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On test: KTM Bikes Lycan 3.0, March 19, 2009
An Austrian surprise
While KTM's best known for its motorized two wheel lines, the company was originally a metal fabricator when founded by Hans Trunkenpolz in 1939. Guy Kesteven found Trunkenpolz's engineering values alive and well in the Lycan 3.0.
KTM are better known for top class off-road motorbikes, but they've been making push bikes for decades too. The two brands are now separated, but this fast, smooth and enjoyable all rounder certainly shares the family heritage.
Ride & handling: Faster-than-average responses are better for racers than rioters
The Lycan is a new bike for KTM, aimed at what Germanic bikers call 'tour' but what we'd call 'trail'. Either way, the 120mm (4.72in) of travel is bang-on for balancing control and cushioning against excess weight.
If we're honest, we tend to associate the words 'tour-fully' with nervous handling, low control, fireroad bashing machines. Thankfully the Lycan is way more fun than that.
It is a steep-angled ride for its travel (70 degree head rather than the current benchmark 69 degrees) so it does tend to snap into turns and stir the front tyre around in wet conditions.
The RockShox Reba fork is composed enough to let you push it hard without disturbing balance or poise. The stiff frame and wide bars keep it under control, making it much happier on descents than other similarly angled trail bikes.
The floating Fox RP23 shock is smooth and progressive, making it easy to lean back, effectively slackening the angles and increasing straightline stability. Quick-witted handling is a bonus in tight singletrack or climbing and the KTM never hesitates in getting the power down or communicating traction levels. Low tyre weight and efficient power delivery mean it accelerates well despite being a slightly heavy bike for its price and category too.
There are tons of very good trail bikes around right now, but we enjoyed the KTM from the first ride. Its faster-than-average responses nudge it more towards racers than rioters though.
Frame: Stiff and confidence inspiring, with 120mm of travel
The fully hydroformed and curved front end is usefully stiff. The rear seatstays swell towards the tips giving a stiff connection across the rear axle, and the 3D rocker is taut too. The chainstays carry both the main pivot and the lower shock mount, creating a fully floating system.
There's reasonable tyre space, clean cable routing and conventional bottle placement. The dropped driveside chainstay can cause chainsuck though, so keep the chain lubed and loved.
Equipment: Some of our favourite new kit
The Lycan boasts two of our favourite new kit arrivals. The RockShox Reba 120 fork is light, stiff and well controlled at high speed and over rocks. The Shimano SLX transmission with XT rear mech 'upgrade' works flawlessly too and the SLX brakes are plenty powerful.
Schwalbe's Rocket Ron tyres are new too. They're seriously light and fast, with decent all-year-round grip, as long as you don't push them too hard and deform the slim knobs and carcass. The SLX hubs suit high mileage-use and the Mavic rims are proven classics.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Bikeradar