KTM 1190 Adventure R: the real deal?

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In its communications discussing the bike, KTM goes to great lengths to acknowledge the unique capability of the original 950/990 Adventure, going on to suggest that the new non-R 1190 expands the brands appeal into the larger circle of riders who don’t take their big, shiny dirt bikes off road, then stating that the R will be the bike for those that do. With more weight and more complication than the original, how will the KTM 1190 Adventure R do that?

It’s easy to tell the two model apart. The R has crash bars on the side. But the other differences should add up to a genuine mechanical, functional distinction between the two models: “Larger wheels – 21 inches front, 18 inch rear – a full 220 millimetres of suspension travel front and rear as well as rougher tire treads distinguish the R from the 1190 Adventure, optimizing cross country mobility,” states KTM. “To compensate for slightly higher steering forces, it has wider handlebars; because of the longer suspension travel, seat height is higher; and there is a sturdy crash bar for increased protection. In addition, a lower windshield and different graphics help distinguish the R from its sister model.”

Suspension is also fully adjustable WP front and rear, but the model retains the base version’s linked ABS brakes and switchable traction control.


It’s those larger wheels (genuine dirt sizes), greater suspension travel and increased adjustability that are going to make the big difference, although the more stand-friendly ergonomics should help too.

What KTM can’t communicate in writing and what we can’t pass judgement on without riding are all the little things that made the 950/990 feel like an actual dirt bike: it was overbuilt, meaning it could survive crashes and handle user servicing; its engine punched like a single; its handling was endowed with a level of intuitiveness and feel that had to be experienced to be believed; and the whole thing just felt like a dirt bike that’d been scaled up in Photoshop rather than a big, heavy road bike wearing knobbies. All that made the old Adventure utterly unique and utterly capable, two plaudits we sincerely hope we can attach to this new 1190 R.

Here’s the gallery.

  • http://www.BrewSmith.com.au dux [87 CBR600, 95 XR600R]

    Spoked wheels do not make a dirt bike.

  • PenguinScotty

    I definitely need to try this thing. HIGHLY doubt that it’ll be as capable as the 950/990s, but KTM may have pulled something out of the hat. Weight is everything and every time i jump on the 950 after riding the 450, i almost get leg cramps, so i can’t imagine how much different said weight difference will be.

    I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, but i don’t think it’ll be as capable offroad. Then again, what was the competition for the 950/990 at the time? KLRs are singles and much smaller and GSs and Teneres are more street bikes. We’ll see, i guess.

  • Robert M

    The KTM site says the spoked rims, including the 21″, are tubeless. This is huge when it comes to flat repair.

  • Beewill

    Evidence to the theory that the design will not live up to the 950/990 is in picture #7. Notice the already dented low header on the front in a marketing photo.

  • pplassm

    You missed the real news. Rumor has it the Freeride 350 and Freeride E will be offwered in the US this year.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      We don’t print rumor. If those bikes make it to US shores, we’ll tell you about it.

  • http://www.tripleclamp.net Sasha Pave

    Wes you summed it up nicely in the last paragraph except for the “user servicing” part for the 950. Even for a carbureted bike it was very complicated to do anything more than change the oil. Just removing the tanks involved some commitment. But still, probably not as complicated as this new beast.

    Although the improvements to the R model are welcome, and will provide better off-road handling, it seems to stray far away from the original 950 concept: Something that is designed to win the Dakar.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Yeah, it was elaborate, but high quality components and a good tool kit made it possible. Remember, I’m mostly used to street bikes, so anything beyond fixing a flat tire requires speciality tools and much swearing these days.

      • http://www.tripleclamp.net Sasha Pave

        True, KTM does a nice job with the components and especially the toolkits. It helps that their experience is with competition dirt bikes which are built to be torn apart after every race. Shit, with a 13mm wrench and 8mm socket, you could pretty much strip down a KTM RFS to the crank.

    • Campisi

      In my experience, the key to user servicing is overbuilt hardware. Even the simplest jobs become a frustrating mess when every single bolt and nut needs a torque wrench to avoid snapping things.

      • http://www.tripleclamp.net Sasha Pave

        I agree. Honda used to do a great job of this and overbuilt the crap out of everything.

        I forgot where I read the interview with the designer of the FT500 ascot. His original concept was a screaming lightweight flat-tracker which Honda then over-engineered into a tank that would last through a zombie apocalypse.

  • AHA

    Like Wes, I really hope this rides as well as the 950/990 ADVs.

    But why anyone not in the Dakar would want to take more than 450cc off-road beats me.

    • PenguinScotty

      I can only speak of my own experiences, but having an ACTUAL adventure bike that can do both On and Offroad well, is rather nice, especially for long distance travel.

      My 450 is awesome for dirt riding and hooliganism, and even on the street, with SuperMoto setup, it’s fun as poop. But regardless, you can never get the same amount of gear on it and you won’t be able to travel as far due to it being a dirtbike.

      If you get a street cruiser or touring bike, you have comfort and luggage space, but can’t take that thing offroad at all.

      That’s why i think bikes like a KLR or the 640 Adventure were great bikes for stuff like that. Even the 950/990 adventures, albeit they are SUPER heavy for offroad (Albeit somewhat manageable).

      Another major advantage of running a bigger engine and not a race-derived one, is service. Long distance travel is all about that, really.

      But i completely agree. If you’re doing all offroad and don’t travel around the world, having something so insane big does not make a whole lot of sense.