How one dealer ruined the KTM brand for me and my summer too

This is when I bought the bike.

With more than 180 posts, I think you loyal readers know a bit about me by now. A vast majority of these posts has been rather positive, even when things haven’t gone my way. This is going to be the opposite. Let me tell you the story about how one dealer ruined the KTM brand for me and at the same time wasted my summer…

Finding a KTM 690 Enduro in Stockholm without digging through the floor when scraping for money isn’t easy. That’s why I decided to go for it when I saw a cheap 690, already adventurized with two five liter Acerbis extra tanks, at a dealer’s some 200 kilometers from here, in the city of Örebro.  Sure, it had almost 40 000 kilometers, but it was in great shape, I was assured by the manager at this dealers, and since this was a dealer claiming to be the largest KTM-dealer in Sweden, and in the same city as the KTM Swedish HQ, I was prone to believe him.

So I rented a van and went there to buy it. It looked okay when I saw it and it sounded okay too. I wasn’t too familiar with the model but noticed that the speedometer was hard to read. Strange, he had noticed, the owner. I asked about oil change and stuff. No problems, this was a great machine which they had looked through. Cool, I thought. No MOT-inspection had been done but I spoke to the previous owner who said it was because it had been in an accident, which the dealer also claimed.

I also saw that some wires were cut and that a plug was hanging loose. By now, I should have followed my gut feeling but I really wanted a KTM 690, so when the dealer told me that most people do it I believed him once again.

I bought it and happily brought it home. A few days later I prepared it for the MOT Inspection, which in Sweden is quite easy to pass. I noticed that it was dirty pretty much everywhere inside too, so now the idea of the dealer not having taken care of the bike came to mind. I passed the inspection but the inspector told me to have a look at the cam chain tensioner since he thought it had this clatter.

Another problem was that the clutch sensor was broken which meant I could only start it in neutral regardless if I pulled the clutch lever in. And now I noticed that some of the bolts you don’t usually see were rusted stuck to the point that the metal insert with the threads spun within the plastic rather than letting the bolt rotate. Bummer.

Having had problems on my Honda before, I decided to do something about this: the 5 000 kilometer service.  I usually do this myself but I wanted to have this bike in great shape for the epic summer to come and besides, it had always been serviced by professional mechanics before. Expensive but worth it. In the meanwhile, I had a few runs together with my friend, maybe around 200 kilometers in total spread over six, seven rides. Not too hard on the bike in other words. I had some problems starting the bike compared to my friend’s 690 and it stalled a bit too but I thought nothing of this.

On the way to the service I fell. The bike was scratched on the plastic and the brake pedal was bent but other than that, there wasn’t any damage. The mechanic there looked at the valve clearances, and everything else, did the service and I took it home.

I changed the tires, and cleaned the instruments which made it much clearer and easier to read. Great. There were still some stalling issues and it was still hard to start sometimes. I was a bit hesitant to ride this bike due to this but decided to go for a 350 kilometer ride with an overnighter halfway. I didn’t get that far. At a dinner stop, the bike refused to start. My friend had to go to the store and buy a new battery for me to be able to go on. I had ridden the bike for some 400 kilometers and already had to pay for one service and a new battery.

On the way home, it was really hard to start sometimes so we tried to get home as fast as possible. After that, I didn’t ride for a while. Then came a nice summer day and we took the bike for a ride. After thirty seconds, the fuel injection lamp came on, it changed sound and ran like crap for a minute before it died. Over and over again. No ride that evening.

A few days later we tried again. I came as far as a couple of kilometers without a problem, stopped for a coffee and then it started to do the same thing again. I had to push it home. Being annoyed, I wrote to the manager and complained about this, asking him how we should proceed. This was two weeks ago and no answer yet.

Now I decided to take it apart and clean all the connectors. When doing this I noticed two things: The connectors were dirty as hell even in places where no dust should ever enter the bike, and the boot from the throttle body wasn’t properly positioned on the bike. Well, thank you, dealer from hell.

I cleaned everything and repositioned it exactly as it is supposed to be. Nothing. Turns out both the starter relay and the tilt sensor seem to have given up on the. And so have I. At least for now. I know I’ll get it to run eventually, no doubt, but I feel like you as a dealer should take some responsibility for what you sell to the customers, at least if you claim to be the best at what you do.

Now I know I should have done a more thorough inspection. But you know how it is: the time is short, you try a new model, you don’t know what to expect. That’s why I went to a dealer, to get away from buying from some random dude I don’t know. Nothing could be more wrong in this case.

I guess I could write it off as a bad investment and a lesson learned but the thing is it kind of ruined the KTM brand for me too. Because I bought it from a dealer I thought there would be some kind of insurance that the bike wouldn’t be crap altogether. Wrong of me again. I don’t think I will ever buy a KTM again. Don’t get me wrong, I love the bikes with their agile frames and power, but with this kind of problem and having had problems with two and a half of the three dealers I’ve dealt with, it seems like they don’t care about their brand or customer relations. Like the dealer themselves.

So this summer wasn’t what I expected it to be. Nothing can give me these moments back, but at least I want some kind of recognition, some kind of gesture that you take this seriously. It’s easy enough to treat customers like shit but don’t you have any sense of pride? Of wanting to do good things for other riders? Or is it all about profit? Anyways, I’ve learned this the hard way now and will probably never trust a dealer again, especially not this dealer in Örebro nor any of its three other stores in Sweden.

I guess the Orange Kool-Aid isn’t as good anymore.