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KTM 950 SM (2005-2007): Review & Buying Guide

Massively experienced road tester



2005 KTM 950 SuperMoto SM Review Details Used Price Spec_04


Price: £3800-£5000 | Power: 98bhp | Weight: 198kg | Overall BikeSocial Rating: 4/5


Considering how enormous the KTM group is now (which includes Husqvarna, GasGas, a stake in CFMoto’s European distribution and also part of MV Agusta remember) it is hard to imagine that just a few years ago they were starting production of their first ‘proper’ road bikes. And by ‘proper’ we mean big-capacity using the LC8 V-twin, not the LC4 single cylinder motor. But everyone has to start somewhere and KTM started with the 950 models.

After the 950 Adventure, which was KTM’s first big-capacity model, arrived the 950 SM. Sticking to what they know, the SM was a big-capacity supermoto that as well as being a bit bonkers thanks to its thumping V-twin, turned out to also be really practical. After three years the SM grew in capacity and gained fuel-injection (using the 990 Duke’s motor) but the early SM is still very fondly remembered. If you want a day-to-day bike that is heaps of fun, the KTM 950 SM is well worth considering. And it has carbs!


KTM 950 SM (2005-2007) Price

The 950 SM appeared on the scene when KTM were still very much regarded as an off-road manufacturer and that meant sales were generally pretty slow in the UK due to a fledgling on-road dealer network. For this reason there are less 950 SM models for sale in the used market than 990 SMs and as a result they tend to be cheaper. You can get a well-used 950 SM for around £3800 in a private sale with dealers asking for up to about £5000, although at this price it will need to be a very good one. If you can get a well-looked after bike in a private sale for under £4000, that’s the ideal price-point as any more and you really need to be looking at the 990 instead.


  • Great engine

  • Brilliant fun to ride

  • Remarkably practical

  • Clunky gearbox

  • Lack of wind protection

  • Reliability can be a bit questionable


Engine and Performance

The LC8 motor is an absolute beauty of a V-twin with lots of lovely smooth power and a great mid-range. Unlike most rivals twins it has a dry sump design (which can make checking its oil level a bit tricky) helping keep it nice and compact. In fact, KTM claimed it weighed just 58kg, which is very impressive.

Making a claimed 98bhp with 70lb.ft of torque, it has more than enough poke for road riding and although the gearbox is a touch sloppy, the fact it formed the basis of so many Duke, Adventure and SM models until it was replaced by the 1290 V-twin in 2014 tells you all you need to know about its strength. However, it has to be noted the early generations did have a few issues...

When buying a used 950 SM your first worry is if the carbs are nicely balanced because if they aren’t the bike can run horribly lumpily, giving it a surging and very on/off throttle response. It’s a fairly easy job to do but one that is often overlooked. Start the bike up and see if it ticks over nicely, if not, assume either the carbs need a balance or they require removing and cleaning as their jets are full of crud. And while it is ticking over, listen out for a rattle from the cam chain tensioners, which are also susceptible to wear. Once up to temperature, check the clutch slave cylinder and water-pump seal as they both can spring leaks, which are fairly simple fixes (ideally fit an aftermarket clutch slave cylinder, they are far more robust) but still a touch irritating. And then there is the oil level.

After a test ride during which the gearbox’s action should be thoroughly checked (a few have let go), when the engine is properly hot, inspect the bike’s oil level. It’s a common mistake that leads to bikes being over or under-filled but the SM’s oil level is checked warm, not cold as on wet-sump engines. If the level is low, you need to be a bit wary, and the same is true of an over-filled bike. Finally, ask to see some service history as the LC8 needs its valve-clearances checked at fairly regular 9000-mile intervals.



KTM 950 SM (2005-2007) Handling & Suspension

The SM is quite a big bike but that doesn’t necessarily work against it. Far more of a practical ‘real-word’ option than the likes of Ducati’s Hypermotard or any smaller capacity supermoto, the 950 SM is comfortable and relaxed in its riding stance. Although it is also undeniably a touch chunky, something that shows up when you corner on it.

Weighing a claimed 198kg dry (so around 215kg wet) and set on soft suspension settings, when you up the pace the SM can start to feel a little squishy. It’s not a major drama as the WP suspension is fully adjustable but even after upping the damping the fact it has long-travel forks always gives it a degree of pitching when you are riding it hard. Not that this should stop you doing so...

An absolute blast on back roads, arm the SM with a set of sticky tyres and it is brilliant fun. The Brembo brakes bite hard, the V-twin always seems in the meat of its power when it comes driving out of bends and should you wish to pull the occasional wheelie, well, let’s just say the SM is very good at them... It’s a proper grin-inducing machine.

The chassis on the SM tends not to hide any major worries. After checking the usual bearings for wear, fork seals, shock’s damping, chain and sprockets etc your only concern is the foot pegs. As the pegs’ hangers are mounted directly to the frame, should an SM get dropped quite often the peg’s hanger can get ripped from the frame. Check for any signs of re-welding and respraying with silver paint in this area.



Comfort & Economy

Although the SM is a comfortable bike, it does lack much in the way of wind protection. Happily help is at hand in the shape of the 990SM-T, which was a more touring-targeted SM model and comes with a larger fairing, panniers and even ABS. It was launched in 2009 and used prices start at around £4500.

In terms of economy, the SM’s small 14-litre tank means that even at 43mpg you are looking at a maximum range of just short of 150 miles with the fuel warning generally illuminating around the 120-mile mark. So not great.



KTM 950 SM (2005-2007) Equipment

The SM was built in 2005 and as such lacks any real bling. There is no ABS, no TC and not even a fuel gauge. It’s pleasingly basic and we like it that way.

Owners tend not to accessorise the 950 that much and aside from crash protection, brush guards and aftermarket pipes, they are usually left fairly standard. If you want some extra pizzazz, look for the (fairly rare) sporty 990SM-R model with its upgraded chassis...



KTM 950 SM (2005-2007) Rivals

There are quite a few big supermoto options but these are the most common buys.


Ducati Hypermotard 1100 (2007-2012) | Approx Price: £5000-£9000

Power/Torque: 95bhp/75lb-ft | Weight: 180kg


Triumph Tiger 1050 Sport (2013-2021) | Approx Price: £3500-£9500

Power/Torque: 123bhp/77lb-ft | Weight: 235kg


Aprilia Dorsoduro 900 (2018-2020) | Approx Price: £6000-£8000

Power/Torque: 93bhp/66lb-ft | Weight: 212kg



KTM 950 SM (2005-2007) Verdict

If you are considering getting into big supermotos, or just want to try one out for a laugh, the KTM 950 SM will sway your buying decision. A brilliantly fun bike to ride that is big, roomy and actually surprisingly practical, it’s a great machine that will win your heart. It’s not perfect, and there are some reliability issues to be wary of, but overall it is an incredibly charming and spirited bike that guarantees grins.


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KTM 950 SM (2005-2007) – Technical Specification

Original price


Current price range




Bore x Stroke

100mm x 60mm

Engine layout


Engine details

Four-stroke, DOHC, 8-valve, liquid-cooled


98bhp (72kW) @ 8500rpm


70.1lb-ft (95Nm) @ 6500rpm

Top speed



6-speed, chain final drive

Average fuel consumption


Tank size

15 litres

Max range to empty (theoretical)

147 miles

Reserve capacity

34 miles

Rider aids



Tubular steel

Front suspension

48mm inverted WP forks

Front suspension adjustment


Rear suspension

WP monoshock

Rear suspension adjustment


Front brake

2 x 305mm discs, Brembo four-piston calipers.

Rear brake

240mm disc, one-piston caliper.

Front tyre

120/70 - 17

Rear tyre

180/55 - 17


24.4°/ 110mm

Dimensions (LxWxH)




Ground clearance


Seat height


Kerb weight

198Kg Dry


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