Aging bikers find their crossover
KTM’S superbike is now ready for whatever comes your way, Paul Owen writes.
It took a while for the term SUV to catch on here, but I predict that ADV will soon become part of the chat around bike rally campfires and on biker forums. For all the new tallrounders launched this year are ADVs – ADventure Vehicles, some in style only, some possessing genuine all-terrain capabilities. The plethora of new ADVs is driven mostly by the aging of bike riders. They’re migrating from sporty race-replicas to adventure bikes in just about every market in the world in their droves. Swapping to an ADV allows them to retain a sporty image and ride in more comfort than when adopting the permanent crouch demanded by a sportsbike. So it makes sense that KTM’s newest ADV is essentially a sportsbike disguised as an adventure tourer, as this crossover is essentially just what this rapidlygrowing market sector is looking for.
At the heart of the new KTM 1190 Adventure you’ll find essentially the same 75-degree liquidcooled V-twin that powers the RC8R, a wellconceived $31,990 sportsbike that is available only on an indent-order basis in New Zealand You can read a lot into the latter marketing move, for there is now only one choice if seeking a twin-cylinder KTM alternative to the Duke singles for the road. The Adventure has definitely been made more road-focused as a result of KTM seeking a wider target market for it, including all those hard-a..... who might have previously signed up for the RC8R. It wears fatter tyres, develops 25 per cent more power, and is way more comfortable to ride than the first 950 Adventure V-twin that KTM launched back in 2003. It also comes with a full electronic suite, with push-button suspension adjustment, traction control, tyre pressure monitoring, and ABS. At $26,500, the 1190 is a fine alternative to the newest BMW R1200GS and Ducati Multistrada 1200, both of which wear price tags starting with a ‘‘3’’ if you specify models from within their ranges that are as fully equipped as the KTM.
However the edgy design expected of an Austrian-branded road-bike has been replaced on the new Adventure by blander-looking modelling.
There’s only the colourful day-glo graphics reminiscent of a psychedelic rock band’s album cover to rescue it, and even those stodgy Germans across the Bavarian border have created a more interesting-looking bike in the new GS.
It’s therefore up to some fine detailing and the riding experience to add the X-factor expected of a KTM, and the u-beaut engine does much to lighten the mood. Built on the same bottom end as the RC8R’s unit, the Adventure version of the 1190 has new twin-spark heads with smaller diameter intake valves and less radical cam timing.
Its response is therefore softened considerably from the harsher sportsbike, and smoothness and civility have improved. When the tacho needle sweeps past 6000rpm, the vigour of the RC8R comes rushing back in full raging-bull strength, and whether the horizon lies on the edge of an empty desert plain or at the vanishing point of an autobahn, the KTM is suddenly desperately keen to find out what lies beyond it. At a claimed 148bhp, outright engine performance is on a par with the kick-ass Ducati, and the top-end performance of both chain-driven bikes easily leaves that of the new GS behind.
Much of this low-rev mildness is due to the ride-by-wire throttle of the new Katoom. This enables careful management of the power delivery via four modes – Sport, Street, Rain and Offroad. The settings are also linked to the traction control and electronicallyadjusted passive suspension, with Sport opting for lessened TC intervention and the stiffest spring and damping rates, and Rain settling for the opposite.
So KTM’s king-hitting sportsbike, the RC8R, is dead. All hail the new sports king of the burgeoning ADV sector, the 1190 Adventure.
My thanks to John Goss, at Cyclespot Euro, for the loan of the test bike.
SUPER BIKE: KTM