Intermot took the covers off the latest ‘steeds’ in the Adventure line and these 1190 bikes (the standard more focussed on the street while the R has that gleaming off-road edge) have really got the staff at KTM dizzy with excitement. The traditional engine power and performance that the company has become renowned for is firmly in place thanks to the RC8 powerplant, but it is the new chassis and electronics system that fixes these sports-enduro-tourers as a something that is begging to be ridden…for long time and in any condition. The 1190’s tech specs are pretty easy to find but we wanted to know exactly why these models are causing an emotional stir. Step forward then Press and Communications Manager Thomas Kuttruf and Project Leader Herbert Fessl…
Guys, why will the 1190 this generation of Adventures blow people’s socks off?
Thomas: Good question and I think I have a good answer. KTM have a lot of experience and knowledge when it comes to the Adventure – it is already a decade for the models and they have a big fanbase – but we are really spreading our wings and our activities. We have retained our original spirit with the 1190 but have produced a model that is definitely more street-orientated and able to offer the adventure experience to anybody who has a licence. It is interesting and definitely a milestone. We believe we can bring a new level of quality.
Herbert: It is something that is light, powerful and a lot of fun. People want an SUV and they don’t need to look any further
How is it geared towards the street? Why would mainly road riders and tourers have their heads turned by the 1190 Adventure?
Herbert: The biggest step was the balance and the chassis. We really got this right. We wanted something that was light and agile but also very stable. The power is more geared towards a sports bike. It is curious because the ergonomics are suited entirely to a touring bike but it is very strong and fun. The electronics on the chassis is very cool and the off-road map has the ABS on the front end and the traction control on the rear. The engine has the base of the RC8 with a new cylinder head so the biggest challenge was the chassis and getting through the ABS and traction control. I’m really happy with what we did.
Thomas: What is beyond dispute is that for a number of years now we have the right understanding of how to make a proper streetbike. It is all about the people behind the project and their knowledge of what essentials and what features are necessary. You need rideability, accessibility, versatility and great ergonomics to make a very good enduro-tourer. It has always been a big priority in KTM that the rider gets on the bike and feels at home from the first few metres. For this segment you really need to be state-of-the-art, and this important package is maybe the biggest difference from the first generation of Adventures. There is a lot of ‘assistance’ here, and let me emphasis that fact. ‘Assistance’ must be something that helps the rider. If electronics are there just as a marketing gimmick then that’s crap. Things like traction control and engine modes must give control and confidence. The traction control is excellent here and this is also the first time we see an off-road ABS system.
Have you ridden it yet?
Thomas: Yes! Luckily I was able to take a prototype of the R version for a spin two months ago which was honestly a bit scary because without any electronics it was just pure power…on knobbly tyres! I can tell you that 150 horsepower and especially the big range of torque on a street with knobbly wheels was really fun and a big difference from what we are used to with the 990cc model. A few weeks ago I had a go with a full spec standard version and it just underlines what I said to you before about how versatile this bike is and what the electronics can do.
Why the popularity of big bikes and sport tourers?
Thomas: It is not so easy to answer because there are quite a few indications but one thing is sure and that is people want to use their bike as a high quality leisure product as much as a practical mode of transport. They want to be out with friends and enjoy a lot of time on two wheels. For an extended trip you basically have two options; a full-on tourer – but some might not like the weight – or the travel-enduro machines with a lightweight concept and this is exactly what we are now showing off. Comfort is always an issue and KTM as well as other brands have been feeding the market quite well in the last few years and everyone has developed nice products with different DNA. The segment has grown for a good reason and through the latest generation that we have seen here in Cologne, I think we can say that we are making a step ahead.
Herbert: I’m excited by what these bikes can offer. We started with the RC8 engine and the 990 Adventure was already at a high level and the goal was to beat this. The focus was more on the street but without losing the off-road character. The off-road mode on this bike works really well but it is fantastic to ride on the asphalt.