The KTM 690 Enduro is the only mid-sized bike in the 300 lb. weight category with enough power to take on the highways at exhilarating speeds while remaining nimble off-road. With merits like that, it’s the basis for an ideal project bike. Like any machine, modifications can be made to better fit riding styles, preferences or conditions. Since ADVMoto likes to keep things quirky, we decided to showcase a range of products available from both old and new players on the ADV aftermarket scene in our efforts to transform this beast into an off-road capable, travel-friendly companion.

Performance

Rad MFG Wheels

To continue our mantra on making adventure bikes not only off-road capable but usable for the inseam challenged, we turned to our old friends at Rad Manufacturing to lace up a new 19/17 wheel combo. With the stock 21/18 wheels, the 690’s saddle height pushes 36 inches, a bit high for some. By swapping to the 19/17 wheels and using a lower saddle, we managed to get thesaddle height down to a reasonable 33 inches, which compresses even more after weight is applied. As a result, those with a 30 or 31-inch inseams can flat-foot the bike without losing too much in ground clearance.

Another added benefit of the 19-inch front wheel is that it stabilizes the bike at highway speeds. In stock form, the 690 develops notable wheel-shake at about 60 mph (without the addition of a steering stabilizer). The 19-inch front wheel also makes for better pavement carving while remaining competent off-road—balancing out the bike for true 50/50 use. The downside is that the kickstand will need to be shortened. Unfortunately Rad Manufacturing has shut down its operation, so if you’re interested in a custom wheel set, contact Woody’s Wheel Works or Warp 9 for more information. MSRP: $1,170 WoodysWheelWorks.com | Warp9Racing.com


Update: Some have requested rim specifications. Those are included below.

- Front Rim - EXCEL 19 x 2.5 36 hole |  
Rear Rim - EXCEL 17 x 3.5 36 hole
 

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SAVA MC 60 GETaWAY Tires

Regardless of wheel size, tires play the most important role in keeping the right end up on any surface. SAVA’s MC 60s, available from RawHyde, proved a great addition to the bike with confident handling both on and off pavement. Although the front held out well over 3,500 miles, there remained only 10% tread on the rear. Like many big block style tires, we expect less than stellar mileage on heavier bikes, but would like to see more longevity given the 690s reduced weight and torque.
MSRP: $354 (set) RawHyde-OffRoad.com | Also available at Revzilla.com

Scottoiler

Next we tackled chain maintenance. Dust, dirt, mud and water crossings expose chains to the nastiest of elements, and will severely eat up chain and sprocket life. Scottoiler’s automatic oiling system works well in keeping these parts lubricated. Older models simply dripped oil onto the chain, but Scottoiler’s newer system has adjustable flow rates which are vacuum actuated and only works when the engine is running. Even if you’re really good about maintaining your chain, the Scottoiler system will give you peace of mind in knowing you’re getting more life from your drive components.MSRP: $139 Scottoiler.com | Also available at Twistedthrottle.com

Scottoiler

Wings Exhaust

What’s not to love about a 70 hp, 300 lb. bike? With numbers like that promising thrilling performance, we didn’t need to do much in terms of power except in shaving a few pounds and adding some noise with a Wings Exhaust from Slovenia. Although the Wings units must be bought and shipped from overseas, they arrive amazingly fast in the U.S. Purchasing is done by email, which is a bit dated, but ultimately you end up with one of the nicest sounding finished exhausts for nearly any KTM—and at a very good price! MSRP:(Contact for pricing) Wings.si

Racks


Protection and Comfort

Lynx R Fairing from Britannia Composites

One of the biggest changes for long distance travel is additional wind protection. The stock dirt bike-like windscreen doesn’t do much in terms of keeping the wind off your chest, and with the speeds the 690 is capable of, wind protection is much needed. Full fairing kits for the 690 exist from a couple different manufacturers but also come with very hefty price tags—some sets rivaling the cost of a new bike. Ian, from Britannia Composites in Canada, came to the rescue and sent us a Lynx R fork-mounted front fairing kit. Unlike full fairing kits, which often involve serious bike modifications, the Lynx R does a good job with its adjustable windscreen while also throwing a tremendous amount of light on the road with its combo HID and LED headlamps. Installation is fairly straightforward but it’s not 100% plug ’n’ play.

The instrument cluster panel comes blank so you have to do some of your own marking and cutting—a process that can be tackled at home with a Dremel and coping saw. Also, the front brake and ABS lines need to have a long notch cut into the Lynx’s instrument panel in order to prevent the cables from interfering with the visibility of the OEM gauges. Once it’s all set up and you’ve chased down any possible buzzing points, it’ll be a highly attractive and functional front fairing, which also has extra room for GPS, charts, switches or anything else you fancy. MSRP: $531 BritanniaComposites.com

Fairing

Highway DirtBike Ultimate Handguards with Mirrors

Handguards provide more rider comfort and safety, both on- and off –road, by protecting your hands from the elements, flying debris and prickly brushes along the trail. One of the stoutest sets of handguards available, that include some great extra features, is from Highway Dirt Bikes (HDB). HDB’s Ultimate Handguards are not only built tough, they also integrate into the bar clamp using machined pieces that can also be used for adding switches or power outlets. If that’s not enough, there’s also integrated bar end mirrors that allow you to say good-bye to the OEM mirror stalks. While the mirrors afford a few degrees of vertical adjustability, the handguards themselves may need to be adjust up or down a bit depending on your riding geometry. All in all, the HDB kits are amongst the toughest we’ve found. MSRP: $150 HighwayDirtBikes.com

Handguards

Knight Design Footpegs

The footpeg market has gotten a lot more competitive recently. Knight Design is a home-grown U.S. shop making bulletproof pegs for all kinds of bikes. Although the current models are thicker than pictured in the accompanying photos, their swappable surface plates, or “treads,” remain the same. You can have a boot-friendly “Hunter” tread, or the more aggressive “Trakker” version (which we used). With plenty of room to clear mud, we found them relatively easy on soles while also lowering the platform 7/8s of an inch. Available in for many makes and models of bike—check them out!
MSRP: $149.95 KnightDesignLLC.com | Also available at Amazon.com

Pegs

Adventure Spec Skid Plate                                                      

Plastic skid plates only go so far and are one of the first upgrades almost everyone makes to their ADV bike to improve protection. Adventure Spec’s 5mm aluminum construction is strong and protects the underside all the way back to the rear linkage. Thanks to the 690’s design, removing the skid plate is only a matter of two screws—making servicing really easy. A small flange on the skid plate that curves under the clutch may get in the way of the brake pedal, but it’s nothing a little bending can’t solve to obtain the extra clearance. Overall, it’s one of the best built bits of underside armor for the 690 out there. MSRP: $278 Adventure-Spec.com

Skidplate


Luggage

Touratech’s KTM Luggage Rack / Adventure Spec Top Rack

The 690s lightweight design doesn’t come without some sacrifice. Regardless of the luggage type you prefer, the 690 needs extra bracing and structural support in the back due to lack of a rear subframe. Touratech addressed this problem so well that’s it is KTM’s official 690 luggage system. The system requires removal of the rear footpeg stays, and uses the 690’s grab rail bolts to create an upper mounting point. This spreads the weight out over the tanks, and put more of it on the rear peg mounts. We braced and integrated ours across the top with the Adventure Spec top rack that has nicely turned down sides and finished edges. This required a visit to our friends at Piper Motorsports for some plate grinding to clear the stand-off bar and remove material in the rack’s included spacers. The final result was a strong and attractive luggage mounting system. MSRP: $155 (top rack) Touratech-USA.com

Sidebags

Touratech Zega Pro Cases / Giant Loop Fandango Pro

Last, but definitely not least, is Touratech’s newer Zega Pro panniers. For an aluminum case the Zega Pros are some of the lightest in the hard case category. After a couple thousand miles, we’ve had no problem with keeping water out, even in some east coast torrential rain. With a more rounded and modern design than the previous generation, the new Pro line also features plastic corners on the bottom which can be replaced if they’re damaged.

The latches have been updated and can now be opened from either direction, plus the lids are completely removable for unlimited access (or to be used as trays). The mounting system, however, gave us mixed views. While it’s conceptually elegant and very strong, the large screws on the inside of the box which tension the case against the rack stick out considerably into the storage area, and often grab the wire used to keep the lid from opening. Simply removing the wire will solve this small problem on what is otherwise a lightweight and strong travel companion.

With the 690’s narrow girth, a mid-sized tank bag is the best fit and Giant Loop’s Fandango Pro is as large as you’d want to get before becoming too obtrusive. Extra organizing pockets and improved water resistant zippers are welcome upgrades to an already good bag. Due to the 690’s seat design, the Fandango’s permanent mounting plate needs to be loosened or removed to take off the seat, but the bag itself is well built and already eaten some sun, rain and dirt. 
MSRP:$1,449 (racks and panniers) Touratech-USA.com | $230 (Fandango Pro)
 GiantLoopMoto.com| Also available at Revzilla.com

Risers

Summary

Although aftermarket parts are not as numerous for the KTM 690as Kawasaki’s KLR 650, enough variety exists to modify it into a worthy adventurer. KTM’s recent emphasis on street legal adventure bikes has also brought with it a philosophy of longer service intervals, lower cost of ownership, easier overall maintenance and a much more enjoyable ride on both street and trail. While we wouldn’t recommend the 690 for extended periods of interstate travel, with a little extra luggage and protection, along with ride height modifications if necessary, nothing on the market today approaches the 690 for sheer on and off-road fun.

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KTM recently launched a new electric bike geared for young kids with an emphasis on adjustability to grow with the rider. The 2020 SX-E5 is said to generally fit kids from ages 5 to about 11 with its ergonomically adjustable components such as forks, handlebar heights and seat height.

This 89 pound electric dirt bike with six power modes (parents can lock in the power setting so junior can’t adjust it on the fly) is just the ticket to get kids enthusiastically off their handheld electronic devices and into the world of two-wheel travel. You couldn’t wipe the smiles off the kids’ faces with this non-intimidating, low maintenance, relatively powerful machine. The 907Ah lithium-ion battery requires a charge time of 45 minutes for 80% charge or 70 minutes for a full charge. And will give your kid(s) more than two hours of casual riding or as little as 25 minutes on an all-out race. The motor and batteries are sealed from the environment to keep out the dust, sand, dirt, water and whatever else might gunk up the power system.

KTM SX E5 Jump

The WP XACT air forks and shock are highly adjustable to tune the ride to the rider. The rear wheel travel is a respectable 185mm. If or when the bike tips over, there is a roll over sensor to cut power. To charge the bike, you will need a 110- or 230-volt socket to plug into.

As far as maintenance, there’s a set of bearings that are suggested to be swapped out every 40 hours. Speaking to one of the engineers at the launch event, this is preventative maintenance that can easily be done at home with no special tools required.

The front wheel is a 60/100 x 12-inch and the rear a 2.75 x 10-inch. The bike comes with knobby Maxxis tires.

As far as warranty, KTM gives you two years for the battery and motor, and 30 days for the rest of the bike.

Specifications

Electric Motor: 48 V – BLDC Motor with Outer Rotor

Rated Output: 2 kW / 3,200 RPM

Max Power: 5kW / 3,750 RPM

Torque: 13.8 Nm from 0 RPM

Max Motor Speed: 6,000 RPM  

Final Drive: 8:46

Cooling: Air Cooled

Battery: Lithium-Ion KTM

Capacity: 907 Wh

Charging Time 100%: 70 minutes at 25 A

Charging Time 80%: 45 minutes at 25 A

Charging Rate: Quick Charging 5 A 230 V~

Charging Power: 900 W

Frame: Double Grinded Central Double-Cradle-Type Frame

Subframe: Fiberglass-Reinforced Plastic

Handlebar: Tapered Aluminum Ø 28/22/18 mm

Front Suspension: WP XACT 35 USD Ø 35mm

Rear Suspension: WP XACT PDS Monoshock

Suspension Travel Front/Rear: 205 mm / 8.07 in; 185 mm / 7.28 in

Front/Rear Brakes: Disc Brake 160 mm / 160 mm

Front/Rear Rims: 1.50 x 12” / 1.60 x 10” Aluminum  

Front/Rear Tires: 60/100 x 12” / 2.75 x 10”

Chain: 1/2 x 3/16 in

Steering Head Angle: 24º

Triple Clamp Offset: 22 mm

Wheelbase: 1,032 mm ± 10 mm / 40.6 ± 0.4 in

Ground Clearance: 252 mm / 9.92 in

Seat Height: 684 mm / 26.9 in

Weight, Approx: 40.5 kg/ 89.3 lbs

MSRP: $5,049

KTM.com

{gallery}ARTICLES/Bikes/2020_KTM_SX-E5/Gallery{/gallery}

Gallery7Pack'em up, hop on and take off. No pavement? No problem. Both these bikes have "Adventure" in their souls.

Can you imagine camping in some killer back country spot along the way in your next long distance motorcycling adventure? Can you imagine cutting the corner off your next highway trip on a brief adventure through the forest to avoid twice as many super slab miles? Do you enjoy an occasional sporting jaunt through your favorite twisty bits? Perhaps a tiny but exciting wheelie every now and again? Oh yeah! Sign me up for a few more decades of that baby. Want to know how? Read on.

Not that many years ago there were motorcycles we now label as "standards". These were machines we owned that we did everything on. You could press them into service on a canyon blast on Sunday morning and they'd do OK. You could load them up with your bags and take off cross country and they'd do OK. You could throw your significant other on the back and go for a ride and they'd do OK. Back then, once in a while you might even get a wild hair to make your way down a gravel or dirt road and you could get it done. About the only thing they did exceptionally well though was to do about anything OK.

Well it is twenty years later and things are different now. Motorcycle technology has risen to such a high level, thanks in great part to racing, that now you can get a bike that does about anything at or above the eighty percent level when compared to a more single-focus bike in each category. In fact, these two machines do it all so well they've expanded the envelope to the point where a new word was needed to describe their breed. That word is "Adventure" and both these bikes dish it up huge!

We won't be comparing dyno charts, wheel bases and tech specs. This piece is directed to the serious buyer of either of these machines who has a certain amount of adventure in their motorcycling soul and who expects to be wandering into places that aren't totally paved. If it's a crotch rocket or couch-on-two-wheels you want, then you shouldn't be shopping for either of these two bikes. We will be comparing these machines to each other for their intended purpose, which we all now know simply as "Adventure".

Owning a BMW R1100GS is a unique experience. Its look is unique from the strange fender that never moves and the high bulbous gas tank to the dirt bike style bars, single-sided swing arm/shaft drive unit and, oh yeah, those two big aluminum foot warmers sticking out down there. Then there's the Tele-Lever front suspension and anti-lock brakes. Lift the rear seat off and poof, there's a tool kit you could use to start your own roadside assistance business. The odd-at-first but comfortable upright riding position, wide bars, and a large forward seat section allows plenty of front to rear movement. The 'sewing machine" sound of its mill... it's all uniquely GS.

The KTM 950 is a whole other kind of unique. It's equally challenged, er, I mean unique in the looks department. Solidly in the love-hate category in my opinion. But just swing a leg over it and take it for a spin and if that whole looks thing once bothered you, suddenly it won't any more. The harder you push this bike the more fun it gets. Wearing riding apparel that dirt and mud won't bother, passing squids on 150 horsepower machines in the canyons, buzzing around town for groceries, filling up two fuel tanks, knowing that no dirt road is a match for this beast... it's all uniquely KTM 950 Adventure.

Both of these bikes have loads of character. They're also extremely utilitarian. For one­-up on the street, both of these machines prove incredibly worthy steeds. My experience has been that both of these bikes require relatively low maintenance and both are very reliable. Additionally, they can be found on the used market for a reasonable sum of about $5,000-8,000. Now, if you need more reasons than this to read on, by all means read on.

Once you become accustomed to the unique experience of riding a GS and you begin to push the machine a bit looking for the edges of its performance envelope some interesting things happen. The first thing you notice is FUN factor! You'll get this smile from ear to ear and you'll begin to realize how operator friendly this big bike really is. Next you'll find yourself scooted all the way forward to the tank, using those big wide dirt bike style handle bars to flop the bike from rail to rail. When riding it between five and eight thousand rpm's you will notice the bikes uncanny stability and smoothness. This is an interplay of many factors some of which include: smooth to accelerate fuel injection, formidable torque, shaft final drive, and a very effective Tele­Lever. When rolling this big opposing twin on and off, just let that weird suspension do its thing, and before long you'll be flying along scraping "foot warmers" and grinning like Jimmy Carter, not wanting to go any faster.

It is usually surprising to would-be GS purchasers that the oil-head GS is actually a pretty quick bike. I don't mean quick by the standards of today's breed of race replica crotch rockets. I did not expect to be getting lectured by CHP's finest from the PA system on their squad car when I purchased the refined BMW R1100GS, but it happened. Had I been on a racier looking bike I'm sure I would have received a small, yellow piece of paper from officer friendly with the words "reckless and imprudent" scralled in his best chicken scratch.

One up on the street the GS delivers, and without a lot of muss and fuss. For the most part, whatever you're in the mood for the GS will be also. The brakes are excellent with plenty of feel and power and I've never experienced any kind of fade, even scooting right along two-up. Then again, I wouldn't expect to because I'm not one to go into corners hard on the brakes on the street. I save all that rear-wheel-in-the-air stuff for the race track. On the few occasions when I've tried the ABS on the BMW on purpose just to learn what to expect in the "unlikely event" I've been impressed. Once you know what to expect it really doesn't upset your riding and it may save you from a spill some day when the bulk of a loaded GS may have gotten away from you otherwise.

Notwithstanding all its other capabilities the big Beemer really shines when one-up turns into two-up. My wife and I have traveled all over the place on the GS in all kinds of conditions and performance basically mimicked my one-up handling experience. We weigh about 325 fully laden with riding gear and our luggage usually doesn't exceed 25-30 pounds. We've been up and down Highway 1 and on most of the canyon roads in the 805 area, read Southern California, and if your wife is the kind who enjoys a "two­up with Reg Pridmore" type of ride the GS will dish it up all day long.

The GS will also suck up super slab all day. With a good saddle under your collective buns you can log many miles two-up on a GS in comfort. I think the GS has the roomiest seating for two of any motorcycle I've ever owned. For the last year or so we also had a set of the large aluminum panniers. Even without them you can pack lots on the GS. The machine carries the luggage well too. I don't know if it somehow offsets the high, heavy fuel tank with some weight down low but you don't seem to feel the weight of luggage and passenger as much as you would expect on the GS. With the big wide bars and excellent suspension anyone with a well-calibrated right wrist and forefinger can haul booty on the BMW, even two-up on twisty roads, and have a very fun ride.

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Once you leave the pavement though the performance equation changes quite significantly for the big BMW. While the package works so well on the street certain things can't be ignored in the dirt, the biggest of which is the weight. Another is the lack of a well-done six speed transmission. As long as you are on a solid base like a road bed, well maintained gravel or dirt roads are well within the comfort zone for the GS. However, when the going gets a bit rougher like on miles of wash board, or on loose slippery stuff like deep gravel, sand, or any kind of mud, unless you are Jimmy Lewis, you will quickly be way out of your comfort zone on the BMW. Let's face it. This is a 550 lb. motorcycle dry and unpacked. It also presents a somewhat high center-­of-gravity package, especially when filled with 6.6 gallons of fuel. All in all, the somewhat taller heavy package of the Beemer is considerably less suited, and for some downright undesirable in "dirt biking" terms.

The KTM is quite different in this area. With nine and three quarter inches of suspension travel front and back, tall is just another plus of KTMs more off-road oriented package. The big KTM carries its 5.8 gallons of fuel much lower and far more leading edge off-road oriented race design has been incorporated in this machine. With its in-line V-Twin it is narrow like a dirt bike, perhaps to resemble a dirt bike's larger cousin. Power to weight ratio and highly intergrated handling and performance qualities come forth with the KTM offroad and can you feel it. Logistically, fueled and ready to ride, the KTM is more than a hundred pounds lighter than the BMW's dry weight. In large, it is a whole different package.

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The first time I swung a leg over a KTM 950 Adventure my first impression was a dirt bike on steroids. Like "Dirt-bike­zilla" as my good friend CJ would say. In many ways that first impression was accurate, but there is much more to the story. Like the GS BMW the KTM is proof that all-around motorcycle performance sometimes can come in a funny-looking package.

KTM's dirt bike heritage is clear and present when you take this bike off the pavement. You start off on gravel roads and find yourself just flying along at speeds your dirt bike simply can't attain. You're comfortable as long as you still haven't bothered to glance at the speedo. When you do you're instantly scared. Yikes! Well maintained gravel or dirt roads become Paris-Dakar segments with the countryside flashing by in streaks. How can you be comfortable going that fast on gravel? Easy, you're riding on the rocket ship 'Adventure.' This is the kind of bike that can make you a better rider, in terms of having to utilize proper ride technique. Its either that or, well... forget about it.

The power when riding off-road with this bike seems limitless. KTM has the LC8 tuned for an excellent balance between torque and dependable peek power. The hydraulic clutch and six-speed transmission are equally well done. It's a highly developed package and few riders will likely ever discover its limits off the pavement. That's because you have to be good enough. You catch yourself riding the KTM like you would your dirt bike, power-sliding around the sweepers, surfing the washboard and having to reel yourself in, back down to a more sane speed. This high tech ride allows you to begin daydreaming, but all that dreaming ends when you try to stop in a hurry. It's then you realize the 436 pound motorcycle with dual sport tires really can't stop as fast as your CR250 shod with full on knobbies. (So, part of the equation with any "adventure-type" motorcycle when in the dirt is to recalibrate your stopping distances.)

Gallery3

Say, hasn't this bike placed in the top three every year since its inception in the Paris-Dakar Rally? No surprise. Back on the street with the big KTM things just keep getting more fun. Only an absolute speed junkie would yearn for more, or friendlier power than you can wring out of this LC8 on the street. I'll take this ninety-some horsepower motor with all its torque and smoothness over a hundred and twenty (or more) peaky ponies any day. And if you think the suspension on this machine shines in the dirt, which it does, then you're in for a really pleasant surprise once you hit the tarmac. It works even better!

One-up riding on pavement with this bike is impressive! The quality of the fully adjustable (some on-the-fly) suspension components at both ends of this machine make it capable of doing anything on the street, and doing it well. Freshly off the dirt from a mighty blast through the forest, with a couple quick tweaks you can turn this thing into a canyon carving monster. The harder you push it the better it feels and pretty soon you figure out that it's just not smart to go any faster, even if you are Reg Pridmore, unless you're on the track. Speaking of the track, if you did tape off your lights, safety-wire a few things and attend a track day with the 950 I'm sure you'd have a ball. I wouldn't expect to be the fastest guy out there, but I'm also sure you'd be passing lots of lesser riders on bikes much more well designed for the purpose.

One thing I noticed that took some getting used to for me as a long-time road racer was the rear brake. KTM uses a more aggressive dirt bike ratio than the bikes you're used to riding this fast in the twisties. I almost learned this the hard way on my first day as I had the rear end lock up on Lockwood Valley Road high up in the Los Padres. Go easy until your right toe is recalibrated.

Gallery6Overall cockpit configuration and rider comfort on the KTM is good. As with many machines, owners will likely modify their machines to suit individual preferences. One area where the KTM has shown limitation in the past is in seat comfort. Though this bike can eat pavement all day one-up, it's only comfortable saddle-wise for generally about three hundred miles per day. Reports say now that the new 2005 stock seats actually break in after about 12,000 miles.

As far as luggage goes the KTM can support some variety, especially during solo flight. Unless you're one of those riders who likes to take the kitchen sink, a duffel bungeed to the small rear rack and a well placed moderately sized set of over-the-seat saddle bags should get you by for all but the most lengthy of sojourns. Tank bags are also an option but the tank is plastic and rather oddly shaped so it is a bit more of a challenge, though certainly not impossible. When two up traveling, cargo hauling requires more innovation of course.

You won't need many two-up trips on the 950 Adventure to realize the comfort to luggage relationship needs working. With soft luggage the high pipes of the KTM protrude enough so that packing massive compartments become awkward if not unfeasible. If rear saddlebags ride back far enough for the passenger to use their foot pegs they likely will be burnt on the exhaust. Also, the size of the trunk-bag attached to the rear rack must now be smaller to accommodate the passenger while avoiding the high exhaust. There are OEM and other hard luggage options that fit the KTM which some prefer. The seat that was okay for one really isn't okay for two for trips of any length.

The pre-2005 stock seats do okay for occasional two-up, one day bopping around here and there. But start to string days together, rack up some miles, and a tour package more like the GS is what you'll yearn for. One reason for this is that the rear portion of the KTM seat tilts upward tending to make the passenger slide down into the operator. Of course this is not very comfortable for tour situations. On mountain roads going steeply downhill it can be almost a burden. Many have remedied two up seat discomfort by turning to aftermarket custom seat-makers. With adjustments made the KTM can very adequately carry two people in reasonable comfort for long periods. It can be much better than when delivered in stock amenities but a Wing it will never be, nor a GS BMW for that matter.

In summary, here we have two extremely refined motorcycles. The BMW GS series, which has garnered legendary status from decades of devoted service, and the KTM Adventure, which is now being viewed as the 'would-be king'. Both motorcycles are a joy to ride. The older heavier GS is still slightly more comfortable for longer touring. Yet, the KTM seems to be capable of that with refinements. For two up long distance the BMW again slightly gets the nod. For one up riding which bike you might prefer probably depends on where, and how you like your riding.

The BMW will travel long steady miles, and in windy conditions be more planted. Yet, if ever stuck, the bike will likely require more than one person to get unstuck. This is not so with the KTM. Though maybe more fatiguing for long straight highway miles, it is an absolute blast and a wonder nearly everywhere else. In heavy traffic and while commuting both bikes do fine, though the KTM is probably a little bit easier to maneuver. In the rough is where the KTM really shines. Because of its lighter weight, six speed transmission, wide powerband, and long suspension the KTM does very well offroad, and those same factors make twisting and mountain riding exhilarating.

For would be owners, choosing one or the other of these bikes will likely depend on a number of factors. I have devised a brief question outline that might help you clarify which one of these bikes might you might prefer.

-The more one prefers asphalt with some graded roads, or travels two-up the more one should consider a BMW.

-The more one grins at a filthy, dusty, muddy bike after a ride the more one should consider the KTM.

-The more interested you are in heated grips, electric vest plug-in ports or a larger windscreen the more you should consider the BMW.

-The more interested you are in the factory crash bars to protect the fuel tanks and aluminum brush guards for the controls the more you should consider the KTM.

-If you're the type of rider who admires minimalism, who wants to stably feel every root, rut and gravel bog, who isn't afraid of getting lost and having to track yourself back out of the forest then I'd lean more toward the KTM.

Originally published April 2005.

I never really paid much attention to KTM adventure motorcycles but the KTM 640 caught my eye. I knew they were good motorcycles, but they seemed somewhat raw and uncompromising, like a Pit Bull with soccer cleats. None the less, KTM's have a loyal following and eventually I began to get interested in these dirt bikes with lights, but never really expected to get very enthused about the offerings from Austria. KTM's forte however has always been in off road ability with a no-holdsbarred approach to building competent machines. Unfortunately, for some reason, KTM seemed obsessed with burdening the potent, non-balanced motor with quirky carburetors that never really mixed fuel and air and gave the bikes a notorious reputation for poor performance. Adding to this was the "bits-o-bike" look, which gave the bike a made-from-kit appearance. All of that has changed for 1999.

I'm not exactly sure what happened at the KTM factory in 1998, but something wonderful transpired. For the first time, I think engineers, marketers, and stylists were seated at a table with the mission of redesigning the KTM 620 RXC and they actually listened to each other. The resuit is the 1999 KTM 640 LC4. Let's get one thing straight first. The KTM 620 was actually a 609cc motorcycle and the 640 LC4 is actually a 625cc. That's a net gain of only 16cc all gained from increasing the stroke to 78mm. While we are on the subject, let's talk about the only other change in the engine compartment; the new carburetor. KTM wisely decided to ditch the Quick Silver and Dell Orto jetless carbs and go with a Mikuni CK-59. This is the performance change that all riders will notice. I'm not sure what the addition of 16cc does for the LC4, but the new carburetor makes a world of difference. KTM's design team obviously opted to make strategic changes to the 640 rather than an all-out redesign. While most of the chassis remains the same, the 640 does get the White Power Extreme front and rear suspension this year which, as I found out later, greatly improves the big KTM's prowess off road.

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KTM could have just made the mechanical changes and had a great motorcycle for 1999, but they decided to change the bikes appearance and what a job they did. The 640 LC4 is a most visually striking dual sport with aggressive styling that would leave some sport bikes designers redfaced. Let's just start at the front and work our way back. An integrated brace is incorporated into the front fender which should make fitting a fender bag a breeze.

A very potent headlight with minimal fluting and a sleek front cowl give the front a very aggressive look. An all new 3.2 gallon plastic fuel tank has a latched, locking cap that is not encumbered by a vent hose. The vent hose exits the tank just below the cap and neatly drops out of the way, making its way to the charcoal canister, which is on all US bikes. Sleek, flat radiator shrouds cover the twin radiator, but remain tight to the bike. A new styled seat is a bit wider than the 1998 model, has more compliant foam and integrates nicely into the tank. The rear of the bike is graced with a stylized package rack made from a plastic composite and a beautiful oval taillight that looks like it was lifted from a cruiser. Topping off the styling are color coordinated turn signal housings, some zoot looking mirrors and tasteful orange and black color see. What really makes an impression on me, is that KTM was able to produce a very good-looking dual sport without adding tons of plastic.

Okay, enough of the shop talk, let's take her for a spin. Engage the bar mounted choke and thumb the starter and the 640 LC4 jumps to life with a mellow exhaust note from the trademark KTM/Supertrapp stainless exhaust system. After a minute or so of warm up and we are on our way. The Mikuni carbureted 640 responds crisply with just a hint of leanness off idle and seems significantly smoother than the 620 motor. The transmission is slick and effortless with a large jump between first and second gear getting your attention during downshifts. Neutral is almost impossible to find with the engine running.

The view from the saddle is clean and uncluttered with only a speedometer and the requisite idiot lights consisting of high beam, turn signal, neutral and temp indicator lights. Switch-gear remains the same as the '98, but is now mounted on non-braced, non-tapered aluminum handlebars. Your hands will also feel the wind now as hand guards have been deleted from the standard equipment. With a 33" inseam, I find the seat height of the LC4 stratospheric, requiring me to shift one cheek off the seat to plant a foot firmly on the ground. Once the KTM reaches operating temperature, it simply becomes a point-and-shoot traffic missile. Its narrowness and torquey motor will have some tempted to put sticky street tires on the aluminum rims and wreak havoc in the urban jungle, but that would be a waste as the 640 comes into its own in the off road world.

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First on tap for the off road portion of our program is fast, graded dirt road with some washboard thrown in for good measure. At 50 to 60mph, the KTM seems bored, soaking up the washboard with a taut feel in the suspension. Next comes some two-track with ruts and rocks. No problem, drop down to second gear and point the LC4 in the direction you want to go. Sand that would have my KLR's front end hunting like a dousing stick proves no big deal for the White Power 5060 conventional front fork. Pick a bad line through some ruts? That's okay with 11 inches of travel front and back are there for you to spend anyway you wish. Have to climb a berm? The nicely matched Michelin T63 street legal knobbies will climb with no complaints. The two-track trail becomes a single-track trail and the KTM 640 remains composed. Snick into first gearand get on the pegs. The narrow tank allows you to move forward without splaying you legs, but the trendy mirrors hit your arms when you try to weight the front end. With a dry weight of just 309 pounds, the 640 moves nimbly along the trail with never a hint of top heaviness. Throttle response in the low frrst gear is a tad bit jerky and you will need to practice modulating the throttle in tight quarters.

Exiting the trail comes too early for this entertaining bike, and I merge onto the black top. The traits that make this machine a great off roader, narrowness and lightness, make it less than exciting on the open highway. With more of your body exposed to wind blast and knobby tires wailing away on the hard surface, the LC4 becomes very busy at 65mph. Never the less, the tall fifth gear and powerful engine make the 640 willing if you are able.

Now for the nit-picks. One flaw I see with the KTM is its lack of a side stand. The bike has a very sturdy center stand, but you have to get off the bike first to deploy it. No big deal, you say? Try doing it on uneven ground or with a duffel bag strapped on that nice rack back there. Do so successfully and you'll be recruited for the US gymnastics team. Also, the stock KTM tank is too small at 3.2 gallons. The good news, however, is that the 4.5 gallon tank from the European only 640 LC4/l 8L will be available next spring and will fit the US spec model. Finally, the slick looking mirrors have to go as they get in the way of your arms when you stand on the foot pegs.

The asking price for a 1999 640 LC4 is $6598.00. While this may seem steep when compared to comparable machines, the 640 is bristling with top shelf components and features. Brakes, for instance, are premium Brembo calipers with large rotors and steel lines. Suspension is White Power Extreme, very choice. Axles are nutless, for easy removal, the clutch cable has a nice, large thumb adjuster, there is a manual compression release for the times you have to use the standard kick start. The stout, aluminum swingarm is polished, the rearshock is protected by a splash guard, and premium DOT knobbies are fitted to enduro class 21 and 18 inch wheels.

With the 1999 640 LC4, KTM has upped the ante in the dual sport market. They have been the first company to successfully meld competence, style and value into a dual sport motorcycle and did so without compromising its abilities and shrouding the machine in vulnerable plastic. This is "dual sport of year" material, here folks. Unlike its rough-hewn predecessor, you can take the 640 out to the boondocks, ride it hard, drop it, take it home and wash it and it will still look good enough to park in the living room and ride to work the next morning. That, my friends, is dual a sport.

Originally published January 1999

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There are skid plates and there are Black Dog Cycle Works ULTIMATE Skid Plates. Most you come across are more fashion than function. And, what good is fashion statement if it can’t get you back for happy hour? The folks at BDCW are riders, too, and they took out all the stops to create a skid plate that protects your engine from front to back.

What sets the BDCW plate apart from the others is the use a hefty 5mm thick aluminum, the full engine coverage (including the headers), and that it’s mounted to the frame—not the engine(!). BDCW also utilizes a hard rubber bumper “Shok-Blok” that helps with additional shock absorption and cuts down on the hollow sound some skid plates emit. However, the BDCW plate is quite hefty; but when you think about it’s purpose and what it must withstand, it’s not wise to swap weight considerations for function—and that extra metal will definitely protect your $17,000+ machine, too.

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A unique feature of BDCW’s big KTM versions, and one of company’s claims to engineering fame, is the Sidestand Relocation Kitthat comes with the skid plate. Many KTM don’t realize that their sidestands are mounted to the engine, and that if it takes a rock, or even if you mount the bike from the left side a little too enthusiastically, it could rip a hole in your engine. BDCW’s patented design repositions the sidestand so that can’t happen. You simply remove stock peg mount, replace with the BDCW mount, re-attach foot peg, and remount side stand to the specially designed bracket. Although this is a brilliant solution, I didn’t like the lean angle of the bike once it was relocated*. (Note: BDCW’s co-owner, Kurt Forgét, informed me that there is an optional bracket that gives a little more lean angle.)

Other unique features include: A simple four bolt removal process for quick and simple oil changes; it’s made in U.S.; and that instead of a paint or an anodized coating it’s powder and clear coated (I’d like to see a black version). If you like riding gnarly terrain, then do yourself a favor, install a BDCW ULTIMATE Skid Plate on your machine—think of it as cheap insurance that’ll save you a pile of money in the end. MSRP: $550 BlackDogCW.com

PROS

CONS

 Best protection money can buy  Needs more lean angle with relocation plate 
 Centerstand friendly ▼ It's heavy
 Made in the USA  

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If you have $18,000 hanging out of your pocket, and/or find yourself sitting at the dealership ready to sign for a new “adventure” motorcycle, you may wish you’d first read this review of KTM’s 2018 1290 Super Adventure S. Why? Because it could save you the trauma of buying the wrong motorcycle. You’ll have to wait a few months, but we’ve already done some heavy lifting to spare you such a plight.

To be clear, the 1290SA S is a completely new KTM model, not to be mistaken for some reincarnation of the 1190 Adventure or 1290 Super Adventure. It’s a street-centric sport/adventure touring machine that is surprisingly capable off road. With smaller, 19/17 cast aluminum mag wheels (a first for a KTM adventure bike) and Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tires, the new 1290 is a road rocket with intuitive semi-active suspension, cruise control, and optional Travel Pack that comes with Quickshifter+. The 160-horsepower motor is completely re-engineered to comply with Euro 4 emissions regs, but still remains thrilling to ride and packs an awesome punch.

We took the 1290SA S straight into Mexico and off Baja’s beaten path, testing it for 1,200 miles with a passenger and luggage. Let’s be blunt: The stock 1290SA S with our Fasstco Impact Adventure Pegs and Mosko Moto luggage not only survived in Baja California’s demanding environment, it flourished with dignity. It also fooled my biased mind and surprised the heck out of me. This was not the PG-13 version of Baja California you’d see on virtually any guided tour or group ADV ride down here. We’re talking about some of the harder stuff—plenty of deep sand, rocks, ruts, beach cobblestones and some silt. Add 80 miles of pocked-out tarmac, 40 mph gusts and torrential rains—all with a passenger and 70 lb. of gear—and you have a testing environment that proved this bike to be worth the money, and the wait.

KTM1290SuperADV Review 05

Solo and Unpacked

Riding solo on the pavement and in the twisties, you’ll love the powerband and speed shifting up through the gears. In particular, fourth gear shows the widest range of power from low to high rpm and doesn’t seem to bog out on the low side. The semi-active electronic suspension forks stiffen as the bike leans into sharper corners and under front braking. Upright and off the brakes, the suspension is plush.

Kitchen Sink

Where it really shined was fully loaded with camping gear and riding two-up in sport mode. If you are heavier set, ride with a passenger or full luggage, the 1301cc unrestricted power plant will make the difference for you. When compared to any BMW GS model, this KTM contends on the pavement. Surprisingly however, off road and on graded dirt, I’ll choose this KTM over the GS Rallye for the KTM’s handling, and over Honda’s Africa Twin for the power. KTM has been nailing it for the past few years and this new 1290SA S reinforces that.

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What’s Cool

Electronic Preload: You can pre-set the shock spring tension with four options: Rider, Rider + Luggage, Rider + Passenger, and Rider + Passenger + Luggage. The bike needs to be on the center stand and running in neutral to set the load; from lightest to heaviest spring load there is about 10mm of preload available with the press of the thumb switch, and you can actually see the shock adding tension with its hydraulic motor.

Semi-Active Suspension: Unlike the 1090 and 1290R’s manual clickers (on top of the forks) and the 1190 thumb switch settings from “Comfort” to “Sport” to “Off Road,” the new 1290’s fork tubes are wired to a computer that solves lean and braking scenarios when stabbing into corners. Thus, you have noticeable relief from the forks “diving” under braking and heavy angle cornering.

Quickshifter +: Available with the Travel Pack, Quickshifter+ allows clutchless shifting up and down with an intuitive little zap of throttle on the downshift that prevents the normal jolt of engine braking when letting the clutch go. You will love this feature from the start as you speedshift up through the gears. Going down, it’s not as smart if you’re already at high rpm, but the computer does give a spurt of throttle to counteract the normal engine braking associated with downshifting while preventing subtle loss of traction. Quickshifter+ is not the same as Honda’s DCT thumb and finger shifting, but the Travel Pack is highly recommended when you buy this bike.

Cast aluminum mag wheels and tubeless tires: A first for a KTM adventure bike, the mags seem pretty tame and fragile at first glance. But after five days in Baja and running the gamut of rocky, rutted and clapped out trails along with pocked-out highway sections, the mags will likely outlast the stock spoked wheels you’ll find on other bike brands. The logic behind cast mag wheels is the true “balance” attainable over a spoked wheel. This helps give the bike noticeable stability at triple digit speeds on the highway.

KTM1290SuperADV Review 09

Here’s what went through my mind in between the off-road sections:

  • It’s more the rider’s skill set than the bike and tires. If you’re a more accomplished off-roader, you won’t notice the difference in wheel size and lack of knobbies on the S versus the R.
  • This bike is less noisy off road and in the bumpy stuff than the Africa Twin, GS and other contenders, especially with “soft” luggage system in place of boxes.
  • Don’t let the crappy app deter you from buying this bike. The “1290 iPad” (as we nicknamed it) comes with a 6.5" TFT dash, but the “KTM My Ride” app and its navigation linking to the smartphone failed our test on first try with botched directions to the supermarket. If having a TomTom or Siri onboard your bike is important to you, you’re probably a bad fit for any KTM.
  • Similar to the KTM 1090 and the 1290 R being off-road centric, the 1290SA S is a touring road bike at heart, with smaller cast wheels and 80/20 mix favoring the street. But that 20% of dirt capability is all you will ever need if you’re not a dirt masochist or planning to race.
  • I didn’t think I’d love this bike as much as I do.
  • Don’t replace the mag wheels with spoked rims or try to convert this into a “dirt bike.” If you do that, you bought the wrong bike.
  • Would I buy this motorcycle for myself and why not? No. I’d buy the 1290R for its bigger wheels and off-road prowess.
  • Should you buy this motorcycle and why? Yes, if your adventures are pavement-based, you’re heavier set, carrying a load, or if you just like refined engineering and appreciate the latest in mechanical technology.

Summary:

When KTM released this bike in Europe a year ago all of the reviews we studied appeared to be based on a chaperoned “press-launch” in a controlled setting. This gave a homogenized assessment of the various testers’ first impressions. This “first ride” appraisal is based on our no-strings-attached joy ride into Mexico, tested independently, similar to how you’ll ride this all-new adventure-inspiring machine.

PROS

CONS

Aluminum mag wheels are truly balanced and help keep the bike stable at max speeds The waterproof smartphone case with built-in USB port is a design failure that appears to be hastily added
Quickshifter+ (clutchless shifting up and down) available with Travel Pack ▼ Valentino Rossi called. He wants his foot pegs back. Even if you are 100% pavement based, a larger footrest is an essential first add-on
Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tires ▼ The KTM My Ride App is still under development and has quite a way to go before being an appealing selling point. The "Turn by Turn" navigation lacked the much-needed detail of cross streets and also failed the simple test of getting to the supermarket.

Scotty mini bio portrait DO NOT USEScotty Breauxman is a retired off-road racer and solo expeditioner specializing in the Mexican state of Baja California. As the chairman and stage builder of BAJA RALLY, Breauxman splits his time evenly between San Diego, CA and Ensenada, Baja.

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Asked to evaluate the Black Dog Cycle Works ULTIMATE Skid Plate, I wondered, “What’s to review?” A skid plate has no moving parts and should perform an apparently simple function. But, as it turns out, not all skid plates are created equal.

Black Dog chose 3/16-inch ASTM 5052 aluminum alloy plate for their ULTIMATE Skid Plate structure. The alloy’s properties include resistance to vibration-induced metal fatigue and greater energy absorption than more brittle alloys. Full penetration, evenly lapped TIG hand welds inside and out reinforce critical corners and provide strength to what is essentially one-piece construction. It’s an exceptional metal shield that provides a robust defense against off-road damage.

A dictionary entry for “Installation Instructions” should lead to Black Dog’s “How To” sheet! Truly a textbook-worthy example of what product instructions SHOULD look like, but often do not.

The plate mounts to the bike with front and rear brackets. The front bracket uses a 10mm-diameter, 180mm-long through-bolt, replacing the stock fastener. The rear bracket hosts two 7/16-inch-diameter studs fitting holes in the frame and shrouded by stock rubber bushings.

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Mounted beneath the center of gravity, the BDCW skid plate’s beefy seven pounds doesn’t upset handling. It extends rearward, sufficiently protecting the bike’s soft underbelly, including the engine case, rear brake master cylinder, and rear suspension linkage. Two flat-head countersunk hex socket machine screws anchor the rear bracket, maintaining the smooth profile. The smooth, flat bottom surface is designed to glide over obstructions without snagging, and its contour helps keep the bike stable when on a lift for service, too.

For removal, unscrewing two machine screws releases the skid plate. Pull it forward a couple of inches and it’s completely free of the bike. These machine screws thread directly into the mounting bracket; no struggling with back-up nuts of limited wrench accessibility (and potential loss of these fasteners into the bottom interior of the plate).

I did not test the skid plate anywhere approaching the gnarliness of Erzberg or the Rubicon Trail. However, I’m confident from my inspection and research this shield will defend my bike against anything within my daring and riding environment. Clanging, banging over struck stones, scraping over downed logs … the highest compliment for a skid plate may be, “You don’t even know it’s there!” Exactly my experience with the Black Dog Cycle Works ULTIMATE Skid Plate.

KTM 690 and Husqvarna 701 Enduro motorcycles will thank their owners for mounting Black Dog Cycle Works ULTIMATE Skid Plates. This robust armor protects and sustains the machines over the rugged terrain attracting them. MSRP: $249 BlackDogCW.com

 

PROS

CONS

Heavy duty, lightweight construction Elegant looks could be either pro or con, in the eye of the beholder

Two-screw removal, remounting

Lucid, useful installation instructions

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Having the best of both worlds—that was the goal for building the 2016 KTM 690 Adventure and it started with a new KTM 690 Duke. It’s much lighter and has a lot more power than the other 650s in its class. Of course you could buy a 2016 KTM 690 Enduro, but the Enduro is just not as friendly at freeway speeds. Footpeg and handlebar vibration are annoying on the highway, and it has a much taller seat. The 2016 KTM 690 Duke feels smooth—much better than everything else in the 650cc to 700cc single cylinder family. The only drawback is the 690 Duke’s inability to handle dirt, which can be remedied by the addition of a 19-inch front wheel for more dirt pattern tire choices—not to tackle the sands of Dakar or scale the peaks of Colorado on rocky jeep roads, but to enjoy some exploring the secondary graded dirt roads you won’t have to bypass.

With these modifications, the 690 Adventure Duke becomes more usable as a sport bike that’s somewhat dirt-road capable, but is still top of its class on a twisty section of hardtop. Kind of like an “Austrian Army Knife,” a real hooligan with hiking boots and a backpack ready to go just about anywhere.

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Adapting a 19-inch Spoked Front Wheel

The change to the 19-inch from a 17-inch wheel will not have any noticeable effect on turn-in or steering effort as the Adventure Duke carves the canyons just as well with either size front. It does, however, change the ride height slightly.

The KTM 690 Enduro front hub goes right on the 690 Duke.

The front axle fits but you’ll have to machine spacers to align the Enduro hub to the Duke fork width.

Use an Excel 2.15 x 19 black rim and Dubya 19-inch spokes.

Move the front fender up by replacing the stock one with the 2008 KTM SMR high fender. To do this, fabricate an aluminum plate to attach the fender and mount the plate to the two studs coming out of the lower fork clamp that holds the headlight at a right angle. Use an 8mm bolt through a handlebar-end hand-guard expansion sleeve, and insert it into the center hole of the fork clamp T-stem. The expansion sleeve just fits up into the tee stem hole and holds the aluminum fender bracket in place in a three-point mount.

The brake caliper from the 690 Duke aligns with the 690 Enduro 320mm disc. Use the Duke front brake disc size of 320mm with the 690 Enduro hub bolt pattern. Galfer makes a 320mm front brake disc for the KTM 690 Enduro front hub.

Get the ABS sensor from the 690 Enduro (the 690 Duke disc and sensor will not fit the 690 Enduro spoke wheel front hub due to a different brake rotor mount bolt pattern).

Mount the tire of your choice. There are many 19-inch front tire choices that work well on pavement and dirt. The tire choice will affect traction, so don’t play racer on the pavement with an adventure tread front without feeling the traction limits first. The Shinko Adventure Trail E804 works well on both dirt and street. Much better than the squirmy feel of the OEM 21-inch fronts found on most adventure bikes.

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For more of an adventure bike look and some hand protection on cold days, add the KTM 1190 Adventure handguards.

The bar end mirrors from Rocky Mountain ATV/MC attach to the handguards with a couple of short spacers and some 8mm button head cap screws.

The handlebars are from Rocky Mountain ATV/MCTusk FatBars in black with an ATV high bend.

The GPS AMP Rugged Mount for the Garmin Montana 600 goes on a 1-inch ball stud at the handlebar clamp.

The 12v power for the GPS is from the Duke OEM wire harness behind the headlight mask.

A 12v red and black female connector is wired into the harness for grip warmers or a 12v outlet. It works off the ignition key, so the GPS only works on bike voltage when the key is on.

Add a 1-inch ABS plastic spacer with an 8mm countersunk head bolt to the bottom of the OEM side stand. Make the side stand’s pad diameter about two inches for better stability when parking on a dirt surface. Attach the new extension to the base of the side stand by tapping an 8mm hole for the counter sunk bolt.

The footpegs are from IMS—they’re longer and with teeth to hold your feet in place. The new Rally Pegs from a Kawasaki KLR 650 bolt right on and use 8mm through bolts in place of the OEM pins.

The windshield is from a Kawasaki KLR650. It’s two inches higher and offered as an accessory from Kawasaki. Just trim about two inches off the bottom where the black is and add a couple of mount tabs riveted to the OEM Duke headlight mask.

Luggage for a day trip or a longer journey includes a tail bag from Saddlemen, and DirtBagz side bags from DBZ Products. The DirtBagz are the “Scout” model size and hold enough for a week’s trip if you pack light. The Dirtbagz include custom-built attachment mounting rails that bolt right on.

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Adapting a 17-inch Spoke Rear Wheel from a 690 Enduro 

Special note: If you feel that spoking up wheels is a little beyond your skill level, take your wheel components to a shop with wheel building experience. The extra cost is sometimes worth it.

The 17-inch rear wheel size is recommended to keep the seat height as close to stock at 32 inches as possible. (An 18-inch rear, like what comes on the KTM 690 Enduro, will fit right on, but raises the seat height a little.)

Use 17-inch rear spokes from Dubya with an Excel 4.25 x 17 black rim. Make sure to keep the same offset from the Duke cast wheel when spoking up the 690 Enduro hub to the 4.25 Excel rim.

You will have to use the 690 Enduro rear disc. The Duke rear disc is the same diameter, but a different bolt pattern.

The rear hub is a cush drive from a KTM 690 Enduro.

The 40T rear sprocket from the Duke is interchangeable.

Rear tire choice is the same as the front. A 130/80-17 Shinko Adventure Trail E805 from Rocky Mountain works as well on the pavement as it does on graded dirt roads.

The skid plate “Under-Engine Protector” is from a KTM 690 Enduro. It keeps the rock chips from dulling the front of the engine and looks good. Attach with a couple of fabricated tabs to the front engine mount bolt and with a turned-up aluminum plate riveted to the rear of the ABS skid plate. The aluminum plate is bent so it slips over the rear cross brace between the frame rails and it makes removal easy to change the oil. To add the skid plate, you’ll have to remove the center muffler. Keeping the stock rear muffler in place will give a slightly louder note, but not too noisy. Or you can keep the stock OEM exhaust and center muffler in place. It just looks clunky with that big snow shovel shape under the engine. And the stock rear muffler location will interfere with the lower part of the right side DirtBagz.

If you do remove the center muffler you’ll have to fabricate a pipe from the stock header below the oxygen sensor that attaches to the header pipe. This will require a good fabricator and TIG welder to make it look professional.

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Parts and Accessories List

• Wheels

  • Dubya USA DubyaUSA.com
  • Excel front rim, black 2.15 X 19 $190.23
  • Excel rear rim, black 4.25 X 17 $367.43
  • Spoke set with nipples (2) $99.95
  • Galfer disc, front $220.00
  • Galfer disc, rear $112.00

 • KTM 690 Enduro OEM Parts

  • 3 Brothers KTM 3BrosKTM.com
  • Front hub $278.29
  • Front ABS sensor $24.69
  • KTM 2008 SMR 690 front fender $29.99
  • KTM 1190 Adventure handguards $64.99
  • Rear hub $279.39
  • Rear hub coupler w/damper rubbers $216.63
  • Rear ABS sensor $24.69
  • KTM 690 Enduro skid plate $40.89

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• Tires/Parts

 • Other Specifications

  • Wet weight: 330 lbs.
  • Seat height: 32 inches
  • MSRP for a 2016 KTM 690 Duke: ~$8,900
  • Range: 200–250 miles per tank (with an extra gallon carried in tail bag) | 55–65 MPG Freeway and back roads
  • Cruises at: 75–80 mph with very little vibration.
  • Mirrors: Much easier to see out of.

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In 2004, Austrian motorcycle company KTM famously turned down a sponsorship deal for Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s Long Way Round.  KTM had its reasons for turning McGregor down; it’s always been a grassroots company with a low-key approach to marketing and advertising. Perhaps that’s why when I flicked KTM an email asking if I could borrow their biggest and baddest to ride around Colombia’s Andes Mountains for a month, they wrote back saying, “Sure, no problem.” I ended up on a straight-out-of-the-showroom 1290 Super Adventure S with its over-the-top 1301cc V-twin engine. 

KTM Super Adventure S Review

“Knowing how tricky Colombian roads are in terms of traffic and quality, we went for the Super Adventure S  for your trip. Having 160 horsepower will make it much easier for you to ride through the Andes,” David Vasquez of KTM Colombia told me when I picked up the motorcycle in the city of Medellin. “It’s one of the most versatile motorcycles that we have. It can handle anything you throw at it.”

I decided to put Vasquez’s claim to the test and ride the Super Adventure S along some of Colombia’s most challenging roads, including the single-lane, cliffhanging, heart-stopping El Trampoline de la Muerte (The Trampoline of Death) near the border with Ecuador—the most dangerous road in the country.

• Comfort, Ergonomics and Electronics

BMW GS Series are essentially couches on wheels. You can ride one all day and never feel sore. As a survivor of spinal trauma, it’s the reason I’ve made them my weapon-of-choice in challenging environments like the South Island of New Zealand and Alps of Spain. 

But after a couple of hours on the Super Adventure S, my back got sore because the seat was too hard. It’s was also too high. I’m average height, but I often had to ask passersby to help me reverse out of awkward parking spots. Another problem I had was its weight—just over a quarter of ton with a loaded top box. On my first day in Colombia, I dropped it twice—once on each side for good measure—while trying to park. But, as I assured Vasquez at KTM Colombia, it was nothing that couldn’t be buffed out. And after taming this motorcycle, I grew to love it—and I wasn’t alone.

KTM Super Adventure S Review

The Super Adventure S turns as many heads as a Lamborghini. Even GS riders I met riding across the continent on the Pan American Highway were fascinated by my bike’s LED daytime riding light shaped like an upside-down bulls horn, and also the 20cm wide anti-glare flat screen instrument panel and keyless operating system. Instead of a key slot, there’s a button that activates the motorcycle—so long as the pocket-size transponder is within a one-meter range.

KTM claims the Super Adventure Shas the most advanced electronics in the world of motorcycling. While GS riders can choose between road, off-road, rain and sport mode, Super Adventureriders can mix and match between various elements of these four riding modes, fine-tuning things like suspension, Anti-Lock Braking (ABS) and Motorcycle Traction Control (MTC)using a Nintendo-style multi-button pod on the handlebar.

But the system has bugs. My motorcycle had problems communicating with its transponder and the KTM My Rideapp I downloaded onto my smartphone. The ABS also went offline. These problems were ironed out at a KTM workshop in Cali, but I’m not the first reviewer to report ghosts in this machine.

• Power and Performance

So how does the Super Adventure S handle? Un-bloody-believably well!

Unlike BMW’s R1200GS, which feels like a lumbering bus when riding the twisties, the Super Adventure S is a lean machine. Designed by Bosch, both the ABS and MTC are lean sensitive, meaning this motorcycle actually knows when you’re in a corner—a world first—and reacts accordingly. Even at 40km/hour, the thing lunges to the side like Mohamed Ali. At 100km/hour it brings you within eye level of the asphalt before razor-sharp handling straightens the motorcycle before the next thrilling dip.

With a 1301cc engine, acceleration is obscene. Even in street mode, shifting up a gear and letting the Super Adventure Srip is like fast-forwarding a movie. Yet, accelerate in Sport Mode and it feels like that bit in Back to the Future where the DeLorean shoots through the space-time continuum; it literally takes your breath away. “KTM’s concern isn’t having a plush seat. It’s putting a smile on your face when you open the throttle,” says Vasquez.

KTM Super Adventure S Review

Off-road, the Super Adventure S also takes a little time to get used to. At first, I felt like Santa Claus jingle-jangling on an oversize sled while navigating the rocky backroads of the Andes. But as I became more confident, I realized this monster actually handles like a light and nimble KTM dirt bike. Credit again goes to the almost comically oversized engine. Even when tuned down to an output of a mere 100 horsepower in off-road mode, the Super Adventure S is unstoppable on the trails. And its lumbering bulk is actually a plus. It’s so damn big it just sails over ruts—long deep grooves made by the repeated passage of cars on unsealed roads in which small motorcycles often get stuck. All I had to do was point the thing in the right direction and hang on for the ride. The computer-controlled suspension did the rest.

• The Verdict

KTM’s attempt to win over BMW diehards like me in the super-competitive adventure motorcycle market was never going to be easy—even if they came up with a faultless alternative. The bugs need to be eliminated and they may want to do something about that damn seat. Many who would buy a KTM Super Adventure S for $20,000 are middle-aged men like me who love getting down and dirty but no longer want to suffer for their sport.

But there’s no question the Austrians have made the Germans nervous with their Super Adventure S. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. A motorcycle that talks?


• Specifications

ENGINE:

  • Type: 75-degree V-twin
  • Displacement: 1301cc
  • Max power: 160 horsepower @ 8750 rpm
  • Max torque: 103 ft/lbs @ 6750 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed
  • Clutch: PASC slipper clutch, hydraulically operated

CHASSIS:

  • Front suspension; travel: Electronically adjusted, semi-active inverted 48mm WP fork; 7.9 inches
  • Rear suspension; travel: Electronically adjusted, semi-active WP shock; 7.9 inches
  • Front wheel: 3.50 x 19″ / Rear wheel: 5.00 x 17″
  • Front tire: 120/70 ZR 19 / Rear tire: 170/60 ZR 17
  • Front brakes: 320mm discs w/ radially mounted 4-piston Brembo calipers
  • Rear brake: 267mm disc w/ 2-piston Brembo caliper
  • ABS: Bosch 9ME Combined-ABS w/ Cornering-ABS and off-road mode; disenengageable

In 2004, Austrian motorcycle company KTM famously turned down a sponsorship deal for Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s Long Way Round.  KTM had its reasons for turning McGregor down; it’s always been a grassroots company with a low-key approach to marketing and advertising. Perhaps that’s why when I flicked KTM an email asking if I could borrow their biggest and baddest to ride around Colombia’s Andes Mountains for a month, they wrote back saying, “Sure, no problem.” I ended up on a straight-out-of-the-showroom 1290 Super Adventure S with its over-the-top 1301cc V-twin engine. 

KTM Super Adventure S Review

“Knowing how tricky Colombian roads are in terms of traffic and quality, we went for the Super Adventure S  for your trip. Having 160 horsepower will make it much easier for you to ride through the Andes,” David Vasquez of KTM Colombia told me when I picked up the motorcycle in the city of Medellin. “It’s one of the most versatile motorcycles that we have. It can handle anything you throw at it.”

I decided to put Vasquez’s claim to the test and ride the Super Adventure S along some of Colombia’s most challenging roads, including the single-lane, cliffhanging, heart-stopping El Trampoline de la Muerte (The Trampoline of Death) near the border with Ecuador—the most dangerous road in the country.

• Comfort, Ergonomics and Electronics

BMW GS Series are essentially couches on wheels. You can ride one all day and never feel sore. As a survivor of spinal trauma, it’s the reason I’ve made them my weapon-of-choice in challenging environments like the South Island of New Zealand and Alps of Spain. 

But after a couple of hours on the Super Adventure S, my back got sore because the seat was too hard. It’s was also too high. I’m average height, but I often had to ask passersby to help me reverse out of awkward parking spots. Another problem I had was its weight—just over a quarter of ton with a loaded top box. On my first day in Colombia, I dropped it twice—once on each side for good measure—while trying to park. But, as I assured Vasquez at KTM Colombia, it was nothing that couldn’t be buffed out. And after taming this motorcycle, I grew to love it—and I wasn’t alone.

KTM Super Adventure S Review

The Super Adventure S turns as many heads as a Lamborghini. Even GS riders I met riding across the continent on the Pan American Highway were fascinated by my bike’s LED daytime riding light shaped like an upside-down bulls horn, and also the 20cm wide anti-glare flat screen instrument panel and keyless operating system. Instead of a key slot, there’s a button that activates the motorcycle—so long as the pocket-size transponder is within a one-meter range.

KTM claims the Super Adventure Shas the most advanced electronics in the world of motorcycling. While GS riders can choose between road, off-road, rain and sport mode, Super Adventureriders can mix and match between various elements of these four riding modes, fine-tuning things like suspension, Anti-Lock Braking (ABS) and Motorcycle Traction Control (MTC)using a Nintendo-style multi-button pod on the handlebar.

But the system has bugs. My motorcycle had problems communicating with its transponder and the KTM My Rideapp I downloaded onto my smartphone. The ABS also went offline. These problems were ironed out at a KTM workshop in Cali, but I’m not the first reviewer to report ghosts in this machine.

• Power and Performance

So how does the Super Adventure S handle? Un-bloody-believably well!

Unlike BMW’s R1200GS, which feels like a lumbering bus when riding the twisties, the Super Adventure S is a lean machine. Designed by Bosch, both the ABS and MTC are lean sensitive, meaning this motorcycle actually knows when you’re in a corner—a world first—and reacts accordingly. Even at 40km/hour, the thing lunges to the side like Mohamed Ali. At 100km/hour it brings you within eye level of the asphalt before razor-sharp handling straightens the motorcycle before the next thrilling dip.

With a 1301cc engine, acceleration is obscene. Even in street mode, shifting up a gear and letting the Super Adventure Srip is like fast-forwarding a movie. Yet, accelerate in Sport Mode and it feels like that bit in Back to the Future where the DeLorean shoots through the space-time continuum; it literally takes your breath away. “KTM’s concern isn’t having a plush seat. It’s putting a smile on your face when you open the throttle,” says Vasquez.

KTM Super Adventure S Review

Off-road, the Super Adventure S also takes a little time to get used to. At first, I felt like Santa Claus jingle-jangling on an oversize sled while navigating the rocky backroads of the Andes. But as I became more confident, I realized this monster actually handles like a light and nimble KTM dirt bike. Credit again goes to the almost comically oversized engine. Even when tuned down to an output of a mere 100 horsepower in off-road mode, the Super Adventure S is unstoppable on the trails. And its lumbering bulk is actually a plus. It’s so damn big it just sails over ruts—long deep grooves made by the repeated passage of cars on unsealed roads in which small motorcycles often get stuck. All I had to do was point the thing in the right direction and hang on for the ride. The computer-controlled suspension did the rest.

• The Verdict

KTM’s attempt to win over BMW diehards like me in the super-competitive adventure motorcycle market was never going to be easy—even if they came up with a faultless alternative. The bugs need to be eliminated and they may want to do something about that damn seat. Many who would buy a KTM Super Adventure S for $20,000 are middle-aged men like me who love getting down and dirty but no longer want to suffer for their sport.

But there’s no question the Austrians have made the Germans nervous with their Super Adventure S. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. A motorcycle that talks?


• Specifications

ENGINE:

  • Type: 75-degree V-twin
  • Displacement: 1301cc
  • Max power: 160 horsepower @ 8750 rpm
  • Max torque: 103 ft/lbs @ 6750 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed
  • Clutch: PASC slipper clutch, hydraulically operated

CHASSIS:

  • Front suspension; travel: Electronically adjusted, semi-active inverted 48mm WP fork; 7.9 inches
  • Rear suspension; travel: Electronically adjusted, semi-active WP shock; 7.9 inches
  • Front wheel: 3.50 x 19″ / Rear wheel: 5.00 x 17″
  • Front tire: 120/70 ZR 19 / Rear tire: 170/60 ZR 17
  • Front brakes: 320mm discs w/ radially mounted 4-piston Brembo calipers
  • Rear brake: 267mm disc w/ 2-piston Brembo caliper
  • ABS: Bosch 9ME Combined-ABS w/ Cornering-ABS and off-road mode; disenengageable

KTM hit the adventure bike market hard in 2013 with the release of the 1190 Adventure, their crosshairs aimed directly at the large-displacement ADV bikes such as the BMW R1200GS. Now, after just a few years in production, KTM has decided to go a different route. The 1190 is not being offered for the 2017 model year; instead, it’s been replaced by two separate models, the 1090 Adventure, and the mighty 1290 Adventure. Let’s take a look at how the 1090 stacks up….

At a glance, it’s easy to draw the conclusion that this change is simply a marketing ploy. However, it’s a product of R&D in response to customer feedback.

To fully understand the motive, we need to take a step back in time to examine the way KTM decided to roost their way into the big-displacement ADV bike market in the first place. When KTM entered the multi-cylinder adventure bike mashup in ’03, they did so with the 950 Adventure. An uncompromising, terrain-tearing, beast of a motorcycle with close family ties to the Rally 950, it was the bike Fabrizio Meoni used to take first place during the 2002 edition of the legendary Dakar Rally.

After the 950 Adventure, the 990 Adventure was introduced in 2006 (2007 in the U.S.). The 990 was essentially the same as a 950 Adventure aside from a few updates, most notably, a Keihin fuel injection system and, as the name suggests, a slight increase in engine displacement. These alterations made the bike even more performance-oriented.

ktm 1090 adv vs 1190 review 1

KTM was obviously catering to the more dedicated off-the-asphalt riders at the time. When compared to the other big ADV bike offerings, KTMs were much more spartan in nature, with almost no equipment not there simply to make the bike run. Standard 990s were equipped with an ABS system but that was about the only creature comfort you got.

The 950 and 990 Adventures are essentially big dirt bikes and they beg to be ridden as such. So, in 2013, when the 1190 Adventure was introduced, with its sophisticated electronics package and its relative increase in complexity compared to the older KTM Adventure models, riders who loved their older bikes for their spartan qualities were not particularly sold on the “newfangled” model. In addition, the 1190’s MSRP was substantially higher than that of previous models.

KTM didn’t want to abandon the customers who prefer an adventure bike that’s heavily biased toward going off the beaten path. Enter the 1090 Adventure R, KTM’s answer to the folks who felt left behind when the 1190 came out, and priced closer to what the 990 Adventure was listed when it was released. Admittedly, the 1090 still sits a bit like an F-18 next to a P-51 when compared to the old 950 ADV, but in today’s world of increasingly stringent emissions standards and steadily evolving standards for what should come standard on motorbikes, like it or not, the electronics are here to stay.

ktm 1090 adv vs 1190 review 4

While some will see this as a downside, the reality is that these computer systems help to keep those of us who are not quite on Chris Birch’s level happily stuck to the seat and headed in the proper direction on the nearly 125-horsepower 1090. Seasoned off-roaders will be the first to tell you that more power is not always the answer. Unless you are very experienced, a more powerful bike will just get you into situations you’re not equipped to get out of.

Unfortunately, many will believe that the 1090 Adventure is simply a stripped-down version of the 1190, built only to compete with the Japanese adventure bikes, and that you’d be far better served with a used 1190R. While yes, the 1090, and almost every other vehicle for that matter, is built to fit neatly into a competitive position in a market, it’s certainly more than a budget 1190R

 

• Suspension and Engine Differences

The1090’s engine is actually a 1050cc engine, not to be confused with the engine in the1050 Adventure that’s also being discontinued with the introduction of the1190R . The version of theLC8 engine that’s in the1090 Adventure is completely revised, with an increase in compression ratio to 13:1 versus the1190’s 12.5:1, a new crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, cylinder heads, balancing shaft, a heavier flywheel, revised velocity stacks, and improved fuel injection mapping. These changes to the engine help make the bike feel lighter and more responsive to rider input than the1190 due to the reduced reciprocating mass of the engine components.

ktm 1090 adv vs 1190 review 2

Also, thanks to the heavier crank and flywheel as well as the shorter stroke and smaller bore than the 1190 (103mm x 63mm vs. 105mm x 69mm), the 1090 won’t stall as easily and will feel less clunky when the engine is loping around at very low revs. These revisions, combined with the refined FI mapping, ensure tractable power that comes on predictably and smoothly from very low revs.

The 1090R, like the 1190, comes standard with a slipper clutch, another engine component that will help to keep the big twin under control and headed in the intended direction. The decrease in displacement and increase in compression ratio combined with the mapping changes mean the 1090 achieves a higher MPG than the 1190.

The engine isn’t the only thing that’s new for the 1090R, the suspension has been updated as well. The suspension travel is the same as the 1190R but the 1090R is equipped with stiffer 6.5 Nm springs compared to the 5.5 Nm springs that came in the 1190. In addition, the fork valving has been updated for the 1090R. The 1090R also comes with a PDS shock absorber; PDS stands for “Progressive Damping System” and has been used on KTM’s EX-C line for years. PDS allows for a plush ride over small bumps and small obstacles but in the bottom of the stroke the damping is significantly increased to help keep the bike from bottoming on the rough stuff. It also helps to keep the bike in check when riding hard through G-outs or over jumps. This doesn’t mean the suspension can’t be bottomed but when it occurs it’ll do so in a more controlled manner. As usual, the WP suspension is fully adjustable with regard to preload, compression, and rebound. 

The suspension and engine upgrades mean the 1090R will have a significantly better feel off road, feel substantially lighter, and handle noticeably better than the 1190R even though the 1090 is only slightly lighter.

ktm 1090 adv vs 1190 review 5

Now, what you give up on the 1090R compared to the 1190: Perhaps the biggest sacrifice is that the 1090R does not come equipped with a center stand from the factory. Anyone who has had to change a tube, patch a tire, adjust a chain, or even just lube a chain while out on the road knows that these tasks are much easier and much quicker with a center stand. A center stand is available for purchase for the 1090 if you decide you need one. As previously mentioned, the 1090 puts out nearly 125 hp compared to the 1190 which approaches 150 hp and, while the torque figures are lower on the 1090, it’s not by much. The 1190 has a claimed torque value of 92 lb.-ft. while the 1090 cranks out a less than measly 80 lb.-ft. The 1090R, like the 1190R, still has four different driving modes, Off-Road, Rain, Street, and Sport. It still has traction control and switchable anti-lock brakes but, to help keep the price down, it does not have the lean angle-dependent cornering ABS that the 1190 had.

• Electronics, Power and Performance

The driving modes still function as they did on the 1190; Off-Road mode cuts the power to 100 horsepower and the ABS system will allow the rear wheel to lock to aid in getting around tight corners. Off-Road mode also dials back the intervention from the traction control system which allows the rear wheel to step out in a controlled manner for the same reason, and of course, because it’s fun!

ktm 1090 adv vs 1190 review 3

KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R SPECS
Configuration: 4-cycle, 75° radial twin
Displacement: 1050cc
Bore: 103mm
Stroke: 63mm
Power(HP): 92 kW (~123.4 hp)
Starter: Electric Starter
Lubrication: Forced oil lubrication (3 pumps)
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Cooling: Liquid cooling
Clutch: Hydraulically actuated slipper clutch
EMS: Keihin EMS with twin ignition
Frame: Powder coated Chromium-Molybdenum steel trellis frame
Front Suspension: WP 48mm forks
Rear Suspension: WP-PDS Mono-shock
Suspension Travel: Front—220mm, Rear—220mm (~8.6 in.)
Front Brake: Fixed four-piston Brembo radial calipers with floating disk brake (x2)
Rear Brake: Fixed twin-piston Brembo caliper with disk brake
Brake Disk Diameter: Front—320mm, Rear—267mm
ABS: Bosch 9M+ Two-channel ABS
Steering Head Angle: 64°
Wheelbase: 1580 ±15mm
Ground Clearance: 250mm (~9.8 in.)
Seat Height: 890mm (~35 in.)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 23 l (~6.1 gal.)
Dry Weight: 207kg (~456 lb.)

Street mode delivers all 125 horses but with reduced kick compared to Sport mode. These modes are usable off road as well if you’re keen to roost your buddies or if you have the skill to really hang the back end out in an epic power slide. Just remember to switch off the traction control or the street traction control mapping will be utilized.

There are a few parts available from KTM that are necessary, in my opinion. First, oversized foot pegs. Second, a decent bash plate, and third, the dongle that retains your ECU settings when you switch the bike off. The 1090R also doesn’t come with tire pressure monitoring sensors or a linked braking system but it is equipped with some electronics that the 1190 Adventure wasn’t, KTM’s ATIR system.

ATIR stands for “Automatic Turn Indicator Reset” and as the name suggests, it’s a system that cancels the turn signals after 10 seconds of forward movement or 150 meters. This is a safety feature I can get behind, as someone who leads/chases lots of rides, I don’t know how many miles I’ve ridden while watching another rider’s indicator flashing away.

Rideability is easy to overlook during the quest for the tallest suspension and the most powerful engine. KTM has been in the business of making high performance machines for quite some time and they produce some of the most charismatic machines on the market. KTM engineers intimately understand how relatively small differences in an engine’s power delivery or a chassis’ handling characteristics can completely change the dynamic of a machine.

• Summary

The 1090 is not around to make compromises; it’s certainly friendlier than the 990 ever was but it’s nice to see that KTM has started making motorbikes that are accessible on many skill levels by many riders. The previous big twins were very powerful and equipped with lightweight engine internals. This ensured they were quick to find RPMs and subsequently high power; most of us mere mortals would be up an Amazon-sized stream of proverbial excrement before we knew what hit us without the aid of the electronic nanny dialing back the power output. This is not to say that the 1090 Adventure is underpowered or boring, just more accessible, and definitely better off the pavement.

The KTM engineers earned their check on this project, ultimately the 1090R sacrifices very little in order to shed weight, gain off-road capability, improve rideability, and reduce the price of this motorbike. MSRP: $14,699 KTM.com

 


Caleb headshotCaleb McIntuff (Doktor Orange) is an engineer, mechanic, photojournalist, riding instructor, and lover of all things technical. An insatiable thirst for knowledge keeps Caleb constantly learning. When he isn’t scheming in the shop, he can be found riding alongside his wife, Marisa, as they embark on various adventures astride their mighty KTMs. MotoDuoAdventures.com


{gallery}ARTICLES/Bikes/KTM_1190R_vs_1090R/Gallery{/gallery}

Press bikes come and go, and we learn not to get too attached to any one of them. Well, that’s hard to do with the KTM 1190. After over 6,000 miles with the KTM, it’s difficult not to want to ride it all the time, everywhere—and I mean everywhere. And the 1190 satisfies just about any off-road situation you can throw at it, leaving other manufacturers scratching their heads as to why the big KTM is so popular.

Ergonomics

Being that I’m on the short side of the measuring tape, the 1190 Adventure offers an adjustable two-position seat—low and standard heights. I opted for the low for better footing in off-road situations. The seat itself has a nice, narrow shape at the knees, with a wider butt pan for long distance adventures. Riding the bike from Ohio to Virginia on its first outing, the seat was perfectly comfortable. Over time, I did notice that it has a hot spot from engine heat, which can be welcome in colder weather.

gallery95

Handlebar positioning was perfect out of the box with a wide, almost off-road feel, but still comfortable for distance travel. Footpeg position worked impeccably, too, for both off- and on-road riding, with room for a slight bend at the knee. Taller riders may opt for bar risers.

Windscreen, gauges and handlebar-mounted controls are positioned for easy use on the fly. Luddites won’t approve of the fully electronic warning system but KTM’s efforts at making the onboard computer intuitive have paid off and it’s easy to use without having to constantly refer to the manual.

Luggage

gallery93

Our long-term 1190 was equipped with the OEM KTM luggage system that worked flawlessly for the first six months. With time, the locks became difficult to use, although it’s likely it was just the buildup of dirt and grime. Other than that, the system worked flawlessly. While hard luggage adds extra security for travel and around town, soft luggage would be a better choice for those taking the 1190 off road.


Performance and Handling

Thanks to the 19″/17″ wheel combo, performance on the 1190 is absolutely mind-blowing, from sheer acceleration to the street bike-like handling. For more off-road bias, we would have preferred the R version with a 21″ front wheel, but that would have made it taller.

The basic engine design was borrowed from the RC8, with its 75-degree V-twin, producing a whopping 150hp at 9,500 RPM. Believe me, you smile in your helmet every time you twist the throttle of this 470-lb. bike. Power is initiated via ride-by-wire of two 52mm throttle bodies, delivering smooth, controllable power.

Some may think that 148hp would be a handful off road; KTM has covered that with an electronics package that is well thought-out, and a breeze to navigate. While riding off road, I usually shut off the MTC completely, which made sliding through corners much more fun. With four different drive modes to choose from, the 1190 can conquer anything you throw at it. For most of my seat time, I chose the Sport mode which gives you the full monty of its horsepower, keeping me smiling 100% of the time.

gallery94

There are those in the dual-sport crowd who aren’t into the electronics that some of the new bikes are equipped with, but KTM’s system has worked flawlessly for me. Whether riding in a late spring snowstorm or on wet, muddy, single track the 1190’s electronics didn’t hiccup even once.

Suspension is full WP Electronic Damping System (EDS). The handlebar-mounted switch allows you to adjust preload depending on whether you’re solo, solo with luggage, two-up, or two-up with luggage. Damping settings are preprogramed for Sport, Street and Comfort, and also controlled via handlebar switch. Although initially I would have preferred the R’s manual adjustability, I’m glad we tested the electronic set-up.

Stopping is truly impressive with the Brembo-powered dual 320mm disk front brakes and a large 268mm rear disk. With complete control of the Bosch-developed combined ABS system, the rider has the choice whether to ride with it on or off. This is perhaps one of the biggest factors making European big enduros more dirt-worthy than their Japanese counterparts.

gallery1

When riding off road you have the option of shutting off the ABS completely, or using off-road mode which turns off the combined ABS and allows the rear to rotate independently. The front, in turn, allows a higher degree of slippage for controlling the front end in dirt situations. I have tested the off-road function many times, and it works amazingly well.

I know this bike has been compared to the BMW R1200GS, and the GS does have its merits in the ever growing adventure market. With that said, if you plan on getting out and doing big bike adventuring, the KTM is one of the best purpose-built adventure bikes on the market. From its comfortable and sporty street bike manners to its off-road heritage, the KTM fits the bill no matter what you plan on doing with it—and those are big shoes to fill!

As with most of the community, we’d like to see KTM go in more directions as far as displacement is concerned. I hope in the near future, we’ll see something in the 700–800cc range coming from Big Orange. If that happens we’ll all be drinking more Orange Kool-Aid. MSRP: $16,499.00 KTM.com

PROS

CONS

 Feels lighter than it is off road  Engine heat may be too much for some
 Electronics that are easy to navigate  Footpegs get vibe-y above 6,000rpm
 Mind blowing power  Luggage locks became sticky over time

 {gallery}ARTICLES/Bikes/2014_KTM_1190/Gallery_Images{/gallery}

 

Press bikes come and go, and we learn not to get too attached to any one of them. Well, that’s hard to do with the KTM 1190. After over 6,000 miles with the KTM, it’s difficult not to want to ride it all the time, everywhere—and I mean everywhere. And the 1190 satisfies just about any off-road situation you can throw at it, leaving other manufacturers scratching their heads as to why the big KTM is so popular.

Ergonomics

Being that I’m on the short side of the measuring tape, the 1190 Adventure offers an adjustable two-position seat—low and standard heights. I opted for the low for better footing in off-road situations. The seat itself has a nice, narrow shape at the knees, with a wider butt pan for long distance adventures. Riding the bike from Ohio to Virginia on its first outing, the seat was perfectly comfortable. Over time, I did notice that it has a hot spot from engine heat, which can be welcome in colder weather.

gallery95

Handlebar positioning was perfect out of the box with a wide, almost off-road feel, but still comfortable for distance travel. Footpeg position worked impeccably, too, for both off- and on-road riding, with room for a slight bend at the knee. Taller riders may opt for bar risers.

Windscreen, gauges and handlebar-mounted controls are positioned for easy use on the fly. Luddites won’t approve of the fully electronic warning system but KTM’s efforts at making the onboard computer intuitive have paid off and it’s easy to use without having to constantly refer to the manual.

Luggage

gallery93

Our long-term 1190 was equipped with the OEM KTM luggage system that worked flawlessly for the first six months. With time, the locks became difficult to use, although it’s likely it was just the buildup of dirt and grime. Other than that, the system worked flawlessly. While hard luggage adds extra security for travel and around town, soft luggage would be a better choice for those taking the 1190 off road.


Performance and Handling

Thanks to the 19″/17″ wheel combo, performance on the 1190 is absolutely mind-blowing, from sheer acceleration to the street bike-like handling. For more off-road bias, we would have preferred the R version with a 21″ front wheel, but that would have made it taller.

The basic engine design was borrowed from the RC8, with its 75-degree V-twin, producing a whopping 150hp at 9,500 RPM. Believe me, you smile in your helmet every time you twist the throttle of this 470-lb. bike. Power is initiated via ride-by-wire of two 52mm throttle bodies, delivering smooth, controllable power.

Some may think that 148hp would be a handful off road; KTM has covered that with an electronics package that is well thought-out, and a breeze to navigate. While riding off road, I usually shut off the MTC completely, which made sliding through corners much more fun. With four different drive modes to choose from, the 1190 can conquer anything you throw at it. For most of my seat time, I chose the Sport mode which gives you the full monty of its horsepower, keeping me smiling 100% of the time.

gallery94

There are those in the dual-sport crowd who aren’t into the electronics that some of the new bikes are equipped with, but KTM’s system has worked flawlessly for me. Whether riding in a late spring snowstorm or on wet, muddy, single track the 1190’s electronics didn’t hiccup even once.

Suspension is full WP Electronic Damping System (EDS). The handlebar-mounted switch allows you to adjust preload depending on whether you’re solo, solo with luggage, two-up, or two-up with luggage. Damping settings are preprogramed for Sport, Street and Comfort, and also controlled via handlebar switch. Although initially I would have preferred the R’s manual adjustability, I’m glad we tested the electronic set-up.

Stopping is truly impressive with the Brembo-powered dual 320mm disk front brakes and a large 268mm rear disk. With complete control of the Bosch-developed combined ABS system, the rider has the choice whether to ride with it on or off. This is perhaps one of the biggest factors making European big enduros more dirt-worthy than their Japanese counterparts.

gallery1

When riding off road you have the option of shutting off the ABS completely, or using off-road mode which turns off the combined ABS and allows the rear to rotate independently. The front, in turn, allows a higher degree of slippage for controlling the front end in dirt situations. I have tested the off-road function many times, and it works amazingly well.

I know this bike has been compared to the BMW R1200GS, and the GS does have its merits in the ever growing adventure market. With that said, if you plan on getting out and doing big bike adventuring, the KTM is one of the best purpose-built adventure bikes on the market. From its comfortable and sporty street bike manners to its off-road heritage, the KTM fits the bill no matter what you plan on doing with it—and those are big shoes to fill!

As with most of the community, we’d like to see KTM go in more directions as far as displacement is concerned. I hope in the near future, we’ll see something in the 700–800cc range coming from Big Orange. If that happens we’ll all be drinking more Orange Kool-Aid. MSRP: $16,499.00 KTM.com

PROS

CONS

 Feels lighter than it is off road  Engine heat may be too much for some
 Electronics that are easy to navigate  Footpegs get vibe-y above 6,000rpm
 Mind blowing power  Luggage locks became sticky over time

 {gallery}ARTICLES/Bikes/2014_KTM_1190/Gallery_Images{/gallery}

 

For quite some time, motorcycle seat technology has seen few innovations. Sure, there have been advancements in covers and foam technology mostly concerned with comfort, but, until now, no one I’m aware of thought about making improvements for better bike control.

Welcome to the MX Control Tech Seat. This product’s designer, James Jones, came up with a way of building a seat that allows the rider to lock onto the bike’s center for off-road riding. After several prototypes and countless hours of testing and refining, James arrived at the current offering. And, with help from Corbin Seatsmanufacturing expertise there are now MX Control Seats for 2017 and 2018 KTMs.

MXControlSeat Body900

At first glance, the seat does look a little alien. The Dual-Leg Grip area on both sides of the seat are for gripping with the legs to better facilitate control in various off-road situations while lessening stress on the hands and arms. MX Control Tech also uses a proprietary “Comfort Cell” foam which was developed especially for Corbin and allows the casting in complex shapes. The seat cover material is high quality and customizable when ordering. All are built around the rigid Corbin Fibertech seat pans.

Riding while seated feels normal, but things get interesting when you stand up. It wasn’t that my knees naturally fell into the cut-out, which you’d think would be the case. Instead, they typically fell behind the back bump—perfect for coming into corners hot!

The seat is definitely something you need to spend some time with in order to figure out how to best make it work for your riding style. But I believe MX Control Tech is onto something, and it’s just a matter of convincing more riders to give it a try. Meanwhile, I plan to spend a lot more time with the MX Control Tech Seat during the 2019 riding season.

MSRP: $395

MXControlTech.com

PROS:

  • Innovative philosophy for seat design
  • High quality materials and craftsmanship
  • Customizing is available

CONS:

  • Heavy
  • Only available for late model KTMs
  • Hard to convince people to try it

For quite some time, motorcycle seat technology has seen few innovations. Sure, there have been advancements in covers and foam technology mostly concerned with comfort, but, until now, no one I’m aware of thought about making improvements for better bike control.

Welcome to the MX Control Tech Seat. This product’s designer, James Jones, came up with a way of building a seat that allows the rider to lock onto the bike’s center for off-road riding. After several prototypes and countless hours of testing and refining, James arrived at the current offering. And, with help from Corbin Seatsmanufacturing expertise there are now MX Control Seats for 2017 and 2018 KTMs.

MXControlSeat Body900

At first glance, the seat does look a little alien. The Dual-Leg Grip area on both sides of the seat are for gripping with the legs to better facilitate control in various off-road situations while lessening stress on the hands and arms. MX Control Tech also uses a proprietary “Comfort Cell” foam which was developed especially for Corbin and allows the casting in complex shapes. The seat cover material is high quality and customizable when ordering. All are built around the rigid Corbin Fibertech seat pans.

Riding while seated feels normal, but things get interesting when you stand up. It wasn’t that my knees naturally fell into the cut-out, which you’d think would be the case. Instead, they typically fell behind the back bump—perfect for coming into corners hot!

The seat is definitely something you need to spend some time with in order to figure out how to best make it work for your riding style. But I believe MX Control Tech is onto something, and it’s just a matter of convincing more riders to give it a try. Meanwhile, I plan to spend a lot more time with the MX Control Tech Seat during the 2019 riding season.

MSRP: $395

MXControlTech.com

PROS:

  • Innovative philosophy for seat design
  • High quality materials and craftsmanship
  • Customizing is available

CONS:

  • Heavy
  • Only available for late model KTMs
  • Hard to convince people to try it

KTM has announced that the all-new KTM 690 SMC R and KTM 690 ENDURO R are set to arrive to the North American market in early spring 2019, with the hardest choice being which of these cutting-edge single-cylinder machines to take and where to point it at.

Naughty has never been so nice with the new KTM 690 SMC R. A bike for those who crave corner kicks on road or track and an addictive torque-filled punch with every turn of the throttle. The return of the KTM 690 ENDURO R in 2019 offers riders a true long-distance enduro machine, always ready to connect the tarmac with trails with its flexibility to perform excitably on and offroad.

19 KTM 690 SMC R Action 2

Similar in many aspects but completely different in their execution, both models take full advantage of an intensive development program that has seen front to back changes. The latest generation LC4 single-cylinder engine is housed in a lightweight, dynamic frame dripping with top specification chassis components and the very latest electronic rider aids to give an exceptional riding experience.

Sharper and more refined, the focus of these upgrades was to improve on what already made these machines the benchmark in their respective class – without diluting excitement and focus with the addition of technology and increased usability.

2019 KTM 690 ENDURO R 1

Both bikes are armed with the most powerful production single-cylinder available – smoother and more sophisticated than ever. Efficient engineering excellence, the latest compact LC4 is a totally modern interpretation of a big single-cylinder engine. Two balancer shafts aligned to a dual-spark cylinder head and ride by wire technology leave only good vibrations. The 690cc engine offers increased power with a devastating punch; smoother than ever with an incredibly wide delivery of performance and now boasts a Quickshifter+ for further refinement.

Electronic rider aids now feature heavily on both bikes, with the addition of ride mode technology and lean angle sensitive ABS and traction control systems to get the most from these potent packages in all situations.


KTM 690 SMC R

 

All fun and no frown; the unique riding appeal of a Supermoto is something KTM has wildly celebrated over the years and punching back into the range in 2019 on opposite lock is the KTM 690 SMC R. Pure, extreme and high performance – this is a very focused motorcycle that embodies the READY TO RACE approach and takes advantage of refined and unrivaled LC4 drive with advanced electronics in a truly unique package.

The sharpened bodywork is not just for the look; improved ergonomics improve feel and control between rider and machine to get the most from this Supermoto superhero. All-new, fully-adjustable APEX suspension from the experts at WP also helps deliver a charismatic machine capable of conquering the tightest curves and cutting through congested commutes.

2019 KTM 690 SMC R 2

Getting the most from the KTM 690 SMC R’s performance in all situations is a suite of rider assistance systems. Two ride modes – Street and Sport – cornering ABS, lean angle-sensitive motorcycle traction control and Quickshifter+ are new to the game, with the familiar Supermoto ABS mode aiding rear slides with front-end confidence. The KTM 690 SMC R is fitted with Bridgestone S21 tires for maximum performance on the street and plenty of grip for race track usage.

19 KTM 690 SMC R Studio 1


KTM 690 ENDURO R

Making the impassable possible, the KTM 690 ENDURO R unites asphalt and trails like never before. Simplified: KTM engineers and KISKA designers have made all the best parts better. The latest KTM LC4 single-cylinder has two balancer shafts for reduced vibrations, ride by wire to allow changeable ride modes and traction control. More than enough power to pull clear of the steepest climbs, yet efficient and manageable for trails and daily use.

2019 KTM 690 ENDURO R 2

Sharper and slimmer, the new bodywork with a redesigned seat, enhances aesthetics and improves ergonomics. Underneath, a lightweight and agile chassis coupled with fully-adjustable WP XPLOR suspension provides a competent package for experienced riders yet confidence-inspiring for those new to dirt. Better still, the KTM 690 ENDURO R remains sure-footed for street riding – increasing its versatility as a trust-worthy daily ride.

The new electronic systems on the KTM 690 ENDURO R get the most from this dynamic machine in all situations. Two ride modes – Offroad and Street – produce different characteristics of the throttle response and motorcycle traction control (MTC), while cornering sensitivity for the ABS and traction control also make its debut on this bike. The KTM 690 ENDURO R is fitted with Continental TKC80s for great performance both in the dirt and on the road.

690Enduro

Both bikes are available from official KTM dealers in early spring, backed up with a wide range of official KTM PowerParts to intensify them further. Discover more at KTM's website atand locate a KTM dealer nearest you. MSRP: 690 Enduro R $11,699 | 690 SMC R $TBD KTM.com

Check out the SPECS for the KTM 690 Enduro R and 690 SMC R HERE!

For an adventure rider, being able to improvise comes with the territory. You have to adapt to unexpected circumstances when equipment fails, and you’re likely to invent or modify accessories out of necessity. Some take it to the next level. Meet Nikola Maletić from Belgrade, Serbia. Combining his passion for ADV riding and his hobby of machining and mechanical design, he quit his suit-and-tie job and started Perun Moto, a boutique product line geared toward the KTM 690 Enduro and its sibling, the Husqvarna 701.

A tail rack is not just an optional flavor but an essential ingredient, and Perun Moto’s version is my favorite so far. The design is sleek and every detail is well thought-out, featuring plenty of strategically positioned slots and holes (with smooth edges that won’t fray your straps) to secure your RotopaX, bungees, straps, ropes, and luggage hooks of various makes. The hooks of standard-sized tie-downs won’t fit, however, so drill out a couple of holes just to have that option in the future.

Perun moto tail rack review 2

 The powder-coated aluminum plate and all the fittings feel bulletproof, and installation is a breeze; after drilling four holes into the fender plastic, everything falls right into place. The rack’s functionality can be increased with the optional extension plate ($68), which doubles the available space and makes a two-gallon RotopaX possible. It’s not quite as convenient as a larger gas tank, but if you compare the numbers, maybe it is…. MSRP: $130 PerunMoto.com

PROS

CONS

Workmanship and finish: 10 out of 10 None
Numerous anchor points
Light and strong

{gallery}ARTICLES/Gear/Perun_Moto/690_701_enduro_tail_rack/Gallery{/gallery}

Gallery4So why would ADVMoto magazine want to report on a bike that really hasn’t changed in the last six years? Well, the fine folks at KTM North America wanted us to live with the brand for the summer (I love my job). Not having spent much time with the brand in the past, other than a few off-road KTMs, I was excited to get some seat time on the 990. After racking up a few miles on the bike, I can tell you that it’s been a “Summer of Love.”

I was pleasantly surprised that there were so few quirks to become accustomed to. The hardest was the sensitive throttle input—mostly due to fuel injection. What I found worked best was making slow, smooth wrist movements. This technique seemed to mellow the on/off feeling the throttle delivered. The other minor quirk was gear selection—if you ride in too high of a gear; there’s a lot of drive chain noise. But riding in a lower gear kept the tach in check and noise was decreased noticeably. After I’d become comfortable with these minor quirks, it was clear that the 990 is pretty close to one of the best purpose-built adventure bikes I have ever had the pleasure to ride.

Power comes from the infamous LC8 75° V-twin engine that produces around 105 HP and 74 ft. lbs. of torque @ 6750 rpm. Suspension is plush with customizable settings for different terrains and riding styles. And an added bonus is the large preload adjustment knob on the rear shock, which comes in handy for riding two up, or loaded with gear (no need for aftermarket upgrades).

Now that we have some of the particulars out of the way, let the farkling begin. The crew at ADVMoto is always looking for ways to improve your daily adventure bikes, so we added a few things to make this great motorcycle even better.

Saddlemen Adventure Track Seat

Gallery7The stock seat that comes on the 990 isn’t bad by any means; we were just looking for a little more comfort for those longer rides and maybe a little more room for us vertically challenged riders. The Saddlemen Adventure Track seat is available in a two inch lower version which allows for a little more foot on the ground. Although welcome on street, the benefits of putting your feet on the ground are huge for off-pavement adventuring, and we’d bet there are more than a few riders would appreciate the extra two inches.

Their hybrid design combines exclusive Saddle gel interior, progressive density foam, and a channel down the middle of the saddle to provide adventure riders with unparalleled comfort and control. Integrated bag/cargo mounting points on the pillion is a nice touch and provides additional tie down points for any luggage you might need to bring along. With all these features, the only downside to the saddle is the micro-fiber suede which covers the main seating area. Once this portion of the seat gets wet, it takes a while to dry out. Replacing that area with vinyl or leather would probably be just as comfortable and drier to boot. Despite this lightly annoying feature, there’s no doubt the overall design and reduced saddle height makes living with the 990 not only more comfortable, but safer and generally more fun.

Fastway Adventure Pegs by ProMoto Billet

gallery91You have to admit that most manufactures often don’t pay much attention to the footpegs they hang on their machines. The stock units that come on the 990 are way too small for any type of off pavement adventuring. We picked up a set of these beautifully-crafted billet aluminum gems. The pegs measure an impressive 2.25? front to back, 4.75? wide while most are around 2? front to back and 3? wide. The added width gives you more confidence when the terrain gets rough and the screw-in cleats have incredible traction with the boot. A removable rubber pad would have been a nice touch at this price point for riders who could use extra dampening for extended riding.  The patented adjustable collars make it easy to run them in the “standard” or “low boy” positions on most bikes, giving the rider more room for bulky boots, or longer legs. All in all, the Fastway Adventure pegs are a well-made, comfortable and confidence inspiring upgrade for any 990.


Twisted Throttle

Gallery5The crew at Twisted Throttle wanted to make sure we were protected for our off-pavement adventures and provided a few pieces of equipment to make sure we didn’t get stranded on the side of the trail. We installed a SW-Motech aluminum skid/engine guard. This particular unit is constructed of a 4mm aluminum base, and 3mm sides. Where the base plates and side plates overlap, it forms a riveted 7mm-thick rail for extra rigidity. Side protectors wrap around the engine block to provide both bottom and side protection. The unit was a breeze to install and is available in brushed bare aluminum or durable black powder coated finishes. The peace-of-mind that you are protected makes it worth the extra effort.

An area most of us overlook is the fragile plastic headlight cover. Not only is it susceptible to hazing from road blasting, it is also front and center to receive roost from your riding buddies when off pavement. We installed a product called “Light Saver.” It’s a 30mm thick film that covers you headlight unit in an optical quality, double polished polyvinyl film that protects the unit from roost and road debris.

The SW-Motech Auxiliary light mounts make sure the 990 can pack the lumens needed for evening adventure riding.  The solid construction and relatively simple installation are big bonuses to this custom light rail and are perfect for their Denali series lamps.

Baja Designs—Squadron LED Lamp

Gallery10We all know that you can’t expect much from your stock lighting and the KTM is no exception. With so many lighting options available, ADVMoto decided to try out the Baja Designs Squadron LED units.

Installation was a breeze with the optional wiring harness and the SW-Motech lamp mount from Twisted Throttle. Once mounted, all I can say is, “WOW!” These babies draw a hefty (for LED) 44 watts per unit but crank out a whopping 3600 lumens of “spotting deer through trees” power.

While out testing in normal traffic, if you angle them slightly down, you can ride with them on all the time, without getting the annoying high beam flash from oncoming traffic. The light spread is outstanding even with the lights aimed straight forward. If you do a lot of night riding, I highly recommend checking out all the lighting options available in the market place. While the Baja Designs are incredible units, they are on the high end of the price spectrum, but well worth the money if you want extra daytime visibility and safer evening back road riding.

 

Black Dog Cycle Works (BDCW)

Gallery9The 990 likes to run at the top of the temperature gauge’s range, especially if you get caught in stop and go traffic. Also, if you do a lot of slower off-pavement technical riding, this is a must-add upgrade. We installed the BDCW auxiliary fan kit and no longer did we have to worry about rising temperature issues and turning off the bike at stoplights. Installation was fairly straight forward and didn’t take much more than an hour. I do, however, recommend removing both tanks for installation making it easier to find the fan wire.

Another nifty add-on from BDCW is the A990 crash bar bags. These little gems give you additional storage for tools and other items you might not use on a regular basis and sit relatively low on the bike. They are made from heavy-duty durable 1680 polyester denier ballistic with heavy coating. The inside of the bags are light in color to make finding your goodies a lot easier. Two bags included in set, one for each side.

Gallery6Lastly, we wanted to try out the ultra-heavy-duty skid plate for our more hardcore off-pavement adventures. BDCW’s innovative design utilizes two steel supports on the front and back to brace the skid plate from hard impacts that would normally rip off the stock skid plate or other aftermarket skid plates that utilize only the four rubber shear bolts for mounting the skid plate to the bike. If you plan on spending more time off road with the 990, there’s no doubt the extra protection of this model is worth the added weight it comes with.  


Several thousand miles later, and an oil change at our local KTM dealer, MFI, Inc., we agree the KTM 990 is a great machine right off the showroom floor and enjoy living with it every day. As nice as it is, with a few little add-ons you can make this bike nearly bulletproof, more comfortable and practical for your everyday adventures. Better still, the 990 proves it self to be the most off-road capable liter class adventure bike still on the market. With the 990’s replacement is already on the horizon, it will be difficult to improve on this already very capable steed. We look forward to seeing how well the 990 stacks up against the new KTM 1190 Adventure… now that’s some tasty orange!

Parts List

 

Twisted Throttle

TwistedThrottle.com
SW-Motech Skid Plate $229.99  
Light Saver Headlight Film $46.99  
SW-Motech KTM990 Auxiliary Light Mount $56.99  

Baja Designs

BajaDesigns.com Other Buying Option
Squardon LED Lamp $299.95 Amazon.com
Universal Wiring Harness $57.95  

Black Dog Cycle Works

BlackDogCW.com  
Ultra-heavy-duty Skid Plate $325.00  
Kickstand relocation kit $89.95  
Auxiliary secondary fan kit $149.95  
A990 Crash Bar Bags $129.00  

Fastway by ProMoto Billet

ProMotoBillet.com  
Adventure Footpegs $249.95  

Saddlemen

Saddlemen.com Other Buying Option
Adventure Track Low-Profile Seat $419.95 Revzilla.com

 {gallery}ARTICLES/Bikes/KTM_990_ADV/Gallery_Images{/gallery}

 

What are Dave Peckham’s fantasies? To buy farmland in Washington’s lush Olympic Peninsula to raise goats and make cheese… to live sustainably, comfortably and quietly with his wife… and oh—to take his underdog racing team, Rally Pan Am, to every podium around the globe! According to Dave, he broke into the off-road riding scene “a little late in the game.” But he has striven to make up for lost time, competing endlessly at national and international rallies and enduros. He’s quit his tech job and traded dollars for dreams of Dakar, ISDE, and creating the most sought-after rally computer in the rally raid industry. 

Rally Pan Am flew home from Argentina having finished the 2016 Dakar Rally all “teeth and thumbs.” Both team riders, Ian Blythe and Scott Bright, not only crossed the infamously impossible finish line (on average only half the entrants complete the race) but placed in notable positions. 

Today Dave’s a California man, although he was born and bred in Rhode Island. He’s easygoing, with hard opinions, and we appreciate all the lessons racing and riding have taught him. 

Rally Management Services 1

AM: How long have you been racing in rallies? 

DP:I’ve been focused on rally since 2007, when I did my first, the “underground” Death Valley Rally. I was instantly hooked and did everything I could to ride any rally route I could. 

AM: How long have you been involved in rallies as a manager, support, sponsor, savvy technician? 

DP: Almost from the beginning. I started training and riding with my predecessor, Charlie Rauseo. By 2008, I was an assistant instructor at his navigation training schools. It was the only way to get more rally riding in, to scratch my itch. I immediately found it enjoyable to incorporate “working” while riding. I think I’m like a working dog breed—happiest when I have a purpose. 

AM: How else are you involved in rallies and motorcycle racing? 

DP: I took over Rally Management Services in 2012, when Charlie went back to lawyering. As one of the instructors, and also the guy who built RMS’ webstore, it really made sense. I also own ICO Racing, the world’s leading manufacturer of rally computers for motorcycles. These two business are the backbone of the pro race team, Rally Pan Am. To help grow the sport, I’ve also donated a lot of time to the RallyNavigator.com project. 

AM: Why did you form Rally Pan Am

DP: Charlie, along with friends Robb McElroy and Niles Folin, all from San Francisco, founded Rally Pan Am back in 2004 or so. RMS, the business side, actually grew out of the race team, as other teams searched for hard-to-find parts and services. When I took over RMS, Rally Pan Am’s pro rider, Jonah Street, had retired, so the team was on mothballs. Once I’d gotten a handle on RMS and ICO, re-booting Rally Pan Am was the next step. 

Rally Management Services 2

AM: How did you meet Scott Bright and Ian Blythe, your current team riders? 

DP: I met Scott at an underground four-day race called Kings of the West a few years back. When I started looking for new riders, I didn’t go to the SoCal Baja crowd. I looked for endurance racers with international racing backgrounds. This led me to Ian, an ISDE and world enduro rider. While looking for a second rider, Scott’s name came up. When I discovered that he and Ian had a long-time friendship, it was a simple choice. 

AM: Why Dakar? Though this rally is infamous worldwide, it still hasn’t seemed to win the hearts of the majority of Americans. Why take on the physical, financial, and mental burdens? 

DP: The cerebral nature of rally navigation combined with the self-sufficiency required to be alone in the desert really appealed to me. The challenges of being an American in this most grueling race are brutal. I suppose it’s that same challenge that makes it all the more appealing. I’m also a huge fan of the international nature of rally racing. It’s great to be a part of a cross-cultural event and to meet up with old friends—to see places around the world. The racing scene at home, and in Baja, are pretty heterogeneous. 

AM: Yours were the only American riders on an American team at the Dakar Rally. Did you feel any pressure from the responsibility of representing the U.S. at this race? 

DP: The pressure is always to finish. For us in particular, as an underfunded privateer team, there is pressure to show that we can do everything that the factory teams can—even without all their polished bells and whistles. It’s a kind of blue collar, get it done, work ethic. This year we had a Top 10 stage and 100% finish rate, with only two crew for two riders. I think factory KTM had a 39-person crew or something. 

AM: What’s it take to keep riders going? Challenging breakdowns, engine blow-ups, and stress…. 

DP: We had a few moments where it could have ended. But there’s always a solution, if you are creative and persistent. Ian’s bike burst an oil cooler line in one stage. Luckily, he noticed it and made a repair to stem the leak. When he arrived in the bivouac, we naturally worried about whether any internal damage was done. But the KTM rally engines are tough. We opened it up a bit, discovered it looked good, and took the risk of running it rather than taking the 15-minute penalty of changing motors. Ian also took a fall one day and punctured a fuel tank. Before he noticed, it had leaked enough to let him run only about 12 kilometers. He had to wait a little while before Scott arrived to tow him in. 

AM: What’s the least you could get away with? 

DP: We like to run minimal. Next year we will ditch the gas generator and just add another battery to the truck. We’ll replace the AC air compressor with a heavy-duty 12V version. That saves space and the effort of unloading it to use it. It’s also quieter. We’ll make sure to fit the truck with more water storage, so that we have a better bike wash. 

Rally Management Services 3

AM: How do sponsors factor into your ability to attend the event? 

DP: Our sponsors are absolutely key to our success. Had I remained a software engineer, I would have had more money. But my passion is for racing, and now that it’s my profession, there’s no way to self-fund a professional team like this. We have a number of gear sponsors, but when it comes down to it, it takes hard currency to race. The ASO won’t accept bike parts or jackets as payment. Thankfully we have some great sponsors like If You See Kay Wines, ICO Racing, Klim, MX1WEST, and Motion Pro who helped us out beyond just free product. 

AM: Who were your sponsors at Dakar 2016

DP: For Dakar 2016 we had a great team of sponsors: ICO Racing, If You See Kay Wines, CraftsmanMX1WEST, Motion Pro, Baja Designs, Klim, Konflict Suspension and many more. 

AM: What difficulties did you and the team experience in order to attend and complete Dakar

DP: It’s hard to race rally professionally as a U.S. team. The sport is still gaining popularity here, whereas it’s huge in Europe. Rebooting the team from scratch meant getting all new sponsors to fund a yet-unproven new team of riders. We made it about halfway to attending Dakar 2015, but had to pull the plug. It was a shame since Ian had won the Dakar Challenge in 2015 and had a free entry. We had to forfeit that, and the ASO held our deposits for 2016. Thankfully our sponsors didn’t lose hope. Scott and Ian both had great race results in 2015, so I’m sure that helped. In 2016 we were able to pull ICO Racing and If You See Kay Wines in as sponsors and make it to the finish!

AM: How do you feel now that you’ve finished a race that was such a long time coming? 

DP: Really happy and proud of the whole team. It’s a ton of work, all uphill, and a ton of money. There are a
million reasons to quit, and very few to finish. But our team stuck through the ups and downs and made it happen. It’s pretty rare to have a group work so well right from the start.

AM: Any plans for Dakar 2017?

DP: You bet. Plans started the moment we hit the finish podium. We’ll race the Sonora Rally and Baja Rallies here near home, plus hope to race Sardegna again this year. And of course, we’ll be at Dakar 2017!

RallyManagementServices.com

This story first appeared in the May/June 2016 edition of Adventure Motorcycle Magazine.

{gallery}ARTICLES/Industry/Rally_Mgmt_Services/Gallery{/gallery}

 

gallery1

Ricochet has been in the business of producing skid plates for many years, and it’s easy to see why—they’re good at it! I acquired one for my KTM 950 Super Enduro and was immediately impressed with its many “smart design” features.

It is made from a single piece of aircraft quality 3/16-inch aluminum with multiple dual-radius bends and seams that are all welded on both sides. We often see skid plates that are sharp and angular in shape, looking more like they belong on a battleship rather than a motorcycle.

By using dual-radius bends, Ricochet produced a skid plate of factory-fit quality that looks like it belongs on your bike. It is also equipped with an additional guard to protect the clutch cover area, along with a convenient oil drain access hole. And, more smart features were identified when it was time for the install.

gallery2

Welded to the mounting brackets are “distorted thread” style locking nuts that make for easy removal and installation while servicing or cleaning. The zinc-plated mounting brackets are smartly positioned to offer maximum support and bracing during impact or skidding.

For durability, button-head Torx bolts are used for the underside mounting hardware that are often subjected to the abuse of skidding. Button-head bolts are less likely to be damaged than hex-head or socket-head bolts, and the Torx drive reduces the chance of stripping.

Overall, the installation was smooth and we were pleased with the fit and the black anodized finish. Ricochet has produced a well-engineered and OEM-looking skid plate capable of protecting the very vulnerable oil tank and engine case of your KTM 950SE. MSRP: $179.00 Ricochet-Off-Road.com

PROS

CONS

 Smart design  Adds weight
 Excellent mounting system  
 Tight fit and compact shape

 {gallery}ARTICLES/Gear/RicochetOffroad/gallery{/gallery}

 

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