KTM 990 SM T Ash On Bikes

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KTM 990 Adventure

KTM 990 SM T

Touring supermoto: it-s to think of any two motorcycle categories conflict more than A racing Gold Wing or a motocross scooter? Well pretty much what KTM has with its new 990 SM T, although it-s back slightly and says the T for Travel rather than Even so, the intent is clear: is a supermoto (hard edged, hyper agile, barking meant for covering good on everyday roads.

So, which is the compromised then, the supermoto or the

Click on image for gallery neither. In fact, the SM T is one of the most motorcycles I-ve ridden in the year (and that Ducati-s seminal 1198 S) also one of the most exciting. we scoffed when BMW said you have a big capacity, twin-cylinder bike back in 1980 the R80G/S, and the Germans have alright with the concept And KTM is going to do very well with the SM T.

The bike is based on the fun-focussed 990 SM, using the same chassis and 75 degree, liquid-cooled engine. Indeed, the only between SM and SM T engines is the T has a new oil level glass, otherwise it makes the 114bhp at 9000rpm and 97Nm of 2000rpm lower. The suspension is on the SM T, with reduced travel, there-s a still-generous 160mm at the and 200mm at the rear, compared the SM-s 200/210mm.

Brakes are state-of-the-art, radially-mounted, Brembo Monobloc callipers up while forks and shock from KTM-owned WP. Wheels are by so the spec is high throughout.

you also get with the SM T is a frame-mounted fairing incorporating the single and a small screen, and a plush some 20mm lower the SM-s, as well as a big 19 litre tank. And perhaps the oddest of there are attachment points on of the high rise twin heat shields for quickly panniers.

It-s easy to get up in the focus on the bike itself, it does and what it-s to be, but it-s also significant to KTM for reason: as motorcycle markets been changing, so KTM is trying a new way of branching out into making which don-t instantly you have to have a national race licence for the privilege of one. As spokesman Tomas says: -We have built an around our products that-s all winning and speed which pressure on KTM riders to always go But the SM T is a first for us, it-s not intimidating in the way as other KTMs and you don-t to go fast on it.-

Hmm, I can see what he means- but when you sling a leg over the SM T, you try and not go fast!

First impression is of a compact bike which is comfortable. The seat is soft and shaped, the bars are fairly and quite close to you and it-s not a stretch to the ground like KTMs (although it-s not so low that shorter riders be flocking to KTM showrooms-).

Fire up the and you-re greeted by the familiar KTM clatter of eager pistons, so it into gear and let them do thing- The motor is a gem, so strong in the 4,000-7,000rpm you really need to rev it out to get the most from it, it happily will spin if you feel the urge. On the kinds of country roads we rode Portugal-s new and fabulous Portimao this bike was breathtaking, KTM-shaped excitement and probably as as any other bike you could on this type of terrain. But not being quickest that it-s the pleasure of using the thrust which is the real the throttle response at these is absolutely precise and crisp, and the drives you out of corners so eagerly it has you into your helmet.

You just don-t want to especially when the engine is and abetted with such balance by the supreme chassis. You do get supermoto agility but thanks to reduction in wheel travel, much more manageable. there-s a fair amount of when you brake, but it isn-t the emergency descent of the SM, while the quality of the suspension is sublime, one of the of any recent road bike ridden in fact.

The control at speed over very roads is astonishing, while the quality and consequent comfort are better than most touring bikes.

KTM says its engineers spent a very time getting the suspension just right, and it really show. The surprise in fact is how soft the standard settings for a while you-re thinking soon need to switch to the sport settings recommended by but with time on board you that it works so well as it is, you can have it set up soft at the same as riding the bike like a and it just refuses to get out of shape.

the sport set-up does it an extra edge and even feedback, so use that for your local outings, otherwise it on standard and you can cope with and everything. You can tweak it the other way if you want, although I didn-t time to try this too, but I imagine wanting an even ride than the one I had.

Another surprise is how well the forks cope with extreme braking, and with epic Brembos ripping off tyre tread that should raise some The stopping power is immense, yet diving hard into hairpins there seems to suspension movement left to with ripples and roughness, the stoppers themselves add to the whole of the SM T with their own fabulous

Fortunately they-re not set up like superbikes, notably the Ducati with such ferocious you feel like more a finger on the lever would be too Instead they-re more and easier to manage, though just grab a big handful these are still a mighty pair of brakes.

Could you on it? The fuel range I managed was 110 miles before the low level lit up, but this was hard riding at speeds, including a long, out motorway section where the topped out at 224kph (139mph). probably a low 130-s mph with optimism removed, but a committed in the right conditions could a true 140mph from the

Oh yes, touring, I forgot- but I the SM T for egging me on this way. In normal, less licence-threatening I-d expect 130 miles to reserve I-ll be trying one in the UK soon to this and other aspects), is okay if unremarkable, but comfort is fine. That small takes the muscle out of the windblast so you can at up to three figure speeds ones-) without having to down or strain, and in fact the screen is not very tall, the buffeting hits you just neck level so your and helmet aren’t beaten up by the

You won-t get much luggage in the panniers (which aren-t although there is a rack and you also fit a tankbag, so one person manage, although two would — a shame as the rear is comfortable, if not as spacious as on pure bikes. And I suspect it won-t be before aftermarket luggage start creating bigger which clip onto very effective mounting

So yes, you could tour, and the range might be a little the bike hits back its amazing ride quality. there-s the riding pleasure, no touring bike comes close to — one tug of the handlebars and the SM T is from stable, comfy into highly flickable road weapon, beautifully from high speeds to full lock U-turns, are trial bike tight and so on this machine, you can come to a stop without putting a down.

I thought bike of the year had sewn up by the 1198 S, and that-s the ultimate track tool, but as far as world road bikes go, the KTM horse has just reared its it has everything from cosseting to supreme agility with an of excitement and saturated satisfaction. It cheap at almost £10,000, but of it as so many, so good bikes in the one and suddenly it looks like a bargain.

Price: £9,595

End March, 2009

Contact: KTM UK Ltd, 01280 709511,

KTM 990 Adventure
KTM 990 Adventure
KTM 990 Adventure
KTM 990 Adventure

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