KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R
Tarmac, gravel, off-road… the all-new 1190 R can do it all
For riders who like the taste of dirt in their teeth, KTM’S 1090 Adventure R is one of the most anticipated bikes of 2017. Since the demise of the 990 Adventure in 2012, off-road fans have been craving a powerful but capable off-road adventure bike. Now the Austrian factory have answered their prayers with the all-new 1090 Adventure R, which delivers the all-round fun of the old 990 but with 20% more of everything plus a clever new electronics package that makes it accessible to everyone.
For 2017 the 1050 Adventure has been replaced by the new 1090 Adventure, which comes in two variants – the standard bike with a 19in front and this exciting off-road R version with a 21in front.
The 1050 was KTM’S entry bike and the firm deliberately strangled the LC8 engine to produce just 95bhp, which made it friendly for new riders and allowed it to be restricted further for A2 licence holders.
Now KTM have unleashed all the LC8’S power. The new 1090 makes a peak 125bhp and 80.4ftlb of torque compared to the 95bhp and 79ftlb of the old bike. Even though it’s now called the 1090, capacity remains at 1050cc – and, don’t worry, KTM still offer a 95bhp variant, which can then be restricted for A2 riders.
The off-road R version, distinguishable by its 21/18in wire wheels, dramatic graphics and extensive crash bars, shares the same 125bhp engine, the same four riding modes (Sport, Street, Rain and Off-road), and Abs-assisted Brembo brakes with a specific off-road setting. Like the standard model the screen is adjustable, as are the handlebars, footpegs and levers. Even the large 23-litre tank remains the same.
The new 1090 Adventure R, however, stands tall on fully adjustable WP suspension with 220mm of travel at both ends with that 21in front wheel and tubeless TKC 80 Continental rubber amplifying the tall stance further. I’m only 5ft 6in, which makes clambering over the 890mm seat a challenge, but once the suspension is compressed by the weight of the rider the reach to the floor is manageable. A KTM trademark narrowness and lack of weight help further, meaning there’s no need to be afraid of the seat height.
On the road the dirt-focused TKC 80 rubber is the bike’s only limitation. The combination of long travel suspension with off-road, knobbly rubber can induce instability when you’re hustling, but at normal speeds this is a polished and competent package. With the screen manually adjusted to its highest setting the 1090 R is more than capable of clocking up big miles in comfort. The seat isn’t made from granite like many full-on off-road bikes while that 23-litre fuel tank delivers over 200 miles between fill-ups.
The LC8 has real bark. While its displacement has remained at 1050cc KTM have unleashed an extra 30bhp. Its response and snap of torque took me by surprise at first and, given the docile nature of the old 1050, I didn’t expect the front to go light in the first few gears either.
When you take to the dirt the electronic off-road riding aids give you reassuring back-up – just what you need when you take your £12,149 motorcycle off road for the first time. The specifically tailored off-road mode limits peak power to 100bhp and calms the throttle delivery, making the R relatively tame, even for novices. The off-road traction control allows some rear wheel slip but intervenes when you get a little carried away, while the off-road ABS allows the rear wheel to lock up while still monitoring and controlling the front. More advanced riders can de-activate all the rider aids but this can only be done when stationary.
The 1090 R still uses the old-style clocks and switchgear like the now discontinued 1050 and not the ultramodern full colour dash of the new KTM 1290 Adventure range. And I’m unsure how long the Conti tyres are going to last on the road, but other than that I’m hooked.
‘Off-road traction control allows some slip but intervenes if you get carried away’
Despite that big 21in front the 1090 is a blast on twisty roads