KTM heralds a new Adventure

Motoring journalist Andy Russell reviews the KTM 790 Adventure R...


KTM is a make of motorbike that has largely passed me by… I’m sure I’m not alone.

I’ve always seen them as raw, rugged off-road bikes and racing thoroughbreds and certainly not something that fits my riding.

So I was surprised to learn that KTM has gone from low-volume, niche bikes to being a regular top six selling brand in the UK over the last two years, even outselling one of the big four Japanese marques.

I’ve never ridden one but that all changed when it was suggested I might like to try the KTM 790 Adventure R, a popular choice and one of the bikes on the new demo fleet.

Unfortunately with my short legs, and that model’s high seat, my feet were dangling well short of the road, even with the bike on the sidestand.

Undaunted, I swung my leg over the more road-biased 790 Adventure, a much better fit with less ground clearance and suspension travel, which retains off-road wheel sizes of 21” front and 18” rear.

The 799cc parallel twin engine, putting out 95bhp at 8,000rpm and 65ft/lb torque at 6,600rpm, chatters away at tickover and can feel a little lumpy at low revs but comes alive above 5,000rpm. Weighing 189kg, considerably less than its rivals, it makes for punchy mid-range performance and brisk top-end response.

The six-speed gearbox’s light shift takes time to get used to but is quick and slick once mastered. And it stops as well as it goes with powerful, progressive brakes.

With road-biased tyres, a well-sorted set-up and low centre of gravity, this sporty travel bike is agile on twisty roads, with a steering damper to aid stability, but able to go off the beaten track. That said, the suspension – the rear shock is adjustable for pre-load but the forks are non-adjustable – is firmer than some rivals but, fortunately, the comfortable seat takes some of the sting out of rough surfaces.

The 790 Adventure’s light weight and compact dimensions make it as easy to manoeuvre in heavy traffic as on rough terrain.

The clear and simple TFT fascia is a model of efficiency, easy to take in information at a quick glance.

If you’re used to Japanese bikes, the £11,299 KTM Adventure feels very different to ride but you soon grow to appreciate its talents.

It’s different and that’s a key part of its appeal to riders looking to stand out from the crowd.