Since its class-disrupting debut in 2019, which earned Rider’s Motorcycle of the Year award for the 790 Adventure and 790 Adventure R, KTM’s middleweight adventure touring lineup has steadily improved. The tip of the off-road spear is the KTM 890 Adventure R Rally, which has been updated for 2024. Only 700 will be available worldwide.
Based on the 890 Adventure R, the Rally has the same 889cc LC8c parallel-Twin that made 90 hp at 8,200 rpm and 62 lb-ft of torque at 6,200 rpm at the rear wheel when we last tested it in 2021. The Rally is fitted with an Akrapovič slip-on titanium silencer that’s 35% lighter than the stock can. The 6-speed transmission is paired with a slip/assist clutch.
Suspension is the biggest upgrade on the 890 Adventure R Rally. It’s equipped with a WP Xplor Pro 7548 fork with cone valve technology that KTM claims is the “absolute best suspension currently available.” Out back is a WP Xplor Pro 6746 shock with progressive damping. There’s full adjustability and 10.6 inches of travel front and rear, which is 1.2 inches more than on the standard 890 Adventure R.
The Rally stands apart from its stablemates with graphics inspired by KTM’s Factory Racing team as well as a dedicated rally seat and rally footpegs. Extra protection comes courtesy of carbon fiber tank guards, an engine protection grill, and an aluminum master cylinder guard. A Supersprox-Stealth rear sprocket adds to the premium build quality, and a steering damper is standard.
Rolling on special high-strength spoked Excel wheels (tubes required) in 21- x 2.15-inch front and 18- x 4.00-inch rear sizes, the Rally is fitted with Mitas Enduro Trail tires.
The KTM 890 Adventure R Rally has Motorcycle Traction Control, ABS with Road and Offroad modes, and three standard ride modes (Street, Offroad, and Rain). The Tech Pack adds Rally mode, Motor Slip Regulation, Quickshifter+, and cruise control. The KTMconnect app pairs the bike to a smartphone via Bluetooth and features Turn-By-Turn+ navigation on the 5-inch TFT display.
In addition, 34 lucky people who purchase a KTM 890 Adventure R Rally will get an exclusive opportunity to ride with KTM legends (like Johnny Aubert) at the Ultimate KTM Desert Experience. The event will take place in Morocco, with the option to choose from two dates: March 3-7 or March 7-11, 2024. Participants will be offered a full-factory style package including the use of a fully prepped bike provided by KTM with all the necessary technical support required for desert exploration, transport during the trip and luxury accommodation for a four-night stay, plus one special night camping with KTM in the desert for the total price of $5,400. With three days of riding in the area where the KTM Factory Racing Team does its rally testing, a dedicated and fully guided route, and a prepared KTM 890 Adventure R Rally, this event will be the trip of a lifetime.
The 2024 KTM 890 Adventure R Rally has an MSRP of $21,499. KTM will begin taking preorders on September 20, 2023, and bikes will begin arriving early 2024. For more information, visit KTM’s website.
Riding a motorcycle is fun, but riding a motorcycle with a friend is even better. We recently tested the Volcon Kids Moto Two electric dirtbike, which was ridden by seven-year-old August Beck, the son of my friends Paul and Allison Beck. At the same time, we also had a KTM SX-E 3 electric dirtbike to test.
August just finished the first grade, and one of his classmates owns an electric dirtbike of her own. Like August, Willa Randall is a blond-haired Southern California kid who is full of energy. She’s the youngest member of a motorcycle family. Her father, Shaun Randall, grew up riding dirtbikes in the hills of Ventura County. Her mother, Jenning Steger, also rides, as do her older siblings. In addition to her electric dirtbike, Willa has a Honda CRF50 gas-powered dirtbike and a 200cc Polaris ATV, which is pink, her favorite color.
As the youngest in her family, Willa is used to wearing hand-me-down riding gear, but Fly Racing again stepped up and sent her a full set of kit: a Formula Carbon helmet, Kinetic Mesh Khaos jersey and pants, Kinetic gloves, Maverik boots, and Barricade armored long-sleeved suit and knee/shin guards. Willa was excited to have gear of her own, and she loved the matching black-and-pink color scheme.
For the test, we went to the Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area north of Los Angeles, which has a mini track for dirtbikes and ATVs that are under 90cc.
KTM SX-E 3
Under its “Ready to Race” banner, KTM offers a full line of motocross bikes: 4-strokes ranging from 250cc to 450cc, 2-strokes ranging from 50cc to 300cc, and several electric models – the full-sized Freeride E-XC and two youth models, SX-E 3 and SX-E 5 models.
The SX-E 3 ($4,999) accommodates riders up to 90 lb, while SX-E 5 ($5,499) riders can be up to 121 lb. Both have an air-cooled 48V brushless DC motor that produces 2 kW (3 hp) of nominal output and 5 kW (6 hp) of maximum output.
There are six ride modes, with successively higher modes offering more torque and faster top speeds. In Mode 6, the SX-E 3 tops out at 8.9 lb-ft and 40 mph, while the SX-E 5 is good for 10.2 lb-ft and 48 mph. The higher-spec SX-E 5 also has regenerative braking (in Modes 3-6) and adjustable suspension.
With the same 10-inch diameter wheels and a similar seat height as her Honda CRF50, Willa made a beeline for the KTM. She took to it right away, starting off in Mode 2, which gave her access to 6.6 lb-ft of torque and a 12-mph top speed – perfect for the deep sand and bermed turns on Hungry Valley’s mini track.
Whereas August is still learning the finer points of control, Willa’s years of experience on both electric and gas-powered bikes was evident in her confidence on the track. She also benefitted from the KTM’s premium build quality and components, which dealt with the rocks and bumps on the track.
At $4,999, the SX-E 3 isn’t cheap. Like larger bikes in KTM’s lineup, it has a chromoly-steel tubular frame, a tapered aluminum handlebar with Odi grips, black anodized aluminum rims, Maxxis MX-ST tires, disc brakes with petal rotors, an inverted WP XACT fork with 5.7 inches of travel, and a WP rear monoshock with 5.2 inches of travel.
The key takeaway from the KTM SX-E 3 is that it’s a ripper. It’s an 86-lb mini dirtbike with a 40-mph top speed! The beauty of the ride modes is that a beginner can start off in Mode 1 (4.4 lb-ft, 7-mph top speed) and work their way up as they learn good technique and gain confidence. If there’s a youngster in your life who has aspirations to race, then the SX-E 3 is the perfect training tool.
Fall is a great time for riding in some of the amazing wide-open spaces of the Southwest U.S., especially on a dual-sport or ADV bike. Along these lines, KTM has announced the dates for its 18th annual KTM Adventure Rider Rally, Oct. 13-15 at the Lake Powell Resort in Page, Arizona. The Adventure Rider Rally will take place one day after a Ride Orange Street Demo and will offer riders the opportunity to explore northern Arizona and southern Utah in groups of two to four, as well as participate in a variety of other events each day. The rally has been specifically developed for KTM Adventure and Enduro riders; however, it is open to all brands of street-legal motorcycles. For more information, read the press release below.
MURRIETA, Calif. – The 18th annual KTM Adventure Rider Rally will take place at the Lake Powell Resort in Page, Arizona, between Oct. 13-15, with KTM North America, Inc. excited to host its 2023 edition and welcoming riders from around the globe as one of the brand’s most historic and celebrated events on the global KTM Adventure Rally calendar.
With the options to ride spanning northern Arizona and southern Utah, including the Grand Canyon, adventurers will welcome the opportunity to experience designated loops across each day, inclusive of routes that are suitable for all skill levels and with common places for lunch/gas, supported by KTM.
The format of the rally will once again be in line with that introduced last year, promoting a collective environment for riders to enjoy together.
In the interest of safety and to maximize the fun for participants, adventurers will be placed in groups of two to four people each day. Riders can sign up in advance to pre-determine their groups; otherwise, individuals will be teamed up on-site with a rider/group of the same skill level. In order to navigate the self-guided adventure following GPS tracks provided by KTM, a SPOT, InReach, or similar PLB is required for all riders.
The ultimate KTM Adventure Rider Rally has been specifically developed for KTM Adventure and Enduro riders; however, it is open to all brands of street-legal motorcycles. Thursday, Oct. 12, will feature the ever-popular KTM Ride Orange Street Demo sessions, which enables participants to take part in the planned rides across Friday, Saturday, and half-day Sunday. Riding Technique and Technical Riding Seminars will be available for participating riders, and a broad mixture of Adventure vendors will also be on location.
In addition to having the chance to enjoy the experience with a selection of KTM Adventure ambassadors and athletes throughout the event, participants will receive an event T-shirt and hat, along with a pre-event dinner on Thursday, breakfast Friday-Sunday, and an Awards Dinner on Saturday, where riders will be able to recollect the experience and share their “orange adventure” stories into the evening.
With positions to the 2023 edition strictly limited, visit the 18th Annual KTM Adventure Rider Rally event page for further information and to register now for the KTM Adventure Rider Rally in Page, Arizona, from Oct. 13-15.
Riding new and unfamiliar motorcycles is one of the best aspects of working for a motorcycle magazine. But what I enjoy even more is riding updated versions of motorcycles I’ve tested before, particularly those on my short list of favorites. What I love about them is still there, but performance has been elevated, refinements have been made, and features have been added. That’s very much the case with the 2023 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT.
Derived from the 1290 Super Duke R – a 180-hp naked sportbike known as “The Beast” – the sport-touring GT was introduced in early 2016. Rider’s former EIC Mark Tuttle got a first ride on the 1290 Super Duke GT at the global press launch in Mallorca, Spain, and he gushed about it in his review, calling it “nearly flawless, the perfect sport-touring bike for a rider who doesn’t want to give up sportbike levels of engine performance and handling.”
I’m not above petty jealousy, and Tuttle’s hi-pro glow after that launch made me green with envy. Good guy that he is, Mark twisted the arm of Tom Moen, KTM North America’s head of marketing, to get us a pre-production 1290 Super Duke GT as soon as one arrived on our shores. I flogged and hogged it for nearly 2,000 miles, obsessively guarding its keyless fob like Sméagol with the One Ring, and then I logged another 1,500 miles on a production version, disappearing from the office for days at a time.
Two years later, we tested a 2019 model, which featured updates to the GT’s engine, suspension, comfort, and instrumentation. We had mixed feelings about the refresh of the angular styling, but you can’t see what a motorcycle looks like when you’re riding it, and that’s where the magic happens. Every staffer, to a person, was strung out like an addict on the 1290 Super Duke GT’s torquey Twin and heroic handling.
So you can imagine our heartbreak when the GT disappeared from KTM’s lineup for a few years, forcing us to get our fix elsewhere.
KTM 1290 Super Duke GT: Back With a Vengeance
KTM has been on a roll. Its Austrian parent company, Pierer Mobility AG, has seen 12 successive years of record sales, and at the end of 2022, its three core brands – KTM, Husqvarna, and GasGas – posted a combined 13% increase over the previous year. Annual U.S. sales have topped 100,000 units and $1 billion in revenue, and last year, it surpassed Yamaha in terms of sales volume.
In 2022, KTM built and sold 268,575 motorcycles. That’s a far cry from the 6,300 motorcycles KTM produced in 1992, the year Pierer Mobility purchased the company out of bankruptcy.
On March 28, I attended the grand opening for Pierer Mobility’s new North American headquarters in Murrieta, California. CEO Stefan Pierer spent $53 million on the development, his single largest investment ever.
After enjoying the festivities and touring the facility, I loaded a KTM SX-E 3 electric dirtbike (look for a test in a future issue) into the back of my 4Runner and a 1290 Super Duke GT onto a trailer.
“Where are the GT’s saddlebags?” I asked Andy Jefferson, KTM North America’s media relations manager.
“They’re no longer standard in the U.S.,” he said. “They’re available as accessories, but they’re on backorder.”
List price for the 2017 model was $19,999, and side cases were standard. They were also standard equipment on the 2019 model, but the MSRP had increased to $20,499. The base price for the 2023 model is $19,799 – back below the crucial $20K mark – but the side cases are now optional. Although they weren’t available for this test, the 30-liter bags are priced at $824.99. Our test bike was equipped with the optional Tech Pack ($999.99), which adds the Track Pack, Motor Slip Regulation, Hill Hold Control, and Quickshifter+.
What makes the Super Duke GT so super is its 1,301cc LC8 V-Twin, a potent, versatile engine that’s a true workhorse in KTM’s stable; it’s also found, in various states of tune, in the 1290 Super Duke R Evo, 1290 Super Adventure R, and 1290 Super Adventure S. This V-Twin is no appliance-like powerplant that hums quietly, as dull as listening to a classic rock station with the volume turned down. No, the big LC8 turns it up to 11, making its presence known with visceral power pulses and an authoritative bark from its single exhaust pipe. Sucking fuel and air through a pair of 58mm throttle bodies and compressing it to a ratio of 13.2:1, in Sport mode the 1.3-liter mill laid down 158 hp at 10,000 rpm and 92 lb-ft of torque at 9,400 rpm at the rear wheel on Jett Tuning’s trusty dyno.
While the 1290 Super Duke GT is pretty incredible, it’s no Hulk ready to explode in a rage with one mistimed input. Rather, the GT is a well-behaved beast, one with finely tuned throttle response and easily controllable power. A full complement of electronics allows the ride experience to be tailored to conditions and provides a wider safety margin. Three standard ride modes (Sport, Street, and Rain) adjust throttle response and engine output, and the optional Tech Pack adds two extra modes – Track and Performance – with unique throttle-response settings, launch control, a nine-level rear wheelspin adjuster, and the ability to turn off wheelie control.
A 6-axis IMU provides inputs for KTM’s Motorcycle Stability Control, which includes cornering ABS with two modes (Road and Supermoto) and lean-angle-adaptive traction control. WP semi-active suspension has three damping modes (Sport, Street, and Comfort) and four presets for rear spring preload.
Ride quality and responsiveness are good in all three suspension modes, but differences between them came into sharp relief while making passes on a tight, rough section of road during our photoshoot. In Comfort mode, the chassis felt too loose, and I struggled to find confidence while cornering at speed. Switching to Street increased the sense of tautness, and my confidence ratcheted up accordingly. But it was in Sport mode where the GT’s damping felt the most disciplined and well-controlled, allowing me to dive deeper and push my limits.
For most of this test, I toggled back and forth between the Sport and Street ride modes, and I left ABS in Road mode. I didn’t take the GT to a track day, but with its new, grippy Continental ContiSportAttack 4 tires, I’m confident it would hold its own. Having said that, hypersport tires like the SportAttack 4s may not be the best choice for longevity. Performance mode is the street-oriented version of Track mode for those who want to be able to adjust traction control on the fly and loft the front wheel. (Yes, this is still a review of a sport-tourer.)
Confident handling has always been one of the best characteristics of the Super Duke GT. Its chromoly-steel trellis frame is strong and light, its chassis geometry balances responsiveness and stability, and its curb weight is a respectable 517 lb. New lighter wheels reduce unsprung weight by 2.2 lb, giving the GT even lighter steering response without ever feeling twitchy, thanks in part to the standard steering damper. The bike rolls in and out of corners with ease, and it stays planted when firing out of corners like a cannon. Brembo Stylema front calipers pinching big 320mm rotors and a Brembo radial front master cylinder allow speed to be scrubbed off with finely tuned authority.
Rather than just tacking a windscreen and saddlebags on a 1290 Super Duke R, KTM invested significant development resources to make the GT suitable for touring. It has a frame-mounted fairing with integrated LED cornering lights, a hand-adjustable windscreen, a larger 6.1-gal. fuel tank (compared to 4.2 on the SDR), and a longer rear subframe that better accommodates a passenger and loaded saddlebags.
Standard comfort and convenience features include cruise control, handguards, heated grips, tire-pressure monitoring, self-canceling turnsignals, and the KTM Race On keyless system, which uses an electronic fob to power on the bike and to lock and unlock the steering and fuel filler cap.
Compared to the Super Duke R, the GT has more relaxed ergonomics, with lower footpegs, a taller and wider handlebar, and seats that are larger and more supportive. Rider ergonomics can be dialed in with an adjustable handlebar, adjustable levers, and three different positions for the shift and rear brake levers.
Updates for 2023 include a larger 7-inch color TFT display with new graphics, Turn by Turn+ navigation that integrates with the TFT via the KTMconnect app, and redesigned switches with adjustable backlighting. Like several other KTM models we’ve tested, the GT has two customizable quick-access buttons that allow the rider to change ride mode, damping mode, etc. without going through the menu, and information shown on the bottom of the main TFT screen can be customized with four favorites.
Also new are two storage compartments that fold away inside each side of the fairing. Due to the proximity of the fork tubes, neither can be opened unless the handlebar is turned one way or the other to move the nearest fork tube away from the inner fairing. The left storage compartment has a USB charging port, but the compartment itself is too small for my iPhone, and I doubt many other smartphones would fit either.
Fountain of Youth
My invitation to join AARP should arrive in a few months, and the older I get, the harder it is to stay in shape. These days, mysterious aches and pains come and go, injuries take longer to heal, and what hair I haven’t lost has turned gray. But as soon as I swing a leg over a motorcycle and fire it up, I feel like Benjamin Button. My biological clock switches into reverse, and I feel younger, friskier, more alive.
Every motorcycle has this effect to some degree, but a few, like the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT, have extra mojo. Riding them is like taking a pill packed with special vitamins A, C, and E (adrenaline, confidence, and excitement).
This bike is the pointy end of the sport-touring spear, and it’s sharper than ever.
On March 28, just 15 months after breaking ground on the development, KTM North America and parent company Pierer Mobility celebrated the grand opening of their new North American headquarters in Murrieta, California.
In attendance at the event were Stefan Pierer, CEO of Pierer Mobility AG; members of Pierer Mobility AG’s global board of directors; employees of KTM North America, including members of the KTM, Husqvarna, and GasGas factory race teams; local politicians and dignitaries; and numerous invited guests.
“This is an emotional day for me,” said Pierer. “Exactly 30 years ago, I started in the USA with only a dozen employees. Today, we are Europe’s leading powered two-wheeler group, and we’re selling approximately 100,000 units annually in the U.S. market – so, more than $1 billion in sales. The most important success factor for us is racing; that is the driving force that pushed us over the years. Building our new North American headquarters in Murrieta was the biggest single investment we’ve ever made. We set a new standard for the whole U.S. market.”
Pierer stated that North America is Pierer Mobility’s most important market, which warranted the $53 million investment in the new headquarters campus.
Pierer Mobility AG purchased KTM out of bankruptcy in 1992, and at the time it had just 160 employees and sold only 6,300 motorcycles that year. Under Pierer’s stewardship, KTM grew slowly but steadily, but in the past decade its growth has accelerated.
In 2013, Pierer expanded its brand footprint by purchasing the legendary Swedish off-road brand Husqvarna from BMW, and in 2019, it acquired the Spanish off-road brand GasGas. Pierer Mobility AG also owns WP Suspension and the Felt and R Raymon bicycle brands.
In 2022, three decades after Pierer acquired KTM, the KTM Group produced 375,492 motorcycles, an increase of 13% over 2021. Of those, 268,575 (71.5%) were KTMs, 75,266 (20%) were Husqvarnas, and 31,651 (8.5%) were GasGas motorcycles. During the same year, Pierer also produced 118,465 pedal and electric-assist bicycles for its Husqvarna, GasGas, Felt, and R Raymon brands.
Last year, Pierer also acquired a 25% stake in Italian motorcycle manufacturer MV Agusta, and it will provide distribution and marketing support in North America and other markets.
Pierer Mobility AG is very much on the gas, generating revenues of 2.437 billion euros in 2022, a 19% increase compared to 2021. It currently employs 6,000 workers around the globe, including 360 in North America – more than 200 of which are based in Murrieta, California.
John Hinz, CEO of KTM North America, Inc. and Pierer Mobility North America, Inc. was also in attendance at the grand opening, and he called the event a “massive milestone in our company’s history.”
“The campus and our facilities, this represents the single biggest investment by our company,” Hinz said, “so thank you to Mr. Pierer. We designed these buildings for our employees, race teams, athletes, and truly for our dealers across North America to help support our brands and help support sales. This new campus showcases not only the facilities as a tool for our employees and dealers, but it’s our commitment, our dedication, and our investment into the motorcycle and bicycle industry here in North America.”
The new headquarters occupies a 20-acre site that includes three buildings comprising a total of 130,000 square feet. The two-story administrative building includes office and conference space, facilities for dealer and technical training, space for media fleets, and Kiska’s North American design center. The powersports building houses the KTM, Husqvarna, and GasGas factory race teams, WP Suspension, and R&D facilities. A third building serves as a warehouse.
Pierer Mobility also acquired 12 additional acres located adjacent to the new headquarters that have been set aside for future development. The group’s purpose-built private motorsports facility – RD Field – sits one block south of the corporate campus. It includes two supercross test tracks, a hard enduro test track, and a trials competition section for product testing and athlete training.
We test a lot of KTM motorcycles here at Rider, along with those from nearly 20 other manufacturers, and we realize it’s a privilege to get seat time on the latest and greatest bikes. Test rides at dealers are a rarity, so the KTM Ride Orange Demo Tour is a great opportunity to ride KTM’s street-legal range, everything from the 200 Duke up to the 1290 Super Duke R Evo, ADVs ranging from the 390 Adventure to the 1290 Adventure R, the 690 SMC R supermoto, and the 690 Enduro R and 500 EXC-F dual-sports.
There are currently 15 stops scheduled for the demo tour between March and October, with more to be added. Check out the details in KTM’s official announcement below.
MURRIETA,Calif. – The KTM Ride Orange Street Demo Tour is back for 2023, providing the unique opportunity for U.S. consumers to sample the latest models in the KTM Street range. This year’s tour will commence during Daytona Bike Week in Florida on March 9-11, and will once again be taking place alongside a wide selection of the nation’s premier motorcycle events.
Organized by KTM North America, Inc. in association with participating dealers, this will be your chance to get up close and explore the 2023 lineup together with knowledgeable KTM experts on location before taking to some of the most enjoyable roads in the country. Each ride will take place on pre-planned routes that will be sure to deliver an exceptional experience at this year’s KTM Ride Orange Street Demo Tour.
Participants at the KTM Ride Orange Street Demo Tour will also receive a Ride Orange VIP Card voucher (valued up to $500 MSRP), redeemable on KTM PowerParts, KTM PowerWear and/or KTM SpareParts at an authorized KTM dealer with the purchase of a new KTM Street model.
Registrations for each stop of the 2023 KTM Ride Orange Street Demo Tour open at 9 a.m. on the morning of that event, with riding taking place between 10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Demos are first come, first served.
In order to participate, you must be 25 years or older for 690cc and up, and 21 years old or above for 500cc and under. Participants 21-24 years old can Only ride motorcycles 500cc and under. Experienced riders only (no beginners). No passengers are allowed at any time, and KTM staff can revoke riding privileges at any time for any reason deemed necessary.
All riders must show a government issued photo ID with motorcycle endorsement and will be required to complete a signed waiver prior to any demo rides. Proper riding apparel is essential, including but not limited to a DOT-approved helmet, eye protection, gloves, long sleeves, pants, and sturdy footwear.
For a complete list of 2023 KTM Ride Orange Street Demo Tour locations and to connect with your local participating dealer, please visit KTM’s website or email [email protected]. Follow KTM USA on all social media platforms for the most up-to-date information on events.
We review the 2023 KTM 890 Adventure, which has new styling and was made more off-road capable with revised suspension, new tires, updated electronics, and more. Overall, it’s a more capable, versatile, comfortable adventure bike.
Softer damping settings for the WP APEX suspension and new new finger-turn adjusters on the fork caps.
Automatic selection of Offroad ABS in Offroad and (optional) Rally ride modes.
New Demo mode, which allows a new owner to use and evaluate optional electronic upgrades for 1,500 km (932 miles) before paying for them. Options include Rally mode, Motor Slip Regulation, Quickshifter+, and cruise control, which can be purchased individually or all together as part of the Tech Pack ($549.99).
Upgraded 5-inch TFT display with new graphics, a more intuitive menu system, and color-coded pictograms of the bike. An optional connectivity unit allows the bike to be paired to the KTMconnect app via Bluetooth, which enables Turn-by-Turn+ navigation as well as music and calling functions when connected to a helmet communicator.
Revised bodywork with a more integrated front fairing that includes larger tank and side panels, as well as more load-bearing capacity for large GPS devices (there are USB and 12V outlets on the dash). The new windscreen is taller, has a steeper pitch, and includes a vertical lip at the top, as well as an opening in the center that reduces buffeting at high speed.
A revised seat with an extra 0.4 inch of foam in the seat, which increases the height of the dual position seat by the same amount to 33.1/33.9 inches, but the seat has a narrower shape for similar stand-over height.
New Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires, which have a roughly 70/30 on/off-road ratio compared to the 90/10 ADV tires on the previous model.
KTM has announced details of the 2023 KTM 390 Adventure, which will be available in dealerships in March. The 390 Adventure has been given a new look and increased off-road capability, for a bike that KTM says offers “sheer usability, superb power, and incredibly light handling.”
In our review of the 2020 model, our reviewer said the KTM 390 Adventure was “a lot of bike for the money, with an impressive list of standard features that make it a serious threat to value-oriented Japanese competitors like the Honda CB500X and Kawasaki Versys-X 300, as well as BMW’s G 310 GS.”
The 2023 KTM 390 Adventure still features a compact 4-stroke DOHC 373cc Single with four valves, a balancer shaft, a PASC slip/assist clutch, and electronic fuel injection. Two catalytic converters ensure the system breathes within emission targets, and the vapor design of the 3.8-gal fuel tank also contributes to its eco-friendliness.
Also returning for the 2023 model and contributing to the bike’s off-road persona is the Offroad ride mode (offering more rear-wheel slip) and linked Offroad ABS (disengaged on the rear, reduced on the front), as well as throttle-by-wire, Motorcycle Traction Control, and cornering ABS. Stopping power comes from Brembo BYBRE brakes (320mm front and 230mm rear discs with a 4-piston calipers on the front and single-piston in the rear), and the bike has adjustable WP APEX suspension.
The KTM 390 Adventure also still has 19-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels shod in Continental TKC70 tires, but for 2023 the wheels are spoked and have black anodized aluminum rims. The bike also comes with a two-tier seat that can be easily removed to reveal storage space or swapped out for other models in the KTM PowerParts collection, LED lights, and a windscreen with two positions. It has a claimed wet weight of 379 lb.
KTM says both the lightweight steel trellis chassis and the new 2023 colorway takes design cues from the company’s work at “the sharp end of rally competition.”
MSRP is $7,399. For more information, visit the KTM website.
To stay current with the latest technology and ahead of the competition, KTM has been on a two-year development cycle with its middleweight Adventure platform. The KTM 790 Adventure and 790 Adventure R were launched for 2019, then they evolved into the KTM 890 Adventure and 890 Adventure R for 2021, and now we have updated versions for 2023.
KTM unveiled the 2023 version of the more off-road oriented 890 Adventure R at its Adventure Rider Rally in Idaho last September, and the 2023 KTM 890 Adventure was announced two months later. The standard model and the R are mostly the same, differing only in terms of suspension, tires, seats, windscreens, and color/graphics.
When the platform debuted for 2019, KTM said the 790 Adventure was designed to be the most off-road capable touring bike and the 790 Adventure R was designed to be the most touring-capable off-road bike. They were head and shoulders above anything else in the category, and they shared Rider Magazine’s 2019 Motorcycle of Year award.
KTM has continued its two-pronged approach. To handle its more rugged mission, the 890 Adventure R is equipped with higher-spec WP XLPOR suspension, which mostly accounts for its higher price ($15,199 versus $13,949 for the standard model tested here). It also has Mitas Enduro Trail+ tires, a single-piece seat perched 34.6 inches off the ground, a short windscreen, and rally-inspired graphics.
At the press launch for the 890 Adventure in Obidos, Portugal, KTM representatives said that many customers end up buying the R over the standard model because they perceive the higher-priced one as being the better of the two. But it really comes down to where and how someone rides. If they spend most of their time on the road with occasional forays in the dirt, if their off-road riding style is more exploratory than aggressive, and if they tour with a passenger, the standard model is a better overall fit.
In that vein, KTM made the 890 Adventure more off-road capable without sacrificing its street manners or road-going comfort. New damping settings for its WP APEX suspension are less sporty, geared more toward touring comfort with or without a passenger and compliance on rough off-road terrain. The fully adjustable 43mm inverted fork has an open-cartridge design with compression in the left leg, rebound in the right leg, and new finger-turn adjusters on the fork caps. The Progressive Damping System rear shock is adjustable for rebound and preload, with an adjuster knob for the latter under the left side of the seat. And like the R, the 890 Adventure has 7.9 inches of suspension travel front and rear, 9.2 inches of ground clearance, and 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels.
On the technology front, there’s a new ABS unit that works in conjunction with the 6-axis IMU, and as before, there are two ABS modes: Road (full intervention front and rear, lean-angle sensitive) and Offroad (less intervention at the front, no intervention at the rear, and no compensation for lean angle). Also unchanged are the three standard ride modes (Street, Rain, and Offroad) and an optional Rally mode, all of which adjust throttle response, power, and MTC (Motorcycle Traction Control).
In the past, a rider had to select ABS mode and ride mode separately. On multiple occasions on previous models, I’ve switched over to an off-road mode, headed down a trail, and only then realized I was still in Road ABS mode. Now, when either Offroad or Rally mode are selected, Offroad ABS is automatically selected, while Road ABS is the default for Street and Rain modes.
A new feature on several 2023 KTM models is Demo mode, which allows a new owner to use and evaluate optional electronic upgrades for 1,500 km (932 miles) before paying for them. After the distance limit has been reached and the bike is keyed off, the options are deactivated. The owner then has the option to return to the dealer to pay for them to be reactivated. On the 890 Adventure, those options include Rally mode, Motor Slip Regulation (MSR), Quickshifter+, and cruise control, which can be purchased individually or all together as part of the Tech Pack ($549.99).
There’s also an upgraded 5-inch TFT display with new graphics, a more intuitive menu system, and color-coded pictograms of the bike – when ABS is turned off at the rear wheel, for example, it changes from green to red. With the optional Rally mode, there’s a high-contrast, minimalist Rally display that shows the slip-adjust setting, which can be changed on the fly via the up/down arrows on the switchgear. An optional connectivity unit allows the bike to be paired to the KTMconnect app via Bluetooth, which enables Turn-by-Turn+ navigation as well as music and calling functions when connected to a helmet communicator. A new call-out function lets riders create a favorites list of 10 phone numbers for quick access.
To underscore the 890 Adventure’s newfound off-road worthiness, at the press launch, KTM organized a challenging route near the coast of Portugal. It was a winter day that started off cold, foggy, and damp. Our ride leader was Giacomo Zappoli, KTM’s Product Marketing Manager Offroad & Travel, a young, energetic Italian who has competed in hard enduros and rally raids. After just a few miles of wet pavement, we turned onto a rough gravel road riddled with roots, ruts, and puddles, and before I had even gotten my “dirt legs,” we were throttling our way through deep sand. Alrighty then, game on.
Throughout the day, we switched frequently between paved and unpaved surfaces. The asphalt ranged from wet to dry, flat to curved, and rural to urban, along with some sketchy roundabouts. The off-road terrain included loamy single-track winding through trees, dodgy farm roads lined with ancient stone walls, packed-down gravel on a 6th-gear ridgeline dotted with wind turbines, and even a shortcut between paved sections that had us roosting our way through a small garbage dump. The variety provided the perfect opportunity to test every ride mode repeatedly in its intended environment, and the automatic selection of the appropriate ABS mode meant there was one less thing to worry about.
The 890’s softer suspension settings felt spot-on for the variable terrain, and the new Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires, which have a roughly 70/30 on/off-road ratio compared to the 90/10 ADV tires on the previous model, were appreciated. Countless rocks pinged off the beefier aluminum engine protector, which also covers the front and sides of the lower fuel pods on the horseshoe-shaped fuel tank. The tank’s design, introduced on the 790, carries most of the fuel down near the rider’s feet, reducing the bike’s center of gravity for better handling.
Though unchanged for 2023, KTM’s 889cc LC8c parallel-Twin remains a compact, well-balanced, lively engine. When we put a 2021 890 Adventure R on Jett Tuning’s dyno, it made 90 hp at 8,200 rpm and 62 lb-ft of torque at 6,200 rpm at the rear wheel. The ride modes allow the engine’s character to be tailored to conditions, and the Twin’s flexibility, responsiveness, and auditory rumble are well-suited to an adventure bike that will be pressed into different roles and provide enough excitement to keep things interesting.
Inspired by the KTM 450 Rally – which clinched the top two positions in the 2023 Dakar in the hands of Kevin Benavides and Toby Price – the new bodywork on the 890 Adventure has a more integrated front fairing that includes larger tank and side panels. The connection between the fairing and the frame now uses two forged aluminum components, providing additional strength as well as more load-bearing capacity for large GPS devices (there are USB and 12V outlets on the dash). The new windscreen is taller, has a steeper pitch, and includes a vertical lip at the top, as well as an opening in the center that reduces buffeting at high speed. Wind protection and airflow were noticeably improved, and the taller screen didn’t interfere with terrain reading during tricky off-road sections.
Comfort was further enhanced with an extra 0.4 inch of foam in the seat, which increases the height of the dual position seat by the same amount to 33.1/33.9 inches. To compensate for the added height, the seat has been made narrower in the front to make the effective stand-over height roughly the same. Since I have a 34-inch inseam and ample curb weight of my own, I appreciated the seat’s additional support but did not mind the extra height, even in the higher setting with rear preload cranked up a bit. Lower seats and a lowering kit are available as accessories.
Our test ride on the 890 Adventure certainly lived up to the bike’s name. I made heavy use of the brakes as I adapted to the rapidly changing conditions – both the front lever and rear pedal were easy to modulate – and the ABS intervention did its job without fail. Late in the day, as the hide-and-seek sun had dried out the pavement and we did our best to keep up with Zappoli on a particularly serpentine stretch of road, I gassed it exiting a corner and felt the rear step out. Before I could even think “Oh, sh…!” the TC light flashed and the moment passed.
Back at the hotel, my fellow North Americans and I went directly to the bar; we did not pass Go and we did not collect $200. We ordered tall glasses of beer, toasted each other, and recounted highlights of the day. We had been out in the elements, challenging ourselves, exploring a new area, and having fun. That’s what adventure is all about.
In addition to the recent announcement of the 2023 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R, KTM has released details on the 2023 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S, which will be available this month at authorized KTM dealers.
For 2023, KTM has taken the base of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S, which the company says is “engineered to conquer mile after mile on all types of terrain,” and added a fresh sheen as well as several refinements for the benefit of practical adventuring.
The KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is still powered by the 1,301cc LC8 V-Twin making a claimed 160 hp and 102 lb-ft of torque and mated to a 6-speed Pankl transmission and a PASC slip/assist clutch.
A few years ago, we took the 2018 model on roads ranging from those found in Joshua Tree National Park to clogged Southern California freeways.
“Regardless of the condition of the pavement or the radius of the curve, the KTM is unflappable,” our reviewer wrote.
The 2023 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S has a 22-lb chromoly stainless-steel frame, vertically stacked LEDs with low beam, high beam, and cornering lights that illuminate sequentially as lean angle increases, a reengineered windscreen and adjuster, a height-adjustable seat (33.4 or 34.2 inches), and a new lightweight aluminum sidestand.
The heart of the bike is regulated by a Bosch 6D IMU administering the ride height, ABS, ride modes (Sport, Street, Offroad, Rain, and optional Rally), tire-pressure monitoring, and the WP semi-active suspension damping and anti-dive (WP Suspension Pro is an optional upgrade, as is Quickshifter+).
For 2023, KTM says that roaming roads everywhere and anywhere is now a lot easier thanks to augmented navigation software. The 7-inch TFT display already gave the rider full control over the ride modes, suspension, ABS settings, and adaptive cruise control, but for 2023, KTM aimed for more utility. The KTMConnect App now boasts Turn-by-Turn+ guidance and waypoint markers while on the go and without having to stop and adjust any mobile device. The same functionality also extends to audio tracks and listing ‘Favorites’ when it comes to phone calls.
The KTM PowerParts collection includes additional gear and protection for the 2023 KTM 1290 Super Adventure R, such as extra protective parts, aesthetic touches through detailing, or travel items like luggage, racks, and bags.
The 2023 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S will come in two new color schemes: the iconic KTM orange-and-black trim or the more neutral hue of KTM’s Graded Gray aesthetic. Pricing starts at $20,299.