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2014 KTM 1190 Adventure–First Ride

A smaller 19-inch front wheel and wider, lower-profile tires contribute to the Adventure’s nimble, confident handling.

A smaller 19-inch front wheel and wider, lower-profile tires contribute to the Adventure’s nimble, confident handling.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of KTM

Greg Drevenstedt
February 25, 2013
Filed under Dual-Sport + Adventure Motorcycle Reviews, KTM Motorcycle Reviews, Road Tests, Top Stories

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Roaring out of the fourth tight, uphill corner, one of hundreds in our aggressive ascent from sea level to the lava fields surrounding 12,198-foot Mount Teide, two things dawned on me. One is that Tenerife, the largest of the 13 Canary Islands situated off the northwestern coast of Africa, is a beautiful but challenging place to ride. The other is that the all-new KTM 1190 Adventure is light-years beyond its predecessor.

After winning the Dakar Rally in 2002 with its LC8 950R, KTM launched a production version for 2003 called the 950 Adventure. With angular, rally-racer styling and a potent 942cc 75-degree V-twin, it quickly established itself as the most off-road-ready of the big-bore adventure tourers. Displacement was increased to 999cc for 2006 and, over the course of a decade, more than 40,000 950/990 Adventures were produced.

2014 KTM 1190 Adventure

2014 KTM 1190 Adventure

Nowadays, with the ADV segment brimming with high-tech bikes like the BMW R 1200 GS, Ducati Multistrada 1200, Triumph Tiger Explorer and Yamaha Super Ténéré, having a powerful engine, strong chassis and trick components doesn’t cut the mustard. Fully integrated electronics—riding modes, traction control and ABS—are the name of the game, along with pushbutton-adjustable suspension, customizable ergonomics and a high level of refinement. The new 1190 Adventure has all of this and more, thanks to 120,000-plus man-hours of work by 180 engineers—the most intensive development project in KTM’s history.

Rather than start from scratch, KTM adapted the 1,195cc LC8 V-twin from its RC8 superbike—an engine that has been produced and refined for five years—for adventure touring duty. The DOHC cylinder heads have four valves and two spark plugs per cylinder, with separate ignition mapping for each spark plug to ensure optimal combustion. The retuned engine makes a claimed 150 horsepower and 92 lb-ft of torque—dead even with the Ducati Multistrada 1200 (Rider, January 2013), the reigning horsepower champ in the class. Even though the engine is larger and more powerful, fuel economy is said to be 20 percent better than that of the 990 Adventure. Power is sent to the rear wheel through a 6-speed transmission with a new slipper clutch and chain final drive rather than a heavier shaft.

The KTM 1190 Adventure has undergone an impressive from-the-ground-up transformation.

The KTM 1190 Adventure has undergone an impressive from-the-ground-up transformation.

As with most bikes in this segment, the Adventure’s throttle valves are controlled electronically, with sensors, algorithms and wires replacing the previous model’s mechanical cable. And like other manufacturers, KTM claims its system maximizes engine performance and efficiency. Joining the throttle-by-wire club allowed KTM to grace the new Adventure with multiple riding modes—Sport, Street, Rain and Off-road—which offer varying levels of engine output, throttle response and traction control (TC). The TC system was developed by Bosch, as was the new combined anti-lock braking system, which offers two modes (Street and Off-road). Purists, of course, can turn off TC and ABS.

Those who just can’t get enough button pushing can add the new optional electronic damping system (EDS), built by WP Suspension. EDS offers four preload settings (solo, solo with luggage, two-up and two-up with luggage) and three damping settings (Comfort, Street and Sport), though, oddly, not a dedicated off-road setting. Four buttons on the left handlebar and an LCD panel to the left of the tach make it a breeze to change riding mode, TC, ABS and EDS settings. The more I ride bikes with fully integrated electronics, the more I appreciate their convenience and adaptability.

RC8-derived 1,195cc V-twin makes a claimed 150 horsepower and 92 lb-ft of torque.

RC8-derived 1,195cc V-twin makes a claimed 150 horsepower and 92 lb-ft of torque.

No stone was left unturned when redesigning the new Adventure. The steel trellis frame weighs just 21.6 pounds, the cast aluminum swingarm has a lattice design for added strength and the patented tubeless spoked wheels are now in 19-/17-inch sizes, foregoing the less street-friendly 21-inch front on the previous model. They’re shod with special Continental TrailAttack 2 tires that were developed in conjunction with the Adventure, in 120/70-19 front and 170/60-17 rear sizes. Further enhancing user-friendliness, front and rear suspension travel has been reduced from 8.3 inches to 7.5 inches.

Nearly every contact point between the bike and rider can be adjusted—brake and clutch levers, footpegs, handlebar and seat—and quick-release levers allow the windscreen to be repositioned. High-quality details are everywhere, from the standard steering damper to the LED running lights and turn signals, from the removable rubber inserts in the cleated footpegs to the standard luggage rack that’s predrilled for the accessory top box. The styling now has more curves and fewer sharp edges, broadening the Adventure’s appeal beyond those who recite rally statistics in their sleep.

The Adventure’s new styling, reminiscent of the 990 SMT, is more appealing than the rally-racer look of the previous model.

The Adventure’s new styling, reminiscent of the 990 SMT, is more appealing than the rally-racer look of the previous model.

Two days of climbing up, down and around the mountains of Tenerife, on narrow roads lined with unforgiving guard rails, concrete blocks and razor-sharp volcanic rock, gave me a solid feel for the 1190 Adventure’s improvements and capabilities. KTM has made the bike better in almost every way—more powerful engine, lighter clutch pull, slicker transmission, better handling, better braking performance and more comfortable ergonomics. The superbike-derived RC8 engine can be rowdy, with lots of vibration and noise at high revs, but it purrs peacefully at touring speeds. The lack of cruise control, firm seat and chain final drive, not to mention the excellent Brembo brakes with radial front calipers and radial master cylinder, reaffirm KTM’s “ready to race” philosophy. Increased fuel capacity—6.1 gallons, up from 5.2—should give the new Adventure good range, and its claimed wet weight is just 507 pounds.

The good news is that the all-new 1190 Adventure raises the bar in the extremely competitive open-class adventure touring segment. The bad news is that pricing remains a blank spot in the spec chart until June, and the bike won’t be in U.S. dealerships until October 2013.

2014 KTM 1190 Adventure Specs
Base Price: NA
Website: ktmusa.com
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse 75-degree V-twin, DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Displacement: 1,195cc
Bore x Stroke: 105.0 x 69.0mm
Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated wet slipper clutch
Final Drive: X-ring chain
Wheelbase: 61.4 in.
Rake/Trail: 26 degrees/4.7 in.
Seat Height: 33.9/34.4 in.
Claimed Wet Weight: 507 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 6.1 gals., warning light on last 0.9 gal.
MPG: NA

Dual radial-mount Brembo front calipers and multi-mode Bosch ABS offer excellent stopping power.

Dual radial-mount Brembo front calipers and multi-mode Bosch ABS offer excellent stopping power.

All-new instrument panel makes it easy to navigate through the multiple riding, TC, ABS and EDS modes.

All-new instrument panel makes it easy to navigate through the multiple riding, TC, ABS and EDS modes.

State-of-the-art electronics, excellent fit-and-finish and adjustable ergonomics put the all-new 1190 Adventure on par with other large adventure tourers.

State-of-the-art electronics, excellent fit-and-finish and adjustable ergonomics put the all-new 1190 Adventure on par with other large adventure tourers.

KTM claims the 1190 Adventure is among the most powerful and lightest big-bore adventure tourers, traits that will endear it to performance-oriented riders.

KTM claims the 1190 Adventure is among the most powerful and lightest big-bore adventure tourers, traits that will endear it to performance-oriented riders.

Comments

12 Responses to “2014 KTM 1190 Adventure–First Ride”

  1. Brad Walter on March 8th, 2013 9:37 am

    You want a true adv bike, this is it !!!!!! When you ride a KTM, you find out real fast why they make true adv bikes and not pretend ones like yamaha, triumph, or bmw.

    [Reply]

    steveo Reply:

    nothing weighing this much is a true adventure bike Brad, your self obsessed ramblings not withstanding

    [Reply]

    Frank Eastes Reply:

    I might add that maybe fixing a gunked up chain out in the middle of nowhere might ruin your idea of an adventure bike (Crap, why didn’t they use a drive shaft!) I happen to look for a bike with less hassle of drive shaft operation.

    [Reply]

    Bmac61 Reply:

    KTM Claim their 690 Dakar race bikes weight close to this? They don’t seem to have issues with “having an adventure”

    [Reply]

    Mark Reply:

    Excellent bike – it’s more for the road and some light off road but looks amazing, lots of power.

    [Reply]

  2. Jason Luevano on March 12th, 2013 9:40 pm

    A big “Bravo” for KTM, the bikes they are building are undeniably the best in the world, i love the direction they are going in and not only plan on buying one, but also buying stock in their company (if public)!. Keep it up KTM.

    [Reply]

  3. hawk600rr on April 1st, 2013 9:19 pm

    I have been looking at the BMW’s and the KTM’s. The more I research on each one the more undecided I am. I think it will just come down to price, as I plan to check the used market in a couple years. For now I will have to stick with my sport bike (paid for)… I really like where KTM is going with this though.

    Lastly, does anyone have n opinion on the offroad capability of the multistrada? I love the bike, but feel like its too “pretty” to treat like an ADV??

    [Reply]

    Tony Macleod Reply:

    Depending on what you are looking for the Multistrada is a great sports tourer but is let down off road buy alloy rims, a 17 inch front rim and poor fuel consumption ( I think they have improved this on recent model)
    Just completed South America trip and damaged both rims and fork seals on the Multi, otherwise fantastic.

    I have just spent a long time evaluating the BMW and KTM for my next trip and bought the KTM, I’ll let you know how that goes.

    [Reply]

  4. Christian Farmer on May 28th, 2013 8:22 am

    Collect my new 1190 on Friday from BikesRus at Springwood Brisbane.
    Clock up a 1000 for service – the hit the dirt and a bit of track to Darwin to more dirt up there and 3,500 home again. I’ll take chain lube just to please the BMW boys.

    [Reply]

  5. Christian Farmer on May 28th, 2013 8:27 am

    Chain / Shaft – who cares !

    [Reply]

  6. Mark on June 16th, 2013 7:19 am

    Awesome bike is the KTM Adventure. Head turner also

    [Reply]

  7. tom on December 19th, 2013 7:54 pm

    i just hope its not like the pain in the ass 990s with oil changes ktm 990 is a real ball buster for oil changes lets keep it simple ?????i hope or you,ll have a 200.00 oil change bill from the dealer

    [Reply]

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