If you have not ridden a KTM yet, then either you don’t know how to ride a bike or you live under a rock. KTM has rewritten the scape of Indian biking and on its fifth anniversary here in India, I decided to dig a little deeper into this success story of KTM.
Bajaj brought the Austrian performance bike maker to India in 2011. It was a match made in heaven – the racing prowess of KTM combined with the mass manufacturing expertise of Bajaj. KTM debuted the Indian market with just one offering- the Duke 200, and it was an instant success. The secret behind this ‘instant success’ you ask? There were five key factors at play here as I will discuss further, but if I were to sum it all up in a single word, I’d say unconventional.
- Timing: KTM couldn’t have come to the Indian shores at a better timing. The Indian buyers were maturing and had started considering performance over efficiency. Yamaha had proved with the R15 v2.0 that people don’t mind shelling out north of one lakh rupees for a bike other than the Bullet. The party had started, and apart from R15 the only other guest was the Honda CBR 250, which was a segment above and too costly to be a real competition. KTM had a whole new market to cater and the Duke 200 didn’t disappoint its buyers.
- Pricing: KTMs have always been competitively priced. The value they offer for our bucks would satisfy even our next door Sharma uncle. We get a performance comparable to bikes of a larger capacity (and price tag) at a much reasonable cost. And nothing quite pleases us Indians like value for money.
- Aesthetics: Those charms, boy! The Duke was an unconventional design painted in a feast of flashy orange. The best we had seen under the pretence of a ‘street fighter’ so far was the Yamaha FZ. The looks were never seen before in the Indian market and Bajaj / KTM had gambled with those looks, which paid off really well. People went crazy over the KTM Duke. Later when the RCs arrived they too created a sensation with those performance oriented, no-nonsense looks.
- Performance: The performance was, can’t help but overuse the word, unconventional. That crazy torque, those insane sprints and the ludicrous top speed, simply mind-blowing. If you had test ridden a KTM, you had to buy it. You simply can’t get over that rush. The experience was mesmerizing. Whenever you ride a KTM, your worries get carried away with the wind. You experience an aggressive calm, a high speed nirvana.
- After sales services: There is a reason why the likes of the Hyosungs and the Benellis couldn’t make it big in India. Their after sales services were non-existent. KTM tapped into the vast and organized service network of Bajaj and gave the buyers no reason to complain. The spares were a tad overpriced for sure, but given the oomph factor of owning a KTM, that can be ignored.
These factors, when coupled with aggressive marketing, give you the right edge over a market that was plagued with bland and monochromatic (chuck black, gimme the neon, baby!) commuters pretending to be sports bikes. The rest as they say, is all history. Five years and four successful models later, KTM has the lion share in the performance bike market in India.