KTM has seriously one-upped its 990 Adventure motorcycle with the latest new model, the 1190 R. Freshly home and dried out from KTM’s press launch, which was held in rainy Steamboat Springs, CO, I’d like to share some impressions. The rest will be featured in an upcoming issue of RoadRUNNER.
Significant changes have been made to the electronics, engine, chassis, handling, and ergonomics. The bike is surprisingly capable off-pavement. We rode most of the day on forest service trails and fire roads, with a few narrow paths thrown in for good measure. Those Colorado storms that have been all over the news were swirling around us as we made our way up to 11,000 feet high in the Rockies. Despite its roughly quarter-ton heft (claimed wet weight is 518-pounds), I was able to stay upright and maintain a good pace, even over rocks, ruts, and washboard bumps.
On road, the most significant change is the more potent engine, which has several modes; Sport, Street, Rain, and Enduro. The first two allow the rider access to the full 150 (claimed) horsepower, the latter two limit the engine’s output to about 100 hp. Each works well.
But select “sport” and give that throttle-by-wire a full twist to its limit and you’ll experience a wonderful rush of power from down low all the way to redline as the broad power band thrusts you forward with wheelie-inducing acceleration. The revs rise quickly, but the slick six-speed gearbox allows you to keep up.
The Bosch 9ME combined-ABS lets you switch to Off-Road mode, which separates the brake lever and pedal functions, and allows the rear wheel to lock while simultaneously retaining front ABS functions in a way that still leaves you with effective braking on loose surfaces. The 1190 R’s chassis instills confidence and the off-road traction control setting allows you to look like a hero with those tail-out power slides, without unceremoniously throwing you on your butt.
On some adventure bikes, when you squeeze the ABS brakes on loose dirt they seem to barely apply, causing l-o-n-g stopping distances. On the 1190 R with the ABS set to off road, you can brake hard without fear of losing the front end … or taking seemingly forever to stop. On pavement the ABS also works well, hauling the bike to a stop without drama, even in the rain. Every time the ignition is shut off, the bike’s ABS reverts to its default road setting, which can be annoying. I used the kill switch and left the ignition on when I wanted to pause briefly without going through the ABS reset drill. KTM’s Power Parts accessory division offers a slew of goodies to spice up the 1190 R, including a kit that allows the ABS to maintain its setting after a restart.
The test bikes were fitted with Continental TKC 80 tires because of the extended off-road riding planned for the intro. They worked well in all but the deepest, slipperiest mud, when the treads packed up, yet had decent road manners. Standard fitment is Conti’s TrailAttack 2 rubber, which is more pavement oriented.
This is a bike that favors tall riders. The R model’s WP suspension has a little more than an inch of extra travel front and at 35 inches the saddle is taller than the regular 1190’s adjustable 33.8 to 34.5-inch seat height.
KTM’s 1190 Adventure R has a suggested retail price of $16,799. The 1190 R’s riding posture is pure dirt bike, upright, and tall and it’s the most nimble and easiest to ride “big trailie” that I’ve ever ridden. KTM reports that the 2014 U.S.-spec models will have a few changes not found on the Euro-spec 2013 models we rode.
Text: Ken Freund
Photography: Mitterbauer H.