KTM Rally 2017: Crested Butte, CO

Okay, I’m butt-hurt.  I will get over it I’m sure :lol:

I do this for fun.  It would certainly be nice to make money and we have begun recently to work with a few companies like Shinko, Nelson Rigg, Klim on a commercial basis beyond our historical project bike sponsors but it certainly isn’t paying the bills.  I’ve (and others) have put in a lot of work to build something bigger than ourselves which is a community.  I shifted our Instagram strategy last spring because I realized all I had done was create basically a “like factory” but was merely boosting others’ who had no interest in being part of a community and were just out for themselves which is why we only feature those who are actually part of this forum now and it’s been one of the best things we’ve done (if you're on here and I haven't shared your photos, please let me know).  Sure our growth there has plateaued but that’s not our goal.  Community is our goal and I think we’ve done a good job so far of doing that.

exerpt from an ad piece I'm working on:


The social media channel with the vast majority of conversations about brands, products and services isn't Facebook. It's not LinkedIn or Twitter, either. Forums and message boards -- old school social media -- are still one of, if not the most popular place to ask and answer questions about brands and products.” - entrepreneur.com

XLADV.com is a destination for big adventure bike enthusiasts who want to collaborate with fellow riders. By sharing their knowledge, experiences, and passions, riders are empowered with the information needed to make better decisions on the products & services they buy, as well as saving time & money maintaining, repairing, and modding their rides and gear.  This creates a solid opportunity for power sports manufacturers and service providers to reach their target audience at the right time of the buying cycle.

Our reach is impressive with 50k/month here at the forum; ~250k/month on our Facebook page and an astonishingly high ~1.3mm/month on our Instagram page.

Riders have also overwhelmingly shifted their time and attention from print to online channels and we have a bigger online footprint in just two and half years than many of the more traditional adv motorcycle press (ADVMoto, UK AdventureBikeRider, ADVPulse, Brake, Upshift, etc…)


Many companies out there see that as an opportunity, others as a threat.  Change is constant and some embrace that while others fight it.  Bike manufacturers like Honda, Ducati, Yamaha, AJP and Kibo (Africa) really like working with us.  KTM I’m not so sure.  Trust me, we do have our cheerleaders at KTM but I have to be honest that I was really let down by the rally.  I was personally invited to attend, as I attended two years earlier, but could not get formally registered or even a response to multiple emails to confirm it.  On the one hand I was thinking “just show up; they’ll make it work when you get there.”  On the other I was worried that I’d get there and be turned away and suffer the embarrassment.  We have at least four project bike sponsors who were there and expected to see the bike in front of their tent.  I had to tell them it wasn’t going to happen.  We also had 22 people rsvp at our Facebook event page for the rally and many of them were asking why I wasn’t there.  Awkward.

It’s really too bad and certainly a lost opportunity for us both.  I really love the content and I know they appreciate the exposure.  Chris Birch posted his video of him climbing that huge dune in Chile (shot by Quinn Cody) on the 1290 and it got about 5k views.  I reposted it and it got close to 50k views.  Likewise, Chris Fillmore reached out to us with his video of him jumping the 1090 at a motocross track and we did the same for him, getting 10 times the views.  That says the XLADV community is a core market of theirs.  That’s actually how we got in touch with Ducati was we were getting 3x the views on their own posts even though their following is twice as big as ours.

Personally, it pains me because I’m such a huge orange fan.  I ride the 990R and am racing it at the Baja Rally (against two other KTM big bikes).  I’m more the “adventure enduro” rider myself and personally identify with KTM’s “Ready to Race” performance positioning.  I go to Horizons Unlimited and while they are super people in a different way, hardly any of them ride that much in the dirt and are more about the cultural immersive experience than the dirt-fix.  I immediately fell in love with the brand at my first KTM Rally two years ago for a few reasons.  One was because the riders there all knew how to ride dirt and could do that really well (very different from a BMW event) and the other was because it seemed all the KTM people were really happy and proud to see all these people on the bikes they make.

Not sure why this happened.  I keep wondering if it was something I said; maybe the key replacement fiasco on the 990 I had last year, although I did give them huge props for reaching out to help me solve it.  What’s more likely is it just got lost in the shuffle as I heard from one rider “all kinds of things were messed up like they emailed one schedule but handed out a different one.”

This was a goose-egg for me though this year.  September is a busy month too with our High Sierra event on the front end, KTM Rally in the middle and Horizons Unlimited and the Bonnier/CycleWorld Sierra Adventure Rally on the back end.  I backed out of the HU event because I knew four events in a month were too many so I'm not attending that one either now.  I'd love to work with KTM in the future but I'm not going to just shut up about it and pretend it didn't happen either.  Until then you're not likely to see many 1090's or 1290's on the Instagram feed :lol:.  I was actually planning a new 1090R project bike this winter but my interest now is kind of diminished, as much as I still like that bike.

But I know at least a few of your went because I saw your photos on FB and IG so do us a favor and post up!  It would be nice to have some content as a consolation prize, lol.

Here's at least a few pics from some of our project bike sponsors who were in attendance.  I know @greedyg and @556baller were there.
Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 10.12.50 AM.png

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Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 10.11.42 AM.png


You had me at butthurt. I wish I could just ride whenever and wherever at any time...somebody needs to teach the future of my profession. Long rides have longer hangovers. 

You have done a phenomenal job at building this community and bringing riders together. Bravo. 


Thanks!  It is an honor to get to go cover these events as media (when I have the time).  And a lot of fun too.

I dunno.  From what little I know, KTM seems to be one of the few manufacturers that actually get involved at all.  I ride a Triumph - they don't even bother showing up at big shows like the AIMExpo this weekend, let alone to rallies.  I really like KTM bikes as well, and I'm trying to give my Triumph love but they don't care if I do or not.  I've been watching the news on the prospective KTM 790 adventure and I'm really excited for it.  If it tics all the boxes I expect it to, I'll likely jump ship and get a KTM.

Maybe it was a fluke and the others were right about things falling through the cracks.  Maybe it wasn't.  Personally, I have more respect for KTM than most manufacturers just for getting out there and showing up.

They deserve credit for doing their rallies.  They have some pretty cool plans for future "rider-oriented activities" but I said I wouldn't say anything.

Honda is doing some kind of AT rally in South Africa too that I heard good things about.  Wonder if they bring it to the US.

I just heard some more feedback on the event and logistics.  I heard dinner Friday was a last minute handoff to a vendor who scrambled to get pizza in time but no drinks, napkins, etc... Then Sat dinner was supposed to off site with busses to take people and those plans were changed last minute as well.

From what I recall, I was just happy to get some food, walk the vendor area and ride some trails.

Great riding!









Edited by Ronin


In such a competitive market like the US, it is truly sad to read that a brand like KTM does not get more involved. They have even more competition now with the Honda. But from my experience it might not be a company directive or thinking. It always comes down to one or two people in a company that is doing or not doing their jobs. And it might be like that in this case. Maybe you can try and talk to the people that actually call the shots there? 

So above was Shane and I just doing our own thing at the Rally, and I'll be damned if it wasn't nice to just be riding in a pair compared to the 15+ rider organized groups ...




....it is truly sad to read that a brand like KTM does not get more involved. They have even more competition now with the Honda.  



I guess the Rally and all the street and dirt demos they do a year aren't enough. What other brand hosts more than a dozen events a year? Our club hosts the largest off-road demo KTM does. Last fall there were 1400 riders through the gate over 2 days for mx and xc bikes as well as open riding.


I rode to the Crested Butte event from Ohio then to Ouray and not I'm in Moab. I enjoyed the event and rode both hard loops with Mike Lafferty. I always end up riding by myself so it was nice to have some fresh faces to ride with.


On Friday we did the hard route over Cumberland Pass called something Ridge? Only one person turned back, he struggled just to get up the first road then saw damp two track and turned around. The KTM guys gave him directs back (two turns) but he decided to go exploring, got lost, dropped his BMW and couldn't pick it up. Mike sent his sweep rider to go find the guy and Mike had me take over as sweep. I also got to meet and ride with Simon Cudby from UpShift. I didn't realize it but Simon posted my 950 and a video of me on his Instagram page. The ride was fabulous.















Saturday didn't go as well for some, they didn't listen to the ride leader and four people ended up in our group. Mike had me ride the middle to help out and keep an eye on a few strugglers. As we were clearing the toughest part of the Schofield Pass, a DRZ 400 died and we couldn't keep it running. I took the items from my tail rack and stuffed them in my bag. I used those straps, a few others and my 21" tube then towed the guy's bike about 4-5 miles of pain in the but rocks. His younger buddy swapped bikes rode his while I towed. I finally got him out and KTM sent a truck to pick him up. That was the toughest tow job I ever did but the old 950 chugged along with little issue. My 950cc Asthmatic Donkey turned over 129,000 miles on that weekend.








Once I get home, I'll see what's on the other camera.





@MGorman excellent post bud. Saw your bike in the vendor area and was looking for the rider.  I'm not sure how this evolved into a thread about KTM not being involved, some must have not read from the top. On the contrary, I believe KTM is more intouch with their customer base than most. When's the last time you got an opportunity to ride with Honda factory riders?  Anyway I had a good time regardless of the disorganization, I was in Colorado on the mighty 950, how could I complain...?



@MGorman that sounds like a gnarly ride!  I also got to ride with Mike Lafferty two years ago and there were some similarities.  Basically riders overestimating their ability and Mike displaying some pretty heroic skills.  I'd borrowed Woody's "franken GS" with the 21/18 wheel set up and admittedly had an issue with one of the steep loose hills and had to hand the controls over to Mike and watch him ride it up for me, lol


Vendor area vid


I was able to make the Rally, luckily I combined several mandatory trips into one huge road trip. 

That was my second KTM Adventure Rider Rally and it was really fun for the following reasons; 

  • The riders that I met were some of the coolest people that I have ever met. What is so interesting is that I have never hung out with a more diverse group of people and had such a good time. Normally, it seems like everyone groups into cliques and does their own thing. 
  • The KTM factory pros; Mike Laferty, Quine Codey, Ronnie Renner, and Tayor Roberts, and Heather Lewis were some of the most humble people in the bunch. 
  • Colorado has been the best riding destination that I have done yet. 
  • There were all kinds of bikes, I like KTM but in truth, I'd enjoy riding anything. 




Heather is pretty cool huh?

She was totally cool, after nearly an hour of talking with her I realized who she was!

I took their class twice and we've had her over for dinner once. Super sweet and probably the closest thing to a Laia Sanz we have in the US. She can RIDE!

I spoke with a few people about the KTM non-response to my emails and they basically said that's what it's been like lately there; no one's been getting much of a response back.  They had someone leave and there's been stuff that's been shuffled around.  Apparently even some vendors (who I guess paid to be there) weren't getting emails returned either.  So I should have taken that earlier advice to "just show up" after all.  That's what they did! :lol:  They said everything was worked out once they got there.

I guess I was just being too cautious but I have a lot of respect for KTM and a lot of us riders look up to them as a leader and the last thing you want is a leader who might really not want you there.  Hopefully I can go next year.

That is some good news :thumbsup:

Great video on the Rally here by @Steve_Kamrad


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