KTM buying GasGas – what’s the story?

As KTM and GasGas join forces we’ve taken a look at the details behind the deal and what it might mean for enduro and the Girona-produced bikes in the future.

 

News emerged over the weekend about a deal between KTM and GasGas. Namely KTM Industries AG and Black Toro Capital signed an agreement to work together – saving the GasGas factory and boosting KTM product range.  

On the surface it seems quite a simple deal and the logical conclusion is we will see red bikes alongside orange and white ones in dealer showrooms. But what does it mean for GasGas and what is the point for KTM? Here’s what we know…

What’s the story?

It is an understatement to say GasGas has had an up and down recent history. Bankruptcy, staff layoffs, buyouts, re-launches, a fire and poor sales have put the the Spanish manufacturer, and all associated with it, through the mill. 

Despite that “the brand” GasGas remains a strong one which is why when news arrived last week that KTM were buying a major share of the company, it came as no surprise. 

GasGas is joined to Torrot (e-mobility company) so KTM isn’t just buying a Spanish enduro and trials arm but a whole ‘e’ brand as well. As we all head towards a battery powered future that has to be significant.

We know KTM were not the only interested party and understand Sherco owner, Marc Tessier was also in the running.

 
Jon Pearson GasGas MY2019 0007 560
 

What’s the financial issue?

Most recently the Girona-based factory underwent a temporary layoff of staff due to a fall in sales, which dropped from 39.3M Euros in 2017 to 22M Euros in 2018. It was the point at which parent company, Torrot, cried enough with mounting debts growing to 23 million Euros – putting the factory at risk. 

As recently as September (2019), GasGas received financial aid from the Spanish government who injected 4.6 million Euros to the company to reduce the chance of shutdown while a new owner was sought.

Enter KTM Industries AG 

KTM Industries AG (soon to be renamed Pierer Mobility AG) and Black Toro Capital last week signed an agreement to give GasGas a future and boost their own portfolio in terms of trials and e-bikes. 

“New models will be developed alongside the Trial and Enduro bikes of GasGas” says a statement by KTM Industries AG, which importantly also points out that production of GasGas and TORROT electric vehicles will continue in the GasGas factory in Girona, Spain. 

KTM took over the rights for Husqvarna Motorcycles when the then Italian produced brand was on its arse so this is nothing new. It is also not the first time KTM has shown interest in GasGas as the two brands tried reaching an agreement back in 2015. That deal fell through before Torrot took over. 

 
GasGas EC MY2020 8743 560
 

Orange bikes painted red in showrooms?

Black Toro Capital has also released a statement saying: “This agreement will allow the expansion of the GasGas product portfolio into different segments, engine capacities and models. The main new models will be four-stroke and electric motorcycles (including children’s models) as well as electric bicycles.”

So, a four stroke GasGas range again and a reliable one at that with parts back-up and a strong dealer network. About time. 

What is unclear at this stage is exactly how GasGas models will differ from KTM or Husqvarna models. We know of course the Husqvarnas share much with KTM models but we also know the strong points of the Gasser are its chassis and in particular its OE suspension. 

Chances of KTM Industries AG, owner of WP suspension, releasing a model range with KYB suspension are slim but we await news on this. 

Going forward with KTM produced engines, this means GasGas models will not have the same hurdles to jump regarding EU emissions laws they would have faced because KTM already has this in hand particularly with the fuel injected, two-stroke engines.

 
 TPI EXC MY20 560
 

What else might it mean? 

This is speculation on our part but it could mean we see another “brand” racing in the World Enduro Super Series instead of it being quite so much of a two-horse race between orange and white teams. 

We also hope it means the continuation of a GasGas team in the EnduroGP world championship paddock and re-establishing its presence on the world stage in general at major events like Erzbergrodeo and Romaniacs.

KTM will have the possibility to include a trials bike under its wing at long last but we don’t exepct to see orange ones. The GasGas trials range has remained the bedrock for the company as it moved through the various ups and downs in recent years – the bikes are good and have a reputation. 

The deal could see the GasGas trials bike range growing however to include more models including potential four stroke but certainly smaller capacity models – KTM makes the smaller capacity engine for Beta’s 80cc models, we believe. 

E-bike collaboration

The deal will also mean a progression of the e-bike development with both Black Toro Capital and KTM Industries pointing to this in their separate releases about the deal. The KTM Group already makes a lot of electronic components for other brands and the trade between the two seems an easy fit.

KTM (and Husqvarna) and Torrot already have solid kids e-motorcycles which are on-par with the petrol-powered equivalent models and we expect this will only develop into the adult market in the future. 

Then there’s the rapidly expanding e-cycle/e-mobility market which is huge business globally and one which KTM Industries AG are very much into. 

 
9 KTM SX E 5 MY2020 left rear 560
 

End user parts supply, new bikes, dealers? It gets confusing…

In terms of the end user, i.e. the customers who already own a Gas Gas and those who potentially might buy one in the future, it can only be a good thing – in the future. In the near future however GasGas will have a problem selling any current enduro bikes (and any 2020 models when or if they arrive). 

There is a grey area in terms of what happens to existing bikes in showrooms, what GasGas dealers will do and in particular what happens to the current importers - how much faith teh buying public will have in pre-KTM bikes remains to be seen. That said, one of the most fiercely loyal GasGas importers and someone who has been through a hell of a lot in recent years to maintain his business, is John Shirt of GasGas UK who says the deal is “fantastic news, very, very positive and I’m buzzing.” 

What Shirt isn’t any clearer about than anyone else is what that means next. Like all GasGas importers, he is heavily financially tied and the future is uncertain in terms of what might happen with any 2020 models. Times are tough but as Shirt says: “the future looks bright at the end of the tunnel, we just don’t know how we get there yet.”  

It is worth remembering there was a dormant period when KTM bought Husqvarna before we saw the new white bikes coming out of Austria. It is likely there will be a similar delay in any red bikes with KTM engines coming out of Girona – next May time would make sense when the new models from Austria are usually introduced.

For the record we spoke to KTM but at present they declined to give any further details.

What do we think at Enduro21? 

It has got to be good in the long run. Good to see the historically important GasGas brand surviving and coming back with a bang. Whatever you feel about the differences/similarities between KTM and Husqvarna enduro models, having a third option in red will indeed be just that, another option.

One thought is you could buy the last of the KYB-fitted Gas Gas two-strokes and keep it as a classic – last of the carbed two-stroke models, great suspension etc.

In reality where they (KTM) pitch the price of the red bikes, what suspension it will have, how the hell current dealers will fit a whole range of new bikes in their showrooms remains to be seen. 

 
Jon Pearson GasGas MY2019 0035 560
 
 
Photo Credit: Nicki Martinez + Gas Gas + KTM
 
 
The team at Enduro21
jon.pearson@enduro21.com