KTM Scarp MT Prestige

KTM Scarp MT Prestige

19.12.19 08:57 8.325Text: Luke Biketalker (translated by Carola Felchner)Photos: Erwin HaidenA race fully with entertaining downhill capabilities included? The Scarp MT and its 120 mm of travel up front with 115 mm in the rear can gap the bridge between race deployment and after-work antics.19.12.19 08:57 8.326

KTM Scarp MT Prestige

19.12.19 08:57 8.326 Luke Biketalker (translated by Carola Felchner) Erwin Haiden Dieser Beitrag ist auch in Deutsch verfügbarA race fully with entertaining downhill capabilities included? The Scarp MT and its 120 mm of travel up front with 115 mm in the rear can gap the bridge between race deployment and after-work antics.19.12.19 08:57 8.326

The word scarp, indicating a steep decline, has been a synonym in KTM's lineup for fast race-dedicated full suspension bikes. For the 2020 season, the upper Austrians have gifted the Scarp with a massive update, also adding a second version with 115 mm of travel, next to a 95 mm option. Coupled with a fork with 120 mm of travel, the 29er Scarp MT - its abbreviation standing for marathon, by the way - is poised to deliver more safety, comfort and riding fun on long rides just as much as on a lap at the end of the work day. The MT shares the lightweight frame of the Scarp, which, with some small modifications, wants to make its home on challenging marathon courses and moderate trails. With a noble spec including Sram AXS and Magura MT8, we were already able to take a close look at the KTM Scarp MT Prestige.

The sportiest version of the Scarp has been updated from 90 to 95 mm of travel for 2020 and its entire carbon frame has been reworked. What remains is a voluminous steer tube, but its top tube has been slimmed down while the down tube has gained in diameter. At the point where it's nearing the bottom bracket, the down tube is curving in a bigger arch and can now fit up to two bottle cages inside the main triangle. The chainstays also have received some added volume and with that, added stiffness, the main pivot has moved slightly forward, together with a wider bearing placement. The new EVO2 carbon frame is said to weigh 1,600 grams in size M, saving about 10 % in weight compared to its predecessor, without sacrificing stiffness.

Why do we keep talking about the new Scarp when we’re supposed to tell about the Scarp MT? As mentioned before, it actually shares the same lightweight frame of the more race-oriented model. Both also share 29” wheels, but the MT features a shock with more stroke (at the same length) resulting in 20 mm of extra travel.

 a steep slope or cliff formed by folded or eroded layers of rock 

... says the Cambridge Dictionary about the word ‘scarp’. And by that, not talking about the light-footed KTM at all.

Tech Specs

Frame: KTM Scarp MT Premium Carbon 29", Boost 148, SLL, 115 mm travel Wheels: KTM TeamTrail29,Boost,622x30
Fork: Rock Shox SID Select RL 29", 120 mm Tires: Maxxis Ardent Race 3C, MaxxTerra, EXO, TR, 29 x 2.2"
Rear shock: Rock Shox Deluxe Ultimate Remote 190 x 45 mm Handlebar: KTM Prime Carbon Flat, 740 mm
Rear derailleur: Sram XX1 Eagle AXS Stem: KTM Prime
Trigger: Sram XX1 Eagle AXS Seatpost: Rock Shox Reverb AXS
Crank: Sram X1 Dub Carbon, 32 t Saddle: Ergon SM10 Sport Men
Cassette: Sram X01 Eagle 10-50 t Weight: 11,5 kg
Brake: Magura MT8 Price: 6,899 euros

Inside and outside

The Scarp MT doesn’t just want to survive on more challenging trails, but honestly wants to perform and entertain. In that regard, not only the rear wheel travel was upped, but the bike equipped with a versatile spec. In terms of the top model Scarp MT Prime the word versatile may also be complemented by the term exclusive. For 6,899 euros, the pinnacle of KTM’s product line is already equipped with trigger and rear derailleur from the wireless AXS group. Cassette and chain hail from the X01 lineup with the carbon crank from the X1 range – keeping the price reasonable without impacting performance. On top of that, the product managers ticked the order boxes in Sram’s catalog with a wireless RockShox Reverb AXS seatpost, RockShox SID Select RL fork with cable-actuated lockout with 120 mm of travel and Deluxe Ultimate rear shock.

Great choice of brakes, also. In this regard, they didn’t get carried away equipping the complete package but mounted Magura’s MT8 gem of a brake. Wheels are labeled with KTM but come from DT Swiss. Listening to the name Team Trail 29 CL, of course they are tubeless ready with a width of 30 mm. Mounted are no questionable lightweight tires with low rolling resistance prone to punctures, but fortunately Maxxis Ardent Race 3C with MaxxTerra and EXO casing. Our test bike’s weight in size 48? 11.5 kg.


Size: 38 43 48 53
Seat tube mm: 380 430 480 530
Top tube mm: 583 603 623 643
Seat angle mm: 74° 74° 74° 74°
Head angle mm: 67,5° 67,5° 67,5° 67,5°
Steer tube mm: 95 105 115 125
Chainstay mm: 435 435 435 435
Wheelbase mm: 1131 1152 1174 1195
Stack mm: 593 603 612 622
Reach mm: 413 431 448 466
Standover mm: 790 790 790 796
Bottom bracket drop mm: 38 38 38 38

Saddled up

Even if KTM added some more travel to the Scarp MT - the distance between saddle and cockpit feels rather sporty. The seating position is stretched but certainly not overstretched and feels comfortable and efficient, even when devouring long distances or pushing hard in the flats. With a saddle height at 74.5 cm and a body size of 180 cm, you get the feeling that your body is always placed where you'd prefer to sit, in order to implement the best possible forward drive – without having to shift position just a few hundred meters later because of an aching back and cramped shoulders. Even boring basic workout sessions along the valley floor are executed with a gentle smile – while inviting for a playful detour into the wild in between. The only thing that might hamper the pleasure of pedaling somewhat is the uncomfortable bend of the bar. Additionally, big feet or shoes with wide heels might scuff at the rear end.

 Varying opinions, but sweet anyway 

the wireless AXS shifting


The Scarp MT can't and doesn't want to hide its race-oriented genes on the climbs. As already mentioned, you're sitting in a forward-driving position in the saddle that also performs on longer ascents. Adding to the sag step by step, towards 25 %, pushing the lockout-lever actually doesn't ever become a necessity. Even on asphalt, there is no real need to touch the controls. Only when going out of the saddle it's a somewhat useful option, but even in that case not a necessary one. With fully open platform on the shock, the rear end delivers sufficient compliance on rough fire roads and as much grip, as the fast-rolling Maxxis Ardent Race can deliver to wrap around roots and rocks. If the Scarp MT would have remained at the office for a longer period of time, we would have liberated fork, rear shock and cockpit from its somewhat messy cable clutter and abandoned the remote – no more finish line sprints for us to win, anyway. What would remain is a clean look with only the brake levers with cables and wireless shifters for dropper post and rear derailleur. Talking about derailleurs, the still new XX1 Eagle AXS is responsible for some contrasting views at the office. While everyone digs the wireless optics is and the precise shifting performance, some colleagues would hope for a quicker gear change. In this regard, the AXS can't fully keep up with its mechanic counterpart, when shifting across more gears at once. It's nice though, that to get that process going, you don't need to shift gear by gear with AXS but only have to hold down on the shifter. In the end, it probably comes down to personal preference. To me, the benefits of AXS definitely prevail, even if shifting to a higher gear requires a bit more feeling in the legs than when using Shimano's latest generation.


Another component with excellent function is the Reverb AXS. There's no noticeable delay from the wireless technology for activation and the post does at it is told, willingly: up, down and anywhere in between, all by a defined click of the thumb. The only question that remains, is why the developers at Sram/RockShox chose to pack that much volume into the trigger. The dimensions of a triple shifter wouldn't have been necessary. A smaller command central closer to the thumb would have been quite sufficient. That however, is not one of KTM's construction sites and we rather want to talk about the Scarp MT's downhill capabilities. The – for KTM bikes – rather roomy front, allows for an active handling of the bike. Both wheels can be pre- and unloaded quickly and there is enough room to direct the bike wherever you want it to go. Highly agile at slow speeds, it remains rather stable when things speed up – although we're still talking about a bike with 120 mm of travel and not a flat-out enduro. Anything thrown at the bike on a typical marathon track – like the Fleckalm Trail at the legendary KitzAlpBike – it can handle with ease, including root blankets. Benefitting the bike in off-camber sections is its not too overly stiff chassis. Not to say that the frame would be soft, but it just shows the right amount of absorption capabilities to remain composed on rugged slopes, to keep tracking its lines. Talking about stiffness: the cockpit wouldn't suffer from a bit more of it.

The rear end itself operates on the stiff side but does a proper job of absorbing hits and is noticeably superior to the performance of the RockShox SID Select. Only at higher speeds can you feel some chatter coming from the rear end. It's not as planted as a Trek Top Fuel and not as bump-eating as a Transition Smuggler Gen 1 (which characteristically feels like more travel than the numbers suggest), however, the Scarp MT's feedback from the suspension and support in rolling terrain as well as its climbing capabilities are clearly superior – it's a race bike. Its handling is very intuitive and it allows to play with your body's center of gravity. Even in the air the bike feels very balanced.

The limiting factors are rather the fork and tires. The Maxxis Ardent Race does offer a nice compromise between rolling resistance and predictable side hold. But because of its limited braking traction on loose surfaces due to its short tread and its inherent damping capabilities, the allrounder remains a sport tire. Those eying more in the direction of trail rather than marathon can easily trim the character of the bike for little money, with a model like the Maxxis Minion, towards more downhill prowess.

Somewhat annoying was the fact that after a few runs, a noticeable threshold during the first few millimeters of travel became noticeable at the rear end. While this isn't recognizable during most of the ride while the suspension is settled in its sag, the resistance affects the suspension when the rear wheel gets unloaded and touches back on the ground. Other than that, the generally silent bike could use some better treatment with grease to remove the one or other creaking noise. It's a common problem that small discs are undersized for my weight of 85 kg, a problem shared with all race-oriented bikes out there. The fact that the rear brake apparently wasn't bled correctly after shortening the brake line – with the brake suffering from a spongy lever feel up to the point of pulling the lever all the way to the bar without brake function – is not in the hands of Magura but KTM's quality control.

Bottom Line

KTM Scarp MT Prestige
Model year: 2020
Test period: 3 weeks
Price: € 6.899
+ top frame
+ good craftmanship
+ efficient rear end
+ excellent value
+ all the wireless luxury
+ versatile geometry
o tires could deliver more grip
- annoying remote-lever
- knocking at the top shock mount
BB-verdict: Adventurer for the local trails

A price tag of 6,899 euros for the top model KTM Scarp MT Prestige may appear like quite a lump sum of money at first look. But with wireless Sram XX1 Eagle AXS with AXS dropper post, high-end Magura MT8 brakes and RockShox suspension, a heap of advanced technology is mounted to the lightweight carbon frame. Not even a direct-sales company like Canyon can keep up with that, price-wise. Other big retail sellers might even end up a few thousand euros on top of that. Only the Rose Thrill Hill (soon also available in a 120 mm trail trim) can offer something at a comparable price level. On top of that, you are presented with a 1,600 grams lightweight frame with details like two bottle cage positions inside the main triangle, which are proof of input from KTM's race team.

Even with 115 mm of travel there's hardly anyone that can mess with the Scarp MT on the uphill or in the flats. With the right setup, the concept delivers sublime forward drive with good comfort and traction. Activating the damper platform on daily rides is not really necessary. The sporty but comfortable sitting position animates to constantly try to raise the speed, the enjoyable handling invites for playful antics. On the way down, the bike is a lively companion with surprising reserves in its stability. Only at really high speeds does the chassis remind you that you're sitting on a race bike and suggests to take it a bit easier. Other bikes may be a bit better in this regard but not so on the climbs. Up until medium velocity, the performance of the rear end is absolutely satisfactory, although the fork can't really keep up with the rear. If I had a wish, I'd hope for ten or 20 mm more reach, then the bike would be perfect.

Phenomenal on the climbs and predictable on trails – that's how the Scarp MT Prestige recommends itself not only for sportive, but also trail bike use in moderately difficult terrain at adjusted speeds. At the end of the day, this is the first model from KTM that I would add to my personal stable. Cockpit, tires and eventually the fork might have to go. But that might just be the usual whining of the spoilt press talking.