Twenty-thirteen may be the year of the adventure tourer, with BMW’s new liquid-cooled GS joining the existing fleet of big trail bikes from almost all the major manufacturers. But KTM did a cannonball into the kiddie pool when it announced its redesigned 1190 Adventure, equipped with a 148-horsepower version of its RC8R superbike engine. And if that kind of power doesn’t woo you, other new features—like tubeless radial tires, electronic suspension adjustment and serious instrumentation—will.
The liquid-cooled, 75-degree, 1195cc V-Twin comes out of KTM’s RC8R, replacing the less-sophisticated powerplant in the prior version of KTM’s Adventure, Supermoto R and Supermoto T. This motor’s technical prowess would take a few hundred words to describe fully, but it’s compact, light and very powerful for a V-Twin. It features a slipper clutch, ride-by-wire throttle, multi-mode traction control and 9300-mile service intervals. KTM also promises better fuel economy—20 percent better, in fact—which means “desert use” range when coupled with the 5.8-gallon tank.
Brakes, wheels, suspension, styling and chassis are heavily upgraded, moving the Adventure towards a heavier pavement bias. Combined ABS Brembo brakes with radial-mount four-piston calipers are standard, as is the Electronic Damping System, which lets the rider select spring preload and damping settings on the fly. Tires are radial, in a 120/70-19 front (the first bike to use that size) and 170/60-17 rear (I’m assuming they are radial, given the sizes—KTM doesn’t say they are radial in the press materials) as well as tubeless, thanks to KTM’s patented airtight rim bead. Styling is also freshened, with a big, wide adjustable windscreen and an info-packed VDO instrument panel. Big brakes and wide, sticky radial tires point toward KTM’s possible desire for a more road-oriented market, even if the suspension retains almost 8 inches of travel.
The most dramatic feature may be value. KTM promises an “affordable entry-level price” for a bike loaded with standard features. KTM hasn’t released USA pricing, but somewhere below the (2012)base-model, $16,150 BMW R1200G may be the place to start. That’s a good value, especially compared to Ducati’s 1200 Multistrada, which makes similar horsepower (but is also somewhat lighter than the KTM). Stay tuned for a supersport adventure-tourer comparo.