Review for KTM 990 Adventure, KTM 990 A or?

16 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Review for KTM 990 Adventure, KTM 990 A or?
KTM 990 Adventure

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful

When I told my boss what to do with his job and disappeared off to ride across Africa in 2007 I was presented with really only two choices of bike at the time on which to do it: the BMW F1200GS; and the KTM 990 Adventure. I had already ridden across Europe on a 1999 British spec Suzuki Hayabusa, which really only has one thing I ‘really, really’ liked. it would do 300kph+. and at that time nothing faster. Autobahn here I come. and I did.

I had also ridden across South East Asia on an Aprilia Pegaso 650 which was just right for the roads and jungle treks of Malaysia and Thailand, engine a bit gutless, not a true off roader, but as 11 year old who used to bring the cows up from the meadows on the farm in Staffordshire on a Matchless 500..it was perfectly OK by me. and the rest of the time was a commuter in Singapore.

In 2007 I find myself in Cape Town and my first test drive was on the BMW 1200GS Adventure and after leaving my beloved R1 in Hong Kong where I previously lived it felt, how do I say, a bit like bringing the cows up on a Matchless 500! But it was the bike the Long Way Down guys were using at that time in Africa and designed for the job of crossing continents and being reliable. I wasn’t really sure what to expect and what was needed.

I had yet to meet the surface of the road less traveled. sand and gravel! Anyway, I then headed off to KTM Western Cape and got my hands on the KTM 990 Adventure in black and grey with Dakar badges on and adventure written in bold orange etc. and exhausts with the words Akropovik on. I’d never heard of them, but its a word a bit like Kalashnikov and so must be the exhaust world equivalent.

As soon as I got on the bike the grin started and didn’t leave my face until I was told the price. Everything in South Africa is expensive nowadays as the rich are very rich and the majority of the poor are very poor and getting poorer.

After traveling across Africa twice on this bike, on gravel, tar, sand and occasionally down rivers and streams fully laden with all my kit it is the real deal. It went round corners like a sports bike, and handled the off road like an enduro. Nothing really went wrong with it that wasn’t my own fault (chain eating the swing arm because of poor adjustment and maintenance, some wires rubbed and shorted the fuse).

The fuel capacity is not great, but I took a 10 litre plastic jerrycan with me that I filled when I thought I might need it and that added another 100+kms. Occasionally I put some crap fuel in it and the EFi seemed to handle it OK. I could make ground at 160kph all day if I felt like it and push it to 200kph for a blast. Seat was comfortable as any that you sit on for 8 + hours a day.


As ex military I have sat on worse. I could stand on pegs all day if I wanted to. I later added a touring windshield and wish I had done so earlier.

Sand. it was a pig, but as my skill improved I seemed to handle whatever was presented in front of me and when said and done the handling of any bike is largely down to confidence and experience rather than anything technical. and for that you have to get on the bike do it.

Now I plan a ride around the world and new contenders on the block that meet the sweet spot of weight, power and robustness are Yamaha XT660Z Tenere. which seems to have come back into the fold after the XT500 glory days, the BMW F800GS and Triumph’s 800XC. are now designed for the job. Unfortunately I can’t wait for KTM’s new 800 Adventure (and a 1200 Adventure and a 650 for Africa) which may be the dream bike.

I have an enormous fondness for the KTM and out of 30 odd bikes I have owned since a kid its my favourite. However, as I am traveling with a Chinese team this time the decision isn’t entirely mine. Cost, reliability, seat height, and ability to repair and maintain on the road are going to be key factors.

But for me. KTM is the true big grin adventure bike.

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