KTM’s 1190 Adventure is a remarkable motorcycle, and we have taken our time evaluating every aspect of this machine. Beginning with our riding impression from the European press launch, we followed with parts 1 and 2 of a longer-term evaluation. In this part 3, we tried to ride the KTM 1190 Adventure aggressively off-road to see how well it responded.
Keep in mind that we are testing the standard version, and that KTM offers a more off-road capable version known as the 1190 Adventure R. The bike we tested has a 19 inch front wheel, as opposed to a 21 on the other model, and the tread pattern on the tires of our test unit is biased towards road use.
Nevertheless, we are very impressed with the ability of the big 1190 Adventure to tackle various off-road conditions with confidence.
To begin with, we dialed the electronically adjustable suspension and traction control settings to “off-road”, which not only changes the suspension, but allows a bit more rear wheel spin and the ability to lock-up the rear wheel when we chose to.
The bike shows good balance and good chassis composure when ridden hard off-road. We are comparing the bike to other large displacement adventure tourers, of course, not full race enduro or motocross bikes.
KTM’s experience with dirt bikes really shows through in the details, both subtle and otherwise. The shape of the seat allows the rider to adjust his weight easily, both forwards and backwards, and side-to-side. This is extremely important to an experienced dirt rider, and is something we have found lacking in some of the other large enduros/adventurer tourers that come with a seat that essentially locks you into one position.
Even the shape of the body work on the KTM is designed to allow an off-road rider to move freely, adjusting his weight for different traction conditions. The position of the foot pegs also works well when riding off-road, because of where it centers the rider’s mass over the bike. Details like these are something competing manufacturers with primarily street bike experience frequently get wrong.
The big 1190 Adventure, as we mentioned in one of our earlier reports, does prevent some movement forward on the seat (due to the tall gas tank) when trying to weight the front end of the bike, although to be fair, most large adventure tourers have this same problem. Overall, we found the bike balanced well enough that the rider could compensate for this, such as by spinning up the rear wheel to steer the bike by pivoting the back end where necessary.
The balance this big KTM shows off-road is underscored by the fact that the tires are road biased on this model. Frankly, we were a bit shocked we had as much grip as we did riding on the silty, hard-packed conditions found in Southern California this time of year. Credit here has to go to the whole package, including the chassis, suspension and all of the electronic wizardry KTM built into this bike.
We even launched the big KTM off a few jumps. Although the suspension did bottom on some of the heavier landings, we did not notice any significant chassis flex from the roughly 500 pound machine. We were able to steer the bike accurately even when pounding it in this manner.
So, did KTM go soft on us by building this big, luxury adventure tourer? Or does the new 1190 Adventure retain the hard core racing pedigree KTM is known for? If you have the skills, the 1190 Adventure is ready to be pushed through rough terrain in a manner foreign to most other large displacement adventure tourers. We expect the 1190 Adventure R is even more capable off-road. We will ask KTM for a spin on the 1190 Adventure R and report back. For additional details and specifications, visit KTM’s web site here.