UPDATED August 3, 2020: Spoke to a buddy with inside knowledge of the KTM motorcycle/bicycle split and it makes more sense than my earlier speculation. The result is still the same (an awesome new brand of e-bikes), but how the story unfolded is more clear. There are a few lessons to learn here for any young business major.
June 28, 2021: KTM Austria used to offer a line of KTM bicycles along with their motorcycles. When KTM went bankrupt, the bicycle brand was sold off to one group and another group bought the motorcycle brand (this same group would later purchase the Husqvarna Motorcycle brand). This is why the KTM motorcycle group can’t market a KTM-branded bicycle product.
The group that purchased the KTM Bicycle business has offered a gigantic line of bicycles and electric motorized bicycles in Europe for years. KTM’s bicycle brand in America appeared to be owned and operated by a Florida-based import business. The American KTM Bicycle operation was based, for a short time in Newberry Park, California, and it was puzzling.
The importer offered as many bicycle models as Specialized or Trek or Giant and way more models than companies like KHS or Jamis or Marin. The strategy to an outsider appeared to be “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.” They offered this with almost no retail dealer network. I would not be surprised if the majority of their sales were generated by “Pro” (or “ambassador”) deals.
My first visit to the headquarters in Newberry Park found an operation under construction with plans for a coffee shop and rider demos. Visiting months later, it was the same operation still under construction with plans for a coffee shop and rider demos. After that, the place was gone.
KTM’s motorcycle business saw the growth of e-bike sales but had their hands tied because they did not have the rights to use the KTM brand on bicycle products. The work-around was to use the Husqvarna name and develop a totally new line of bicycles, in this case, e-bikes.
Regardless of the reasons behind the debut under the Husqvarna monicker, the line of e-bikes looks stunning. And they should be at the prices being charged. Husky is coming late to the party hoping that the demand for high-priced, high-performance e-bikes is nowhere near exhausted. Good luck, Husky.
Trail blazers: The days of mountain bikers sharing trails with hikers and equestrians is coming to an abrupt end. E-bikes like this, sold by automotive, motorcycle, e-bike, bicycle and even toy-wagon companies, have forced themselves onto trails once reserved for non-motorized recreation.