A statement from Pierer made to AutoCar India, reveals that the 490cc platform has been scrapped due to the high cost of developing an all-new 490 twin, an engine that was to be built by KTM’s long-time partner in India, Bajaj Auto. As reported, KTM didn’t think the money and effort involved in creating a parallel-twin powerplant of such low capacity from scratch would pay off. Cancellation of the 490 was also confirmed by Executive board member Hubert Trunkenpolz, who told Motorrad the move reflects KTM’s agility in the face of shifting markets. “As a global mobility group, we always react agilely to market developments,” explained Trunkenpolz.
Of course this means an anticipated twin-powered Husqvarna 501 series has also been scrubbed from the drawing board.
Instead, Motorrad says the KTM Group will concentrate on diversifying its LC8c and build a 700-class parallel twin (exact displacement unknown), which would be a scaled down version of the existing 790cc twin found in the Duke. Pierer told AutoCar India the new engine, which will be built by KTM’s Chinese partner, CFMoto, would definitely make more than 70 hp, and while the conversation was based around the competitive midsize naked bike market, it’s highly likely this engine will eventually power a mid-sized adventure bike, too. Also of interest is how this new engine will fit into a lineup that includes a CFMoto-built 790cc LC8c, which would mean there would be 690s, 790s and 890s twins in the KTM stable.
It would also seem likely a 690cc LC8c will step on sales of the existing LC4 big single that powers the 690 Enduro R…or perhaps that model remains to fulfill supermoto and enduro purposes, while the twin is pointed more toward adventure travel. Time will tell. Also of interest is how this new engine will fit into a lineup that includes a CFMoto-built 790cc LC8c, which would mean there would be 690s, 790s and 890s twins in the KTM stable.
This news comes as a blow to adventure riders jonesing for a more off-road capable alternative in a 500cc twin market currently dominated — at least here at home — by Honda’s mild mannered CB500X. But Pierer Mobility marches to a global drummer, and the move to banish a potential 500cc range entry is based entirely on predicting and advancing in the world market.
Yet 500cc range fans can hold out hope that the Aventura 500 Legend from Spanish brand Rieju, announced at EICMA in Milan a few months back, will make its way to American shores. With standard 21” front and 18” rear spoked wheels, skid plate, hand guards, crash bars and a tantalizing 600+ mile range we might forget KTM was even thinking about bringing a 500cc adventure bike to market.
And thankfully it appears the KTM 390 Adventure will not only live on, but in a higher form. Spy shots captured in 2022 revealed a more dirt-focused machine in the works, although when it will be unveiled to the public in its finished form is still unknown.