Motorcycle Types Adventure / Dual-Sport KTM Alphabet Soup Explained (What the Letters Mean in 2021)

KTM Alphabet Soup Explained (What the Letters Mean in 2021)

With a name like KTM, which stands for Kronreif & Trunkenpolz Mattighofen, it’s not surprising that the company likes to rely on initials for model naming. It would be easy to say that dirt bikes have letter model names, while the street bikes have traditional names. However, as you will see, it’s not quite that simple. Heck, the Enduro R model isn’t in the Enduro lineup. Plus, special editions can violate the naming structure, but let’s leave that for another day. We will do our best to explain the KTM alphabet soup, even if we can’t simplify it.


Although one would expect the KTM motocross bikes to have an MX designation, they all get the sexier SX name, which brings to mind supercross.

2021 KTM 250 SX-F

  • SX: This is for the 2-stroke motocross bikes.
  • SX-F: Adding the F means it’s a 4-stroke motocrosser.
  • SX-E: The E addendum tells you that it’s an electric motocrosser


If you can master the somewhat confusing Enduro lettering, you’re well on your way to being a KTM expert.

KTM Alphabet Soup Explained: 500 EXC-F
2021 KTM 500 EXC-F

  • EXC-F: The E tells you that it’s an Enduro (street legal) cross-country (XC) motorcycle. The F confirms the 4-stroke motor, though there are no 2-stroke EXC models.
  • XC: This is for 2-stroke cross-country dirt bikes. Though under the enduro lineup umbrella, the XC models do not have lighting.
  • XC TPI: TPI adds fuel injection to the mix.
  • XC-W: The W tells you that the XC has a wide-ratio transmission, as well as lighting.
  • XC-F: These are 4-stroke cross-country racers without lights.
  • XCF-W: These are 4-stroke cross-country off-road enduro motorcycles with a wide-ratio transmission and lighting.


KTM Alphabet Soup Explaine: 690 SMC R
2021 KTM 690 SMC R

There are only two supermoto motorcycles in the KTM lineup right now, and they are oddly named.

  • SMR: This is the non-street-legal racing designation. Consider it to be Supermoto Racing.
  • SMC R: We’re not sure what the SMC stands for, as it’s a street-legal model, rather than a competition motorcycle. The R tells you that it is dirt-ready, and it is more off-road capable than the slick-tired SMR racer.


Travel is KTM’s name for adventure bikes, with one exception—you just knew that had to be one.

2021 KTM 890 Adventure

  • Super Adventure R: This is the V-twin adventure motorcycle, with the R telling you it has an off-road focus.
  • Super Adventure S: The S tells you that this ADV is street-oriented. You don’t see the S designation anywhere else in the KTM world.
  • Adventure: This is for the non-V-twin street-oriented adventure models.
  • Adventure R: Non-V-twin ADV motorcycle aimed at the dirt get this name, with the R as the tipoff.
  • Adventure R Rally: For the hardest-core off-roading in the ADV world, Rally is added to the R.
  • Enduro R: This is an outlier. While it’s named an Enduro, it’s not as dirt-ready as the motorcycles in the Enduro lineup. At the same time, it’s more dirt-capable than the other motorcycles under the Travel designation, so it gets an R. Confused? You should be.


KTM’s unfaired upright sportbikes start with Duke, and go on from there.

KTM Alphabet Soup Explained: Duke
2021 KTM 200 Duke

  • Super Duke R: This designation tells you that it’s a big-bore V-twin at the top of the Duke food chain. Right now, there’s no non-R Super Duke.
  • Duke: This is the standard-issue naked non-V-twin sportbike.
  • Duke R: The R tells you that you’re getting upgraded performance, not that it’s ready for the dirt.


KTM uses E-Ride to designate its off-road motorcycles powered by electricity. They’re just getting started with these names.

2021 KTM Electric Motorcycles First Look - SX-E 5
2021 KTM SX-E 5

  • SX-E: This is for the electric-power motocrosser. Right now, it is only used for a youth model, but expect that to change.
  • Freeride E-XC: Another outlier, it uses the XC (cross-country) designation, but it adds the E (electric power) before the XC, rather than after, as the 4-strokes (XC-F) are named. Freeride tells you that it’s a trailbike rather than a competitive off-road motorcycle.


There’s only one motorcycle in this class, with the RC name bringing to mind the RC16 MotoGP motorcycle

KTM Alphabet Soup Explained: 390 RC
KTM 390 RC

  • RC: If it’s a KTM RC, it has a full fairing and clip-ons—track-ready.

So, there you have it. We hope you enjoyed our full serving of the KTM alphabet soup.

Don Williams
Don Williams
With 50 years of riding experience, Don Williams is a fan of all kinds of motorcycles. He enjoys sport bikes, cruisers, dirt bikes, touring bikes, adventure bikes, dual sport bikes, and rideable customs. Ask Don what his favorite bike is and he will tell you, "Whatever bike I'm on."

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