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KTM Announces Minor Changes to 2023 390 Adventure (or Why Cast Wheels are Not Ideal for the Dirt)

Last year, KTM changed the 390 Adventure model by giving it stronger wheels. This year? The little KTM gets “stronger wheels.”

If you wanted proof that cast aluminum wheels are not ideal for off-road conditions (such as bouncing off rocks), now you have it. Last year, KTM gave the 390 Adventure stronger, cast aluminum wheels to address an apparent problem with rim dings and failures. This year, KTM is going back to tried-and-true (pun intended) traditional, wire-spoke dirt bike wheels for the 390 Adventure.

By the way, MD’s test of the 390 Adventure proved it to be a fun, capable road bike and light off-roader. Apparently, enough customers are hitting the dirt hard enough that they are bending plenty of the cast aluminum wheels on the prior years’ models.

Here is the press release from KTM:

MURRIETA, Calif. – The full KTM ADVENTURE family has all the performance, capability and segment-leading features a rider will ever need. Sometimes, however, riders just want the most effective way to get from ‘A to B’ on an inviting, confidence-inspiring platform. Naturally, as a true adventure machine, it must also never stop tempting them to explore alternative paths. This is where the sheer usability, superb power and incredibly light handling of the 2023 KTM 390 ADVENTURE comes to the forefront.

This compact and highly advanced package is one of the most versatile in the KTM range. The 2023 KTM 390 ADVENTURE is not only about epic outings but also the ‘every day’ ride. Want that serviceable and dependable machine for the commute but also something that can handle a lively offroad blast? No problem. Desire a bike that can still put out the torque and motor performance for a longer weekend ride-out with friends? Easy. Need a modern, developed, race-derived all-rounder to discover the delights of a trail for the first time? Look no further.

For 2023, KTM has not only splashed the KTM 390 ADVENTURE with a sharp, fresh look but has also beefed-up its offroad capability even more. The bike now has tough yet light spoked wheels (19” front and 17” rear) with black anodized aluminum rims so unplanned meetings with roots and stones out on the trail will not bring the journey to a swift halt. The 2023 KTM 390 ADVENTURE undoubtedly warrants this upgrade considering the offroad-capability engineered into the motorcycle, and it emphasizes that ‘adventure’ really can be part of the daily routine.

At the heart of the machine is the impressively compact 4-stroke 373 cc single-cylinder engine using twin overhead camshafts, four values, a balancer shaft, PASC slipper clutch and electronic FI for smooth and uninterrupted momentum. Two catalytic converters ensure the system breathes within emission targets while the fuel tank (sized for a 3.8-gal / 14.5-liter fill) vapor design also boosts the eco-friendliness.

The 2023 KTM 390 ADVENTURE may have smaller dimensions and specs compared to some of its big brothers, but it does not lack features essential to adventuring. Ride-by-wire, Motorcycle Traction Control, Cornering ABS, OFFROAD mode (more rear wheel slip) and linked OFFROAD ABS (disengaged on the rear, reduced on the front) are feathered by the 46 mm throttle body and the slipper clutch while being administered through the 5” color TFT-display and intuitive handlebar switchgear.  

Light weight and unbeatable agility is partly supplied by a chassis that takes its design cues from KTM’s work at the sharp end of rally competition. The KTM 390 ADVENTURE’s 2023 color also comes from this racing background. The steel trellis design and subframe construction achieves a satisfying blend of both feel, flex and long-term comfort; even the exhaust system is optimized for prime centralization. WP Suspension APEX hardware is adjustable for compression, rebound and preload and achieves that rare chemistry of tactile grip with the road and confidence-inspiring efficiency for the dirt.

Add bodywork that has been angled to protect zones of the bike and position the rider into full-control stance, a two-tier seat (that can be easily removed to reveal storage space and even swapped out for other models in the KTM PowerParts collection), LED lights, a windshield with two positions and wide ‘all-day’ footpegs, Brembo BYBRE brakes (320 front and 230 mm rear discs with four-piston calipers on the front) and the 2023 KTM 390 ADVENTURE is complete. Live adventurously.

2023 KTM 390 ADVENTURE highlights

// New tougher aluminum spoked wheels for enhanced offroad potential and all-round topline performance ensured by the CONTINENTAL TKC70 tires

// Brand new 2023 color and graphics scheme for fresh, vibrant READY TO RACE look

// Dependable 373 cc 4-stroke single-cylinder engine pumping big power out of a compact build

// Lightweight and reassuring steel trellis chassis with adjustable WP APEX 43 mm forks and shock

// Bosch electronics helping to inform the latest generation of Motorcycle Traction Control and Cornering ABS systems

// 379 lbs (172kg) fully fueled, 3.8-gal (14.5-liter) tank

// Wide selection of KTM PowerParts including accessories, aftermarket components, aesthetic touches, riding gear and more

Look for the 2023 KTM 390 ADVENTURE beginning this March at your authorized KTM dealership.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Now just bring us the 21″ front tire.

  2. Mick says:

    Ha! I just knew that Toad was going to blow an inner tube when I saw the title of this one. He did not disappoint.

    How about a show of hands? Four out of four of my bicycles are tubeless, even the two fat bikes with big holes in the rims.

    Five of my seven motorcycles have tubes. Only the two ridiculously heavy Ducatis have cast rims that I run tubeless. The only trouble I have is with my little electric guy. I’m a bit heavier and more skilled than the thing is really designed for. And I always ride the thing like I stole it. Even so, I have only flatted once on it. Ice race tires, being ice race tires, do flat once in a while unless you set them up very carefully and/or as they age out.

    I worked for a short time at a tire shop doing wheels alignments after I got out of the Navy. Back in the early eighties I noticed that a lot of trucks back then still rocked tubes.

    Observed Trials bikes typically run a tube in the front and a tubeless rear. They have a few interesting rear wheel designs that you can check out if you are interested.

    Then there are the few street bikes that the spokes are laced in from the outside of the rim, negating any need to seal spoke ends in the air chamber.

    In the end, buy the right tube for what you are doing and they will outlast two or three tires. And that is for bikes that you can do insane clown feats of savagery on impossible terrain aboard.

    Ever see Rossi out blasting around his dirt tracks on the fleet of dirt bikes that he has? What do you bet that every one of those bikes have tubes in the tires? Maybe not his supermoto bikes. But all the dirt only bikes.

    • ORT says:

      Mick, I do not know of a single truck sold in the USA that has run tubes in its wheels for DECADES. A cursory search of the interwebs revealed no modern highway capable trucks to be using tubes in their tires.

      Here is what Wiki has to say about tube and tubeless tires/wheels:

      “Traditional designs of pneumatic tyres required a separate inner tube which could fail for a number of reasons, such as incorrect tyre fit, friction between the tyre wall and inner tube generating excess heat, or a puncture. Tubeless tyre technology does away with the need for an inner tube thereby increasing safety.[1][4][citation needed] In a tubeless tyre, the tyre and the rim of the wheel form an airtight seal, with the valve being directly mounted on the rim. If a tubeless tyre gets a small puncture, air escapes only through the hole, leading to a gentle deflation. Conversely, a tubed tire, with an inner tube, could burst like a balloon, leading to deflation of the tire which could result in sudden loss of control of the vehicle. However, the “bursting like a balloon” scenario is highly unlikely due to fact that the inner tube is inside of the tire and will deflate at a rate proportional to the puncture hole size. In antique automobiles, made before the mid 1950s, the rims are not designed for tubeless tyres, and an inner tube is required to prevent slow leaks at the bead”.

      A “slow leak” with a tube is a rarity on a spoked wheel motorbike. The holes for the spokes leak air like your argument. FAST!

      You are most definitely a certified luddite, LOL! And a weakling. 😉 Your “argument” is as flat as blown tube and as weak as you, kiddo.



  3. My2cents says:

    Continental TKC 70’ s as the oem tire. I know Continental has had serious enough issues with some of their tires that some shops refuse to mount them. I know it’s a delaminating issue and fairly serious, I have no idea if it effects the whole range or a single series. But currently the whole brand has a dark cloud.

  4. todd says:

    I would just be concerned with the (in)famous quality/durability issues of their Asian bikes – even if I could get past the looks. Too bad there aren’t a lot of choices in the “light” Adventure category. There’s probably ways to bulk up a DRZ400 or add power to a Himalayan or cope with the mass of a KLR.

  5. ORT says:

    Tubes or tubeless?
    If it is tubes, forget it. There are spoke rims that use tubeless out in the real world and so many manufacturers cheap out and put archaic bicycle wheels on a bike that can travel at freeway speeds. Dinging a rim? How about blowing out a front tire and being put through puberty because of the tank-slapper and then the crash?

    I have read that the next version of the Royal Enfield Himalayan is to feature tubeless spoke rims. If true, that is where my money will go. Many of the Indian motorcycle video channels speak on the stupidity of tubes in wheels. They regularly express disgust with the mere thought of flatting a tubed wheel. Who can blame them. It S U C K S.

    And the riders of India ride off road even when there is a “road”. Far more than the sAdventure Riders of other countries, LOL! Tubeless is safer and just plain overall better. With tubes you can sit there waiting for a flatbed or trying to break the bead while someone with tubeless can usually plug the hole, inflate and continue on their way. These bikes are used on-road far more than off.

    The solution is easy. Spoke rims that run tubeless. Hopefully KTM didn’t cheapass out on us.


    • Dirck Edge says:

      They look tubeless. The raised spoke head bed on the rim is characteristic of a tubeless rim like this.

      • ORT says:

        Thanks Dirck! I had enlarged the photo but had not noticed the raised insertion point of the spokes. I normally look for the centered raised “lip” where the spokes are inserted in order to keep from penetrating the rim itself and make the use of tubes necessary.

        I hope you are right, my friend.


      • todd says:

        They sure look like conventional tubed spoked rims to me. KTM is no stranger to off road. They don’t bother with tubeless spoked rims on their bikes. If you’re worried, you pack a spare tube or run mousse or Tubliss. Better yet, get something with cast rims.

        • ORT says:

          The 2022 KTM 890 Adventure R standard wheels (spoke) are tubeless.

          Here is KTM’s words on the wheels of the 2022 1290 Super Adventure R:

          “Serious offroad exploration demands hardcore equipment. The spoked wheels of the KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R feature new and robust aluminum rims made for KTM by AKRONT, with an improved sealing system to make them 100% tubeless. What’s more, is that instead of the typical rubber band sealing the rim to prevent air from leaking through the nipples, the wheels have an O-ring seal on each nipple.”

          Hmmmm…Looks like KTM does “bother” to install tubeless to me. They put them on a few spoke wheels made to run tubeless.

          If you want to run that weird-azz 😉 mousse stuff it looks like you can pay more for that but it is not safe for the street so why would anyone want to usee it? Oh yeah…”off road racing”. On a 1290? Really?! Breaking the bead on a big bike is very difficult. I carry a plug kit. I have used it twice. No struggling to break the bead after getting the wheel off the bike. Plug, pump and go.

          Of course I have had HUGE holes in tires that nothing could plug and no, I am NOT going to put a tube in there and try to get home safely, rather I am going to get the aforementioned flatbed to get me to a shop and a new tire!


          Lastly, put tubes on your car, flat two of them in the middle of Death Valley and try to get back to us. 😉 You won’t. You will have used the one spare and will be calling for a flatbed. Tubes are what you want? You buy them, brother! Tubeless were also called “safety wheels” when they first came out because they are *GASP* actually safer than tubes because tubes tend to suffer BLOWOUTS when punctured and tubeless will usually self seal around the nail and you might not even notice it until you find it while checking and filling your tires and then you can either plug the hole or buy a new tire. Your choice.

          We will just have to agree to disagree on this but as I have shown, KTM does indeed “bother” to install tubeless spoke wheels on some of their bikes. 🙂

          The 1290 Super Adventure R is a pretty big bike. More than I can use but if I wanted one, I would get it and not worry about stupid tubes blowing out and putting me through puberty again, LOL!


          • todd says:

            Are we talking about the 1290 street bike or are we talking about this 390 and regular dirt bikes? Safety rims weren’t because of the lack of tube, it was because of it being a one-piece rim assembly that didn’t kill tire installers.

          • ORT says:

            Todd, you said this: “They sure look like conventional tubed spoked rims to me. KTM is no stranger to off road. They don’t bother with tubeless spoked rims on their bikes.”

            I checked KTM USA this morning and the 2023 KTM 1290 Super Adventure comes stock with TUBELESS Spoke wheels. I think that the 790 and 890 Adventures also had tubeless spoke wheels.

            You know very well I am speaking of motorcycles that are used on and off road. KTM’s Adventure series are just that. And I have not (yet) found anything that safety rims were used because “…a one-piece rim assembly that didn’t kill tire installers”.

            Tubes suck on the ROAD and on/off road motorcyles are ROAD oriented and should NOT be using bicycle wheels when they are capable of highway speeds. Your choice is up to you. Just as it is mine.

            I refuse to buy any bike for use on road that runs tubes. I have had blowouts at speed that if I were as weak as Mick, I would be dead or worse.

            We can agree to disagree but I know that what I am stating is backed up by fact, otherwise cars would run tubes. Trucks would run tubes. Ad infinitum, ad nauseam. 😉


            I meant to type 1290 not 890 in my first response. Thanks!

  6. Tom R says:

    KTM certainly has that praying mantis face thing going up and down its lineup. It seems like their intentional alternative to The Beak.

  7. Gary in NJ says:

    Makes complete sense, and looks more purposeful too.

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