The Cost Of Evolution
By:
Kris Keefer

The new 2018 KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition was announced yesterday at KTM’s new headquarters in Murrieta, California.

In order to have Marvin Musquin and Broc Tickle race with the new generation frames in 2018 they must bring in 400 of these freshies to sell. I get asked the question frequently “how come the Japanese manufacturers do not do more of this Factory Edition stuff”? The answer is simply this: KTM is a smaller company than the other four Japanese manufacturers. There is less red tape and hurdles at KTM Austria than there is at Honda or Yamaha. KTM is able to make changes quicker internally and are able to turn it around to the consumer in a more timely fashion. Does that mean we will never see a “special edition” Japanese machine in the future? No, not necessarily. I do know some Japanese manufacturers are looking into this and will be somewhat forced to evolve quicker or possibly get left behind. I know some higher ups at a couple of the Japanese manufacturers are pushing to get a mid-year model signed off and pushed out to dealers. Will it happen? That is something we will have to wait and see, but just know that KTM is pushing the forefront of evolution and the other manufacturers are watching closely. 

 

 

 

 

What about the cost of purchasing one of these new four-stroke motocross machines? Expensive right? A new KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition can cost a customer almost $12,000 and the hard core moto enthusiasts are outraged by the prices that are escalating. Electric start is becoming common place now on most production 2018 motocross machines and the MSRP’s on these machines are creeping up a few hundred bucks with the passing years. I have heard some people blame KTM for evolving our sport too quickly and that it is increasing the cost of purchasing a new dirt bike, no matter what color you’re interested in. Or I hear four-strokes are ruining our sport and we need to get back to two-strokes, because the cost is a lower price point. However, KTM wouldn't be making more of these four- stroke Factory Edition machines if they weren’t selling them. The fact is that they are selling out of these units and people are willing to pay $12,000 for a new Factory Edition dirt bike. Hey, I want a new Ford Raptor, but people are paying $90,000 for them, so why would Ford want to knock the cost down? It’s business. I am a middle class guy, so that means I need to work harder (in order to make more money) to get that Raptor or I have to settle for a $40,000 Dodge Ram (AKA, the two-stroke of the truck world) if I want a new truck. Welcome to real life.  

 

 

 

 

So what about those two-strokes? KTM is one of only a few motocross manufactures that are continuing to sell two-strokes and as of right now are the leader in two-stroke advancement. So you can’t say that they are not working towards growing our sport. They are even coming out with an electric mini bike to get little ones involved without scaring the bejesus out of them with that two-stroke winding. Electric dirt bikes? We will not even get into this because that is another article in itself! When I go to the track, I see more two-strokes than I ever have and to me this is a great thing. This is telling me that some consumers do not want to spend four-stroke money and are going back to what is fun and less-expensive for them. Smart. Looking back at the Red Bull Straight Rhythm event I can recall more people interested in the two-stroke race than anything else that day? Two-strokes are less expensive, easier to work on and are fun to ride. So when people bitch about our sport getting too expensive, I always say, “there are all kinds of motocross bikes to choose from and if you feel like the KTM 450 Factory Edition is out of your price range, there are less expensive bikes out there for you to consider”. Don’t bitch because you can’t afford a Factory Edition, instead look at another machine that is in your price range. If people think dirt bikes are crazy amounts of money go look at other motorized sports and then get back to me. The option is still there for a cheaper way to get into our sport and have fun. Four-strokes and their technology are not ruining our sport. I do not believe because we are advancing technology in that realm, that it’s killing our industry. I do feel like the industry is missing a first time/beginner, low-cost, less intimidating, introduction-to- motocross machine however. If and when we do this, I can really see our sport expanding greatly and I can see more families going back out to the track and OHV areas. I also think some of us moto dudes are jaded because all we see is what is at these tracks. Over Thanksgiving I went out to the desert and saw more people camping and riding dirt bikes than I have in quite some time. Some on old two-strokes, some on new four-strokes. New dirt bike sales are slightly better than they were a couple years ago and people are starting to purchase once again.  

 

 

 

I for one am all for furthering the advancement of our sport and as a consumer that tries to purchase a new unit every year, I understand that cost sometimes may or may not rise. Yes, even though I get bikes to test, I do try and help our industry and purchase a new bike every year to have one of my own to tinker with. If I ever feel like the cost of a certain new bike is out of my price range and I can’t spend that much, I will look at other less expensive models to have my fun on. I don’t care what it is. If it has two-wheels, knobbies, a throttle and brakes I will always consider my options that these manufacturers give me.