Bike Test: KTM Tribute

Mountain Biking Magazine



Bike Test: KTM Tribute

Bike Test: KTM Tribute

If paying for a name comes at a price with many brands, particularly US ones, take a moment to digest their wafer thin background relative to what we have here. Kronreif and Trunkenpolz have been synonymous with two–wheeled sport since the inter war years, and ever since they first started producing off–road bikes in the seventies they have been one of the most respected names in motocross. The great Andre Malherbe began his career on KTM, but it was the wonderful Russian Gennady Moiseev who really took the company forward winning several world motocross titles for the company from Matighofen.

Today the company has three different exports; push bikes, industrial equipment and of course motorcycles. Each are financially independent but all have retained the logo and corporate colours, and each are still based out of the Austrian village where it all began. This is where all the testing and product development is done for KTM bicycles.

The Tribute is one of a number of European bikes using the Horst link – a well–proven bicycle suspension design. Horst Leitner once worked for KTM on the motocross suspension design before emigrating to America and selling one of his designs to Specialized, which they still use today. The PDS (Pro Damping System) on the Tribute is as featured on motocross bikes and was developed by KTM in the seventies – the system seen here on the Tribute is essentially a four bar design pivoting on the chainstay.

The Specialized patent on this design does not cover Europe, so over here it is free for all to use…well… For just over two thousand four hundred pounds there is some choice equipment on the KTM. For starters you are geared up with Saint, cranked by Truvativ and spin on DT Hubs; Syncros rims providing the structure, e.thirteen chain device, SDG seatpost/saddle and Avid brakes are at the top of their game and only the slightly narrow bars, and awkward stem spoil the first impressions.

The day was murky, wet and generally perfect for getting involved. Such shitty days usually lead to a more rearwards weight distribution in times of fear of mud on rock, so suspension set–up would probably be a touch different. The 888RCV was one of our least favourite forks last year and we were told that this was not one of the OE versions, but the genuine thing (whatever that might be). Whatever, we were pleasantly surprised at this particular fork.

The adjustments were believable and the fork didn’t shock us with any surprises on the hill. Spring rate appeared OK sag wise, but only managed about two thirds of available travel hinting that we’d be looking for changes there pretty quickly either in spring rate or compression. It was the rear that most impressed. Bearing in mind the bike comes with the ‘reasonably OK’ DHX 4 from Fox the Tribute gives a very light ride across rocks. It certainly doesn’t feel like its 44lb weigh–in and performance wise was a shed load better than more expensive bikes we’ve had recently. Of course the DHX is limited and this showed during harder runs where even firmer than normal settings failed to stop the bike from bottoming, not ever harshly, but it needed more compression.

An upgrade out the back would take this bike from being a very good one to an excellent choice. Even the slight imbalance between front and rear suspension failed to spoil or affect attacks on the hill. The overall dimensions on the bike work well, in fact probably one of the best suited we’ve had on the test track here in Wales. Its collisions with rocks front and rear seemed well–timed, maybe luck, but it worked. Even though we were not able to balance front and rear suspension with the settings on offer the overall feel of the bike was one of stability and normality. This is a good thing and something not everyone can achieve, I guess its no surprise given the company’s rich history. AND What a great bike. Take a look at the big names in the market and your eyes will bleed at the prices being asked for what are nothing more than average bikes with average suspension, but some of us are suckers for a name.

This is a truly great one – only a back–to–back ride with the Morewood Makulu highlighted the gap between good and great suspension wise, but it wasn’t as if the budget KTM was holding the riders back, far from it. Even though we had too much progression up front and not enough compression on the back, we found the Tribute to work well in the tight and give excellent stability at speed – it does all the things that most riders will ever need. At these kind of prices you can afford the odd upgrade here or there – a BOS Stoy, a Marzocchi upgrade and you have one hell of a machine still well under those average bikes fooling you to be something they ain’t. z

Price: Tribute £2429.99 complete bike
The Aphex has the same frame with a better spec at £3,299.99
Tribute frame, DHX4.0 shock and headset: £1349.99
Aphex frame, DHX 5.0 shock and headset: £1399.99
Contact: 01788 860 716


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