During the last two non-AMA sanctioned events, Monster Cup and Red Bull Straight line, KTM has been riding slightly different race bikes. The bikes Marvin Musquin and Broc Tickle have been racing look very similar to their 2017 seasons race bikes but if you look close you can see the differences. This could very well be the 2018 1/2 Factory Edition made up with standard plastics. What stands out is the head design and the valve cover. Comparing the two you can see the new valve cover wraps around both sides while the older valve covers only cover one side of the head. The cases look much the same but there could very well be differences, yet minor. The cylinder looks similar but the height could be altered slightly. Exhaust port flange is another sigh there have been changes since the shape has been altered and there is a machined area on top but we were not allowed to take close up images.
Other changes included the motor mounts on the frame and the motor mounts themselves. Also notices the exhaust header mount has also been relocated to the frame instead of off the engine hanger. The Factory bikes are running works WB suspension but the shock on these bikes are different than what they ran during the supercross season, especially the reservoir position. This could be the latest Trax Factory shock or a peek into what might come on the FE. Its also unsure what fork will come on the FE, an updated WP air or will they come up with a more affordable Cone Valve?
The frame looks very similar but there are some tabs and engine mounts that have slightly different welds and such which indicated this could be a new frame for the FE. Plastic on the FE might have some updates but these race bikes don’t appear to have any changes.
KTM already has a very potent production and race bike so its unlikely they will have to pull out major stops with the Factory Edition to stay competitive in 2018. It looks like a new head design, upper motor mounts, exhaust ports, minor frame tabs and maybe minor geometry and possibly updated suspension components. But for racing KTM is not required to run any special suspension on their FE since Factory Works or Kit suspension is legal. The main components to keep in compliance with regard to homologation AMA rules include the frame, engine and swingarm for the most part.
KTM will probably release details on the new Factory Edition in probably the next 4-6 weeks along with a 2018 team intro, stay tuned.