KTM’s 2018 Dakar Weapon

2 years ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: KTM Images

With 16 consecutive Dakar Rally wins to its name, KTM could easily be excused for rocking up with their race-proven 450 Rally machine in Peru on January 6, when the 2018 Dakar Rally kicks off. But that would fly in the face of the Austrian brand’s relentless pursuit of success. Instead – and as revealed when Transmoto spoke exclusively spoke exclusively with 2016 Dakar Rally winner Toby Price two weeks ago – KTM has built a completely revamped 450 Rally; a machine that’s been in development for two years, and debuted (in all-black livery) at Morocco’s OiLibya Rallye in October.

At the EICMA motorcycle show in Italy last week, KTM proudly unveiled this overhauled Dakar weapon to the public – which confirmed that, despite the familiar Factory Red Bull livery, this new machine shares very few components with its predecessor.

As Red Bull’s insightful video about the new 450 Rally explains, KTM’s Factory Rally team riders say the new bike is faster, lighter and more agile, while being more stable at speed. Wrapped in new bodywork and housed in a bespoke, freshly developed chassis, is a new 450cc single-cylinder engine that also gets a new engine management system and a revised throttle body for better peak performance and improved throttle response. And the good news for non-factory pilots is that a customer version KTM 450 Rally Replica will be available in 2018.

But will Toby Price be healthy enough to line up in early January on KTM’s new 450 Rally in a bid for his second Dakar win? Well, Price’s candid feedback a couple of weeks ago made it only sound like a 50/50 chance. But sources inside Red Bull’s athlete training camp last week suggest that Pricey has made incredible progress in the past two weeks, and that the new metal rod inserted into his femur is allowing him to squat and twist on his leg with little to no pain. Fingers crossed for the big guy.


Speaking of KTM and EICMA, the Austrian brand also unveiled a prototype 790 Adventure R last week (an all-new, mid-capacity travel enduro machine), along with a cool video of the 790R going bar-to-bar with KTM’s all-new 450 Rally to reinforce that the 790R’s high dashboard tower, single seat, tiny LED lights and low-slung fuel tanks are all inspired by KTM’s dominant Rally machines.

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