Motorcycle of the Year: 2014 KTM 1190 Adventure

Text: Florian Neuhauser • Photography: KTM

Last year we awarded the MOTY to a brand new model that changed the game dramatically (the Indian Chieftain). Under consideration again this year was an Indian motorcycle, namely the Scout, but also Harley-Davidson’s electric experiment Project LiveWire and BMW’s touring models (the RT and GTL). In the end, the editors at RoadRUNNER all agreed on the motorcycle we’ve been fighting over the keys for all year.

Finding a winner is never easy as there are so many great motorcycles available, and of course it’s largely subjective as well. To choose the 2014 MOTY, we looked at technical innovations, touring capability, comfort, and cost of maintenance to narrow down the list of candidates. Ultimately, it was the feeling we got while twisting the throttle, carving through curves, and experiencing the motorcycle as a natural extension of ourselves that was the deciding factor.

The 2014 Motorcycle of the Year award goes to the 2014 KTM 1190 Adventure! No other motorcycle has excited our staff as much as the orange beast from Austria this year. When we first rode the 1190 in Tenerife (see May/June ’13 issue), we pointed out this machine is “Pure Fun.”

The engineers from Mattighofen hit a home run with the seamlessly integrated electronics package. Multiple drive modes with different levels of ABS, traction control, and suspension setup perform without a glitch and better than the competition’s. Even the user interface won us over with its ease of use.

Modulating nearly 150hp might be a handful for the average rider, but thanks to state-of-the-art traction control and Bosch’s MSC assistance package (the world’s first lean-sensitive cornering ABS), the 1190’s raw power can be managed easily.

The 1190’s seat height is surprisingly accessible. Whereas past versions were truly only built for the long legged, thus failing to capture a large number of riders in North America, KTM redesigned the ergonomics to accommodate even the inseam-challenged enthusiast. The claimed seat height of almost 34 inches probably scares away many, but throw a leg over the seat to find out for yourself.

So what about maintenance and associated costs? The Conti Trail Attack 2 tires that are standard equipment run in the neighborhood of 0. Depending on your style of riding, they’ll last anywhere between 3,000 and 7,000 miles. After the initial service, it takes the dealer half an hour to perform the service about every 10,000 miles. The valve adjustment service at 18,600 miles takes two and a half hours. Based on this info (along with a call to your local KTM dealer to check their hourly rate), one can get an estimatewd cost of maintenance. Speeding tickets, lawyer fees, and insurance premiums? That’s another story.

What our editors have to say:

“Light, fast, comfortable—all the best adjectives start rolling off the tongue as soon as the 1190 is mentioned. It’s one of those few bikes that just does everything well. With the 1190, KTM has built an extraordinarily fun motorcycle that still manages to be practical while encouraging you to just keep riding.” – David Burbach

“The powerful engine runs smoothly, shifting is flawless, and reliable brakes combined with the comfortable seat make the KTM 1190 Adventure a fun bike. With its easy handling, it’s made for curves.” – Christa Neuhauser

“Although the bike’s 34-inch seat height places it at the very top of my limit, I found the bike to be manageable with my 30-inch inseam. The combination of seat and suspension compression brings the real-world height down a bit.” – Steve Mauk