KTM’S 2018 TPI TWO-STROKES
AT THE IRON GIANT
it’s global warming. If there aren’t hurricanes in Florida,
it’s global warming. Global warming might play a part in
some of these, but have you ever noticed that when the
weatherman says that this is the hottest day on record, he
always adds, “Since 1974.” Makes you wonder what was
happening in ’ 74.
Euro4 is the name of the legislation that puts a limit on
the emission of pollutants by new vehicles in Europe. It
all started in 1999 when the Euro1 came out, followed by
Euro2 and Euro3. Then, in 2016, Euro4 was introduced, and
it forced KTM and Husky to bench their offroad 125 bikes.
With each passing of new Euro1, 2, 3 and 4 emission standards, the tests got tougher to pass, especially for small-displacement bikes. That’s not all. In 2020, Euro5 is coming.
So what does Euro4 have to do with the United States?
That’s simple, Euro4 is Abbott to the EPA’s Costello. As for
now, your trusty-but-rusty dirt bike is safe from excessive
EPA regulations. And, paradoxically, that is bad news for
KTM. How so? If KTM has to make a special two-stroke
offroad bike for the European market only, they won’t
make any money. They need to sell lots of bikes, which
translates into selling bikes in the USA in order to get any
kind of return on investment. European regulations will
force offroad two-stroke riders in the European Union to go
to fuel injection, but American two-stroke riders are a rare
breed—and the EPA may have to pry their Mikuni TMX
carbs out of their cold dead hands.
KTM has no choice. If they don’t meet Euro4 (and in
a few years Euro5), they might as well stop making two-stroke offroad bikes altogether. The corollary of this is
that if KTM loses the European market, then the return on
investment in the American market may not be viable for
full-blown production. It’s a catch- 22.
MXA is a hardcore motocross magazine, and closed-course competition motorcycles are not bound by emission
standards. They are small in number, ridden for very few
miles in a year and not used on public lands. But, MXA
traveled to Austria for the debut of the 2018 KTM 250XC-W
TPI because this bike could be something big, something
groundbreaking, something important and something special. It should be obvious that we were worried that the
strict emission standards were going to suck the life out of
an engine that is known to be the most powerful production 250cc engine the world has even seen. We wanted to
see the future, and the best way to do that was to get our
hands on the two-stroke of the future.
First, before we could see the future, we had to convince
KTM that a motocross magazine should be invited to the
unveiling of a fuel-injected enduro bike. They were up for
it, and so managing editor Daryl Ecklund, a former AMA
National rider, packed his gear and headed to the Iron
Giant; you may know it better as the site of the Erzberg
Rodeo offroad race. Erzberg is actually a wonderfully scenic part of Austria, with the exception of the enormous
Erzberg strip mine, which has been worked since the 12th
century. In fact, the word “Erzberg” translates into “Ore
Mountain.” Every year 1500 riders start the Erzberg Rodeo,
500 riders qualify for the main event and only a handful of
riders finish. Fun fact: in 2015, nobody finished the race. To