KTM 990 Adventure ABS

Review Detail

Last updated: June 12, 2009

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful

After 22 months and 16500 miles of KTM 990 Adventure ownership. I feel I am now qualified to comment on the ownership experience of the large Austrian. I arrived in adventurebikeland after 30 years of large sports tourers, Pan Europeans and K series BMWs, a whole raft of small capacity Japanese bikes and at one point a Harley Davidson 1200 sportster.

I bought my first adventure bike. a 650 Honda Transalp. when I fancied something lighter and more economical than the Honda Pan European. but almost immediately missed the power of the Pan. not all the time. just two up and during those hurried overtakes we all do at some point. What the Transalp did do however. was hook me into the adventure bike thing.

I always struggle for words to describe the difference between a tourer and an adventure bike – it’s that thing that makes you want to go down that side road. just because it’s there. and makes you wonder where it leads. You don’t do that on a traditional tourer for some reason. I would have passed the side road on the Pan as it ate the miles to my original destination.

It’s that thing that makes you seek out the back roads and less travelled routes. it’s that thing the keeps you late for tea. because you’ve found something more interesting to look for. But, as I say, The Transalp just lacked a little oomph when you needed it. So a more powerful trailie was sought.

It boiled down to a straight fight between the KTM 990 and the BMW1200GS. The BMW is a good bike. in fact a great bike, and I would have been happy to own it. I think. but the £2000 difference in cost for similar spec’d bikes and the general attitude of the BMW dealer. swung the deal in favour of the KTM.

So how has it been over the last year and ten months. It’s a fast, great handling,beautifully sounding bike with superb road presence. It’s quite comfortable over distance. having covered John o Groats to land’s End and back in two days and the only real ache was my right wrist (holding the throttle in a fixed position). a Crampbuster throttle paddle thingy was purchased the day after completing the charity ride. I use my bikes all year round for commuting and it has been flawless.

The general finsh of the bike has held up well to the two West of Scotland winters it has endured. just some very (and I mean VERY) slight corrosion on one or two spokes in the front wheel.

For a claimed overlander it does have a fairly limited fuel tank (19.5 litres /4.3 gallons) which gives a modest tank range at (the approx) 42MPG it returns. You can get as much as 47- 48MPG if you are on a long journey and behave. but for normal riding, commuting and exploring, it’s around 42mpg.

The bike came with ABS and Hepco and Becker Gobi panniers as standard fit. The aftermarket equipment catalogue is fairly extensive and my bike is equiped with. the matching HB topbox. crashbars. Akraprovic cans (OOO! sweet music!!), tripmaster switch ( to transfer the dashboard functions to a switch on the handlebar), alarm and heated grips.

All this is from the KTM catalogue. I also have a heavy duty sumpguard. radiator guard, rearbrake master cyclinder cover. large brake pedal and fatfoot on the side stand from the Rugged Roads catalogue. www.ruggedroads.co.uk

The general reliability has been good. I can report only one oh shit with an early life failure of the fuel pump at 1600 miles. The back-up from KTM and their dealer was excellent on that occaision. the dealer came to pick-up my bike with a van. brought a loaner bike, and swapped them over. fixed it – no drama.

Servicing is required every 4500 miles, alternating between a small service at 4500 and a large service at 9000. the engine is quite fussy about it’s bucket shim clearances and that takes time on the 9000 service.

Time means money of course. Small services around £200 – large services around £400.

What is good. power. sound, finish. road presence. comfort

What is not so good. fuel capacity, service costs.

I also like some of the quirkyness of the Austrian design. the angular look. and things like the twin saddle tanks with their twin filler caps always starts a converstion at filling stations.

The KTM 990 range has had a slight makeover for 2009 with some extra HP squeezed out the LC8 mill. fresh graphics and the S version ( higher suspension, no ABS, more offroad focused) now called the R version. but basically the same as the 2006 – 2008 models.

Would I have another. Yes with no hesitation. but not yet. I love this one too much and have no reason to change not even for the few extra HP of the 2009 models.

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