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KTM 950 SM by Mod Moto


Posted on May 13, 2015 by Scott in Tracker. 15 comments

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Written by Martin Hodgson.

If you want to build a custom bike there is no shortage of well-worn paths to go down, a Triumph Café Racer, a Harley Tracker or an XS650 Bobber. The aftermarket parts are available, the internet full of inspirational photos and there are even shops that will make you a turn-key example. But Olof from Sweden’s Mod Moto didn’t want to build something already “done by everybody else seven thousand times”. So he went past left field, took a turn down a boggy lane and continued all the way to a KTM 950 SM.

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One of the ugliest bikes in recent memory that upon its release many journalists at the launch believed would never sell, one comparing it to the exact opposite of Charlize Theron…, that was until they rode it. “The KTM 950 SM may well be the best-feeling, most capable, most intoxicating day-in, day-out street bike we have ever tested” fawned a motoring journalist, turns out Olof is a man that can look past looks and see a kind heart. And what a heart it is, 942cc of KTM V-Twin, with 4 valves per cylinder, gobs of torque and 100 wild ponies ready to be let loose at the crack of the throttle. To extract a little more fun Olof ditched the emissions gear, fitted a new air filter and rejetted the carbs to suit.

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From here you’d probably want to start throwing serious money at the KTM to get the looks up to scratch, but there was just one issue. Not only had Olof chosen a left field bike he’d set himself a budget of well, zero! So all the unused parts and plastics, lights and fuel tank were sold off to fund the remainder of the build. With no other tank on the market ever going fit the frame and a zero dollar budget Olof grabbed some cardboard and started to shape up a minimalist design that would give the bike a cleaner look. Matching the angles of the frame, the templates were then transferred to steel, bent to shape and finally welded up by good friend Ulf.

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To give the KTM a tracker look Olof bought an XR seat pan, but the bulky subframe was never going to do it justice, so using a borrowed pipe bender he cleverly fashioned a new one that mirrors the mainframe only in smaller diameter tubing. With the seat now bolted down the look is both functional and infinitely more appealing than the standard fare. The stock exhaust is a twin pipe, twin muffler setup and just like the stock look its hideously ugly, not to mention heavy. So Olof built a 2-into-1 system and then neatly cut down an old slip on can, repacked and riveted it together and shortened the remainder of the system to give a low slung look. A smartly designed hanger then runs off the new subframe, all of which frees up the entire back end creating wonderful negative space to highlight that wide sticky rear tire.

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The front headlight is a small item placed in the lower half of a dirt bike front plate, while the wiring has all been neatly hidden away. Tucked under the tank are the battery and the remainder of the electrics, with new grips and CNC levers giving Olof precision control. Finally good friend of the team Dennis came in to lay down the purposeful gloss black paint and the all important, yet subtle, Mod Moto Logo.

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At first look you probably thought “What is that?” second inspection and you’re beginning to appreciate the vision and skill needed to transform a standard KTM 950 SM into something so worthy of a Pipeburn feature. But then jump aboard this purpose built machine and you’ll be riding one of the fastest and most fun custom built bikes ever to assault the urban jungle! And isn’t that why we bought bikes in the first place?!

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  • guvnor67

    insanely brilliant!!! would be more fun than could ever be legal, and except for the cost of the donor bike, done on a budget. So clean,love the basic brutality of it! Wanna hear it, wanna ride it . . . NOW!!!! Excellent!!!!

  • Hardley T Whipsnade III

    Its definitely different . Fairly decent . Nicely executed . Good craftsmanship . But looking at it I can’t help feeling its in need of a bit of refinement when it comes to the overall aesthetics and design . Which is to say ; It needs , something . Can’t put my finger on what . But something .

    • yamahappy

      It’s ok to say it’s fugly. 🙂 Because it really is.

      • Bultaco Metralla

        Yeah but if you’re ugly too, who cares!

    • guvnor67

      yep, my backside on its seat sir!

  • The Ogre

    I’m sure it’d be a blast to ride, but from here it *looks* boring; I’m reminded of a fullon sportbike that was damaged… “let’s get rid of the rashed plastic, and bent bars, on had let’s replace the seat pan so it looks like we put some thought into it.” It’s too minimalist for me to find interesting.

  • John Wanninger

    It’s frankensteinish, But I bet its super fun.

  • foiled again

    Squaresville, daddy-o.

  • very sharp and looks like fun

  • dodgyp

    That looks vaguely bonkers, but bet it generates a decent grin when you are riding.
    Think it just needs a touch of orange somewhere to finish…

    • guvnor67

      That,s it! . . . . . Apart from my backside on its seat!

    • or bananas

  • PATtheHUFF

    This thing is just screaming for a front fender to complete the look. Cool bike but definitely a little “light” up front IMO.

  • After pulling off seven different body panels (so I could just remove the gas tank and change the air-filter) it became clear that there must have been at least one moment where Triumph’s engineers also had a chance to not make the Tiger 800 such an offensively plastic motorcycle.

  • Christopher Zylstra

    It looks like it was built from plans reflected in a mirror…. i think in part due to the flush situ. immed. forward of forks – in addition, b/c of that headlight design front calipers look like they’re supposed to be forward of fork tubes, like bars have been turned 180. Flat top of tank also confuses some of the lines. Sometimes less is more but sometimes it’s just less. Photography, it should be said, not giving any help at all. Mood and setting is fine but no intersecting lines with subject please because it confuses and competes, in this case because of minimalist design and unexpected shapes in certain places the intersecting background line issues are quite exaggerated. I feel, however, that it actually has a lot of potential that could be realized with some really straightforward additions/tweaks. Have I made some enemies for life now? – hope not – I wouldnt bother if it wasnt so interesting and 4/5ths ‘there’.