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Thread: Journey to the Promised Land: KTM FACTORY TOUR

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    Lifetime Team KTMTalk mdw's Avatar
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    Default Journey to the Promised Land: KTM FACTORY TOUR

    Journey to the Promised Land
    **KTM FACTORY TOUR**

    Part 1

    Mattighofen, Austria.............The Promised Land, birthplace to all that are KTM.




    Part way through planning for a European trip for the fall of 2012 I came to the sudden realization that during that trip we would be in the general vicinity of the KTM Factory in Mattighofen, Austria.


    Trip planning included renting motorcycles for riding the Alps in that region so I thought to myself how perfect would it be to make an attempt at getting a tour of the KTM Factory? I had previously heard that this was a difficult task to accomplish for those outside the area but in the end after numerous emails, translations, and referrals down (or maybe up?) the line I was put in contact with Claudia Sausack at KTM who made arrangements for an English spoken tour for my group. Many, many thanks Claudia for laying the groundwork for a most enjoyable and educational experience for us.


    Most on this site are likely already aware that all KTM motorcycles ridden on planet earth today were manufactured (starting in 1953) in Mattighofen. The only exception to this statement is one model from a recent mini line, and that model was moved to the main Mattighofen facility beginning in 2013.




    KTM is the lifeblood of Mattighofen and is the only large and significant employer for this small, unassuming rural community just outside of Salzburg, Austria. An immediate and evident impression upon traveling the area and meeting the employees at KTM is that these folks are riding and racing fanatics.

    Although my contact with the employees at KTM was short I came away with the impression that these folks are there primarily because they are passionate about riding, building the bikes is simply part of fulfillment of that passion for them. This was all too evident as we sat in the parking lot awaiting the tour and watching all the employees arrive for work, nearly all dressed out in KTM attire or vehicles. As has been indicated in my sig since joining this site, I share this passion for riding and am in some small way jealous of these folks that put out ready-to-race machines on a daily basis.




    Finding the KTM facility is easy as this truly is a small rural-feeling community. The site is clearly delineated in orange and black and is somewhat larger than I had expected especially given the fact that multiple other buildings (factory parts and the motor factory for example) are located in other parts of town.










    Mark

    RIDING IS MY PASSION..............KTM IS MY RIDE


    KTM Factory Tour
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    Lifetime Team KTMTalk mdw's Avatar
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    Default Re: Journey to the Promised Land: KTM FACTORY TOUR

    All of the various entrances to the facility were behind security gates with the exception of the main lobby and the KTM factory store both located near the end of the main entry road. The entry road itself was lined by a massive plexiglass case with examples of KTM craftsmanship located on display within, all of this sitting in front of the main assembly building itself.










    Mark

    RIDING IS MY PASSION..............KTM IS MY RIDE


    KTM Factory Tour
    TRIP REPORTS : Moonrock Burning : Riding the Rock : Beating the Storm :
    Freedom Tribute
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    Default Re: Journey to the Promised Land: KTM FACTORY TOUR

    When I was detailing the final arrangements for this tour weeks before the trip I requested permission to take pictures inside the facility and was denied that ability (disappointing but fully understandable). As a result Justin (son), Jacque (wife) and I arrived early that day to take a bunch of outside photographs thinking that would be about all I would have to share with you on this post. As will be seen below we were later allowed to photograph and video record the process within, this report has thus grown in length somewhat. Many hundreds of images to choose from, a small sample of which are in this report. I do hope you find the information contained within useful and edifying.


    After checking in and gaining access to the secured and gated parking facility we were greeted by our tour guide, Martin. Martin has got to be one of the nicest guys in Austria. Definitely the right guy for this job as he is full of energy, very knowledge, a good communicator, and he likewise is passionate about riding. Martin has a surprisingly deep knowledge of even the old days of racing and an excellent grasp of where KTM sees itself as a company now and where it wants to position itself (more on that later) in the future. Below is Martin (middle), Justin, and myself.




    Martin spent quite some time outside the facility reviewing for us the history of KTM as a company. That information has been discussed at various times on this site but I will include a brief synopsis here for those interested.


    The current name KTM is derived from the initials of the last names of the two early company owners, Ernst Kronreif (who bought into the company in 1955) and Hans Trunkenpolz (company founder in 1934), with the final 'M' coming from the name of the town in which the company was founded and still operates today...Mattighofen. So we have Kronreif, Trunkenpolz, and Mattighofen...KTM the modern company name.


    As mentioned above the company was founded in 1934, it actually operated for years solely as a metal working shop. The original company name was at that point Kraftfahrzeuge Trunkenpolz Mattighofen. That's KTM also, however as mentioned previously the 'K' was replaced by Ernst Kronreif's last name initial when he bought into the company in 1955. Same letters, just a different source depending on the year.


    It was not until 1953 that KTM produced it's first motorcycle. The '53' logo can be seen throughout the company history including some Hard Parts items of recent years.


    In 1968 the first Penton 'Six Days' showed up in the US.


    In 1970 KTM began to manufacture their own engines (Sachs engines were used previously).


    In 1978 KTM America Inc of Ohio came into existence.


    1982 saw the early development of the water cooled four stroke. Later the LC4 label appeared (Liquid Cooled 4 Stroke).


    In 1991 the company fell into bankruptcy at which time the motorcycle division was separated from the other company divisions (bicycles, radiators, and tooling).


    1992 saw the reopening of the KTM motorcycle company under new management and soon after the now all too familiar identifiers of 'Hard Enduro', 'Ready to Race', and the 'Orange and Black' color scheme appeared.


    In 1995 White Power Suspension was acquired by KTM.


    The new factory came into existence in 1999 along with the appearance of the RFS engine (Racing Four Stroke).


    Enough of that, trivia gives me a headache....back to the tour and more about how the bikes you and I love to ride today come to be.....


    After spending time speaking with Martin outside the facility I was surprised upon entering the main assembly building as he said we could go ahead and photograph the activities within. I guess he had had enough time with us outside to know we were not bent on espionage, most likely due to the presence of my wife Jacque. In stark contrast to her husband, Jacque puts anyone she comes in contact with immediately at ease. The only drawback here is that Justin and I did not come prepared with the right cameras to photograph and video the activities within. This I regret, especially the resulting poor audio on the video we shot.




    Stepping into the main assembly facility was just amazing for me. I'm a dentist, have not had much exposure to the business and manufacturing community but I can draw a number of similarities between this facility and the human body. This place is not unlike a living organism with each division or organ assigned it's own task to accomplish and each in some way intricately dependent upon the other components in order to function. In each case source materials are added and after a rather complex and orchestrated process an amazing end product is produced.


    Parts roll in.......ready to race machines roll out, all in 45 minutes more or less depending on the model.


    In these first photos on the assembly floor the vast array of parts necessary for the production process begin to become evident.






    The following set of images will walk us through the construction steps for KTM's SFX model on assembly line No. 2 that day.


    The initial step is known as the 'marriage' where the motor and frame are brought together for the first time. This step demarcates the initiation of the creation process. Forty five minutes later the beast is complete and ready to be started for the first time in it's assembled form in the dyno room.


    One might imagine the complexity of the process necessary to get all the component parts here and ready to go for the assembly. The motor for example is manufactured in a plant in another location in town and arrives here having been duly tested and deemed ready for marriage to the frame.
    In the foreground of the below picture marriage has just occurred (check the video below for the process all down the line) and another new bike is about to be born.




    This lighted board is above each of the 4 assembly lines and depicts the production progress and goals for the day.




    We were blocked out of photographing a few of the steps by large stacks of part boxes, but I think you can see the progression here.






    Mark

    RIDING IS MY PASSION..............KTM IS MY RIDE


    KTM Factory Tour
    TRIP REPORTS : Moonrock Burning : Riding the Rock : Beating the Storm :
    Freedom Tribute
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    Default Re: Journey to the Promised Land: KTM FACTORY TOUR

    Some closer in shots.






    Once the final assembly steps are complete the bike is rolled directly off the assembly belt and into the dyno room. In this room not only is the engine once again tested but various rolling, braking, and electrical tests are performed. Each bike is somehow electronically tagged so the dyno computer can identify it to apply the appropriate fuel and functional tests, all automated.






    Mark

    RIDING IS MY PASSION..............KTM IS MY RIDE


    KTM Factory Tour
    TRIP REPORTS : Moonrock Burning : Riding the Rock : Beating the Storm :
    Freedom Tribute
    BlueRibbon Coalition LifeTime Member

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    Default Re: Journey to the Promised Land: KTM FACTORY TOUR

    Once done in dyno testing the bike rolls directly into and inspection area where a variety of visual checks are done.




    Forty five minutes after marriage and she is ready to ride! It takes 19 steps to produce this bike and a total of about 80 to 90 bikes are born here each day. A new bike rolls off the line every 4 to 5 minutes.


    Just think of it, it is possible that one of you is now riding this very bike. From here the bike rolls directly into the shipping department to be prepared for delivery.




    Below the bike rolls over to shipping. Close inspection of some of the following pictures will provide evidence of the Husaberg models one of which was being assembled on Line No 4 the day we were there.




    So much to enjoy....with so little time, I'll take one off each rack please......




    The product from Line No. 1 that day, don't think I need to tell anyone on this site what those are.




    The picture below shows the quality assurance area. Every so many bikes that come off the line are pulled and inspected in detail here. This involves an intricate tear down and speaks to KTM's commitment to putting out the best product possible. Issues identified here are taken directly back into the process for correction. Since the entire assembly process is housed in this one building correcting issues and errors becomes much easier.




    The wall behind this inspection area was the only area in the facility that Martin asked us to put our cameras away. Contained within when he walked us back there was a look into the future for KTM. I want to be diligent to respect Martin's request to keep what we observed back there to ourselves however I do want to convey to all that even during this time of economic downturn KTM is in no way sitting back waiting for the skies to clear. After spending that morning with Martin it is clear to me that KTM is bent on innovation, aggressively pushing into new market segments (a couple of examples of which I will detail below) and working hard to further solidify their already dominate position in the market segments you and I on this site are most familiar with.


    When another company comes up with a product that better serves the purpose for which I ride I will switch............I just don't see that happening anytime soon for me. It's clear to me that KTM is a company made up of riders from top to bottom and I see them moving forward with vigor.



    Below are a couple of shots of the wheel assembly area which brings me to another topic stressed by Martin. To the extent possible KTM produces components in house. Martin says this is the best way for them to control quality and also allows them to tweak and customize components, and the final product in house.




    Mark

    RIDING IS MY PASSION..............KTM IS MY RIDE


    KTM Factory Tour
    TRIP REPORTS : Moonrock Burning : Riding the Rock : Beating the Storm :
    Freedom Tribute
    BlueRibbon Coalition LifeTime Member

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    Default Re: Journey to the Promised Land: KTM FACTORY TOUR

    Martin next took us over to see the Freeride, KTM's entry into the electric market. It was a little difficult for me to read between the lines of what he was saying but in the end this is KTM's attempt to grasp and establish a foothold in this market segment. KTM wants to push the envelope in all markets according to Martin but electric presents special complications for the industry as a whole due to the lack of infrastructure to support it. I would say we all as riders are anxious to see what the future holds for electric. I am not sure if Freeride has made it stateside yet, I have not seen one anyway.






    The last of the bikes that we were shown was the Duke 200. According to Martin this is the market segment that KTM expects to represent it's largest area of expansion in the next few years. Aimed at teens in the markets of India and Asia (and somewhat in South America) this scaled down Duke will be offered at a price point that will make it accessible to many. It certainly appeared compact and nimble to me, should be interesting to see how it goes in the states also (edit..actually I am not certain it is coming to the states).






    Below a short video compilation of our walk down assembly line No. 2.




    All that is wonderful and good must eventually come to an end and so it was for this tour. My hope is that many more than just my group will have gained from the experience due to KTM's generosity in allowing Justin, Jacque and I to see and photograph the site.




    A parting gift from Martin.... access to the factory store at a HUGE discount....thanks Martin!



    Mark

    RIDING IS MY PASSION..............KTM IS MY RIDE


    KTM Factory Tour
    TRIP REPORTS : Moonrock Burning : Riding the Rock : Beating the Storm :
    Freedom Tribute
    BlueRibbon Coalition LifeTime Member

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    Default Re: Journey to the Promised Land: KTM FACTORY TOUR

    Leaving Mattighofen was not easy, but as can be seen via the link at the bottom of this post our day was only just beginning!




    On the way back to Salzburg we observed a number of KTM company buildings. To the best of my knowledge these are the parts and motor factory buildings.








    Below signs for some of the towns through which one must seek passage in order to reach The Promised Land.
    Careful pronunciation recommended.




    I also noted that the KTM name is otherwise well represented throughout the region as can be seen in the photos below. Remember however that KTM Bicycles has had no association with KTM motorcycles for many many years....






    At this point in my report I come to a decision on whether or not to keep this post purely about the KTM Factory. I don't want to miss the opportunity however to give you some exposure to the riding sights that are available in the areas around Mattighofen, Salzburg, and the Alps in general.


    I think the most appropriate way to do that is with a ride report which can be found via the below link. Sorry it took so long to put this up, life at times gets complicated. Thanks to Tom for checking in with me, that got me motivated to get this off my back burner and posted.


    My heartfelt thanks to Martin and Claudia of KTM for making this fantastic experience available to my group. It was indeed a lifelong highlight for me.


    I also appreciate the medium KTMTalk provides for putting things like this up. For me it's a great way to preserve and enjoy the memory of my visit to Austria.


    To see KTM Factory Tour Part 2 click below...



    KTM FACTORY TOUR Part 2: RIDING THE ALPS
    Mark

    RIDING IS MY PASSION..............KTM IS MY RIDE


    KTM Factory Tour
    TRIP REPORTS : Moonrock Burning : Riding the Rock : Beating the Storm :
    Freedom Tribute
    BlueRibbon Coalition LifeTime Member

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    KTMTalk Member Go Irish75's Avatar
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    Default Re: Journey to the Promised Land: KTM FACTORY TOUR

    Absolutely wonderful pics and reporting. Thanks for sharing. What a cool trip.
    2013 350 EXC-F

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    Default Re: Journey to the Promised Land: KTM FACTORY TOUR

    coolest post EVER Thank You

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    Default Re: Journey to the Promised Land: KTM FACTORY TOUR

    Very cool. Thanks for writing that up!

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