WHAT I LEARNED AFTER 6 MONTHS WITH THE KTM 890 ADVENTURE
As it is hard to really grasp what a book is about by looking at its cover, it also takes time and effort to discover what truly lies behind that facade of plastic and metal when you first see the KTM 890 ADVENTURE. After using the bike daily and clocking almost 10,000km on it, I finally got to appreciate all the small details that make it one of the most technical motorcycles on the market.
By Paolo Cattaneo – @paolocattaneophoto
When I first saw the KTM 890 ADVENTURE in the flesh at the home of KTM in Austria, I was immediately struck by its unorthodox lines. The protruding headlight and unconventional tank shape surely make it stand out from the others. Well, that was almost six months ago and since then I’m proud to say the odometer on the digital dashboard of my 890 ADVENTURE will be reaching the 10k mark soon.
What is interesting to understand for this bike, is that its unique design delivers incredible advantages while riding. Better aerodynamics and improved visibility are just few of the perks in having a narrow and aerodynamic front. During the last six months, there were quite a few moments when the benefits this design provides were pretty apparent.
One of these moments was when I had to cover 500 km in one day traveling from the north to the south of the Italian peninsula. On the highway, the bike is a true pleasure to ride, really smooth and stable even at high speed. The steering damper that comes as standard helps keep the bike steady and the tall windshield is effectively protecting me from a couple of tiny yet annoying rocks that might be shot from the car in front.
Fuel consumption on the KTM 890 ADVENTURE is great, especially on highways. With cruising speeds up to 120 km/h, you can get it to consume as low as 4.5 l for every 100 km, which allows for a fuel autonomy of way over 400 km.
Another thing you get to quickly appreciate is the user interface, which is simple and intuitive even for non tech savvy users. TFT display is bright and quite detailed, able to host “roadbook style” turn-by-turn GPS information, fed directly from your mobile phone. Several riding modes, Bluetooth connectivity, traction control, slip control and cornering ABS are just some of the brilliant technological advancements I like about this bike. There are several combinations to be made in terms of ride modes and it doesn’t take time to find the one that fits every riding condition the best.
While riding through the Amalfi Coast for instance, it was a great advantage to have the Cornering ABS and Rain modes enabled. Those narrow and winding coastal roads can get very slippery and dangerous when wet! Riding with the needed peace of mind was a huge plus. In cases like that, the electronics are there to let you enjoy the ride a lot more.
After all the time on its saddle, what impresses me the most about the KTM 890 ADVENTURE is its versatility. The new parallel twin engine is silent with very few vibrations, but really torquey when needed. The bike “purrs” in low to mid rpm and it’s quite easy to handle through traffic. It doesn’t irradiate heat and it has a wide steering range, ideal for making U-turns or sharp turns. The lower center of gravity gives the sensation of riding a much lighter bike, especially in the city. The throttle response is progressive and very intuitive.
During the past few months, I got to spend a few days riding in Athens, Greece, a city that is famed for its big traffic congestions. I remember getting stuck in some pretty tight spot in the Greek capital. The gentle throttle response and the great low to mid performance of the engine matched with the agile riding position deliver a pleasant cruising feeling even in these hectic urban conditions.
The KTM 890 ADVENTURE presents some features that belong to the travel segment but also some others that are purely associated with the offroad world. For instance, the Cruise Control unit comes preinstalled on the handlebar switch. A good touch that symbolizes the affinity to the travel segment, proper of much bigger touring bikes. A safety feature that comes embedded with the optional cruise control software is the fact that it cannot be engaged if the MTC is disabled. This prevents accidental rear wheel slippage while throttle management is regulated by the computer. Road stability is excellent, just like a 1200 cc motorcycle.
I never really had cruise control on the bikes I owned before. And trust me, it is great! It helps in adopting a more neutral and relaxed position while riding long stretches of highway. For instance, getting from the Dolomites mountains to Tuscany, was quite a trip in one day! A full day of sharp turns and mountain passes and then a 300 km liaison to Florence. I was pretty tired from the intense riding in the morning and I was glad I could rest my back and my arms while riding on a highway with the aid of cruise control.
To enhance its offroad potential, the bike comes standard with wide pegs and brake pedal, and removable rubber vibration absorber; a detail that marks the connection with the off-road nature of this motorcycle. In the dusty roads, the bike behaves like a bigger enduro. Spending the last couple months based on the island of Crete, there are many spots to explore the bike’s offroad potential.
Somewhere in the mountains, there’s a plateau at around 2000m of altitude, called Pakhnes. The road to get there is an absolute adventure itself. Sand, mud, landslides, rocks and snow are just some of the obstacles to overcome to reach the beautiful location. Riding the KTM 890 ADVENTURE up there was simply incredible. It felt like exploring for the first time a new planet.
The different riding modes deliver totally different experiences. The three standard ones are Rain, Offroad and Street. Rally is available after installing the RALLY PACK, which is highly recommended to obtain full access to the “beast”. Rally mode has three different throttle responses available for the rider to choose from: Offroad, Street and Rally. Like in a video game, it’s easy to understand that the different mapping configurations allow different levels of riding difficulty to be unlocked. Progression from one level to the other gives the user access to gain proper confidence with the machine and tune it accordingly to his/her own skills.
With several different modes to select from depending on the riding conditions, the Rally mode is where things get exciting. Riding up on those steep Greek mountains definitely requires all the traction and power available!
Last but not least, the KTM 890 ADVENTURE comes with some new Avon Trailrider V54 tires. The soft tire compound allows the motorcycle to be pushed to its limits in all tarmac situations. Ideal for mountain roads and even cold climates the tires performed excellently in all terrains I’ve covered in this past six months between Austria, Italy and Greece. They always gave me confidence in approaching turns and even riding down a rocky hill.
Overall, the KTM 890 ADVENTURE is a real pleasure to live with. Especially during these weird moments we’re going through, it is a tool to escape the limits of the cities and explore what lies at the end of the dusty roads. In my opinion, it features one of the smoothest, most torquey and powerful engines ever designed by KTM. Agile yet powerful, it is an easy bike to handle yet has all the performance features to transform every ride into an exciting experience you’ll remember for days, or even years…