Editor's note - It's funny how things turn out. I was queuing for a coffee at a client's office and, as you do, got chatting to a chap in bike gear. We talked about bikes, about magazines and about reviews, and he asked me if I'd be interested in his experiences with his KTM. Naturally, I invited him to write what actually turns out to be the first of our guest/owner reviews. And here it is. So over to Jez Weaver (who may well turn out to be a regular contributor).
All it took to confirm in my mind that this was the bike for me was selecting second gear a few moments after pulling away from the dealership.
I was in the market for a replacement bike and had a fairly wide range of parameters which made the challenge of choosing a new motorcycle that bit more difficult but in the end it came down to a choice of two; the Honda Africa Twin or the KTM 1190 Adventure.
The one hour road test simply confirmed what I’d thought in the first 30 seconds.
OK so as the article title suggests it’s arguably not the prettiest bike to behold. The front in particular could be enhanced perhaps but then I don’t have to look at the front when riding it.
From the pilot's seat you sit up fairly high which gives a commanding view of the road ahead and allows you to peer over the tops of all but the tallest of cars. It’s a physically large bike which also offers a better possibility of being seen by other road users. However this height advantage may be something to consider if you’re perhaps less than 5’ 10” with a 32 inch inside leg.
Its weight is, at least for this market sector, fairly light but it still pushes the scales over 220kg with fuel and fluids. However, like all the best machinery in this class, the weight all but disappears as soon as the wheels are turning. In fairness, even sitting at traffic lights it's balanced enough not to feel top heavy.
The power is more than you could ever really wish for but it’s nice to have none the less. There is the option to change the power output via the various electronic modes on the dashboard. Rain mode gives you a softer throttle response and "just" 100 BHP. Even using that setting there is more than enough shove for everyday riding with plenty of overtaking power at hand. In slow moving traffic the bike can feel a little jerky which is partly due to the sensitivity of the throttle, especially noticeable on less than glass smooth surfaces, soRain mode can actually be useful even in the dry as the softer response dials a lot of that issue out.
Talking of on-board electronics, this bike is riddled with them; and far too many to mention here. The traction control is, for me one of the standout features. It works so well and so smoothly the only time you are aware of its intervention is the flashing warning light that illuminates when the system is active. It also acts as an anti-wheelie control which is handy when you attempt to unleash the full 150BHP. Again, the system looks after you brilliantly giving you a bit of front wheel lift before gently landing you back of two wheels. It’s sublime.
However as with everything there are always a few niggles and with this bike, for me, there are two big ones. Firstly it’s the comfort. Or rather the lack thereof. The standard seat was excruciatingly painful after an hour or so in the saddle to the point it was almost bringing tears to my eyes. Typically it really became an issue on my first long ride. After I’d had the first service carried out, I rode it to Northern France but by the time I’d arrived at the Portsmouth ferry terminal I was struggling to walk. I persevered with the seat for a thousand miles or so hoping it would break in but in the end I could stand it no longer and purchased KTM’s comfort seat from their Powerparts catalogue. The difference was night and day. Still not perfect on the all day in the saddle rides but then I’ve never yet found a bike that is.
The other big problem was the wind buffeting. Now this issue seems to be common to a lot of bikes with larger fairings and screens and the internet is awash with all sorts of various fixes and solutions. I’ve finally managed to dial out 80% of the problem with a combination of an MRA screen with the Vario blade attached at the top. This allowed me to make some fine adjustments with the added bonus of not having to fit a screen the size of a shop window.
The other item that has helped was the replacement mirrors. I removed the OEM handlebar fitted ones for a pair of Rottweiler Performance Arrow mirrors. These are significantly smaller and fit on the handguards with the aid of a couple of bolts. The kit was very easy to install and in my opinion well worth the money. Just be aware that you will need to drill the holes for the fixing bolts in the hand guards but a template is supplied with the kit and the quality of the mirrors are second to none. They weren’t cheap and import duty and VAT after having them shipped from the USA didn’t help matters either. But, most of the buffeting has now gone so worth the expense in my opinion.
The only other accessory I’ve fitted is a TomTom GPS mount. That took a good hour or so to fit as, naturally, a lot of the front has to be removed but the SWMotech mounting system fitted really well and has so far proved to be very stable. KTM motorcycles come with wiring ready for accessories such as the GPS which takes a lot of worry out of wiring aftermarket items in to the existing loom thankfully.
Considering I like to ride in a fairly spirted fashion most of the time, the tyres have taken it in their stride. The rear needed replacing at 7,000 miles and it’s still on the original fitment Continental Trail Attack front, although it won’t be long before I’ll have to replace it. I have no complaints at all with the tyres, they give good feedback, grip well in all road conditions that I’ve come across and lasted well. The chain and sprockets are still the original items too and seem to have plenty of life left in them yet.
Finally, servicing has been routine with the supplying KTM dealer doing all of it for me and I’ve neither had to report any issues to them or vice versa. It’s been totally reliable so far.
To sum up: If you’re looking for a ballistic, high quality, well-built, do it all motorcycle, or you just like orange then go take a look at the KTM Adventure range. From my perspective, having owned the bike for just over three years now and covered 10,000 miles it still puts a smile on my face every time I ride it. And I don't know what more you could ask.