Chris Birch: 5 things I loved about racing the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R
Racing a 1,200km rally in Greece and going head to head with a wild bunch of enduro-powered riders to claim a stunning fourth place result, Chris Birch highlights the top five features on his race weapon of choice, the new KTM 790 ADVENTURE R.
Highly experienced racer and riding coach Chris Birch continues to show the world the endless possibilities of KTM’s multi-cylinder ADVENTURE models. Clocking tens of thousands of offroad kilometers on 950 to 1290 KTM ADVENTURE machines, the New Zealander was involved in several stages of KTM’s 790 ADVENTURE models’ development.
Blown away by the infinite possibilities of the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R ever since he first rode the prototype machine, Birch immediately set his mind on trying out this new machine in real rally racing conditions.
After closely monitoring the progress of all 12 racers as a riding coach at the 2019 KTM ULTIMATE RACE in Morocco, the time finally came for Chris to have a proper go aboard the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R during the Hellas Rally, held in Greece.
The May 2019 edition of the Hellas Rally Raid saw almost 200 competitors take on a 1,200km adventure in the mountains of central Greece.
“The Hellas Rally is really focused on 450cc enduro bikes,” confirmed Birch. “I was excited going into this event as I knew the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R is more than capable in this terrain and I wanted to explore its full potential in real racing conditions.”
Putting in a consistent run in the opening stages of the race, Birch made full use of his vast experience to climb up the overall rankings as the race went on. Eventually earning fourth in the event’s overall standings, Birch dominated the M6 class for twin-cylinder motorcycles over 660cc.
Shortly after his week-long experience racing the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R in Greece, we quizzed Chris for his five favorite features on the potent twin-cylinder machine.
1. Handling & Suspension
Developed alongside the KTM 450 RALLY, the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R features a characteristic steel trellis frame suspended by fully-adjustable WP XPLOR suspension at each end.
“It’s hard to believe how well the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R handles in the most extreme situations until you’ve raced one. On day three of the race I hit two huge bumps in a row whilst struggling with the dust. It just ate up the bumps and went straight ahead: incredible for stock suspension!”
“The Hellas Rally is a great adventure and I knew what was coming my way when I registered for it. Seven long days in the mountains with always winding twisty tracks and some high-speed sections can be a lot of fun when you’re riding a machine you can trust and makes you feel comfortable to push.”
The KTM 790 ADVENTURE R runs twin 320 mm discs with 4-piston radial calipers on each side. At the rear is a 260 mm disc worked by a 2-piston caliper. This model has ABS, Offroad ABS and the ability to switch the safety system off altogether.
“Riding and racing Adventure bikes for long days normally means you always need to be aware not to let your brakes overheat. Managing your brakes temperature in long rally stages is really a crucial thing.”
“What impressed me in Greece was that I could hammer the brakes on the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R without any problem.”
“Some of the stages were massive and included more than 400km of riding in less than a day. The less I had to worry about, the more I was able to focus on my racing and my performance during the stage.”
3. Fuel Tank
A 20-liter tank with the fuel positioned low in the chassis gives the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R a range of 450kms and balanced handling even when fully fueled.
“With the extra fuel range I had over most of my competitors, I never had to worry about conserving my fuel,” said Chris. “This was a major advantage for me on some of the longest stages of the Hellas Rally. The shape of the fuel tank allowed me to sit at the front of the bike for more aggressive cornering. With most of the fuel sitting low and close to the heart of the bike, there was no noticeable changes in the handling either.”
4. Smooth Power Delivery
Boasting 95 hp and 89 Nm from the 799cc parallel twin LC8c engine, the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R has four different ride modes – Street, Offroad, Rain and Rally – in order to be fully exploited in all conditions.
“During the race we had conditions ranging from rain to extreme heat and dust. In such diverse conditions, it’s always a big advantage to have a smooth and tractable engine. Despite its potent engine, I was impressed by the ability of the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R to find traction on the most tricky or slippery parts of the trails.”
Thanks to KTM PowerParts, a huge array of seat types and heights are available for the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R to best suit each ride and rider.
“For the race I opted to run the KTM PowerParts higher seat. In total during the week we clocked more than 1,500km and it felt great to finish this long week of riding without a sore arse. The seat gave me total freedom to move my weight all the way forwards and back. It just made riding easier.”
“Overall, it was a huge highlight for me to learn how to get the most out of this cool machine. It’s an amazing motorcycle and I enjoyed every moment of racing it in Greece.”
Find out more about the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R here.