Initial Thoughts: 2017 KTM 1090 Adventure R

Initial Thoughts: KTM 1090 Adventure R
Note: I also thought to title this “OMG KTM made a middle-weight bike by putting smaller jugs on an existing bike.”  But that would have been silly, or something…

I’ll be honest when I saw the news flow out from Intermot that KTM was releasing the 2017 1090 Adventure R I was a bit dumbfounded.  Why would they down tune a bike?  The few pounds of weight savings, the progressive dampening (PDS) rear shock, and better wheels were all nice, but was a 23bhp decrease in power from the 1190 Adventure R really needed to make that happen?  Laying in bed that night it made sense, or rather KTM’s logic did.

Historically the big KTM, be it the old 950/990 LC8 platform, or the current 1190/1290 RC8 based platform gets lumped in with the 1200cc machines rather than the middle-weights.  I have a feeling this was because when the KTM 950 Adventure was released in the early 2000’s it was the only serious, multi-cylinder rival to the BMW R1200GS.  Personally I have always found the weight, power, suspension travel, and wheel size, to make the big KTM a better match to the middle weight options.  Honda blew the doors open to including 1,000cc machines into the 800cc class (making a true “middle-weight” class) with the introduction of the Honda CRF1000F Africa Twin this year.  The Honda Africa Twin was hoped to be a replacement for the discontinued KTM 990 Adventure, and it fell short.  A replacement for the long in the tooth BMW F800GS it was without doubt.  Putting the KTM 1190 Adventure R head to head with the Honda Africa Twin still seems to be a bit taboo for the press.  Even a quick glance at the numbers shows it would be a blood bath in every category other than cost, with the KTM standing the bored victor that never broke a sweat.  A KTM 1090 Adventure R makes that match up unavoidable, even with the decreased displacement and power output I’m sure the results will still be the same.

I still hold hope that KTM will someday make a proper replacement for my 2005.5 KTM 950 Adventure (R).  Having talked with folks for KTM (both Austria and USA) and KISKA (KTM’s design firm) they know what the outlaying small percent of the market like me wants, and they have assured me the are working on it.  They know there is a demand for another overgrown, 100bhp dirtbike, and that is why some of us still hold onto our old 950/990 based machines.  The current platform is amazing, I’ve logged around 2,000 miles on a 2014 KTM 1190 Adventure R, and if I can’t have my KTM 950 Adventure (R) it is the next best thing.  That all being said the fact they are playing the marketing games gives me hope.  They have lined up a fight with the KTM 1090 Adventure R that both BMW and Honda are not ready for.  I have a feeling this is just the first volley fired of an orange Austrian barrage onto the adventure bike segment.

Good luck out there, have fun, and Godspeed.

-Eric Archambault

Me on scooter

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