KTM’s 990 Adventure was always the most off-road capable of all big-bore adventure tourers, with its 21-inch front wheel, rally-bred chassis, and peaky, 990cc V-twin engine. But while Dakar DNA made the original Adventure at home off road, that competence came at the expense of some on-road performance—and the reality is, mud-spattered ad campaigns aside, most modern adventure bikes spend far more time on paved backroads than in deep backcountry.
With this in mind, KTM has given its Adventure a comprehensive overall to enhance its asphalt aptitude, adding a bigger, more powerful V-twin engine, road-oriented 17/19-in. wheels, and a sophisticated suite of electronics including traction control, combined ABS, switchable ride modes, and optional electronic suspension adjustment, all to match competitive bikes like BMW’s R1200GS and Ducati’s Multistrada 1200. But KTM hasn’t completely abandoned the off-road faithful—it will also offer an Adventure R with 18/21-in. wheels, longer-travel suspension, and other off road-ready components.
The 1195cc, 150-horsepower V-twin engine, adapted from the RC8R superbike, boasts 30 percent more horsepower than the old, 999cc mill, while cutting fuel consumption 20 percent and extending service intervals. A new ride-by-wire throttle mechanism modulates power application and opens the door for an array of rider aids including four-level Motorcycle Traction Control (MTC), developed in conjunction with Bosch. MTC ride modes include Rain, which limits output to 100 bhp, full-power Street and Sport, as well as Off-Road that likewise reduces output to 100 bhp but allows tire slip up to twice wheel speed for controlled drifting in the dirt. MTC can also be switched off completely.
The tubular-steel trellis frame is similar to before, and fit with fully adjustable WP suspension delivering 7.5 inches of travel front and rear on the base model and 8.7 in. on the R. An optional Electronic Damping System (EDS) allows four stages of automatic spring preload adjustment to accommodate passengers and/or luggage, as well as Comfort, Street, or Sport damping settings. The Bosch ABS is now combined, so applying the radial-mounted Brembo front brakes partially engages the rear brake to increase braking stability. A new offroad setting disengages the rear ABS for dirt duty, or the ABS can be switched off entirely.
Handguards come standard, as does a luggage rack and brackets ready to receive optional aluminum side cases. The riding position is completely adjustable. Bars move back and forth 10mm, the seat goes up and down 15mm, and the footrests shift diagonally by 10mm, too. The manually adjustable windshield (shorter and tinted on the R model) also offers 25mm of height adjustment.
A claimed 507-pound curb weight is still the lightest in class; with its more-powerful engine, the new Adventure should have the best power-to-weight ratio in the category. With better fuel economy and a 6.1-gallon fuel tank (up from 5.3), effective range should improve too. The second-generation Adventure might sacrifice some off-road prowess, but for the majority of ADV buyers more interested in high-speed touring or comfortable sport riding, that’s a fair tradeoff. The only downside? The new model will be available immediately in Europe, but KTM North America says these bikes won’t surface stateside until fall of 2013, as 2014 models.