FROM THE SKY TO THE SEA
From the home of KTM in Mattighofen, Austria, to the seaside roads of mainland Greece, here’s a 3,000km trip across three countries, rain, sunshine and even some snow aboard the new KTM 890 ADVENTURE.
By Paolo Cattaneo – @paolocattaneophoto
It was a hot and humid summer afternoon in Como, Italy. I remember I was sitting in my backyard, boringly staring at the worn-out tires of my KTM 1190 ADVENTURE, pondering about my next journey. Suddenly, the soothing sound of the crickets was abruptly interrupted by my smartphone chime. With a reluctant but still curious attitude, I opened my mailbox and… almost fell off my chair!
Being an avid traveler and a KTM owner, I could hardly believe I was reading an email coming from KTM HQ in Austria and asking me if I wanted to take one of their bikes for a trip! I was ecstatic to know more details about the project, but because the motorcycle hadn’t been released to the public yet, the rest of the information had to be kept confidential.
All this secrecy built up a lot of excitement from my side, to see what kind of bike we would eventually ride. The only thing they told me was that the project involved me and another seasoned traveler, Anna Grechishkina which, like myself, had been riding for the past years aboard KTM 1190 ADVENTURE bikes.
Some weeks later, together with Anna we landed in Mattighofen and the plan was eventually revealed to us; we were going to ride two brand new KTM 890 ADVENTUREs from Mattighofen to Nafpaktos, Greece. Other than a fantastic opportunity to be able to test these new motorcycles, for me It was finally a dream to visit the KTM HQ, after almost 200,000km ridden with one of their machines.
It felt like when kids go to Disneyland and finally walk in that fantastic world they have been dreaming and seeing only on TV. For the first few days we got to ride two KTM 390 ADVENTURE bikes. Coming from a big bore machine, it was very interesting for me eventually to try all these different kinds of adventure bikes. Three different machines, somehow capable of similar adventures, but with three completely different engines, weights and sizes.
We also had the privilege to take a private tour of the incredible KTM Motohall, their interactive museum. The brand new building is constructed with the intent of involving the audience into a full 360 degree experience, from the conceptual designing of the motorcycle to the “heroes room”, showcasing all glorious actions of the legendary riders that made the brand what it is today.
After the project guidelines were explained to us, we finally headed to the Workshop to pick the bikes up. What a beautiful moment that was! It felt like when somebody brings to the table your favorite food. Our two KTM 890 ADVENTURE bikes were equipped with Akrapovič exhausts, KTM PowerParts seats, panniers racks and fog lights.
The bikes were also pre-configured with Quickshifter+, cruise control, rally mode and KTM’s MY RIDE system, which enables Bluetooth connectivity with smartphones. This last feature allowed us to enjoy the perks of having all GPS info right on the motorcycle screen. Finally, no more cellphone exposed to rain or phone mounts sticking out from the handlebar!
So, the adventure began and we decided to opt for Italy as our gateway passage to Greece. Because we were riding in autumn, in this part of the world, we had to face some challenges right away. The beautiful Grossglockner Pass, in the south part of Austria, was unfortunately closed for snow, so we had to ride around it. There were also a lot of roadworks on our way to the Italian border so, at first, I found myself testing the motorcycle in heavy city traffic.
Needless to say that the new parallel twin engine behaved extremely well in this “1st-2nd gear” filled environment. The riding position was great and the slimmer KTM PowerParts seat provided also good comfort during our whole trip. Crossing to Italy and reaching the Dolomites, was certainly a change of pace and circumstances. Our days filled up with balmier temperatures, perfectly paved twisty roads and snowcapped mountains, where the KTM 890 ADVENTURE felt like being in her natural environment.
The lower center of gravity and the smoother delivery at low rpm are great characteristics to have on a motorcycle in this kind of terrain. The bike was also equipped with Avon Trailrider tires, which provided excellent grip and stability throughout the entire trip, even at low temperatures. In my opinion, there’s nothing better for a motorcyclist than riding through some mountain passes on a beautiful sunny day.
Being born and raised along the shores of lake Como, Italy, I grew up riding these kinds of roads and… I simply love it! After the steep Italian mountains, it was time to test the machine on some proper fast turns. Can’t get more picturesque and challenging for this type of riding, than the beautiful Tuscan Hills. The KTM 890 ADVENTURE behaved splendidly even on wide and progressive turns.
With 105 hp and over 100 Nm of peak torque, the engine wanted to be the protagonist of our adventure, once again. The bike is built with state-of-the-art technology and It can be configured while riding. Different ECU mapping options allowed us to control the experience to the very detail. I love it when you can choose to enjoy a nice smooth ride in all safety, taking your time and gazing at the landscapes, or turn the machine into a raging beast and focus 100% on your ride, with the flick of a switch!
The “Eroica”, the notorious off-road track that crosses Tuscany, was an excellent terrain to test out KTM 890 ADVENTURE on fast gravel roads. Off-Road riding mode and Off-Road ABS settings were absolutely spot on for this kind of surface. I always felt I was in complete control of the motorcycle, even on these unpredictable terrains.
From the glorious Tuscan hills, we rode to the Amalfi coast, in the south part of Italy. As we were running out of time, we had to hit the highway and ride those 350km, which separated us from the Parthenopean shores, in one go. With the help of the tall windshield and cruise control, we were able to make our way through this section with no fatigue at all.
Fuel consumption was great and the large 20 liters fuel tank also allowed us to propel our machines for over 400 km. Once we reached Naples, we were challenged by some unfavorable weather conditions. Again, having technology at our service, it was easy to tune the bikes accordingly and enjoy even this part of the adventure, with the peace of mind of knowing that the motorcycle was under our control.
Cornering MTC and ABS, ride by wire throttle control and rain riding mode, were surely a great help, in managing more than 100 hp on the wet and slippery turns of the Amalfi Coast. Our last stretch of adventure had us catching a ferry from Bari to Patras and arriving in the beautiful coastal town of Nafpaktos, Greece.
We were then greeted by the whole KTM team, which was excited to hear our personal feedback about the bikes. We also got to meet the journalists that came from all over the world to test the new KTM 890 ADVENTURE. The riding loop that the KTM guides prepared for the event, was simply perfect. A mix of fast and sharp turns, for the tarmac section, and some muddy and gravel sections for the off-road part. The motorcycle was a surprise to everybody for its abilities of handling on and off road.
As travelers, we constantly face difficult situations. We move from town to town, from country to country, most of the time on roads that we never rode before, in an ever-changing environment and under all sorts of weather conditions. We often put ourselves in tight spots and we may have to ride out from challenging environments all by ourselves.
This is the feeling of adventure. To move forward and to explore the unknown. To dare to try something new. To get outside of our comfort zone and to do something that we have never done before. That is why it is fundamental, to ride a motorcycle that can assist us the best way possible in overcoming whatever new challenges we may have to face. It’s key to have the support of a machine that would allow us to push our boundaries even further.
Spending a few weeks on the KTM 890 ADVENTURE and riding it in various conditions, it was very clear to me why KTM call it the ‘Ultimate Gravel Machine’, it’s a bike that will make every trip more fun, safer and a lot more enjoyable. It’s a bike that will let you ride from right outside your home’s door to the ends of this amazing world…