Quick Test: 2010 KTM 990 Supermoto T
Engine type: Twin-cylinder four-stroke DOHC
Bore x stroke: 101 x 62.4mm
Compression ratio: 11.5:1
Fuel system: EFI
Transmission: Six speed
Fuel capacity: 19 litres
Frame type: Chromium-molybdenum trellis frame
Weight (claimed, dry): 196 kilograms
Wheelbase: 1540 (+10) mm
Seat height: 875mm
Price: $20,995 plus on-road costs
Colour options: Black/Orange or Black/Grey
Test bike: KTM Australia
KTM’s on-road segment is headlined by the RC8R superbike, however the list of road going models in KTM’s ever expanding range features some of the most unique in motorcycling.
The 990 Supermoto T forms one half of KTM’s big bore 990 SM fleet, the T indicating that this particular ride is destined for touring, while its R sibling is has a slightly sportier flavour.
Don’t let that fool you though, because as we’re about to find out, the 990 SM T packs one heck of a punch in the engine department, also proving surprisingly nimble in the handling stakes.
Come for a quick spin and find out for yourself just what this bike ride’s like!
DESIGN AND STYLING
In looking at the 990 SM T’s styling you can see its touring nature from the outset, although its sporty side isn’t hidden too far beneath the KTM Power Part panniers that came fitted on our test bike.
While certainly capable of going the long haul, the 990 SM T isn’t an absolute all-out tourer from the ground up, featuring nakedbike styling with large shrouds, plus a sizeable windshield and hand guards to assist in wind protection.
It’s not as sharp as its R brother, however the T has a great balance between long distance cruising and short, sharp joy rides. You won’t look out of place on the highway or in the city streets on the 990 SM T.
On first glance at the 990 SM T you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s just another ill-handling, heavy, touring bike, but as we’ve seen a lot in recent times, just because it’s a tourer doesn’t mean it won’t go around corners.
Combined with the engine’s light weight of 58 kilograms and the chromium-molybdenum frame of 11 kilos, the SM T hits the scales at a claimed weight of just 196 kilograms – just seven more than the R model.
It’s got a short wheelbase at 1540mm, with a steep steering head angle of 64.6 degrees, making it sporty in its handling character, albeit still stable when riding at speed.
You’ll find its ergonomics comfortable with the gel seat that’s also comfy for a passenger, while the high-placed motocross-style handlebars mean you’ll feel in control at all times.
The WP 48mm upside-down forks are firm but handle bumps accordingly and offer good front tyre grip in corners, while the WP monoshock also makes for a smooth ride on bumpy surfaces while also providing good grip on corner exits.
As for braking, the twin Brembo 305mm disc brakes with four-piston callipers are absolutely powerful, with the Brembo 240mm, two-piston rear brake is also consistently strong.
With a seat height of 855mm and a ground clearance of 195mm, KTM’s 990 SM T makes for a very suitable all-rounder that you’ll find enjoyable to ride on the road or dirt.
You’ll be comfortable whether riding two-up or alone on the 990 SM T.
As soon as you accelerate out of the driveway on the 990 SM T you’ll be surprised by the outright grunt that it’s packing in the 999cc twin-cylinder DOHC LC8 engine.
KTM claims it’s got 115 horsepower with 97Nm of torque at 7000rpm, and I wouldn’t argue with those figures after experiencing the joy in my time with the bike after a few weeks.
There’s power from the very bottom of the powerband as soon as you accelerate, which is applied is a smooth fashion thanks to its Keihin electronic fuel injection system.
Pick any one of the six gears available and the engine will pull it accordingly on most occasions, although using a bit of clutch when changing up through the transmission will help smoothen out the shifting process.
The LC8 base engine is shared with the likes of the 990 SM R, Super Duke and Adventure range, offering a broad spread of power that will be sure to help you raise a smile with every throttle twist.
Its fuel tank expansion from 15 litres on the R model to 19 litres on the T also comes in handy on the long haul, making for KTM’s most touring-based bike available on the market.
PERFORMANCE VS. PRACTICALITY
The balance between being a touring bike or a sportsbike is compromised from both sides of the equation when it comes to the 990 SM T, however it does both aspects reasonably well.
While you’ll love short stints down your favourite local streets on this one, fitting the aftermarket panniers and riding down to Phillip Island for the grand prix or similar will also be handled without too much of a fuss.
The dash and instruments are simple to use with just minimal options made up within the digital panel with the tachometre remains of the analogue type, adding to the practicality points in its clean finish.
Plus, you just can’t go past the tie-down points on the bike, with plenty of room for packing and baggage in one tidy package.
They may be an extra from the KTM Power Part catalogue, but the panniers are a must if you’re planning on clocking big kays.
7/10 – KTM’s 990 SM T provides a solid all-round motorcycle that offers a rush from the first twist of the throttle, but is still comfy enough for the long haul.
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