KTM went their own way during an impressive debut MotoGP season, initially entering the RC16 with a unique frame, suspension and engine firing-order compared to the other factories.

But while the Austrian team soon switched from a screamer to big-bang firing order, technical director Sebastian Risse is adamant they do not need to follow the pack in terms of an aluminium twin-spar chassis (or Ohlins rather than WP suspension).

Risse explained that it's not a question of whether a steel trellis frame is capable of providing the rigidity needed for MotoGP, but working out what chassis performance figures need to be built into the design.

"We have a lot of experience in other classes where this basic question is the same," Risse said.

"At the moment the main point we are missing, and working on, is the knowhow - what exactly is the target [for the chassis properties].

"To achieve the target in terms of any particular design property is not a problem in steel, for us. We have a lot of knowhow in the manufacturing and the design process to do this with steel.

"But we need to know what these tyres want, what this class wants, because it's a very powerful bike compared to the other classes where we have experience.

"This is mainly the process we are in now, but we believe we can do it in steel, clearly."

KTM Motorsports also uses the steel trellis in all other classes of competition, including Moto3 and Moto2.

Reflecting on their first MotoGP season - which saw Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith take a best race finish of ninth and tenth respectively, while KTM beat Aprilia in the constructors' championship - KTM Motorsport Director Pit Beirer declared:

"We had huge respect before we stepped in and prepared as well as we could, but you cannot prepare [fully] for your first MotoGP season. So we had to learn every day, every hour in this paddock. But things went better than we expected.

"We started on the very last row of the grid in Qatar. It was dark, a little bit rainy and we could almost not see the starting light!

"Then we made it up to the second row just a few weeks ago [Espargaro qualified sixth in Australia]. So, it was definitely an amazing development. Our team did a fantastic job. I have to thank all the riders and the team for this effort.

"We are happy and really proud to be part of this first-class motorcycle show."

Espargaro and Smith will continue as KTM's full time riders in 2018, with Mika Kallio (who finished tenth in Austria) again carrying out testing and wild-card duties.

Ducati raced a steel trellis frame from 2003-2008, albeit with the engine increasingly used as part of the main load-bearing structure (stressed). In other words, without the engine there was no physical link between the front and back wheels.

That concept prompted the leap to carbon fibre in 2009 but, after Valentino Rossi's struggles, Ducati have joined the Japanese in running an aluminium twin-spar frame from 2012, but still with a carbon fibre swingarm.


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Kudos to KTM.

As a Ducati fan for 60yrs, I hope that Ducati are listening.


 While still at Ducati, Casey Stoner said that even when he had identical setups on his two Desmosedicis, they would never feel exactly the same. Paddock rumor suggests that variation in stiffness between two supposedly identical steel trellis chassis could be large - as much as 15% - due in part to the problems of reproducing so many welds and so many parts to completely identical specifications.

I would suspect those rumors may have some truth to them, but 15% is probably way off. KTM seem to understand that to achieve the correct stiffness is quite possible with steel.. it's simply a matter of knowing where to aim, which as always is the mystery.  The issue of weight isn't touched upon, so I assume they are quite similar.. that is the surprising bit to me

I read once that this variations used to be substantial but in the time since all the other manufacturers switched to aluminum KTM has been able to massively update the process for manufacturing these chassis's and now those issues don't exist anymore. Also due to the ease of building out of steel rather than aluminum they can develop new chassis' much quicker hence 18 new chassis from KTM in 2017 and what like 3 or 4 from Yamaha? 

this is the sort of comments i come here for - sharing knowledge and information.

keep up :) 

The way KTM  dedicated themselves in AMA Supercross leads me to believe they know what they are doing.

Yes they know what,  but still they have to deal with where and how much.

15% variance with the way I weld would be a miracle.  Welding slag can be load bearing and cover blowholes holes, so just paint over it....

How much damping could Trellis provide,,,???

Curious to know from any engineering types what the actual weight difference would likely be if you created 2 identical chassis, but one in aluminium and one in steel?