Vintage KTM Motorcycles

1974 KTM 250 MXThe Austrian company KTM started it’s humble beginnings not as an off-road powerhouse but as a metalworking shop in 1934 by Hans Trunkenpolz. The production of KTM motorcycles began in 1953 with the R100. The company consisted of only twenty employees and the bikes were built from mostly-in-house parts, so only three were produced each day. The KTM brand gained their first championship (and therefore popularity) pretty quickly with the Austrian 125 National Championship in 1954. KTM was on top of the podium again with Egon Dornauer at the International Six Days Enduro in 1956.

1974 KTM 250 MXKTM motorcycles were mainly popular in Europe until the late 1960s when American John Penton began importing the bikes, under the Penton name. 1973 was a pivotal year for KTM as this was the year they began production of their 250cc enduro and mx bikes. The GS125 was the first KTM to come to America and helped to transform motocross as the country knew it. Their bikes did so well on US soil that KTM opened KTM America Inc. in Ohio in 1978.

KTM has always been known for innovation with some of the best parts available sold stock on their bikes. They produced their first liquid-cooled two-stroke 125cc dirt bike in 1981. KTM followed up with a water cooled four-stroke engine developed in 1982. KTM was also the first to offer front and rear disc brakes for an off-road bike (in 1986).

The innovation kept going into the late 90s when, in 1998, they came out with a linkless rear suspension that greatly reduced the weight of the bike. However, due to what many consider to be harsh suspension, KTM has since gone back to a linkage style rear suspension. The hydraulic clutch mechanism was also a KTM specialty, a feature any rider can appreciate in reducing arm pump.

In motocross and supercross races today, it’s practically unheard of for someone to be on a two-stroke. AMA rule and class changes, as well as state and federal laws have caused two-strokes to quickly lose a market. KTM is one of the only major manufacturers still producing two-stroke dirt bikes and they are working on making them more environmentally friendly. KTM 2 stroke bikes are burning cleaner and have been passing strict standards that have been put in place.

Vintage KTM Motorcycles & Parts

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23 Comments

  • Russ says:

    I have a 1993 exc 400 lc4. Can anyone tell me interchangeable cranks for this old girl?

  • tyler says:

    I’m looking to buy what I’m told is an ’86 KTM 500 4 stroke, but i cant find anything about it. Is there a 4 stroke? All i’ve seen were 2 strokes.

  • john says:

    I have a 1986 500cc 2 stroke, want to know if the motor will fit on my 250 1986 urn frame, please and thanks.

  • Steve Moore says:

    I’ve recently got an older 125 rv, I bought it for 150.00 dollars, and to my surprise it runs. It needs a new clutch and rear axle bearings. Looks to be a late ’80s bike, any idea where I could get parts?

  • Rickie Smith says:

    I have just picked up a 1978 175cc Penton racer, but cannot find any pics of it. The only one I found that looks like it, is a 1977 175cc GS.

  • Herndons says:

    Jordon, where are you located??? I live in Ca. and maybe could help you.

  • Jordan says:

    Hello I have a 1983 KTM 250 2 stroke I bought from a friend and I’m looking to restore it but I don’t no much about these bikes. Does anyone know somewhere I could send the engine to to get rebuilt? I tried places all around me and no one can rebuild the engine. Thank you.

  • Mark says:

    Jeff, ’84 to ’88 were a similar type engine and the change to Cagiva was in ’89. Not sure if the ’89 and 2000 were the same. Regards Mark

  • Mark says:

    Hey guys I have a 1981 350 GS ktm (stripped down) It has a blue frame, swing arm and front forks (appears original), blue tank and side cover decals (all the plastics are white) and an Australian symbol around the KTM emblem on the blue seat. The bike is in Australia, does anyone have any info for this bike as I want to restore it to original put I’m not sure if I should be painting it blue or orange and I can’t locate the new decals for the plastics.

  • Jeff says:

    I have a 1988 KTM EXC and a 1989 KTM EXC. I was trying to build one out of the two, but neither motors have the same parts. I found this very odd only being one year apart. Could anyone tell me which years I could get parts from to fix either engine? Thanks Jeff.

  • Bryan Strait says:

    Hello All, as most all vintage KTM folks know, the mid 80 clutch covers took a bad hit being magnesium. Well, I’m a 50 and over vintage rider/racer and my primary bike for several years has been the KTM MXC 500. I have finally used up my last clutch cover and its been welded so many times it’s DONE. I’m getting ready for another great season of riding/racing and I’m in great need of a good clutch cover for my bike. I’m not exactly sure what other years or models were the same up to this point, and I have not found a good replacement. If anyone could be of help, or if any other KTM guys want to get together and cast a few, I would possibly be interested in talking about this as an option. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot! Bryan from Ohio….

    • paul says:

      Contact Andre Horvath, he has tons of ktm parts. He has a parts business in Austria, google it.

  • Zach smith says:

    Hey I found a 1986 KTM MX 250 for sale for $350. The guy says it kicks through and has a spark but the compression feels low. I was wondering if this bike is something I should look into or not. I don’t know much about these bikes but they look very cool.
    Thank you
    -zach

  • Bryan Strait says:

    Hello all, Im a previous Can-Am racer from back in the day. Im getting a KTM 86 MXC 500 together for spring vintage enduros and scrambles and the clutch cover is roached from anti-freeze corosion. The water pump area is completely ate up. Do you know of anyone that would have one for me to purchase? Also I’m in the market for a pipe, it’s rotted through. ANY HELP WOULD BE GREATLY APPRICIATED . Bryan from Ohio.

    • Profile photo of Admin Admin says:

      Hey Bryan, I would check eBay for what you are looking for. If you can’t find it there, I would then check your local KTM dealer. They should be able to order the parts for you. Local to me is a great KTM dealership, LETKO. Those guys have been at it for a long time.

  • matt richards says:

    thank you!

  • matt richards says:

    I have the first liquid cooled 125cc ktm 1981 engine and cant find any info on it on the internet. the dealer said it should be on a wall in a motorcycle shop. he said it is in a 1982 frame and the dealer said its a roltax. please give me info, price rarity. exc?

    • Profile photo of Admin Admin says:

      Hi Matt, thanks for the question! To be honest, I don’t really like telling people what their stuff is worth. As far as rarity, if I were you, I would call the good folks at Letko Cycles. They are KTM dealership local to me, and they’ve been doing it for decades. Hopefully this helps some!

  • Peter Mitchell says:

    Can anybody help me identify my KTM? The VIN number on the frame neck is 8410 19785. The Engine number is 4-544 02569. I believe it is a 10/84 350GS 2 stroke. Thank you for a great site. Peter.

    • Profile photo of Admin Admin says:

      Hi Peter, thanks for the compliments! You should be looking at a 1985 KTM. 1985 model codes are 8406-8505, which yours falls in. According to this pdf, you have a 1985 250. Hope this helps!

  • Ken Moreno says:

    1992(?) KTM-250-SX:40mm USD-WP forks…axle clamps snapped. (Identifiers: Red hubs, F/R disc brakes,red frame.) Have welded (TIG) twice with poor results and melted O-RING at tube to axle clamp… Would like to find some 50mm Magnums! Would these bolt on? Thanks!

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