Tar­mac, gravel, off-road… the all-new 1190 R can do it all

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Front Page - ADAM CHILD SE­NIOR ROAD TESTER adam.child@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

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

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