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ADV NewsProduction Halted On MV Agusta Lucky Strike 5.5 Adventure Bike

Production Halted On MV Agusta Lucky Strike 5.5 Adventure Bike

KTM partnership may have spurred the shelving of MV’s 550cc twin model.

Published on 09.14.2023

Lately it’s been a case of good news/bad news with Italian manufacturer MV Agusta. It was certainly a good news day back in 2021 when we first learned iconic Italian manufacturer MV Agusta intended to enter the adventure bike market as it showed off two Lucky Explorer prototypes, a 5.5 and 9.5, at that year’s EICMA show in Milan. 

The bad news comes two years later as Britain’s MCN confirms, after months of speculation, that the smaller 5.5 version has officially been shelved, at least temporarily, with MV CEO Timur Sardarov calling the project “frozen” as the company evaluates “market conditions for this bike within the KTM sales network.”

MV Agusta stops production of Lucky Explorer 5.5 adventure bike.

The two models we were expecting to arrive this year, as confirmed by Sardarov in 2022, were the Lucky Strike 9.5, powered by the company’s all-new 931cc three-cylinder engine, while a more approachable Lucky Strike 5.5 would be driven by a 550cc parallel twin developed in partnership with the Chinese brand Qianjiang Motorcycle, a.k.a QJ Motor. 


The two bikes would wear livery that paid tribute to parent company Cagiva’s glory days of racing its Lucky Explorer branded Paris-Dakar Elefant bikes across the African desert, twice winning the Paris-Dakar rally. 

But as we’ve seen a lot lately in the motorcycle industry, and especially among the European brands, pots are easily stirred and most often by the hand of the omnipotent Pierer Mobility Group, owner of KTM AG, Husqvarna, GasGas. When we first heard last year KTM AG had acquired a 25.1% stake in MV Agusta, it looked like a straightforward cross-manufacturing deal as well as an avenue for MV bikes to more easily find their way into dealerships in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. 

Then things turned a little weird earlier this year when KTM boss Stefan Pierer was quoted as saying “No one needs a Lucky Explorer from MV.” Shortly after we heard Hubert Trunkenpolz, a member of KTM’s executive board, call MV’s Lucky Explorer project  “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.” Trunkenpolz went on to state KTM’s intention of acquiring a controlling share (at least 50.1-percent) of storied MV Agusta.

Although we haven’t seen KTM AG take on the additional stake that would give the Austrian powerhouse ultimate control over the Italian brand, it sure seems it holds plenty of sway, at least in how the proposed adventure bikes are being handled. 

Could it be that MV’s partnership with QJ Motor on the 5.5 build stepped on the toes of Pierer’s longstand partnership CFMoto, a QJ competitor? That question was asked by MCN and rebuffed by MV boss Sardarov who gave the non-answer:  “We’re partnered with Pierer Group with a few projects going on and CFMoto has got nothing to do with us.” He also mentioned that MV will continue with other projects it has in the pipeline with QJ, including engine builds and “industrialization projects.”

But there’s some good news in the fact the Lucky Strike 9.5 is definitely on the way, even if it will be a limited initial run of just 500 units before mass production begins. “The 9.5 production starts next month,” says Sardarov “and it goes on sale from October as a model year 2024 bike.” 

MV Agusta 9.5 adventure motorcycle
Unlike the smaller 5.5 model, production of the Lucky Strike 9.5 will move forward with an initial run of 500 units.

The 9.5 will be animated by an all-new 931cc triple, a hearty mill claimed to supply 125 horsepower and 75.2 ft-lbs of torque — more HP than the 890 Adventure, Tiger 900, Africa Twin, and DesertX.  Due to what they call “a different philosophy, a different engine, and different chassis dynamics” MV expects the 9.5’s main competitor will be Ducati’s Multistrada V2. “Nothing else will come close,” says Sardarov.

But unlike the street-focused Duc the 9.5 will offer an off-road edge with long-travel Sachs suspension and a 21/18-inch tire combo. Expect tons of electronic wizardry, a curb weight in the neighborhood of 500 lbs and an asking price currently speculated to land between $18,000 – $20,000. Steep for the category,  yes, but if this adventure bike is a Schiranna purebred, it will be collectable out of the gate. 

MV Agusta Lucky Explorer 5.5 launching soon

In other good news, it can be celebrated that KTM doesn’t appear to have any intention of forcing the cross-platform homogenization strategy we’ve seen implemented with Husqvarna and GasGas on iconic MV Agusta. In fact, KTM’s top brass has said its ambition is the complete opposite, calling the brand a “jewel” that should concentrate on building specialty road bikes that are “worth at least 30,000 euros.”

“We are keeping MV Agusta very autonomous in terms of the technology platforms that we use and the 9.5 adventure bike will be completely and fully industrialized by our technology,” says MV CEO Sardarov. “It will be built by MV Agusta.”

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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September 14, 2023 1:02 pm

It’s a nice looking machine to be sure, hopefully they get the Q.C. right and it’s not a lemon right out of the gate.

September 14, 2023 1:37 pm

I like the looks of the MV Agustas.

Joe John
Joe John
September 15, 2023 8:38 am

The 5.5 was always a bad idea unless they could come in at like $6,000 or something now that that market has gotten so saturated. Now on the 9.5 – a $20,000 Chinese bike? Ummmm, yeahhh.

Jamie Elvidge
Jamie Elvidge
September 15, 2023 9:16 am
Reply to  Joe John

Only the 5.5 was to be in partnership with a Chinese company (QJ). The 9.5 will be built entirely in Italy, as stated in the article.

September 19, 2023 5:12 pm

Who wants a 240kg 125hp adventure bike – hands up! Not too many.
Who wants a 230kg 500cc 48hp adventure bike? Not too many either!
Now who would have liked to see a 500cc 48hp 2cyl 180kg fully fuelled bike with 20cm/20cm suspension 21/18“ wheels and a reach of 450km – hands up! I guessed so.
Sadly Pierer does not see it like that.


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