KTM ULTRA 1964 (650b) - First impressions

First out of the starting blocks for the new UKXCNews.com - Race Review feature, is the 2015 KTM ULTRA 1964.


frameWhen the opportunity to test the 2015 KTM ULTRA 1964 came up we jumped at the chance, and it got us thinking... Can you buy a 'sub £1000' MTB and expect it to be fully race ready?

First Impressions

Released in 2014 as a limited edition model - to help KTM Bike industries celebrate their 50th anniversary - the KTM ULTRA 1964 is back and has had a 2015 makeover. New subtle graphics are joined by a similarly high standard of kit, as were found of the 2014 model. Retaining the same geometry and stylings it seems that KTM have approached the 2015 Ultra 1964 with the 'If it ain't broke' policy.


Coming in at £999.99, the KTM Ultra 1964 650b sneaks into that sub £1000 bracket and comes ready to roll... and roll quick! The KTM Ultra 27.5 Alu 6061 frame comes complete with all the usual tapered steer, integrated brake mounts and 3d dropouts that you would expect at this price point.  We have the Large (19 inch) frame which comes with a 594mm top tube, a fairly racy 70 degree head angle, 607mm stack and a compact 1087mm wheelbase. Definitely a frame that should perform well as a rapid 650b trail bike... but is there a frustrated racer behind the stealthy black graphics!?!


ktmThe Shimano Deore XT shadow rear mech handles the 10 Speed Shimano HG62 11-36 cassette in a convincing fashion, as you'd expect, and when combined with a Shimano Deore M610 40-30-22 up front, it is sure to give the KTM Ultra 1964 mountain goat-esq climbing ability. The Deore theme continues with the brakes, as stopping duties are in the hands of the hydraulic Shimano M395's with 180/160 CL rotors.


The front 'squish' is handled by the solid, reliable and firm favorite amongst the ranks of XC racers, Rockshox Reba RL Solo Air fork with motion control and 100mm of travel. The Reba is a very welcome addition to the Ultra's specifications and a rarity within the sub £1000 bracket. This should give you a plush and confidence inspiring front-end, in comparison to the usual RockShox XC32 that would usually front most bikes within this price point.


Rolling duties fall to a set of (made for KTM) Ambrosio cross ride 27.5 rims laced to Shimano Deore M615-CL Hubs (9mm QR), all wrapped snuggly together by a pair of Schwalbe Racing Ralph 27.5 x 2.1 (Performance - Folding). We'll go into weights at a later date, but they feel nimble, stiff and responsive.  These folding Racing Ralph's on the solid and light Ambrosio/Shimano wheels, mean you should be in for some rapid exploits and definitely shows that this bike has the potential to dish out some positive results, as our racer takes the KTM Ultra 1964 to its XC limits.


The colour matched KTM orange finishing kit is of good standard too. Orange KTM Line seat clamp, lock-on grips, headset and cable housing splash a little colour on to the stealthy black frame, and really help to show the subtle detail of the well thought out graphics. The KTM Line (KTM's in-house range of finishing kit) graces the cockpit, with KTM Line flat 660 bars held out by a KTM Line  7° +/- stem. The package is topped off with a limited edition KTM ultra 1964 saddle, atop a KTM line seatpost.


Full Spec list:


Ultra 27.5" M:1451 TB
Alloyframe 6061 TB
Headtube 1.1/8 > 1.5 for tapered steerer
BSA, FD Band-Type Down-Swing
black matt (black+orange glossy)


RockShox Reba RL 27.5 solo air, 100mm, tapered, Remote-Poplock

Headset / Stem / Bar

KTM Team drop-in, tapered
KTM Line 7°
KTM Line 2X flat, 680


Shimano RT54 180/160
Shimano M396 hydr. Disc


Shimano Deore M610
Shimano Deore XT M781 shadow
Shimano Deore M611


Shimano Deore M612 40-30-22
Shimano BB51-Unit BSA
Shimano HG50-10 11-36

Wheelset / Tire:

KTM Line 27.5" Ambrosio/Deore
Ambrosio Cross Disc 584x21
Shimano Deore M615 - 100/5 QR CL
Shimano Deore M615 - 135/5 QR CL
Schwalbe Racing Ralf Perf. 27.5x2.25" 57-584,

Saddle / Seatpost:

KTM VL-1489
KTM Line 2D forged head, 2bolt clamp, 350/27.2

All said and done, it is a pretty good list of kit and gives you a convincing sub £1000 package...

But here at UKXCNews.com, we don't just want to tell you what it is, we want to let you in on how it really performs. The KTM Ultra 1964 is now in the hands of one of our racing reviewers. He began by taking it around the UKXCNews.com test track - a 2 mile XC race inspired circuit, designed to test kit before they hit the race track properly - and in the torrential Yorkshire rain, he managed to set a benchmark time of 9 mins 59 seconds (more on this coming in the next few weeks).  He is now preparing to give it a full and conclusive race test and in the next few weeks we will discover if you really can buy a sub £1000 XC race machine?

Words - Andy Mawer

Pictures - Peter Barker

Provided courtesy of Fli Distribution

For the full race day review, you can view this by clicking here