KTM Lycan Elite XT review

Properly rapid racer that sits at the XC end of trail bikes

Our rating 
3.5 out of 5 star rating 3.5
GBP £3,000.00 RRP

Our review

Seriously light 120mm travel XC racer, but tyres and handling limit trail bravery
Buy if, You want a lightweight cross-country rig for long days in the saddle
Pros: Blisteringly fast, lightweight race-bike feel with the travel of a trail bike; good complete spec value for a semi-carbon frameset
Cons: Narrow bar, steep head and twitchy fork limit technical tenacity; LiteSkin tyres are super fragile
Skip to view product specifications

If any of our Trail Bike of the Year test line-up this year proves that you can’t judge a bike purely on how much travel it’s packing then it’s KTM’s 125mm-travel Lycan Elite. However, if you’re looking for a lightweight, climb-devouring race bike with a side-serving of trail survival then grab it by the fat foam grips and hang on.

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Judging by looks would be more of a giveaway as the flattened carbon main tubes with swept-back SLL (Straight Line Linkage) rocker tucked into the top tube/seat tube ‘armpit’ and super-flat flexible seatstays are almost identical to KTM’s Scarp XC bike.

It’s a 27.5in-wheeled chassis, though, with 125mm rear travel and 130mm up front. The Revelation fork is held at 68.5 degrees for more stability than a regular XC bike. You even get a dropper seat post, albeit only a short 100mm stroke one.

A look at the bike's 68.5-degree head angle
A look at the bike’s 68.5-degree head angle
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

Flexy 32mm fork stanchions, a minimal leverage 700mm bar and XC rather than enduro levels of steering stiffness from the frame and wheels mean I still needed to dramatically alter my expectations of what it could cope with on the technical trails of the Forest of Dean. Even then, I still ended up on the ground or punching trees a lot more regularly than any of the other bikes on test.

The paper-thin Schwalbe Rocket Ron LiteSkin tyres need nursing through anywhere pointy, too, and the porous sidewalls don’t convert to tubeless running easily, either.

RockShox Monarch RL 125mm rear shock
RockShox Monarch RL 125mm rear shock
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

Aim for the sky, though, and the Lycan is a proper werewolf in sheep’s clothing. The rising rate shock kinematic means a firm start to suspension proceedings, which is amplified by the lightweight DT-Swiss based wheelset and tyres to properly rocket forwards when you apply the power.

While I’d still add volume adjusters for a more progressive response to bigger impacts, the default trapdoor behaviour of the shock lets it carry speed easily over otherwise momentum-sapping rocks under power.

The KTM-DT Pro II Trail rims are fitted on lightweight DT Swiss hubs
The KTM-DT Pro II Trail rims are fitted on lightweight DT Swiss hubs
Russell Burton / Immediate Media
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The enhanced rebound effect of the flex stays also gives a lithe and lively spring to its step, and reach is generous, too. In other words, if you’re more about summits and mileage than berms and drops it’s well priced for a full XT go and SLX stop spec.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Lycan Elite XT
Brand KTM Bikes

Brakes Shimano SLX 180mm
Cranks Shimano XT 36/26
Fork RockShox Revelation RL 130mm
Frame Material Performance carbon mainframe, alloy rear
Front Tyre Schwalbe Rocket Ron LiteSkin 27.5x2.25in
Head Angle 68.5
Rear Shock RockShox Monarch RL 125mm
Rear Tyre Schwalbe Rocket Ron LiteSkin 27.5x2.25in
Seat Angle 74.5
Weight (kg) 12.3
Wheelset KTM-DT Pro II Trail rims on DT Swiss hubs
Frame size tested L