Rim brakes have no place on a proper mountain bike

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 5

KTM Chicago Classic


  • Looks like a fun bike, with a good quality frame and comprehensive range of sizes


  • The cockpit and tyres need updating. Noisy fork tops out. It doesn't come with the disc brakes pictured


KTM Chicago Classic review


Price as reviewed:


In its black and orange livery, the KTM Chicago Classic makes you think of motorcycles blasting though the desert at events like the Dakar rally.

But that’s where the similarities end.

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With skinny Impac Smartpac tyres, a narrow 650mm handlebars and bolt-upright 70mm stem, the riding position and handling of the KTM isn’t very moto. Get it on relatively rough trails however, and the noise pollution is comparable.

OK, so it’s nothing like as loud as a gas guzzling two-stroke, but with zero frame protection on the chainstay and the Suntour suspension fork clunking every time it extents, the KTM sounds like the percussion section of Broadway musical in full swing.

The one saving grace on the Chicago Classic were the Shimano M200 hydraulic disc brakes, bringing moto stopping power and control to an otherwise wild ride. Or so we thought. It turns out the Chicago Classic actually come with V-brakes, and the bike KTM wrongly sent for review is the £599,99 Chicago Disc.

With 24 bikes in the test this slipped though the net making to too late for us to get the correct model. Given that both bikes share a similar frame and build kit and given that the more expensive Chicago Disc was already struggling to get out of the gate, we were left with no choice but to mark it down further. After all, rim brakes have no place on a proper mountain bike. It why we never questioned the build… until it was too late.

ktm chicago classic


Fork:Suntour XCE 28 Coil, 100mm travel
Wheels:Alloy hubs, KTM Line alloy rims, Impac Smartpac 54 27.5x2.0in tyres
Drivetrain:Shimano TY301 42/34/24t chainset, Shimano Acera 8-speed r-mech and STEP500 shifters, Acera f-mech
Brakes:Tektro 837-AL V-brake
Weight:14.15kg (31.2lb)
Sizes:14, 15, 17, 19, 21in
Size tested:19in