KTM CEO Stefan Pierer has just announced that Bajaj Auto will build a new 500cc, twin cylinder KTM motorcycle for the Indian market. This motorcycle will take on mid capacity bikes sold by Japanese motorcycle makers including Kawasaki and Honda.
Here’s what Stefan Pierer said in an interview to SpeedWeek,
In the 500cc 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 800cc.
What the KTM CEO didn’t say though was whether the 500cc motorcycle would be a streetbike or an ADV machine. KTM typically builds multiple motorcycles on a single platform, and we expect the 500cc platform to spawn multiple motorcycles over time. A fully faired sportsbike like the KTM RC 390, a street naked like the Duke 390 and an adventure on-off road motorcycle are likely to come out from the new platform.
Considering that Bajaj Auto is building the motorcycle in India, expect a high amount of localization and a very competitive price tag. Royal Enfield has just shocked the mid-capacity motorcycle market with extremely competitive prices for the 650cc Interceptor and Continental GT twins. KTM is likely to come up with an equally aggressive price tag between Rs. 3-4 lakhs.
Other details about this motorcycle, including power and torque figures remain under wraps for now. It would be safe to expect at least 50-60 Bhp of peak power from the new 500cc, KTM twin considering the fact that the Duke 390 already pushes out 44 Bhp of peak power. A 6 speed manual gearbox with a slipper clutch is likely to be standard. Other key features could include upside down front forks, a monoshock rear suspension and a TFT instrument cluster.
Sharp styling has been another attribute that KTM has been known for, and this is another trait that the 500cc KTMs could carry across the board. KTM really shook up the entry level sportsbike market in India with the small capacity Dukes and RCs. Expect similar disruption in the mid-capacity sportsbike segment with the 500cc twins. A timeline for the launch of the 500cc KTM motorcycles is yet to be revealed.
Bajaj is upping the game in the mid-capacity motorcycle space, and it’s not KTM alone with which the Indian motorcycle maker has tied up with. Bajaj and Triumph are in a partnership to produce mid-capacity motorcycles with engine capacities between 500-750cc. The first motorcycles from the Bajaj-Triumph partnership will begin arriving from 2020.
Now that Royal Enfield has set the cat amongst pigeons by launching the 650cc Interceptor and Continental GT at sub-Rs. 3 lakh price points, it’s now up to the competition to come up with something compelling. Both the KTM 500cc range of twin cylinder motorcycles and the upcoming bikes from Bajaj-Triumph will be hotly anticipated by enthusiasts in India.