The life and times of the KTM 200
BACK IN THE DAY
By 1999 the 200 was one of the most popular bikes in the
KTM line and came in three different configurations.
In 1997 the first 200 offered by KTM was the special-edition
Jackpiner. It was the first bike with PDS suspension, among
The 2016 KTM 200XC-W will
be the last of the 200s.
>The announcement of the 2017 KTM models brought big change. Two-strokes are the topic of the hour, with no less than six new additions.
But almost lost in the excitement is the stunning fact
that one bike is missing. The KTM 200XC-W is no
The 200 was a cult bike if there ever was one. It first
arrived in 1997, and it was the most significant model
that KTM had offered in years. It was the first with PDS
no-linkage suspension, it was the first with a hydraulic
clutch and it was a long overdue tip of the hat to John
Penton, the man who gave KTM its start in America.
That first 200 was a blue special edition called the
Jackpiner, and it had John Penton’s signature on the
front fender. There were very few made, but the next
year there were three different models based on the
same formula. There was the 200EXC trail bike, the
200MXC desert bike and the 200SX motocross bike.
By 2005 the MXC and the SX had gone away, leaving
the 200EXC to carry the flag for a huge following. The bike
was very much a machine for the common man. It wasn’t
especially popular amongst pro-level off-road racers, but it
became ubiquitous in the amateur ranks. Both young and
old riders were drawn to it for its easy-to-ride nature and
iron-clad durability. Its finest moments in pro racing probably came in 2000 when Shane Watts used it to win several
races. He was on a mission to race everything in the KTM
line that year, and he actually won a WORCS round, which
are typically very horsepower-demanding races.
In 2013 the 200 got electric-start, but its importance in
the KTM line had faded. It remained popular on the fringes,
but mainstream off-roaders had moved on, leaving the 200
somewhat forgotten. Its place in the KTM line has been
usurped by a new 150XC-W for 2017. If it can rise to the
same level of popularity as the 200, it will be considered a
successful bike indeed. ❏