KTM – History

KTM History


Hans Trunkenpolz opens a repair workshop in Mattighofen [Kraftfahrzeuge Trunkenpolz Mattighofen].


The Trunkenpolz company appears as an official supplier of motorcycles for the first time (sale of DKW motorcycles).

Hans Trunkenpolz and his sister aboard an early Wanderer motorcycle


The Trunkenpolz company expands continuously, becoming one of the biggest motorcycle and car repair workshops in Upper Austria.

In the meantime, the company had expanded further and Hans Trunkenpolz employed five workers. Just before the outbreak of the World War Second, the company moved into a new building at Mühlweg 2 in Mattighofen. Shortly afterwards the company founder was called up for military service. His wife Elisabeth unavoidably had to manage the business by the end of 1943. Meanwhile, Hans Trunkenpolz was released from military service with the official order to repair trucks and engines for the military.

1945 -1948

In the hardship of the post-war years, there was a huge demand for trucks to provide the population with the basic needs. On the other hand there was a lack of roadworthy trucks, since they had been damaged during military intervention. Like in the early years, the Trunkenpolz’ company focused on vehicle repairs again. By then, Hans Trunkenpolz employed 35 people and the company rapidly evolved into one of the biggest repair workshops in Upper Austria. Due to the war damage at the vehicle manufacturers the supply with spare parts still not gained momentum. Trunkenpolz made a virtue out of necessity and manufactures the most urgently needed spare parts in his own company.
In 1948 the company was expanded with an added drop forge and a foundry. At the same time Trunkenpolz specialized in the series production of crankshaft bearings. Of course these actions created new jobs and at the end of the war, the workforce doubled to 70 people.

The economic miracle loomed in Austria and not at least due to the Marshall Plan the industry rapidly bounced back. The Trunkenpolz family did not only benefit from these developments: the repair orders for trucks dropped remarkably and only the manufacturing of spare parts generated some revenue. It is hardly surprising that Trunkenpolz had to search for new options after the loss of revenues from the repair workshop. The population´s wish for motorized transport came at a proper time.

At that time, only a few people could afford a car. Therefore Trunkenpolz decided to develop a lightweight motorcycle. As a DKW dealer he gained wide experience in the motorcycle business in the pre-war period. The terms were set quickly – it should be a “real motorcycle” with footpegs, without the pedal-drive known from the motor-driven bicycles.


First major development commences: A light-weight motorcycle – the R100 – fitted with a 98cc Rotax engine with pull starter goes into production in the little town Gunskirchen.

KTM R 100
KTM R 100


Introduction of the first production series of KTM motorcycles (a team of 20 completes 3 motorcycles per day). First racing activities (5th Gaisberg competition: KTM comes first, second and third).

[Businessman and racing enthusiast  Ernst Kronreif  buys into KTM.]  The company is now officially known as “Kronreif, Trunkenpolz, Mattighofen”.


Delivery of the 1000th KTM motorcycle. KTM wins the Austrian 125 category national championships for the first time.


Development of the KTM Tourist model (125 cc); first road races.

Baederpreiss Race – 1955


First participation in the International Six Days; Egon Dornauer wins gold.

125cc DOHC Apfelbeck
125cc DOHC Apfelbeck


Range extended to include a sports motorcycle (Trophy 125 cc) and its first scooter (Mirabell).

KTM Trophy
KTM Trophy
Erwin Lechner – 1957


Erwin Lechner keeps on winning off-road with KTM’s new racing motorcycle, constructed by engineer Ludwig Apfelbeck.


Motorcycle production ceases as the result of the crisis in the two-wheel industry. However, the first “Ponny” scooter and KTM moped are introduced.

KTM 125 RS - 1959
KTM 125 RS – 1959


Range increased to include the Comet.


Bicycle production commences. Cross-country racing resumed; birth of the first KTM works team participation in the Six Days.


Production of the 10,000th Comet moped. KTM wins three gold medals at the international Six Days in Sweden.


Production of the cross-country Penton Six Days for export to the USA.


Production of the first KTM engines commences. Manfred Klerr wins the Austrian national championships on the newly developed 250 cc Motocross bike.

Engine Assembly line 1970
Engine Assembly line 1970


KTM’s workforce reaches 400.


Serial production of the 250 (Cross & Endure) commences. First WC points and Grand Prix wins for KTM (P. Roulev & G. Moissev).


KTM’s product range consists of 42 different models. Series production of KTM Hobby III commences. Russian Gennadij Moissev wins the first 250 cc Motocross World Championship title for KTM


Introduction of the road model Comet Grand Prix 125 RS. KTM works rider Sigi Lerner becomes Austrian Motocross road champion. Alessandro Gritti becomes European Enduro Champion. Gennadij Moissev wins his second 250 cc Motocross World Championship on KTM.

Comet GP 125 RS
Comet GP 125 RS


Construction of our own 125 cc engine. International success for the Italian Farioli racing team (two European Championships).


“KTM America Inc.” established in Lorain, Ohio; the company’s first US subsidiary. 50 cc product range extended. Third 250 cc Motocross World Championship title for KTM and Moissev.


Company name changed to “KTM Motor-Fahrzeugbau KTM”. Intensive further development of the sports models (weight reduction, membrane steering).


Production of the first water-cooled 125 cc Motocross bike. 700 employees achieve an annual turnover of ATS 750 million, 76% of the production is exported to 13 countries.


Motocross models fitted with the new “Pro Lever” back wheels suspension. Development of a KTM 4-stroke engine with water-cooling commences (first supplier on the market).


Manufacture of KTM radiators commences. First order for the Austrian Army. Heinz Kinigadner becomes 250cc Motocross World Champion on KTM.


Production of the 100,000th KTM engine (500cc, liquid cooled, over 50 bpm). Heinz Kinigadner wins the 250cc Motocross World Championship for the second time.



KTM becomes the first manufacturer to offer disc brakes front and rear. KTM wins every category at the Six Days in Italy.


Series production commences of the KTM 4-stroke engine (1 cylinder, 560ccm, overhead camshaft). Production of 98,000 radiators, 93,700 bicycles, 12,600 mopeds and 10,600 motorcycles.


Scooter manufacture ceases.


KTM and Trampas Parker (USA) become 125cc Motocross World Champion, and Motocross World Champions in the sidecar category with the Huesser twins (CH). Majority shares sold by KTM to GIT Trust Holding. Company manager Erich Trunkenpolz dies.


KTM Motorfahrzeugbau AG files for bankruptcy; divided into independent successors for radiators, motorcycles, bicycles and tooling manufacture.


The newly formed motorcycle division – KTM Sportmotorcycle GmbH – opens up under new management, new Hard Enduro concept and a new motorcycle design. KTM Enduro World Championship title 1990 goes to Paul Edmondson (125), Peter Hansson (500), 1991 and 1992 to Jeff Nilsson (125), 1992 to Mario Rinaldi (350).


KTM Rally commitment begins (win at the Atlas Rally in 5 categories).


KTM Sportmotorcycle GmbH renamed KTM-Sportmotorcycle AG. Workforce 212. Company commences production of the road model of the Duke series.

Duke 640
Duke 640


Acquisition of Swedish Husaberg AB and takeover of White Power Suspension (NL). Production of 12,000 motorcycles, turnover ATS 1.1 billion. 2 Enduro World Championship titles, wins at the Master Rally and the Tunisia Rally.


First series production of KTM LC4 engine with e-starter. Other subsidiaries set up (Germany and Switzerland). KTM-Motorradholding AG listed on the Vienna stock exchange. 500cc Motocross World Championship title with Shayne King, countless wins in Enduro and Rally competitions.


Market introduction of the LC4 Supermoto for the road, and LC4 Adventure, KTM’s first cruising bike. 3 Enduro World Championship titles: Shane Watts (125), Mario Rinaldi (400) and Kari Tiainen (500).


PDS (Linkless Suspension System) on the 2-stroke models, new engine generation 125/200cc, new Z design. Construction of a new assembly plant with a new R&D centre. Marketing subsidiary KTM UK opens. KTM wins 2nd to 12th position at the 20th Paris-Dakar Rally.

[Alfie Cox finishes 4th overall (3rd KTM rider) in the motorcycle category of the Paris Dakar with one stage win.  KTM riders take 2nd to 12th place. ]


Production commences at KTM’s new manufacturing facility. Production of KTM’s new 4-stroke engine with separate lubrication 125/200cc.

Marketing subsidiary KTM Spain opens. Withdrawal from the stock exchange. Enduro World Champion Juha Salminen (125), overall winner of the Enduro World Championship (Giovanni Sala).  Thierry Magnaldi wins the new Rally World Cup.

[Alfie Cox claims 3rd place (2nd KTM rider) in the Dakar with two stage wins.]


Introduction of KTM’s 2-cylinder project at the Intermot Munich. Marketing subsidiary KTM France opens. Extremely good year for competitions: KTM wins 6 World Championships! 125cc Motocross World Champion (Grant Langston), 500cc Motocross World Champion (Joel Smets), 125cc Enduro World Champion (Juha Salminen), 250 4T Enduro World Champion (Matteo Rubin), 400cc Enduro World Champion (Mario Rinaldi), 500cc Enduro World Champion (Kari Tiainen).

[Alfie Cox wins stage 8 of the Dakar but ends up in 45th place overall after an engine failure.  KTM riders win 10 of the 13 stages.]


Move to the new spare parts warehouse in Mattighofen.  Juha Salminen takes World Enduro Championship title and James Dobb wins 125cc Motocross Championship.

[Fabrizio Meoni take the first of KTM’s wins on the Dakar.  KTM riders fill the first 5 places.  Alfie Cox takes two stage wins and fifth place overall.}


Move to the new engine assembly plant in Munderfing. Therry van den Bosch becomes World Supermoto Champion. Fabrizio Meoni wins the Dakar Rally riding the new 950 Rally twin. Juha Salminen wins the World Enduro Championship again.

Fabrizio Meoni's Dakar winning LC8 950
Fabrizio Meoni’s Dakar winning LC8 950 – Ciao Fabrizio, sempre con noi.

[KTM riders win every stage of the Dakar.  Alfie Cox takes two stage wins and finishes in second spot behind Fabrizio Meoni.]


Launch of the 950 Adventure. Presentation of the 990 Duke. Entrainment in the new development centre in Mattighofen. 70,514 motorcycles sold worldwide with a total revenue of 376 million Euros.

KTM enters the 125cc Moto GP Road Racing World Championship. World Champions 2003: Juha Salminen (Enduro), Steve Ramon (125 MX), Joel Smets (650 MX), Rally world cup victory for Cyril Despres. National US Champions 2003: Grant Langston (125 Supercross), Mike Lafferty (Enduro).

[KTM riders again win every stage of the Dakar.  Alfie Cox wins stage 7, but is then forced to retire after a crash on stage 8.]


Launch of the 990 Super Duke, Presentation of the 990 RC8 Venom and the 950 Supermoto at the Intermot Munich. Construction of a new administration building in Mattighofen. Successful placement of the KTM bond at the capital market.

Super Duke 990
Super Duke 990

Foundation of two new subsidiaries in Hungary and Slovenia. World wide sales of 76,815 motorcycles and a total revenue of 402.4 million Euros 17 World Championship titles, 104 titles in total.

[Alfie Cox finishes in fourth position in the Dakar.]


Launch of the 950 Supermoto. Presentation of the 990 Adventure and the 950 Super Enduro R. Cooperation with Polaris Industries Inc. World wide sales of 80,356 motorcycles and a total revenue of 451.2 million Euros.

16 World Championship titles, 120 titles in total, KTM wins the Contractor title in the 125cc Road Racing World Championship. All 6 Enduro World Championship titles go to KTM.

Cyril Despres wins the Dakar. [Alfie Cox finishes the Dakar in 3rd place behind Despres and Marc Coma.]


[KTM riders win all but one stage of the Dakar.  Marc Coma wins the race and KTM riders take the top eight spots.]

In the business year 05/06 record sales at KTM – for the first time over EUR 500 million were achieved. A total of 84,421 motorcycles sold. This positive growth has been caused in the offroad segment by the introduction of further models and in the street segment by the successful presentation of the new models (990 Adventure, 950 Super Enduro) and the in sales (950 Supermoto) in the 2-cylinder segment. 9 riders world championship titles, 7 manufacturers titles – 136 World Championship titles overall.

Austria Post - KTM 125 'Tarzan (http://www.stampnews.com/stampimages200609/1174381545_879918b.jpg)
2006 Austria Post – 1957 KTM 125 ‘Tarzan’ (http://www.stampnews.com/stampimages200609/1174381545_879918b.jpg)


The extremely positive feedback at the world premiere of the KTM X-Bow at the Geneva International Motor Show has turned the balance: The Upper Austrian company will go into series production with the light weight sports car.


The new highly modern KTM parts and logistics centre was finished and related products distribution starts taking place from this facility which guarantees a highly reliable and time efficient spare parts supply to the entire KTM world.

2008 was another very successful year in racing. The KTM factory teams win 9 riders and 7 constructors World Championship titles which lead to an amazing total of 162 titles.


At the EICMA show in Milan KTM presented a revolutionary 350cc MX race bike along side two highly attractive 125 concept bikes, that brought out cheers, not only in the youth scene. The official racers provided a more than positive result again. The Motocross and Enduro teams achieved 4 out of 6 possible World Championship titles and a first KTM Superbike project resulted in a vice championship title at the IDM. The motorsport enthusiastic company now holds 173 World Championship titles.

Jeremy McWilliams – RC8 at Assen IDM Superbike series


KTM does the impossible and brings home all Motocross World Championship titles. Antonio Cairoli wins the MX1 class on the revolutionary 350 SX-F while Marvin Musquin secures the MX2 title and Steffi Laier the WMX title.

The long awaited 125 Duke is successfully launched worldwide.

– • –

The 990 SMR and SMT models are introduced.



Marc Coma wins the motorcycle class in the Dakar rally first time out on a KTM 450 Rally, marking his third win and KTM’s 10th consecutive win.

The Duke 690 4 is unveiled at EICMA.  Also introduced is the Duke 200.

2011 Austria Post stamp showing 1956 KTM 125 cc 'Apfelbeck'
2011 Austria Post stamp showing 1956 KTM 125 cc ‘Apfelbeck’ (http://www.stampnews.com/stampimages201103/1300101491_455826b.jpg)


Cyril Despres wins the motorcycle class in the Dakar rally on a KTM 450 Rally; an unbelievable 11th straight win for KTM, and a fourth win for Despres.

European Junior Cup series launched.

Jeremy Mc Williams testing the Duke 4 'Track' developed for the EJC series
Jeremy Mc Williams testing the Duke 4 ‘Track’ developed for the EJC series

Sandro Cortese wins the Moto 3 world title on a KTM.

The Duke 690 R is unveiled at EICMA.  A new model, the Duke 390 is also introduced.

Sandro Cortese leads at Phillip Island (photo:Gold and Goose)
Sandro Cortese leads at Phillip Island (photo:Gold and Goose)

KTM kicks off the year with a strong team representation in the Dakar including South Africans Darryl Curtis and Riaan van Niekerk in the Broadlink KTM ‘B’ Team.  When the rally ends in Santiago on 19th January, Cyril Despres has won his fifth Dakar title, KTM a 12th consecutive win and KTM riders and machines occupy the top five places.

KTM and Cyril Despres 2013 Dakar winners in the motorcycle class
KTM and Cyril Despres 2013 Dakar winners in the motorcycle class

Maverick Vinales takes the Moto 3 title on a KTM and KTM take the top 4 title places

Luis Salom, who eventually finished as runner-up in the Championship onboard his KTM.  Photo: Gold & Goose; KTM.
Luis Salom, who eventually finished as runner-up in the Championship onboard his KTM. Photo: Gold & Goose; KTM.

KTM introduces the new 1290 Super Duke to the public at EICMA at the beginning of November

The new Super Duke in Black - nicer that traditional KTM orange imo - Santa, I've been good this year!
1290 Super Duke – 180ps


The 2014 Dakar kicks off in January with KTM facing its stiffest competition in years from Yamaha, Honda and Sherco.  At the finish in Valparaiso, Chile on the 18th January Marc Coma seals his fourth Dakar victory and KTM’s 13th consecutive win.  KTM riders occupy seven of the top 12 places.  Riann van Niekerk finishes in 12th spot, one place better than his 2013 result.

Marc Coma celebrates in Valparaiso (photo: M Maragni KTM Images)
Riann van Niekerk in the dunes on stage 10 (photo: M Maragni KTM Images)
Riann van Niekerk in the dunes on stage 10 (photo: M Maragni KTM Images)



brad-binder-moto3-jerez-2016-spagna-vittoriaBrad Binder and KTM win the 2016 Moto 3 riders’ championship at Motorland Aragon. Finishing in second position after a race long scrap with five other riders, Binder now cannot be overtaken in the championship in the remaining four races of the year.

Binder joins an exclusive club (alongside Jon Ekerold and Kork Ballington) of South African riders who have clinched a moto world title.

Viva Brad Binder, Viva KTM.


Click here or here to see the history of the KTM logo.

My thanks to Franziska Brandl, MD of KTM Motorcycles SA (Pty) Ltd for supplying the history of KTM from 1934 to 2010. Wording in square brackets are editorial additions. Additional information retrieved from http://blog.ktm.com/inthisyear-1934-from-car-workshop-to-motorcycle-manufacturer-ktm/
(All photos supplied and © KTM unless otherwise indicated)


One thought on “KTM – History

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s