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ADV NewsKTM Prepared to Scrap MV Agusta’s Lucky Explorer ADV Bikes?

KTM Prepared to Scrap MV Agusta’s Lucky Explorer ADV Bikes?

Pierer Mobility Group challenges the Italian brand's adventure lineup.

Published on 05.22.2023

Just when you think Austria’s mega manufacturer Pierer Mobility Group is going to keep KTMizing brands it acquires — as we’ve seen with its restructuring of Husqvarna and GasGas —  it appears the forces running the KTM-faced conglomerate realize there can, indeed, be too much of a good thing. 

The case in point being Pierer’s involvement with storied Italian brand MV Agusta. Last summer we reported that MV Agusta was partnering with KTM AG and its North American subsidiary for future distribution, promotion and customer service related to MV bikes sold in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. 

The deal, set to unfurl over several years, involved KTM AG owning a 25.1 percent stake in the brand and was said to include “cross-manufacturing” to facilitate component acquisition from shared suppliers.

KTM to gain control of MV Agusta
KTM has confirmed plans to acquire at least 50.1% of MV Agusta.

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This was all promising news for adventure riders since MV Agusta had announced its entry into the ADV market back in 2021 with two “Lucky Explorer Project” models, a 5.5 and 9.5. The 9.5, powered by MV’s all-new 931cc three-cylinder engine, and the 5.5, which is driven by a 550cc parallel twin developed in partnership with the Chinese brand QJMotor, are said to be on track to hit dealers this year.

Interestingly, neither seems to wear much if any MV Agusta badging, instead being dressed as “Lucky Explorer” products, almost as if it’s a standalone brand. The livery, however, harkens back to MV’s parent company, Cagiva, and their historic Paris-Dakar Elefant bikes, which twice won the famous rally. Lucky Strike cigarettes, and their trademark red circle logo, was the team’s sponsor. 

Well, the powers at KTM’s parent company Pierer have a lot to say about MV’s Lucky Explorer project, and none of it very nice. 

MV Agusta 5.5 adventure motorcycle
KTM considers the Lucky Explorer models a bad move and “harmful to the brand itself.”

In an interview with Italian website Dueruote, Hubert Trunkenpolz, a member of KTM’s executive board, made several telling statements regarding MV Agusta, including KTM’s intention to acquire a controlling share of the legendary brand (at least 50.1 percent). “MV Agusta is a jewel,” Trunkenpolz said. “It deserves more visibility, and we will take control of it in a reasonable time.” 

He also stated the Lucky Explorer adventure bikes were a bad move, especially the small, 5.5, which he said was “an objectively off-target motorcycle, produced abroad and harmful to the brand itself, is an example of what MV Agusta must not do.” This sentiment has also been shared publicly by the KTM boss himself, Stefan Pierer, who has said “No one needs a Lucky Explorer from MV.”

So what’s the beef? According to Trunkenpolz, it’s more about MV retaining its status as an exclusive Italian brand. He says the company should concentrate on building specialty road bikes that are “worth at least 30,000 euros.” 

Stefan Pierer rejects MV Agusta Lucky Explorer adventure bikes
“No one needs a Lucky Explorer from MV Agusta.” ― Stefan Pierer, Pierer Mobility CEO.

So, on one hand, adding random adventure bikes with Chinese parts doesn’t fit with Pierer’s idea of a viable future for MV Agusta, a brand it intends to invest heavily in, bringing it “back to where it deserves” to be. The way things are, Trunkenpolz says MV cannot survive alone, citing that it “produces too few motorcycles and spends too much on supplies.”

On the other hand, Trunkenpolz explained they don’t want MV Agusta’s models to compete with Pierer MG’s products. “The goal is for each brand to find its own positioning,” he explained. “KTM will be the brand with the sportiest identity, Husqvarna will be oriented towards the production of urban bikes rich in stylistic content, and GasGas will be a young, low-cost brand marked by fun”. 

KTM critical of MV Agusta adventure motorcycles
KTM sees The Lucky Explorer as “an example of what MV Agusta must not do.” 

KTM’s goal for MV is to create a line of “top-of-the-range products, with an important price” that are the epitome of “luxury.” These premium bikes would all be built around MV’s historic three-cylinder platform, a configuration that doesn’t overlap with anything currently sold by KTM or its other brands. “The last thing we want to do is cannibalize our own brands’ products,” said Trunkenpolz. 

With KTM in control, MV production would be confined to its current factory on the shores of Lake Varese in Italy, a facility into which KTM is reportedly pouring loads of dough. Trunkenpolz said that in order to remain exclusive it is essential MV models are produced entirely in Italy, but also expects the plant to eventually produce 12,000 bikes a year compared to its current output of approximately 1000 units. 

KTM to take control of MV Agusta
“We will take control of [MV Agusta] in a reasonable time.” ― Hubert Trunkenpolz, KTM’s executive board member.

So what of the Lucky Explorer adventure bikes currently on their way to market? Good question. Short run collector’s items? Whatever the fate of the physical units already in production, it seems likely that, if KTM becomes the majority shareholder, an MV Agusta-related Lucky Explorer Project is destined to become a short-lived star in Pierer’s ever-expanding motorcycle multiverse.

Photos by MV Agusta and KTM.

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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Bob Dobbs
Bob Dobbs
May 22, 2023 3:40 pm

Just wish KTM would do something about all the back orders on parts!

Baard Reil
Baard Reil
May 24, 2023 7:00 pm

MV is a gem. I’ve always wanted all and any MVs I’ve ever seen, even in pictures. I really hope you’re careful about taking over this brand. When I get old, I will have an MV sportbike in my living room all year round to look at.
I agree about the smaller Chinese engined bike, but the 9.5 I’d really like to have.

And there are holes in your theory; the Gas-gas 700 costs about the same as a 690 or a 701 where I live.. Isn’t that cannibalism? Fix and tidy up the game you already have, before trying to devour all the smaller, inventive brands. Motorcycling is all about customer satisfaction and brand loyalty is something you must deserve – you can’t just buy that. It’s all about service and treating customers well.

And what about the idiotic, stupid, retarded plan KTM has for introducing subscription services for it’s bikes’ equipment..?? I will NEVER buy a KTM in the future, just because of this. Just a sneaky attempt so far, I know, but opening the future for subscriptions. No way, I’m not doing that!

And please change that insect face of KTMs, if you’re kind.

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