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2013 KTM 1190 Adventure: MD First Ride

In this difficult world economy, KTM is charging forward by spending liberally on the development of new models, and furthering its development of the street market. Its roots are in motocross and enduro, but the various Duke models, as well as this new large displacement adventure model, signal KTM’s intention to further expand its market share.

Although the KTM Adventure 990 has been around for a while (and is the top adventure model available in the U.S. this year), KTM’s real revolution in street legal adventure bikes is born with this new model, which inherits the engine from the superbike RC8 R. Available in Europe this year (likely in the U.S. next year), the 1190 Adventure is a highly sophisticated machine that does not yield state-of-the-art to any competitor. A well-managed 150 hp, with four switchable engine maps controlled from the left handgrip and ride- by-wire throttle, this big beast needs traction control and ABS, and it has these, as well. Going a step further, the new KTM 1190 Adventure is also available with electronic adjustment of the suspension (KTM refers to it as EDS).

All this electronic wizardry is mated to a very balanced chassis with a new level of long-distance comfort, something KTM has not previously been known for. Inviting ergonomics, ample wind protection and low vibration were not hallmarks of previous KTM efforts. The 1190 Adventure changes this.

We were given the opportunity to test the basic 1190 Adventure model (the “R” version will arrive in April) and we must say it was a pleasant surprise. The engine inherited from the superbike, of course, maintains its 75° cylinder angle and dry sump. Beyond this, many changes have been made to adapt the race motor to its new purpose in this model, including different cams, changes to the clutch, new pistons, alternator and starter.

Transmission ratios are different by necessity from the superbike, and first gear is much shorter to accommodate low-speed, off-road travel. Final drive is by chain (not a surprise for KTM) rather than shaft.

The four available engine maps provide noticeable differences in performance. They include a sports setting with the full 150 hp, a street mode with full power but slightly softer delivery, a rain mode that softens power and increases the intrusiveness of the traction control system, and finally an off-road mode with a 100 hp peak and a very smooth power delivery. Both traction control and ABS can be turned off by the rider.

To say that the 1190 Adventure has a healthy engine is a gross understatement. KTM claims 150 hp at 9500 RPM and 87 foot-pounds of torque at 7500 RPM. This monster is pulling around roughly 500 pounds of motorcycle with a full tank of gasoline … very light for the large adventure tourer class.

The frame is tubular steel with an aluminum swingarm. Electrically adjustable WP suspension is called EDS, allowing hydraulic adjustment of spring preload in four settings ranging from rider alone to rider with passenger and luggage. Within these settings there are three modes, including comfort, sport and street. Changes must be done at a stop.

Braking is courtesy of twin 320 mm front discs squeezed by four-piston radial mount Brembo calipers, together with a single rear disc.  These are in a “combined ABS” system developed by Bosch.

So this big new 1190 Adventure has plenty of electronic options, all accessible from the left handgrip area. Reinforcing the commitment to long-range comfort and capability, the bike also has an enlarged fuel capacity, roughly 6 U.S. gallons. In keeping with this theme, the screen is adjustable both for height and angle, and the spoked wheels (19 inch front and 17 inch rear) mount tubeless tires.

I confess to being a fan of the old 990 Adventure that grew directly out of KTMs desert racing roots. It was certainly rough around the edges, but it was light and had a performance bent. As soon as I sat on the new bike, however, I could tell it was entirely new with little family resemblance.

The instrument cluster is very complete, legible and functions are controllable easily from the left-hand grip (engine maps, ABS, suspension settings, traction control, etc.). There is probably more information than you really need, including ambient temperature, the time the engine has been running, the distance traveled, fuel consumption rates, level of battery charge, oil level, etc., but this again shows KTM’s continuing evolution into a street bike manufacturer. Basically, everything on the 1190 feels a bit nicer than its predecessor, a bit more refined. The clutch is easy and smooth, shifting requires less effort (a six speed) and is more precise, while making less noise.

In the sport mode, the engine (which is full of character) is pretty aggressive in its power delivery. The spread of power is very broad, and you are left feeling that you have all the power you need virtually everywhere on the tachometer. Frankly, it was a mild shock to have 150 hp on a bike with high handlebars, traction control and a good level of comfort. The engine response is seamless and immediate. No hesitation whatsoever when you crack the throttle, but no surprises, either.

The powerful brakes and a slipper clutch make aggressive corner entries much easier to navigate than on previous big twins. The chassis exhibited good stability, but made twisty roads fun and direction changes easy. The bike feels more agile than your typical adventure bike designed for long-distance comfort.

The suspension, tuned for sport riding, provides good feedback, particularly from the front end. The shock was a tad bit harsh, however. Exiting corners with the bike still on its side, you have the confidence to begin opening the throttle early and the big motor launches you forward. Big fun, indeed.

This new KTM 1190 Adventure was born to conquer the category traditionally dominated by BMWs GS. It still has that performance edge, however, and this is where it distinguishes itself from the big BMW.  After all, it is a KTM at heart, just easier to live with on long road trips.  KTM appears to have another winner on their hands.


  1. Ken says:

    owned a 2007 KTM 990 and it was one the a love hate relationship. great when I twisted the throttle but it was always in the shop for one issue or another. Spent a few thousand getting the fueling sorted and over $700 fixing poorly designed charging system and wiring.
    On a Yamaha Tenere it is not as fast or as fixable but it does start every time.
    The RC8 bikes have had more than normal amount of problems lets hope KTM has gotten the bugs out.

  2. randy says:

    I’ve owned GS and Multi, this 1190 look fanastic! I won’t go over 500 pounds anymore, I was thinking Tiger 800 next but for about the same weight…

  3. Dave G says:

    Another nice bike from KTM. Most likely does all it was designed to do and more. However, when you attach a touring designation to a bike one must assume high mileage. That translates to more then average maintenance and service intervals. Whether you do your own or pay to have them done, two hour oil changes and four hour valve adjustments are unacceptable. That’s a $600.00 dollar bill at the dealer. For a touring bike that could be $1200.00 a year easy, $100.00 a month just to ride. Of course the sprockets and chain life will depend on the type of rider. With that much power on hand replacement could be as early as every other oil change. So let’s just drop the touring designation for this bike. Adventure works just fine without the touring attached.

    • DaytonaJames says:

      If that is your criteria for a tour bike Dave, then you’d better send BMW a letter too… it wasn’t that long ago that the boxer motor required a valve adjustment at 1,000 kms. You can’t tell me that’s cheap. As a past service manager for BMW product, I have a great deal of respect for the product and thier customers. Buying decisions are made by very different criteria with those people. You have to understand that you can’t lump everyone together and assume we all measure a bike’s value by the almighty dollar. There is enormous value in a passionate riding experience. Personally, I think the bike has much less to do with that experience than the rider, the company he chooses, and the paths and roads they choose to ride on.

    • Jack says:

      “Of course the sprockets and chain life will depend on the type of rider. With that much power on hand replacement could be as early as every other oil change.”
      You,re joking aren’t you?

  4. skybullet says:

    I guess the normal progression is to to bump displacement from 990 to 1190 and add riding modes. Considering how most large adventure bikes are used, Cruise Control would be a much more useful addition. My guess is the electronic farkles are not very expensive at the mfg level. KTM upgrades suspension components out-of-the-box so I would expect this bike to be a great all around handler. Those with concerns about seat height could just slide the forks up an inch or so, buy a shorter rear shock spring and have a built in excuse to skip off-road.
    My 2013 SMT is one of my all time favorite bikes for it’s wide, powerful mid-range and near perfect suspension. Add Cruise Control to the future SMT 1190 and I might upgrade, (KTM already offers aluminum side and top cases).

  5. Tom Cook says:

    Beautiful and power full yes. But I want a Yamaha TDM 900 Made into a Tenere or the 660
    Price and weight are issues these days. Please Yamaha give them a chance in North America.

    • DaytonaJames says:

      Hey Tom… and give up the V-Strom? I’m surprised. The TDM 900 would make a great adventure-tour platform though. Hmmm.
      Be well my friend.

  6. Mr.Mike says:

    Very nice but I’d be happy with a V-Strom 650 (maybe bored out to 750) with better suspension and a little more ground clearance for off road excursions, and maybe a larger fuel tank. All this power, the electronics needed to control it and of course the attending weight and cost are really overkill for most adventure riding.

  7. Gary says:

    Ahem … Editor? Solo Moto? I really appreciate the early review of this machine, and I appreciate the forum.

    It’s a two-way forum, see, and a number of your readers are trying to benefit from it by asking questions about the bike that were not answered. It would be really terrific if you could fill in the gaps.

    You will find you greatly benefit, in terms of readership and penetration, by reading these posts, and interacting a bit.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      What would you like to know? I haven’t ridden this bike personally, but fell in love with this style of bike the first time I rode a V-Strom 10 years ago, I think the comfort and versatility is hard to beat, even for a pure “street” bike, which most of these have become for all practical purposes. Loved the Yamaha Super Tenere, as well,, although it is much heavier than this KTM. Hard for me to wrap my head around how fun this new bike will be given its power/weight ratio for the class. Although the Ducati is similar, somehow this KTM seems like it would be a better long distance companion. Can’t wait to ride it myself.

      • Gary says:

        Does it have electronic cruise control? I’m really keen to know because this bike sounds awesome, but I have no use for it unless I can ride more than 30 minutes before my wretched carpal tunnel renders my right hand useless.

        Thanks in advance.

      • Gary says:

        Doh! Never mind. Answered below.

  8. Tommy D says:

    Just purchased a Triumph 800XC and was thinking about the KTM 990. I love the look of the 990s race inspired design but living with a race inspired machine was decided to be outside my reason to purchase. I think the 1190s leaning toward the street side of an adventure rider is a great idea. I love my Triumphs ease of use platform. It’s a fun machine that I find myself comparing it to a yellow lab. A medium to large dog that always aims to please. This type of livability in a KTM is a great idea. I look forward to hearing about what type of dog the KTM is.

  9. Benbike55 says:

    Just get what you need, not what you want….A Tenere 660.

    • todd says:

      I wish we could – however, California and the rest of the Free Country has determined the Tenere illegal for import.


  10. todd says:

    can I get one without all the electronic gadgets?


  11. Gary says:

    Does it have electronic cruise control?

  12. Dave says:

    Interesting to me is that so many adventure bikes have separate cylinder banks (v-twin or flat twin). Seems to fly in the face of the idea of ultimate reliability/adventure to have two separate valve trains and extra plumbing when a parallel twin would get it done with fewer parts, ala’ TDM850.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I’ve never seen anything that would suggest a parallel twin is more reliable than a V- or flat-twin or any other cylinder configuration.

      Clutches, stators, VRs, cables, tires – certainly not an exhaustive list, but it seems like those have been the most common failure points to leave an adventure rider stranded for quite some time, and most motorcycles have the same number of those.

      • Dave says:

        Yeah, was a hypothetical comment I suppose. BMW’s are known for reliability obviously. Just seems like a parallel-2 cuts valvetrain parts in half which would make it easier to service if nothing else.

  13. motowarrior says:

    I’ve been a BMW GS rider for years, but lately I have been looking for something a bit lighter and sportier. The Ducati Multistrada was at the top of my list, but the KTM is really appealing. I’m a bit skeptical about the touring gas mileage, but it may be acceptable. Chain drive is not my first choice, but not a deal breaker. Nice effort, KTM.

    • Wendy says:

      I owned a GS, and a Multistrada. I really wish I could afford another multi. Fantastic bike, if not something you would willingly ride offroad.

      • randy says:

        Wendy, I get a mental image of you riding two Multistradas at once, like a movie stuntman on a runaway stagecoach!

  14. Vrooom says:

    That looks really promissing. Would love to read a long term test on it when it’s been around for long enough to do so. Reliability, gas mileage, and the quality of the transmission are all questions I’d want answered. So far so good though.

    • Jack says:

      This motor has basically been in production since 2008. Being an owner of an SMT for 3 years I can vouch for the reliability and a very good transmission.

    • stratkat says:

      i have owned my 07 Super Duke from new, for 5 years now, basically the same motor as the previous 990 Adventure.
      30,000 miles. the only time it left me stranded was because of a failed reg/rec. fantastic engine, transmission has never had any issues. i ride it hard all the time but maintain it well.

  15. DaytonaJames says:

    Bravo KTM… nicely done. At the risk of drawing out Barry W’s ire, I should say nicely copied. Most of the design parameters are straight from the Ducati Multistrada, save the 19″ front wheels – Bravo again. Since the beak seemed to be a big issue with everyone on the MS, KTM should pick up a lot of those consumers. I for one, am more comfortable shopping for my adventure super-tour bike with a company whose roots are in the dirt. I’ll take one. Now Barry… what will I pay for the privilege? 😉

    • stratkat says:

      actually BMW started the whole adventure bike scene, the Multistrada isnt really an off road machine. the original Adventure has long proven itself off road. this new 1190 is more road oriented but not what i would at all call a Ducati clone by any means.

      • DaytonaJames says:

        Actually, I’ve sold and ridden all three extensively. The BMW may be comfy and it’s gone around the world – not without its problems. Want to put a BMW mechanic in a bad mood… ask him how many R12GS/GSA ignition rings he’s drilled out. And that front end dive when you downshift… that’s just weird.
        When I compare the Multi to the Adventure, it is because these two bikes epitomize what is possible in terms of power output and electronic riding aids. I suspect the 1190 with its 19″ front end will work way better than the Ducs’ 17″. I’m not the guy who will be off road that much but when honey-baby-sugarpie wants to go camping… I’ll be the guy. Love that they retained the lightweight & reliable chain instead of the faulty and very expensive shaft. Still waiting for my quote Mr. W.

  16. Hair says:

    I agree with the statement about the larger tank on the 690.

    KTM is sitting on a winning line up here. The 500 for single track dirt and very light adventure riding. The 690 for something that can still do the really nasty stuff and be a little more road worthy. The 990 for a long distance bike that can easily tackle the high country passes. And the 1190 for a hard hitting 90/10 bike. Let’s hope that they keep this entire lineup for years to come.

    • Dezso says:

      I think they’re discontinuing the 990. I have a 2006 990 now, along with a Ducati MS 1200S. I prefer the KTM…weight, enough power, more dirt. Can’t wait to see what the 1190 is like.

  17. allworld says:

    I am a fan of KTM, and this will no doubt be a success. My problem is I am not tall or financially abundant, so………….

  18. stinkywheels says:

    Now if they’ll just put a real tank on the 690. I know it’s possible, they just proved it on this one.

  19. Brad says:

    As fast or as fun on a twisty mountain road as a 990 SMT?

    • Ninou says:

      No it won’t, not with an extra 20kg, extra suspension travel and a 19″ front wheel. I really hope KTM does not drop the SMT model!

  20. Craig Jackman says:

    Nice bike! I like that it doesn’t have the billboard side panels of the old bike so you can actually see the engine. Lets see what the accessories are like. Adventure bike’s gotta have sidebags. Aluminum? Top opening? I’ll be wanting a taller seat. And yes, orange please. Or black with organge frame.

  21. Auphliam says:

    Very nice!

  22. Wendy says:

    Major WANT!

  23. Karlsbad says:

    Yes that’s what I said, I’ll take the Orange one please

  24. mk says:

    Hey, Im still waiting for the 690 duke. Where’s Gabe?

  25. todder says:

    Does it have cruise control?

  26. ben says:

    Oh my. I want that…really badly. This is the ultimate bike for me

  27. ham says:

    Does it vibrate at any speed?
    Does it shift well.
    Is the seat really good or a typical KTM bench.
    What is its MPG?
    How heavy is it.
    What is its Balance off road?
    Does it come with all the goodies or are all of these expensive options.

    • Pork Chop Express says:

      – as it is an internal combustion powered bike I’m quite certain it will vibrate an just about any speed. If you’re looking for a vibration free bike I understand Brammo has some nice offerings.

      – if the current crop of KTM streetbikes are any indication it should shift very nicely.

      – I’m sure the seat will be adequately comfortable. After all it is a motorcycle not an Easy Boy.

      – MPG is supposed to be at least as good as the current 1,000cc KTM’s.

      – weight is just under 500lbs with a full tank of gas which should essentially be class leading.

      – not sure about the offroad capability but that is KTM’s forte so I’m sure it will be excellent for a bike of this type.

      – offroad goodies will be additional but probably similar in cost to BMW and other manufacturers in this class of bike.

    • Vrooom says:

      +1 on all of those questions.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      Many of your answers are in the First Ride report (vibration is low, shifts well, comfortable, weight is 500lbs. wet, and only the trick electrically adjustable suspension is an option…the rest of the electric goodies are standard). MPG and some of the more subtle points typically must be assessed on a longer test, not at the press launch.

  28. Dean says:

    How can this be an “adventure” bike… It has no beak! (Yippeee!!)

    Full-on sportbike motor… Check
    Lightweight and sporty chassis… check
    6 gallon tank for real world range… check
    Good looking (or at least not too goofy)… check
    Should be a winner if people get out there and vote with their wallets!

    • Nick says:

      You’ll need every drop of 6 gallons with an engine that powerful. Lightweight in comparison to what, maybe to a GS? Just sayin’!

      • Dave says:

        Why does this keep coming up? What 150hp bike is there outside of a race replica that is appreciably lighter weight? How light should it be?

        • Nick says:

          In regards to its power it may be relatively light weight but in regards to off-road riding it will be a heavy weight. I’m just being the devil’s advocate here. So many want it every way they can, they want light weight that only a 450 or smaller could offer but they want Saturn V power. They want all the good stuff, the bling, but want it affordable (read: low cost)

          Taken for what this is, a heavy weight adventure bike with loads of power that will also come at a pretty penny then OK. The 990 Adventure is shown to be north of 450# with an empty tank!

          • stratkat says:

            just read any off road comparo, usually the 990 Adventure is the first pick off road. it falls behind on the road tests not because of handling but mostly from lack of wind protection.

          • Dave says:

            I see what you mean now. I just can’t see how a muti cylinder, 900+cc bike will get much lighter, even if it’s way expensive.

      • Neil says:

        Light weight is expensive metals like Titanium. So if you want that, you have to pay, which the average person does not have ($$$) these days. I have ridden an 07 Multistrada and I think these mid weight bikes are fine for what they are. I sat on a GS and it was a pig. That was the end of the story for me. This is a nice, relatively light machine with good quality components that is exciting and fresh off the CAD screen. Very nice indeed!

  29. Pork Chop Express says:

    Awesome bikefor the segment. Now, please finish up the new Super Duke and get it into US dealerships! 🙂

  30. mickey says:

    Nice looking bike. I’m not tall enough to ride it, but that’s not KTMs fault!

  31. blackcayman says:

    I can’t wait to see the revised 2014 1190 SM-T with more comfortable seat & real saddle bags…..PLEASE

  32. Don says:

    That’s a really well-proportioned, nice looking bike. Bravo KTM.

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