Customized washers keep KTM in the race

Pick any of the world’s most exciting motor races and you will find the orange motorcycles by KTM, Europe’s largest manufacturer, among the top contenders.

Located in Mattighofen, Austria, close to both motorsport-crazy Italy and R&D stronghold Germany, KTM mixes influences from both countries with its own “never give up” attitude. After failing to cross the Dakar finishing line ten times, KTM turned failure into a winning streak that has lasted since 2001.

KTM is the only manufacturer that bolts the gearshift lever axially instead of clamping it, making it easier to access with tools. However, the bolt that attaches the conic gearshift lever to the shifter shaft was a weak spot on early pre-series bikes. Heavy washers combined with glue couldn’t prevent loss of preload during some of the most extreme jumps, where the riders land with their foot on the gearshift lever. The whole lever would come loose.

Standard Nord-Lock washers were either too large or too thick to solve the issue. However, Nord-Lock customized an NL6sp washer, with an outer diameter of 16.6 mm instead of 13.5 mm. Two years later, KTM hasn’t seen one single case of gear-lever bolt failure.

Customer: KTM Sportmotorcycle AG
Production: >160,000 motorcycles ANNUALLY (2015)
Number of world titles: 270
Company size: 2,900 employees, one billion Euro in revenue
Strongest motorcycle: KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R, aka “The Beast” (177 HP, 1,301 cc, 144 Nm, 189 kilos)
Nord-Lock products: Nord-Lock washers for M6, M8, and a customized washer
Number of models: 45

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