After ABS and traction control, two-wheel-drive (2WD) just might turn out to be the next big thing in motorcycling. Though Yamaha have tried their hand at building a 2WD motorcycle in the past, the Japanese company has now given up further development in this area.
But KTM may pick up from where Yamaha left off. Unfazed by Yamaha’s 2-Trac 2WD system not having taken off, the Austrian company has developed its own 2WD system and is already testing it on some of its motocross bikes. KTM’s 2WD mechanism uses a mechanical/hydraulic system to apportion torque between the front and rear wheels. It uses a small hydraulic motor inside the front hub, which drives the front wheel.
According to the company, test results have been good and ‘the 2WD system allows the bike to accelerate much harder out of corners, due to less slippage.’ The flip side to both wheels being powered is a tendency to stand up and run wide. Also, the 2WD mechanism adds six kilos to the bike, half of which is directly to the front hub – definitely not a good thing.
Still, it’s early days yet, and with further development, KTM’s 2WD could benefit some motorcycle riders, especially those who ride dual-purpose bikes and those who ride off-road. KTM bikes have dominated the Dakar Rally for quite some time now, and a new 2WD system may extend that domination in the years to come!
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