Ag­ing bik­ers find their cross­over

KTM’S su­per­bike is now ready for what­ever comes your way, Paul Owen writes.

South Waikato News - - SPORT -

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.


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