The KTM Kapoho 27.5+ – more of everything?


The prospect of losing your bike for a week while TFTuned work their magic is always scary, particularly when the UK is enjoying the longest dry spell since the last ice age. Thankfully, my pal Henry Nottage at Tony Butterworth’s had a solution – a courtesy bike. However, he’s known me long enough to predict what my reaction would be when I found out the bike in question was a KTM Kapoho 27.5+, a behemoth of a bike.

I ride an old school 26” Yeti 575. I’m still coming to terms with disc brakes and 1×10 drive trains. Hence the cheeky grin on Henry’s face as he handed it over and the scepticism on mine.

I so wanted to hate this bike. Embodying as it does nearly every bike industry marketing fad going, it was tailor made for an old skool, 26-is-the-only-true-way, fat tyres are for lard-arses luddite like me to dismiss it as a bike designer’s wet dream.

But you know that thing about wisdom being directly proportional to age? Well think on. I went from looking like I’d swallowed a wasp when I first laid eyes on it to riding it like a loon and loving it in about twenty four hours. Which just proves that oldies ain’t necessarily goldies.

The KTM Kapoho 27.5+ has a remarkably svelte looking frame combined with three inch tyres – it’s like putting Naomi Campbell in a fat suit. It invites so many preconceptions that I thought I’d do a list.

  1. It won’t be very manouverable with those great fat tyres.

I even had the temerity to name it the barge on day one. I hit a few favourite trails and blindly adhered to my preconception. Steering was entirely optional, it simply bulldozes through everything, it is the death star of bikes.

All of which was utter tosh. Within a couple of days I relented. This bike is remarkably nimble, it hops around like high jumper on broken glass. It goes exactly where you put it and is as capable dodging trees on tight single track as it is on a bike park style manufactured run. You know what they say about fat people not necessarily being bad dancers? Well this baby can foxtrot with the best of them.

  1. You’ll need a jet pack to get this thing off the ground.

Swinging a leg over the Kapoho coincided with the inception of the brand new Cooking On Gas, (COG for short) trail at Lady Canning’s Plantation. Packed with kickers, tables and rollers, it was the perfect place to put fatso through its paces. I’ve seldom giggled so much on a bike in my life, it simply takes off like an antelope and lands like a feather. Unconvinced, I took it to Greno Woods to try it on something I know like the back of my hand, the Steel City Run. Again, it transformed my half-hearted bunny-hops into stylish clearances of every feature I pointed it at. This bike is fun shock.

  1. Rolling resistance will be a mare.

I don’t generally do 24 miles in a day on the basis that I’m way to old for that kind of malarkey. But out of a sense of duty, that’s exactly what I did one Sunday just to see if the bike was sucking the life out of my legs. At one point, my exceedingly fit if somewhat aged mate Simon turned to me and said, “Are you sure that thing hasn’t got a hidden electric motor?” Since that particular conjunction of words has never passed his lips before when riding with me, I think we can assume that the Kapoho rolls pretty well.

  1. You’ll spend your entire life pissing about with tyre pressures.

I generally run my tyres pretty hard to cope with the combination of poor riding style and the peak district’s sharp pointy rocks. I followed the same logic with the Kapoho initially, and found it a pretty harsh ride. The rear suspension takes some initiating and I began to wonder if this was a bike where you’d have to tailor the tyre pressure to the style of riding, soft for natural rocky stuff, hard for bike park, which sounds like a proper faff. Luckily, I’m naturally lazy, so once I’d reduced the tyre pressure to cope with some quintessentially rocky Peak riding, I couldn’t be arsed to pump them up again. To my astonishment, it made zero difference the next time I was hitting berms and kickers – the bike still took off as if it had been goosed with a cattle-prod. Whether by design or serendipity, KTM have a perfect mix of large tyre with firm suspension. If the tyres have just the right amount of pressure, they take up any initial hit just long enough to allow the Fox shock to do its stuff. Trail buzz all but disappears.

Take away the preconceptions and what are you left with? A 125mm travel bike that’s able to cope with pretty much anything, rock gardens, loamy turns, bike park, flat turns, bermed turns and even, whisper it, road miles. The grip is often mind-blowing, the overall stability of the platform confidence inspiring and the giggle factor on the way to a solid ten.

Am I converted? Well, this bike is a ton of fun of that there’s no doubt. I’d be tempted to fit a pair of standard rims for the winter, but given that I’ve ridden every conceivable type of trail in the last week, I find it hard to fault its all-round abilites. Which just goes to prove you can teach an old dog new tricks….

Now for the details:

Fork – Fox Perform 34 Float

Shock – Fox Float DPS Performance 3pos Rem 125mm (RL)

Tyres – Schwalbe Rocket Ron

Wheel – WTB Scraper on Hope hubs

Drive train and brakes – Shimano SLX

Tony Butterworth’s website here