Test ride: Mixing it up – KTM 890 SMT

We don’t all have the luxury of being able to own multiple motorbikes to match our every mood and type of riding.

So you want that one-size-fits-all motorbike that can happily munch miles on the motorway as well as being a blast on back roads.

KTM has revived its SMT concept – Supermoto Tourer – designed to combine the touring ability of an adventure bike and the fun factor of a sports model.

It’s an interesting concept, as is the look with high off-road style front mudguard, as part of the double fender design, and chunky, angular styling for a strong, muscular character.

I was not sold on the concept, even after seeing it in the metal, and expected it to be a compromise. But this SMT delivers what the badge promises.

Despite its adventure bike looks, this sports tourer is more suited to life on the road than off it but KTM has that covered with the 890 Adventure and Adventure R.

The SMT’s 889cc parallel twin engine is tuned like the Adventure models, with 105PS at 8,000rpm and 100Nm of torque at 6,500rpm, and has more torque but less power than the Duke, R and GP models.

It has plenty of grunt, pulling from low revs and delivering strong mid-range performance. Switch from Street to Sport riding mode (there is also Rain and optional Track) and the throttle response is sharpened, making it even more rewarding on twisty roads.

It’s also pretty good on fuel too with an indicated 63mpg overall which, combined with a 15.8-litre tank, gives a useful touring range.

Twin 320mm front discs, and a 260mm rear one, provide good feel for powerful, controlled braking.

Manual fully-adjustable front forks and a rear shock with adjustment for rebound damping and spring preload mean you can change the character of the SMT very quickly, with suggested settings for agile, nimble handling through the twists and turns to more cosseting ride for long-distance touring comfort.

The SMT rides on 17in wheels, front and back, with road-focused tyres which add to the nimble feel through corners.

I didn’t play with the suspension settings but was impressed by the levels of comfort and grippy roadholding which inspires confidence. The single-piece supermoto-style seat also does a good job of cushioning rider and pillion on poor road surfaces.

Talking of seats, I find many big KTMs too high for me to ride safely but the SMT’s 860mm seat height meant I could get the balls of both feet on the ground. The riding position feels very natural, even for shorter riders, with wide bars making it easy to manoeuvre the SMT in traffic and the open road.

A short wind deflector does a surprisingly good job of protecting the rider when touring at speed.

The five-inch TFT display is easy to read and the settings menus are intuitive and easy to use, even on the move.

The SMT comes with a good level of rider aids, ride modes, ABS and traction control features which can be enhanced with optional add-ons such as Quickshifter+, cruise control and smartphone connectivity. A demo mode, on new bikes, means you can try before you buy by testing out the options for just over 900 miles.

The SMT starts at £12,499 and can be kitted out with a topbox and panniers for touring.

The original KTM 990 SMT, launched in 2009, gained a cult following – this new model looks set to follow in its tyre tracks.

Find out more about the KTM 890 SMT.