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ADV NewsKTM Drops Plans For Highly-Anticipated 490cc Twin Platform

KTM Drops Plans For Highly-Anticipated 490cc Twin Platform

The ready-to-race brand will develop a 700-class twin instead.

Published on 01.27.2023
If you’re like us you’ve been waiting patiently for the arrival of a parallel-twin powered KTM 490 lineup talked up by parent company CEO Stefan Pierer back in 2019 and further substantiated by an investor presentation document that showed multiple 490s, including an Adventure version, planned for production. Well, you might want to grab a beer for the crying, because the project has been officially nixed.

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.

KTM 490 platform canceled
A management presentation by Pierer Mobility back in 2019 revealed plans for a 490 adventure, a 490 enduro, as well as a 890 adventure model.

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.


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.

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge

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7 thoughts on “KTM Drops Plans For Highly-Anticipated 490cc Twin Platform

    • Life’s too short to wait.
      WR250r, CRF400L, 690r, Tenere 700 or the Toureg – there’s some great options out there.
      As well as 450cc Enduro conversions, or bigger bikes.

  1. I thought it would have been a smash hit. A 390 single is not enough for many and a 790/890 too much. Seemed like a sweet spot to me and still do for some mfg. to fill. The Honda 500x is popular but its still mostly a street bike. We’ll soon see how the new Transalp will do. Maybe Honda will do a 500 cc version of it some day.

  2. I only have one thing to say, and it’s really hard to say (three times rapidly)… “Trunkenpolz reacted agilely”

    I got no dog in this hunt, but I think Trunkenpolz is wrong

  3. I would love to see a 700 v twin. Like a mini super enduro. I know everyone has an opinion and everyone else’s stinks but I think this would be a unique bike in the segment. I’m sure they just don’t want to spend on the R&D rather than scale down an existing engine.

  4. Many riders including me would have loved to see a sub 200kg, twin cylinder adventure touring bike in the 65…70hp range. THAT would be the perfect one. KTMs 690 Enduro is not the one, it’s not up for long trips without extensive modifications on fuel range, wind protection, comfort and suspension, to carry luggage. The 390 Adv is a bit on the low end regarding power. So there is a wide gap right now in KTMs portfolio, one that could have been filled by a 490 or better 590 Adventure!
    We have bern asking for it for years, but still the marketing department sees no market for a bike like thst. Strsnge!


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