Long-term test: KTM 1090 Adventure

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KTM 1090 Adventure front
Long-term test: KTM 1090 Adventure
Long-term test (Introduction): KTM 1090 Adventure

This year, Sam Sunderland won the gruelling Dakar Rally on a KTM motorcycle and, having recently experienced the company’s off-road motorcycles, it doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. The KTMs have blown us away with their performance.

Curious to see whether that initially favourable impression would remain, we took delivery of an updated 1090 Adventure immediately following the national launch of KTM’s new Adventure range. KTM kindly offered a more powerful, tech-laden 1290 (R or S), but we decided the base model would better suit our needs for the next six months. Our bike arrived shortly before we put this issue to bed, so the first ride needed to be a quick one. As luck would have it, the journey from Kleinmond to Cape Town following the launch took place on one of the very few wet days in the Cape. Thankfully, the 1090 has a rain-riding mode (as well as sport and street modes), which made cruising back to the office a secure affair. There was one upside to the languid ride, though; my average fuel consumption for this short trip was a mere 5,0 L/100 km.

Two things stood out on this ride: the Adventure offers a comfortable seating position; and the onboard computer is really easy to use. It doesn’t offer the 1290’s full-screen system, but you can still navigate through each respective function using the four buttons, while the digital speedometer and analogue rev counter are easy to read.

Ensconced beneath the fuel tank is the KTM’s two-cylinder, 75-degree, four stroke engine. The capacity is actually 1 050 cm3, and not 1 090 as the model name suggests. Power delivery is 92 kW at 8 500 r/min and 109 N.m at 6 500 r/min. As the engine is upright (unlike the boxer engine in the BMW R 1200 R that’s just left our fleet), you are less aware of the engine between your feet and legs. So far, I’ve also found it easy to negotiate the bike through traffic, as it’s only the handle bars which you need to make sure clear cars and their mirrors.

Apart from adding functionality to the bike, the overall design and subtle use of orange paint really grab your attention. KTM’s orange theme is visible on the various pieces of cladding, while the daytime-running lights make you and your steed visible in fellow road users’ mirrors.

Although the KTM is fitted with road-biased tyres, we will be heading down some gravel roads in the months to come. After all, the Western Cape offers some of the best tarmac and gravel routes in the country.

After 1 month
Mileage now:
88 km
Fuel consumption (litres/100 km):
5,01 L/100 km
We like:
looks; seating position
We dislike: our – current – inaptitude of drifting the 1090 on gravel