Retro-Mod KTM: Vintage style, modern performance…
Innovation and development in the world of electric motorcycles is happening at a lightning pace, with electric bikes getting closer and closer to traditional gas-powered in terms of performance. It’s exciting to watch this evolution take place, but many of us grieve the loss of simpler, freer days. That’s probably one reason we love two-strokes so much — the sound, smell, and performance make for a highly nostalgic sensory experience.
Enter Sebastian Braun (@querlenker666), who’s been riding motorcycles since he was 10 and started building electric motorcycles in his 30s, which would evolve into his company, MXM — a Czech/German startup that develops high-tech electric dirt bikes. While the company is very future-oriented, Sebastian has found himself longing for the easy-going freedom of his younger days, when he and his friends rode Honda CR’s, KTM’s, and liquid-cooled Maicos all over the place:
“Back then, the bikes were cheap and we didn’t care if it was street-legal or not. We used the bikes on MX tracks, in the woods, and on streets, feeling like outlaws.”
When Sebastian turned 38, he bought himself a two-stroke enduro like he used to have, and soon a side project began to take shape in his mind — a street-legal two-stroke retro-mod that would combine relatively modern technology and available parts with vintage style.
“I decided to build myself a time machine, something I can jump on and immediately feel 20 years younger. Something like a counterpole to the new high-tech-electric motorcycles.”
The bike you see here is a 2012 KTM 300 EXC, which was the first electric-start two-stroke enduro released by a major manufacturer — road-legal in Europe, and an absolute weapon in the woods. Sebastian upgraded the 300cc two-stroke with new plastics, graphics, lighting, saddle, exhaust, custom enduro-spec Mototech suspension, and more. The result is something of a “retro mod” — modern performance meets retro style.
“I am proud I was able to make it look like it came straight out of the KTM factory, even if you can see it’s got a modern chassis.”
Below, we talk to Sebastian for the full story on the build.
KTM 300 Retro Mod: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
I’m from Germany, grew up in the former German Democratic Republic. When I was a child, my father and grandfather had mopeds, and when I was 10 years old, I first rode one myself. When I was 12, I had my first one of my own, a Simson Habicht 60cc. I rode it often and my friend and I started modifying it. Later, when I was 15, I had an MZ 150cc and one year later my first MX bike. It was a YZ125. After that, I had several bikes, all two-strokes. In my 30s we started building electric bikes, which eventually then became a new business. When I turned 38 I bought a two-stroke bike again, now more of them.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
KTM EXC 300, 2012.
• Why was this bike built?
My company and I are working on electric motorcycles and we are very future oriented. During the work on these bikes I often have to think about my past, when I was younger, and somehow I miss this time. A time when everything seemed to be much more easy-going, with more freedom, more exciting and less stressful. So I decided to build myself a time machine, something I can jump on and immediately feel 20 years younger. Something like a counterpole to the new high-tech-electric motorcycles.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
When I was younger we were used to buying cheap bikes from the early to mid 90s. Mostly Hondas CR’s and KTM’s. Water-cooled Maico’s were also on the wish-list but hard to get. Back then, the bikes were cheap and we didn’t care if it was street-legal or not. We used the bikes on MX tracks, in the woods, and on streets, feeling like outlaws.
I wanted something from the late 70’s to late 80’s but with relatively modern technology and a good spare parts supply. So I decided to use bikes from the late 90’s up to now and convert them to give them the vintage style. I tried to keep as many stock parts as possible from the bike to have the patina on it. So rust on screws, scratches and so on are welcome, and tell the story of 40 years of use. On the technical side, everything has been rebuilt to mint condition and the bikes are all street-legal for use in urban areas too. All bikes can be converted/refurbished/reconditioned to their original condition, as I avoid any cutting or welding on the frame.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Custom plastics, graphics, brackets, lights, modified seat, Doma exhaust and modified silencer, custom enduro-spec SPV Mototech suspension.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
Yes and no, I just call it “the white one.”
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
I achieved my goal by building a time machine. It rides and handles like a modern bike, sounds great, and is absolutely reliable. That’s the basis for the main thing – the feeling of traveling into another time. A time when you were younger but which is now here again. You ride to places you discovered when you were younger or you explore new places with that same enthusiasm. Even if you don’t ride it but just see it standing there in the workshop or garage, it gives me some kind of good feeling — it’s somehow hard to describe, but I think everyone experiences something like that.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
Absolutely! I am proud I was able to make it look like it came straight out of the KTM factory, even if you can see it’s got a modern chassis.