WHILE KTM continues to dominate several off-road segments, the street side of the Austrian brand fell curiously silent after its initial push in to the American streetbike market just a few years ago.
That looks to change with the pending U.S. launch of the new 1190 Adventure.
Dealernews posed a few questions to Tom Moen (see photo), media relations manager for KTM North America, to find out what happened and ask what the future holds.
Dealernews: Back in 2007/2008, KTM was poised with a range of street-oriented models, and many expected a big street push, but things quickly failed to materialize. What happened, and how will you keep the momentum?
Moen: We’ve always done the street thing in cycles, but there were two things that happened. First, we had the Super Duke and RC8, we had the 990 Adventure, we had the SM-Rs, we had a full street line -- but our dealer network wasn’t set up for that yet. That was one of the learning processes. We’ve spent 25 years building our dealer network to be an off-road dealer network. Back in the 1990’s under Rod Bush, his goal was to be the No. 1 off-road manufacturer in the United States, over everyone. And we worked hard to get there.
But during the recession, we had to back off on something, and the one thing that KTM wouldn’t back off was off-road motorcycles.
It was a learning process for the RC8, the Adventures: We haven’t had to do much advertising, as they’re selling on their own. It wasn’t a high-tech, high-zoot motorcycle, but dealers loved it.
The LC8s evolved over the years and its gotten better, and now there are dealers across the country that are just street dealers, and they’re doing pretty good with all our stuff.
This year we started with the 690 Duke single cylinder, and we’ll go through the whole Duke line, so that we’ll have a full naked bike line, and an Adventure line, and a sport line. This is part of a new wave, but you can’t do it all at once. That’s what we tried to do before. Dealers weren’t ready and we weren’t ready.
KTM still fights the reputation of having a sparse dealer network. What is the focus for expanding it?
Moen: Right now, with the dealer network we have, we’re having a hard time getting enough product for all our dealers. Right in the middle of the recession, we were still selling out. We haven’t had to warehouse a motorcycle in a long time. We’ve had no sales promotions; everything that comes in the States gets shipped straight to the dealers.
But we’ve been working on our dealer network as well. Dealers that couldn’t perform or didn’t want to perform are going away, and we’re building up new dealers.
But we don’t just want to have 3,000 dealers if they’re not strong; we want a good quality group of dealers because we are limited on how much product we can get them. We’re not building entry-level bikes out of Korea or Brazil just to sell for sales figures. We’re building $10,000 dual sports which dealers can’t keep in stock. We need dealers at that premium level. (continued)