KTM Motorcycles

The Remarkable History Of KTM

The Remarkable History Of KTM

Kronreif & Trunkenpolz Mattighofen, shortly known as KTM, is a world-famous Australian brand that is well known for its motorcycle, sports car, and bicycle production. KTM is famous for off-road and fast motorcycles that won a number of titles. Have a look at how this fabulous brand took a humble start.    

1. Introduction of KTM

Introduction of KTM

Photo Credit: @ktmindia.com

KTM was started in Mattighofen, Australia in 1934 as a workshop. The current owner of the KTM company is Stefan Pierer who has approximately 98% shares of the company. Another shareholder of the company is Bajaj Auto, the Indian manufacturer. KTM is well known for off-road motorcycles but there are also a number of street motorcycles that are produced and sold by KTM after 1990.

KTM now ranks among top ten motorcycle brands that have sold the maximum number of motorcycles. In 2010, it became the most popular motorcycle brand in Europe. KTM sold approximately 203,423 motorcycles worldwide in 2016.

Founded in 1934
Founder Hans Trunkenpolz
Current CEO Stefan Pierer
Partnership Bajaj Auto, India
Subsidiaries Husqvarna
Gas Gas
WP Suspension
Products Motorcycles, Sports cars, Bicycles
Net Income €72 Million (Still increasing)

2. History of KTM

  1. KTM was first started in 1934 as a car repair shop in Mattighofen, Australia by an engineer named, Johann Trunkenpolz.
  2. Trunkenpolz started to produce his own motorcycles after World War II. In 1951, he produced his first motorcycle prototype named R100.
  3. In 1953, Trunkepolzcreated a small company with 20 employees who produce 3 R100 motorcycles each day.
  4. Ernst Kronreif, a businessman, became the first shareholder of the company in 1953. Hence, the company was renamed as Kronrief and Trunkenpolz Mattighofen (KTM).
  5. KTM’s Products from 1954 to 1960:
    • In 1954, production of R125.
    • In 1955, production of Scooter Mirall and Grand Tourist Motorcycle.
    • In 1957, production of Trophy 125cc and Mecky.
    • In 1960, production of Ponny I.
    • In 1962, production of Ponny II.
    • In 1963, the production of Comet. 
  6. Death of Ernst Kronreif in 1960 and Johann Trunkenpolz in 1962. Eric Trunkenpolz became the new CEO.
  7. KTM Growth in the 1970s and 1980s:
    • In 1971, the company had a workforce of 400 employees.
    • Launched forty-two models.
    • Started the production of racing motorcycles.
    • Started the production of Radiators and Engine.
    • KTM engines sold rapidly in Europe to use in cars.  
  8. In 1988, the Company faced a great loss and relied only on mopeds and scooters, later their production also stopped.
  9. Death of Eric Trunkenpolz. The company went into the hands of Josef Taus, involved in GIT Trust.
  10. KTM splits into 4 entities:
    • KTM Sportmotorcycle GmbH (motorcycles division)
    • KTM Kühler GmbH (radiators division)
    • KTM Fahrrad GmbH (bicycles division)
    • KTM Werkzeugbau GmbH (tooling division)  
  11. In 1991, Stefan Pierer bought a big amount of shares in the company and supported it.
  12. KTM Products from 1994 to 2013:
    • In 1994, production of the Duke Series.
    • In 1995, KTM took over Husaberg AB, a Swedish company, and White Power Suspension, a Dutch Company.
    • In 1996, the production of a motocross machine with the signature color of KTM.
    • In 1997, the production of adventure motorcycles and liquid-cooled-two-cylinder Supermoto bikes.    
    • In 2007, the production of the X-Bow Sports Car.
  13. Indian motorcycle manufacturer, Bajaj Auto, became a shareholder of the company.
  14. From 2012 to 2016, KTM was the most selling motorcycle in the world. They have sold 203,423 motorcycles in the whole world.

2.1 Start of KTM


KTM was first started in 1934 as a car repair shop in Mattighofen, Austria. An engineer named Johann Trunkepolz was the owner of this shop. Over time, with the desire to expand his business, he ventured into selling Opel Cars and DKW motorcycles. After World War II, people started using motorcycles, and his car repair shop had no cars to repair.


This was the time Trunkepolz thought of producing his own motorcycles. In 1951, he produced his own motorcycle named R100. He produced all the parts of the motorcycle in his home. The only thing he bought was the Rotax engine from a German company, Fichtel & Sachs.


In 1953, he created a small company with 20 employees who produced 3 motorcycles each day.

2.2 KTM Earns Its First Shareholder

Ernst Kronreif, a businessman, became the first shareholder of the company in 1953. The company was transformed from Kraftfahrzeug Trunkenpolz Mattighofen to Kronreif & Trunkenpolz Mattighofen. After this change, the company was officially registered for the first time and commenced its operations. 

1954 - 1959

KTM Earns Its First Shareholder

Photo Credit: @wikipedia.org

2.3 Production of KTM from 1954 to 1959

  • In 1954, the first motorcycle of the company was introduced with the name R125.
  • The company won its first motorcycle racing title in 1954 in the Austrian 125cc national championship.   
  • In 1955, the company introduced two other products, a scooter Mirabell, and a Grand Tourists motorcycle.
  • In 1956, Egon Dornauer achieved a gold medal in six days of trials on the KTM machine.
  • In 1957, KTM launched the Trophy 125cc.
  • In 1959, KTM production declined. To support the failing company, KTM started the production of scooters and mopeds.    

1960 - 1969

2.4 New CEO of KTM

One of the shareholders of the KTM company, Ernst Kronreif died in 1960. After two years of his death, Johann Trunkenpolz also died due to a heart attack in 1962. Now the son of Trunkenpolz, Eric Trunkenpolz became the CEO of the company.

New CEO of KTM

Photo Credit: @offroadingpro.com

2.5 Launched Ponny I & II

  • In 1960, KTM introduced Ponny I in the market.
  • In 1962, KTM introduced Ponny II.
  • In 1963, the company introduced Comet in the motorcycle market.
  • In 1966, The 10,000th Comet was produced and sold.  

1970 - 1975

2.6 Company’s Growth

  • In 1970, the company started the production of the engine. The first 250cc motocross bike was also developed in the same year.
  • In 1971, when the company was almost forty years old, it employed around  400 workers and introduced  about forty-two models. KTM had also initiated the production of racing motorcycles.
  • From 1970 to 1980, the company also initiated the development of radiators and engines. In the 1980s, their radiators were widely used in European cars and became one of the major constituents of the sales of the company.
  • In 1973, KTM initiated the production of Enduro bikes and 250 Cross.
  • In 1974, KTM initiated the production of KTM Hobby III.
  • In 1975, KTM started the production of Comet Grand Prix 125 RS, a road model. 

1976 - 1987

2.7 Products of KTM introduced from 1976 to 1987   

  • In 1976, KTM introduced a 125cc engine.
  • In 1978, KTM established another branch in Lorain, Ohio with the name of KTM America Inc.
  • In 1981, KTM introduced their water-cooled 125cc motocross bikes.
  • In 1982, motocross was upgraded with the introduction  of pro-level rear suspension.
  • In 1982, KTM produced their four-stroke liquid-cooled engine. In 1986, KTM was the only manufacturer that produced a road machine with front and rear disc brakes.
  • In 1987, KTM introduced an overhead camshaft, 560cc, single-cylinder, four-stroke engine.        


2.8 A Big Decline in 1988

In 1988, the company went through a great decline. In this bad time, the company relied only on the production of mopeds and scooters. But in 1988, their production was also halted.

1989 - 1990

2.9 Death of Eric Trunkenpolz

Eric Trunkenpolz, The CEO of the company died in 1989. Josef Taus, the main personality in GIT Trust, an Austrian investment trust, took a 51% interest in KTM. He tried to raise the company again but could not succeed. In 1991, the company was taken over by a consortium of creditor banks.


2.10 Splitting of the Company in 1991

In 1991, KTM was divided to form four entities:

  1. KTM Sportmotorcycle GmbH (motorcycles division)
  2. KTM Kühler GmbH (radiators division)
  3. KTM Fahrrad GmbH (bicycles division)
  4. KTM Werkzeugbau GmbH (tooling division)  

2.11 A Big Turnover of KTM

In 1991, the KTM company was owned by Cross Industries. The owner of the Cross Industries was Stefan Pierer. Pierer was the man who supported the company and became the reason for the turnover. Later, KTM Sportmotorcycle GmbH took over another division, KTM Werkzeugbau. Now the company again started the production of motorcycles and introduced various new models. The company went through a series of new stakeholder changes.


2.12 New Division of KTM Opens

In 1992, a new division of KTM opened with the name of KTM Sportmotorcycle GmbH.

2.13 KTM and KISKA 

In 1992, KTM announced its association with KISKA which is a motorcycle design firm. Now KISKA designed motorcycle models and X-Bow and was also responsible for the company’s turnover.  

1994 - 2007

2.14 New Productions of the Company from 1994 to 2005

  • In 1994, KTM launched a series of street motorcycles named the Duke series.
  • In 1995, KTM company took over Husaberg AB, the Swedish motorcycle manufacturer, and White Power Suspension, a Dutch company.
  • In 1996, KTM introduced motocross machines with orange color which is now the specific color of KTM.
  • In 1996, KTM also introduced the LC4 engine associated with an electric starter.
  • In 1997, KTM launched an adventure motorcycle and liquid-cooled-two-cylinder supermoto (LC4).
  • In 1998, KTM introduced a PDS Linkless suspension system in two-stroke models. The same year new Z design and 200 and 125cc engines were launched in the market.
  • In 1999, the company launched RACING 400/520 with 4 stroke engine.
  • The same year, KTM launched 125cc and 200cc engines with separate lubrication.
  • In 2001, Fabrizio Meoni, a motorcyclist having LC4 660R won the Dakar Rally.
  • In 2003, KTM launched 990 Duke and 950 Adventure.
  • In 2005, KTM produced 950 Supermoto, 950 Super Enduro R, and Adventure 990.
  • The same year, the company decided to do a partnership with Polaris. Their plan was to give a chance to both companies for two years. If their fusion remains beneficial, they will merge the company.


  • In 2007, KTM supplied the Red Bull Rookies Cup with all 125cc motorcycles.    
  • In 2007, KTM launched its first X-Bow Sports Car. 

New Productions of the Company from 1994 to 2005

Photo Credit: @ktm.com

2.15 Another Shareholder, Bajaj Auto

In 2007, an Indian motorcycle company named Bajaj Auto became a shareholder in KTM and bought 14.5% stakes. In 2013, the interest of Bajaj Autos in the company increased by 47.97%.  


2.16 Current Advancements in KTM 

In 2012, KTM Motorholding GmbH was turned into KTM AG. From 12 years to four consecutive years, KTM has the highest motorcycle sales in the world.


In 2015, KTM started earning a profit of 1 billion Euros. The company had employed 2515 employees by 2015.

Furthermore, out of four entities of the company, three entities that had previously left the company once again became a part of it. These three divisions include the KTM Sportmotorcycle GmbH (motorcycles division), KTM Werkzeugbau GmbH (tooling division), and KTM Kühler GmbH (radiators division). The fourth division, KTM Fahrrad GmbH (bicycles division) has its independent existence and has Chinese investors.


 Bajaj Auto has sold its 46.5% stake in the company to Pierer Mobility AG and has bought 49% shares of Pierer Mobility. 

3. World Championships Won by KTM

  • Till 2016, KTM had achieved top position in over 260 world championships and declared itself as the best motorcycle brand in the world.
  • KTM has achieved its winning title in its first year of production. In 1954, KTM won its first championship.
  • Since 1974, KTM has achieved 96 world championships including MX2, MXGP, and MX1. KTM has also won the Super Enduro, 114 E1, E2, and E3 world championships since 1990.
  • KTM started taking part in off-road motorcycle competitions in 2003. After that, KTM has won thirty-seven 15 FIM Cross Country Rallies and cross-country rally championships.

4. FAQs

4.1 Who is the brand ambassador of KTM?

Answer: Chris Birch is the long-term brand ambassador of the KTM. 

4.2 Where is the KTM headquarter located?

Answer: The headquarter of the KTM is located in Mattighofen, Austria.

4.3 What is the KTM top model?

Answer: The top motorcycle model from KTM is the KTM 390 Adventure, which has the highest price of  $4339.62.   

5. Conclusion

KTM AG has faced many ups and downs throughout its history. Overcoming all obstacles, KTM has become one of the top ten motorcycle manufacturing companies in the world. Trunkenpolz started this company as a car repair shop in 1934, and today the company is engaged in a billion-dollar business, having earned a significant place in history.

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