KTM Scarp Prime Test Ride Review


KTM is an Austrian company best known to most Americans for their motorbikes, but for the past couple years the company has been working to enter the US mountain bike market. John Fisch reviewed one of their bikes, the KTM Myroon Prestige, last fall at Outerbike. Yesterday I got a chance to test the KTM Scarp Prime, a high-end, full suspension, carbon 29er, XC race bike that’s clearly designed to go fast!



The KTM Scarp offers just 90mm of rear suspension which these days, sounds absolutely tiny, even for an XC bike. But keep in mind, this is an XC race bike; based on my short test ride, that was actually more than enough rear suspension to take the harshness out of fast, chunky descents. Up front, the Scarp Prime features the RockShox RS-1 fork with 100mm of travel. I’m a big fan of having slightly more suspension up front than in back, and in the case of the Scarp Prime, this configuration works really well.


The Scarp Prime that I tested features a RockShox dual-lockout remote that allows the bike to become stiff as a board at the push of a button. In fact, during a climb on our test ride, Aaron asked if I had set up the suspension on the bike at all–there was essentially zero perceptible bounce. Which is exactly what XC riders demand.

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As you might expect, the Scarp Prime is a very lightweight bike. I didn’t get the exact weight but I would estimate the XL bike I tested weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 23 pounds with pedals. The actual weight of a Scarp Prime is easily even lower since my test bike featured alloy rims and a 2×11 XT crankset instead of the stock carbon rims and 2×11 XTR crankset that’s officially spec’d.


Rounding out the build, KTM includes XT brakes, KTM-branded carbon bars, a Fízi:k saddle, and 2.25″ Schwalbe Rocket Ron tires. KTM doesn’t include a dropper seatpost in the Prime build which isn’t all that surprising given that many XC riders aren’t willing to take the weight penalty a dropper post requires. However, it is a little disappointing that KTM doesn’t include internal routing for a dropper post for those who want to upgrade down the road. Unfortunately, finding a decent externally-routed dropper post is becoming more and more difficult.


On my test ride at Bootleg Canyon I found myself wishing for wider tires on the Scarp Prime. True, the trail conditions at Bootleg Canyon are best described as “loose over hard,” which isn’t what most XC riders will find on their local race course. Still, the good news is that the carbon rims spec’d on the Scarp Prime are slightly wider than the alloy rims I tested, which means the 2.25″ tires should sport a wider contact patch in the real world.


The Scarp Prime frame features mounts for two water bottles and even a mounting point for a frame protector on the bottom of the downtube (though I was secretly hoping this was a mount for a third bottle cage.) Priced at $8,295, this bike isn’t for everyone, though if you’re the type of rider who regularly collects cash race prizes, the Scarp Prime might just ramp up your winnings, paying for itself quickly. The lowest priced Scarp rings the register at around $4,500 while a Di2-equipped Scarp retails for north of $10,000.

The Scarp Prime is available from KTM dealers in the US and also online at the KTM website.

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