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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.

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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.

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