KTM and GasGas – what do we think we know?

As KTM formerly unveils GasGas under the lights at the EICMA Motorcycle Expo, the world’s biggest motorcycle show, we’re asking ourselves what happens next?

 

During the many major new model presentations at the World’s largest motorcycle show, EICMA in Italy this week, KTM finally put red with orange and unveiled a GasGas in front of the media spotlight. 

The main part of the presentation for KTM was their street and adventure bike models with MXGP and Rally getting the limelight in terms of off road sport. Enduro played a quiet role despite Manuel Lettenbichler having taken the World Enduro Super Series win just a week earlier.

Significantly though, the presentation concluded with Pierer Mobility AG (formerly KTM Industries AG) standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Black Torro Group on stage to unveil a GasGas trials bike – it was a symbolic moment.

 
ktm Eicma 2019 0255 GasGas 560
 

The blunt truth is the official news ends there – for now. Everyone we spoke to at EICMA (racers, team managers, marketing staff and more) was either unable to make further comment or cannot because they are not sure at this time which direction things will develop. 

But that doesn’t stop the world talking and Enduro21 has as many questions as anyone. So here’s what we think we know: 

When KTM acquired Husqvarna in 2013, initially things moved slowly but when the dust settled the white bikes were ultimately established on KTM running gear with clear distinctions in terms of look, bodywork design and additional premium products fitted as standard. Husqvarna was always and remains a separate “brand”.

 
 2015 Husqvarna Enduro 560
 

So one question is how will they position the red bikes alongside the orange and the white ones? In our view it is likely the GasGas enduro model range of fuel injected two-strokes and four strokes will arrive the same spec as the KTMs are currently and quite possibly run the PDS rear shock system not linkage as on the Husqvarna chassis. Anything less, as some have speculated, would under-value the EXCs. 

It is possible they could go for another premium price point to match the Husqvarna range but, again, it seems unlikely as that would devalue the premium position of the TE and FE Huskies. 

 
WP Suspension TE FE 2020 ForkTripleClamp 560
 

Online speculation is also rife regarding the suspension as we know, GasGas have long triumphed the KYB springers. But it makes no sense for KTM, owner of WP Suspension, to fit a rival manufacturer’s product to their bikes. Again, it is highly likely the basic bikes will match the EXCs with engine, running gear and components including the WP suspension.

Any differences are more likely to be in the details. As we know from the Husqvarna range, they like to mix the hardware fitted and use different suppliers – with brakes for example.

 
ktm Eicma 2019 0017 GasGas 560
 

Race paddock activity

Currently the pattern with the factory race teams is to have a big orange presence alongside a slightly smaller white set-up. As they currently run official race teams in WESS, Rally and MX World Championships then it seems natural to assume they will do the same with GasGas and have bikes racing on the biggest stages. 

Some speculation exists as to who will run the teams. In motocross (yup, expect to see GasGas MX bikes) the current second tier team at MXGP is likely to turn red – it is an easy move.

What happens in TrialGP would also seem to be an easy move with the R+D and race team based out of the Girona Factory currently – and KTM already having said production will continue at the GasGas original factory – we’re expecting the trials and electric bikes plus TrialGP team to stay in the heartland of the sport in Spain. 

 
GasGas TrialGP19 Trial e Albert Cabestany 560
 

In enduro it is not yet so clear. Different parties have been linked to the job of running a team but the smart money is on the current KTM Farioli team extending its wings a little more.

Who will ride the factory GasGas race bikes? Will they race in WESS or EnduroGP? No-one as yet will unzip their tight lips. But it is most likely we will see a further brand competing in the 2020 WESS Enduro World Championship given the current situation between the KTM group and the FIM.

 
Lettenbichler ktm Wess 2019 Rnd8 GetzenRodeo 560
 

What about the factory riders?

Again, they are tight-lipped but it would make sense to have one or two of the current contracted KTM riders move sideways onto a GasGas to promote the brand. That allows room for WESS Champion, Manuel Lettenbichler to arrive as fully-fledged factory rider in 2020. 

There are also some riders perhaps not on a factory contract but competing WESS who are strong contenders.

The earliest we could potentially see this unravel is the SuperEnduro World Championship. A two-rider line-up for KTM, Husqvarna and GasGas in SuperEnduro would surely be a bright and shiney way to unveil bikes and riders to the world – though it may be too soon in the calendar.  

It is also not beyond expectations that we’ll see a GasGas Rally team at Dakar 2020 – again parked alongside the orange and white crews already there. KTM have an incredible record at the event and it is natural to assume also they want to carry on the GasGas connection too.

 
ktm Eicma 2019 0733 GasGas 560
 

Brands by another name

KTM is not unusual as a large motor manufacturer in acquiring a new brand to stand alongside its current ‘product range’ and take a bigger chunk of the market. Your nearest supermarket is full of products with different brand names produced in the same factories.  It is normal practice for car manufacturers also who essentially make the same vehicle with different headlights and a front grill with a different badge on it. With that in mind then why would anyone question KTM’s ambitions?

As we mentioned earlier, KTM has already established a pattern when it acquired Husqvarna so to say: “yeah, but it is just a KTM with different plastics” is just shooting the breeze. 

The fact is not enough people bought GasGas enduro bikes as they were, despite them being pretty damn good in our view. Now at least GG lives and we will see red bikes on race tracks again giving another legitimate option for new off road bike buyers. 

We look forward to seeing how things unfold in the next months. 

 

Photo Credit: Future7Media + Pep Segales/TrialGP

 

 

 

Byline jp ISDE 2018 Enduro21

Jon Pearson

Enduro21 Editor and Bike Tester

jon.pearson@enduro21.com