model’s arrival was shortlived and never expanded with motorcycles like the 890 Duke, 790 Adventure or the 1290 Super Duke. The 650cc would be a great stepping stone for several buyers, while keeping the models accessible against offerings from Triumph, Royal Enfield, Moto Morini, Zontes, QJ Motor and more. Bajaj will surely make their own variant of the twin-cylinder in the future or infact around the same timeline as the launch of these two as well. The decision to make a 650cc twin is to make sure that they compete against the like of Honda 500cc series, Kawasaki 650cc and Royal Enfield’s new found 650cc series that has also exceeded expectations.