Tony Wilding tests the 2017 KTM Adventure range at the Australian launch. Here's his review of the 1290 Super Adventure S & R and 1090 Adventure R. Test: Tony Wilding, Images: iKapture/Greg Smith, KTM

Getting invited to the launch of any new bike is special, but when it’s a category that I’ve never ridden before, that makes it even more special, with this launch showcasing KTM‘s 2017 1290 Super Adventure S and Super Adventure R, and the 1090 Adventure R. 

I’ve been testing bikes for 10 years, but those have been more sports orientated bikes, so getting the chance to throw a leg over one of these adventure beasts was going to be different to say the least.

Not that I’m afraid of going in the dirt, because I trials ride, but that’s on a 67kg Gas Gas, the KTM Adventure 1290 R has 160hp and a dry weight of 217kg, so I knew I was going to be in for a whole new challenge.

Australian 2017 KTM Adventure range launchAustralian 2017 KTM Adventure range launch

Australian 2017 KTM Adventure range launch

With that said, with 270 overall world championships under KTM’s belt and 16 Dakar victories in a row, they can be no denying the fact that KTM knows how to put a quality winning bike together, with their adventure machinery offering good insight into this experience.

Tony putting the 1290 Super Adventure S through its paces on the tarmac

Tony putting the 1290 Super Adventure S through its paces on the tarmac

KTM 1290 Super Adventure S

There is no getting over the fact that adventure bikes are big and fairly heavy, so if you’re short you will struggle with the 860 to 875mm seat height (890mm for the R). Having said that, the ergonomics are spot on for my 6ft frame and you can tell that KTM have put a lot of effort into making the Super Adventure S a mile muncher.

Talking to Chris Birch, eight-time New Zealand Enduro champ and 2010 Red Bull Romaniacs winner, he said, “Just treat it like a big trials bike, they love to be ridden on the pegs and use your body weight to throw it around, especially in the tight rough stuff.”

2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S - To be treated like a 'big trails bike' according to Chris Birch

2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S – To be treated like a ‘big trails bike’ according to Chris Birch

The new 2017 model comes with a flash looking 6.5” TFT dash that works brilliantly in any light and is easy to read and operate, once you get the hang of it. Our test bikes were fitted with the optional $1700 Akrapovic exhaust, which sounded awesome. All the bikes were fitted with these, so I can’t say what the stock bike sounded like.

All the Super Adventures and Adventures at the Australian launch were fitted with optional Akrapovic exhausts

All the Super Adventures and Adventures at the Australian launch were fitted with optional Akrapovic exhausts

The S model comes standard with WP semi-active electronic suspension and this can be set to four different modes: Comfort, Street, Sport and Off road. A few manufactures are going down this route with electronic suspension and I think it’s a great thing, it allows a person with no suspension knowledge to simply change a setting for what ever riding they are doing – it’s easy as that.

Control of the electronics package via the left switchblock is easy, with plenty of options for varying riding needs

Control of the electronics package via the left switchblock is easy, with plenty of options for varying riding needs

I selected Street mode for our first 60km commuter leg, before we hit the fun bits. Lifting the bike off the side stand you can feel the weight, but surprisingly once on the move the bike feels nowhere near its weight. And the superlight hydraulic clutch is one of the best I’ve used.

WP semi-active electronic suspension offers easy adjustment at the press of a button

WP semi-active electronic suspension offers easy adjustment at the press of a button

Our 1290 test bikes were fitted with the optional $1000 Travel Pack, this includes the Quick Shifter +, Hill Hold Control (HHC) and Motor Slip Regulation (MSR), the quickshifter works well and allows for some additional excitement when clicking through the slick gearbox, but it’s not a necessity on a bike like this.

The Super Adventure S offers sporty road performance, with the off-road capabilities to get adventurous

The Super Adventure S offers sporty road performance, with the off-road capabilities to get adventurous

The seat if firm, but comfy and has a nice scalloped section to stop you sliding back too far, while at the front the S model has an adjustable windshield that can be lowered or raised, but did cause a bit of wind buffering noise to my helmet, although I’d be grateful for it in bad weather.

Through town the bike is great and without the optional panniers fitted lane splitting wasn’t a problem, the mirrors offer excellent visibility for carving through traffic safely and are pretty much blur free at any speed. My test bike was also able to find neutral every time as I pulled up to the lights, a problem that I’d heard about on the previous model.

On the open road and through the twisties the Super Adventure S offered plenty of fun

On the open road and through the twisties the Super Adventure S offered plenty of fun and was surprisingly fast

Once out on the open road I can see why this class of bikes are becoming more and more popular, with our dubious road surfaces and massive distances to cover, a flick of the mode switch can make a bad road more comfy and a twisty road more fun or a dirt road more manageable.

Talking of twisty roads, as a sports bike rider this is where the fun is and KTM have found some of the best in NSW to play on. The thing about the 1290 S that surprised me most is how fast the bike was on a really tight twisty road. The S model is fitted with alloy 19” front and a 17” rear unlike the more dirt orientated R model with its spoked 21” front and 18” rear.

In sport mode the 1290 Super Adventure S is a twisties beast!

In sport mode the 1290 Super Adventure S is a twisties beast!

With the bike in Sports mode changing direction is unbelievably fast, no doubt helped by the wide ‘bars and KTM doing there best to keep the majority of the bikes weight low in the frame. In fact, as I followed some of the other test riders down the mountain pass, I was thinking that this bike would certainly embarrass many a sports bike, leaving the rider red faced that they’d just been smoked by a big adventure bike.

It had been a long time since I’d ridden any big KTM V-twins and one thing that put a smile on my face was the fueling, it is so smooth now and KTM have to be commended on this. I was able to potter along through towns at low speed with no hint of jerky throttle or hunting – just nice smooth acceleration.

Formidable Brembo brakes ensure the Super Adventure S has plenty of stopping power with switchable ABS as standard

Formidable Brembo brakes ensure the Super Adventure S has plenty of stopping power with switchable ABS as standard

Helping stop the 1290’s 215kg are a set of four-piston Brembo calipers that grab hold of 320mm discs, the brakes are ABS of course, but the ABS is intelligent and alters its aggressiveness depending in what rider mode you’re in.

All the bikes are also fitted standard with traction control, thank God, because I had call to make full use of it when I got a bit carried away with the throttle, when I tried to lay all 160hp down coming out of a corner on fairly cold tyres. Luckily the computer worked its magic and saved me from sliding down the road.

The Super Adventure S handles the unsealed road and gravel well once switched to 'Off Road' mode

The Super Adventure S handles the unsealed road and gravel well once switched to ‘Off Road’ mode

We did take a few shortcuts down some gravel roads, probably four or five kilometres in total just to get a taste of what the 1290 S can do and the traction control is really intrusive until I switched into off road mode. This allowed me to get the back stepping out a bit, not enough to throw me off, but if you wanted to, you can switch everything off, including the ABS – I wasn’t that brave.

The 2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S opens a world of travel options

The 2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S opens a world of travel options

The bike felt stable and easy to control on the loose stuff and no doubt with more time on these type of roads, you could really start having some fun and more importantly it opens up a whole new world of travel options.

 

Cassons Ogio

 

The 1290 Super Adventure R is the more hardcore off-road offering of the two

The 1290 Super Adventure R is the more hardcore off-road offering of the two

KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

The next bike I rode was the 1290 R model, and we were meant to meet the dirt group at lunch and swap bikes, but due to a rider injury and two punctures my dirt time on the 1290 R and 1090 R was very limited in total, so I can’t fully comment on the bike’s off road ability. We will get both the 1290 R and 1090 R back for a full test as soon as possible.

Despite its size and weight the 1290 Super Adventure R handled the rough sections well

Despite its size and weight the 1290 Super Adventure R handled the rough sections well

The short time I did spend on it, was in some pretty rough and rocky sections and I was pleasantly surprised by how well the big bike coped, which is not surprising really when you think that KTM has won the Dakar race 16 time in a row – the toughest race on earth.

One thing that was obvious was the R model was noticeably taller at 890mm, no doubt due to the bigger and stronger spoked wheels. This made me a bit more conscious when maneuvering the bike around the tighter sections, even with my long legs if I were on a slope and needed to put my foot down I was struggling on the downhill side.

The 1290 R features the larger 21in wheel and a taller seat height and feels noticeably larger

The 1290 R features the larger 21in wheel and a taller seat height and feels noticeably larger

On the road I could tell instantly that the R and S models were totally different beasts to ride. Cornering the R is not as easy as the S model, with the taller wheels you have more of a gyroscopic effect and changing direction was noticeably slower. It really depends on what you want to do with your bike and where you’ll end up spending most of your time as to which bike you choose.

The 1290 R model's KTM racing orange frame stands out

The 1290 R model’s KTM racing orange frame stands out, with 160hp on tap from the V-twin engine

You can certainly spot the R model due to the KTM racing orange frame colour, along with the chunky tyres. The R model also has manual adjustment 48mm WP suspension, again more suited to off road capabilities and a noticeably stiffer set-up on our test bikes than the electronic road options you could choose on the S model.

This gives you an idea of the possibilities with the 1290 Super Adventure R... in the right hands...

This gives you an idea of the possibilities with the 1290 Super Adventure R… in the right hands…

If it was your own bike you would obviously have a lot more time to set the bike up how you like and have settings for road and dirt. In the dirt the Off Road mode allows for a little bit more play, KTM say that you get two full wheel rotations before the traction control takes over and in this mode it’s not as interfering as the road modes.

ABS also works better in this mode, and according to KTM the ABS needs to kick-in less on the dirt so it allows to tyres to grip deeper into the terrain, although again everything can but turned off if you want.

A redesigned crank offers better on/off throttle response and helps reduce bogging down off road

A redesigned crank offers better on/off throttle response and helps reduce bogging down off road

Also helping in the dirt and on the road is the new redesigned crank, this allows the bike to keep its momentum when on-off the throttle and stops the bike from bogging down at lower speeds, making for smoother acceleration.

A lean sensor (IMU) on the 1290 Super Adventure R is linked to the lights, giving 'cornering lights' so to speak

A lean sensor (IMU) on the 1290 Super Adventure R is linked to the lights (and traction control), giving ‘cornering lights’ so to speak

All the bike models were fitted with LED lights and as the light faded to dark we took full advantage of them as we headed back to our hotel for the night. The bike also has lean angle sensors for the traction control, but these also work as a clever feature on the side of the lights, the LED strip intensify on the side you’re leaning, giving you a better view of the corner at night.

 

Cassons Ogio

 

The smaller (1050cc) 1090 Adventure R offers a much lighter feeling package

The smaller (1050cc) 1090 Adventure R offers a much lighter feeling package

KTM 1090 Adventure R

The last bike I road, which by the way was fully in the dark by now, was the 1090 R and again with virtually no dirt time it was hard to make any real comparison.

One thing that was obvious was the weight difference or I should say weight feeling, because the true difference was only 10kg lighter at a total of 207kg dry, but it felt like 30kg lighter, which made it a bit less of a handful in the dirt.

Not me, but you get the idea!

Not me, but you get the idea!

The 1090 R is a whole $6000 cheaper than the 1290 R, which is a lot of money, but have any corners been cut? Well you get the same chassis, Brembo brakes with the multi-mode ABS, you get the four rider modes with traction control and you get the same adjustable 48mm WP suspension.

The 1090 Adventure R offers a smaller capacity engine with 125hp

The 1090 Adventure R offers a smaller capacity engine with 125hp

What you don’t get is the TFT display dash, instead you get a more conventional LCD dash, which again is easy to operate and read. The LC8 based engine is the same as in the 1290 although at a redesigned lower capacity. Being a 1090, (really a 1050cc) brings power down to 125hp and still has a healthy 109Nm of torque, which is not to be sniffed at.

Fueling is outstandingly smooth on the 1290 and 1090 Adventure models!

Fueling is outstandingly smooth on the 1290 and 1090 Adventure models!

On the road you can tell that power is down compared to the 1290, but it’s still really quick and fueling, as with its bigger brother, is still spot on and silky smooth. With the 23L fuel tank KTM claim a fuel range of more than 350km, which is pretty good,

It's hard to argue with the bang for buck of the 2017 KTM 1090 Adventure R

It’s hard to argue with the bang for buck of the 2017 KTM 1090 Adventure R

For myself; if I were to be buying an adventure bike I would be looking at the 1090 very closely, yes, it may not have the balls of the 1290 and some of the extras like cruise control and the TFT dash, but it’s still fast, very capable and at $19,955 it is 6k cheaper than the standard 1290 R.

Again the 1090 Adventure R was fitted with non-standard accessories like the exhaust, much like the 1290 R

Again the 1090 Adventure R was fitted with non-standard accessories like the exhaust, much like the 1290 R

Our 1290 R test bikes also had $4000 worth of options bringing the price up to $29,925 and I can’t wait till we can get the 1090 R back so I can give it a proper off-road test on some of my local tracks…

I'm looking forward to getting the 1090 R and 1290 R models back for more extensive testing...

I’m looking forward to getting the 1090 R and 1290 R models back for more extensive testing…

 

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The Adventure 1090 R and Super Adventure 1290 S models

The Adventure 1090 R and Super Adventure 1290 S models

Tech Talk – 1290 Super Adventure R, 1290 Super Adventure S & 1090 Adventure R

KTM’s 2017 Adventure bikes are based on the mighty 1190 RC8 R engine, which is not a bad thing, but has been re-designed specifically for the off/on road duties it will undergo. The capacity from the 1190 has been increased by the way of forged 108mm short skirt pistons, that are 48g lighter than the ones on the RC8 R and have been coated in Grafal for minimal friction and durability.

The lightweight crankshaft has a low rotational mass, which improves acceleration and engine response, along with a heaver flywheel mass, which helps keep the bikes smooth forward momentum at low speed. KTM has updated the cylinder heads with the same resonator chamber that is on the 2017 Super Duke R which helps improve overall smoothness and fuel efficiency.

2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S engine

2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S engine

The heads have four-valves per cylinder and feature twin spark plug ignition and have a low friction drive train and Formula 1-style DLC coated cam followers. The six-speed gearbox is fitted with a power assist slipper clutch, which reduces pressure on the disc plates when toque feedback towards the engine becomes too much. The clutch reduces rear wheel chatter and allows for lighter clutch springs – the result is a lighter smoother clutch action at the lever.

The KTM big adventure models share the same chrome-molybdenum frame with a few slight differences in wheelbase. The frame only weighs 9.8kg and has been laser-cut and robot welded for precise strength and durability.

The 1290 Super Adventure swingarm is die-cast alloy with an open lattice design

The 1290 Super Adventure swingarm is die-cast alloy with an open lattice design

The swingarm is made of alloy and has been die-cast with an open lattice design to allow for strength and torsional rigidity while keeping it lightweight.

WP where chosen as the supplier for the beefy 48mm suspension, which features Pre-load, compression and rebound and has a large 220mm of travel. The PDS (Progressive Damping System) rear shock is a direct mounted unit, which does away with a complicated linkage system and saves weight.

Forks are 49mm WP fully adjustable offerings, with the S model featuring electronic suspension adjustment

Forks are 49mm WP fully adjustable offerings, with the S model featuring electronic suspension adjustment

The Super Adventure S has the same dimension WP suspension package as the R model, although it features WP’s semi-active system. This works by an electronic controller that picks up information from sensors on fork and shock absorber The control unit regulates the damping of USD fork and shock absorber by opening and closing the hydraulic bores, this happens in real time and in micro seconds, so basically if the front wheel hits a pothole then the rear shock adjusts itself to take the punishment, depending on the parameters of the rider mode you are in at the time.

The 1290 models feature a keyless transponder than needs to be close to the bike to activate the ignition, the steering lock and the fuel tank lock is also electronically activated. They also have the new 6.5in TFT display, which is made from a strong anti-smear gorilla glass that adjusts in brightness depending on available light.

Both 1290 Super Adventure feature a new TFT display

Both 1290 Super Adventure feature a new TFT display

The display can be customised through a favourites menu on the left hand switch gear so you can display the info that’s more important to you. The 1290 has a waterproof Smartphone compartment with a USB charger although I watched another test rider try to charge his phone, giving up due to lack or room for the phone and cable. The TFT can also accept incoming calls, but only via the optional KTM My Ride function.

MTC (Motorcycle Traction Control) and Rider Modes are standard on all models and are effective depending on which rider mode you choose and the lean angle you are at, via lean angle sensors. For example, in rain mode the MTC intervenes early and power is reduced to 100hp and throttle response is smoothed out. In street mode you get full power, but a smoother throttle response and the MTC is kicking in less than in rain mode.

2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

For sports mode throttle response is sharpened and the MTC allows for a slight drift of the rear wheel, without getting too out of control. Off road mode gives you 100 percent slippage – i.e. double the wheel speed of the front wheel. The ABS system is adjusted in all rider modes, intervening sooner or later depending on which mode you are in and is combined with lean angle sensors, making corner braking a much safer prospect.

Each of these modes can be turned off if you wish, but will revert back to on if the ignition is turned off then back on, unless you have the optional $150 dongle inserted.

The 1290 also has cruise control, which is now operated from the left hand switch control. The control is brake and throttle sensitive, meaning if you hit the brakes or the throttle, cruise control is automatically disengaged.

 

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2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S

2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S

SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S

Price: $23,995 + ORC ($26,975 as tested)
Warranty: Two years/unlimited kilometre
Colours: Black/Orange

Claimed power: 118kW[160hp]@8750rpm
Claimed torque: 140Nm[103ft-lbs]@6750rpm
Dry weight: 215kg
Fuel capacity: 23L

Engine: Four-stroke, Liquid-cooled, four-stroke, 75° V-twin, 1301cc, EFI, 52mm x 2 Keihin throttles bodies
Gearbox: Six speed
Clutch: slipper clutch, hydraulically actuated
Final drive: Sealed chain

Chassis: Chromium-Molybdenum steel trellis frame, Steering head angle 64 ° 123mm trail
Suspension: WP Semi-active USD 48mm forks, WP Semi-active suspension monoshock
Brakes: Dual Brembo four-piston radial fixed calipers, 320mm floating rotors, rear Single Brembo twin-piston fixed caliper, 267mm brake rotor

Wheels & Tyres: Cast alloy wheels, 3.50 x 19in (f) and 5.00 x 17in (r), 120/70 – 19, 170/50 – 17

DIMENSIONS:
Wheelbase: 1560mm
Seat height: 860mm

Instruments: 6.5” TFT display

2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

Price: $25,995 + ORC ($29,925 as tested)
Warranty: Two years/unlimited kilometre
Colours: White/Orange

Claimed power: 118kW[160hp]@8750rpm
Claimed torque: 140Nm[103ft-lbs]@6750rpm
Dry weight: 217kg
Fuel capacity: 23L

Engine: Four-stroke, Liquid-cooled, four-stroke, 75° V-twin, 1301cc, EFI, 52mm x 2 Keihin throttles bodies
Gearbox: Six speed
Clutch: slipper clutch, hydraulically actuated
Final drive: Sealed chain

Chassis: Chromium-Molybdenum steel trellis frame, Steering head angle 64 °
Suspension: WP fully adjustable USD 48mm forks, WP fully adjustable monoshock
Brakes: Dual Brembo four-piston radial fixed caliper, 320mm floating rotors, rear Single Brembo twin-piston fixed caliper, 267mm brake rotor
Wheels & Tyres: Spoked alloy tubeless rims, 2.5 x 21in (f) and 4.50 x 18in (r),  90/90 – 21, 150/70 – 18

DIMENSIONS:
Wheelbase: 1580mm
Seat height: 890mm

Instruments: 6.5” TFT display

2017 KTM 1090 Adventure R

2017 KTM 1090 Adventure R

SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 KTM 1090 Adventure R

Price: $19,995 + ORC ($22,685 as tested)
Warranty: Two years/unlimited kilometre
Colours: White/Black

Claimed power: 92kW [125hp]@8500rpm
Claimed torque: 109Nm [80.3ft-lbs]@6500rpm
Dry weight: 207kg
Fuel capacity: 23L

Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, 75° V-twin, 1050cc, EFI, two 52mm Keihin throttles bodies
Gearbox: Six speed
Clutch: slipper clutch, hydraulically actuated
Final drive: Sealed chain

Chassis: Chromium-Molybdenum steel trellis frame, Steering head angle 64 °
Suspension: WP fully adjustable USD 48mm forks, shock WP fully adjustable monoshock
Brakes: Dual Brembo four-piston radial fixed caliper, 320mm brake rotors, floating, rear Single Brembo twin-piston fixed caliper, 267mm brake rotor
Wheels & Tyres: Spoked alloy tubeless rims, 2.50 x 21in (f) and 4.50 x 18in (r),  90/90 – 21, 150/70 – 18

DIMENSIONS:
Wheelbase: 1580mm
Seat height: 890mm

Instruments: LCD display

 

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