My normal ADV mount is a DR650 and it’s done the job well enough.
I’ve held firm to the belief that modern multi cylinder ADV bikes are getting too complex and too heavy. Perhaps it’s time for me to re-assess my position after riding the 2022 KTM 890 Adventure R.
Complex it indeed is in some ways with enough electronic gizmos to give Nikola Tesla a stiffy but they do work very well indeed. The weight was a surprise too, as the bike looks heavy but it’s deceptive, the 196kg claimed dry weight is less than first glance implies. With the 20L tank sitting low either side of the 889cc parallel twin the wet weight doesn’t give a feeling of top heaviness that a conventional tank can give.
A riding mate, Geoff Lovie, was available, so a quick route was thrown together from Batemans Bay to Cooma and return that provided a variety of riding conditions. Geoff is also a KTM 890 Adventure owner so having him instruct me on all the various optional settings was quicker than trying to study the manual.
My first impression was that it has more, much more, mumbo than the old Suzy, a reliable but dated design. Acceleration was impressive, braking equally so and the weight was not as noticeable as I’d first feared. We made our way around Moruya and through Nerrigundah by various forestry roads that were mostly in good condition. Geoff suggested I start with the settings on Ride: Offroad, ABS: Off-road and MTC (traction control): Off-road.
As I was easing into a new bike that I was unfamiliar with, his advice seemed the sensible option. The “Ride” options are Street, Rain, Off-road and Rally and all make a noticeable difference in response. The whole lot is controlled by a switch block on the left grip to cycle through a menu on the TFT screen. I should note that the screen stayed clear and easy to read from bright sunlight to rain and fog and all conditions in between.
The Street, Rain and Offroad options give different combinations of throttle response, and ABS and traction control can be turned on and off. In the one day I had reason to use all three. Setting the ABS to Offroad allows some locking of the back wheel when desired. The Rally mode gives you more options allowing you to choose three types of throttle response, and that is where the fun truly begins.
The first three settings give a strong steady delivery of power like a continuous push in the back, but the Rally setting is like a king hit. The difference is like turning on a tap or a light switch. Rally gives you huge handfuls of fun to play with, like a night at the Drive-In with Dolly Parton. When conditions allowed I used Rally, it was like riding my KTM 500 EXC on steroids.
Another setting is MTC (Motorcycle Traction Control) which takes inputs from engine speed, throttle and gear position to calculate the maximum admissible torque to the rear without any traction issues. In Rally mode there are nine selectable levels of MTC. The MSR setting (Motor Slip Regulation) works in the opposite direction of the MTC. If, due to quick downshifts or throttle chopping, the engine drag is too high, the ride-by-wire system opens the throttle exactly as much as needed to prevent rear wheel drift.
There’s a lot of other information that the dash displays. Fuel range, distance, ambient temperature, time and date, battery voltage, two trip meters, you get the idea. Which of the six gears you are in, engine temperature, the speed display is large and digital and the rev counter is easy to read at a glance.
The screen did not block my vision and did an admirable job of re-directing wind flow away from my head and chest at speeds up to the legal limit. Maybe a little above it as well but I’m admitting to nothing. For those long straight stretches way out west the optional fitted cruise control would help eat the miles and in radar infested areas, keep the licence intact.
The luggage rack has plenty of space with enough cut outs for straps and hooks for even the most die-hard bondage enthusiast. My Great Loop soft luggage fitted up perfectly with minimal adjustment to clear the Akropovic muffler. KTM claim a fuel consumption figure of 4.5L/100km so the 20L tank should be good for around the 400km mark, depending on throttle enthusiasm.
This bike was fitted with some options, all available on top of the recommended ride away price of $24,470. The fitted extras available were the Akrapovic slip-on exhaust (RRP $1,650), an air filter kit which sits on top of the standard foam filter (RRP $114.00), the Tech Pack includes all software features which are available for the 2022 KTM 890 Adventure R (RRP $1,199.95) and includes the Rally Pack which adds the Quickshifter, cruise control and MSR.
The suspension with 240mm travel at either end worked well and soaked up all the usual obstacles, rocks, holes branches and washouts and I’m confident that with a bit of time spent fiddling with the adjusters it would improve even more. I had no reason to complain, even when landing from an erosion hump that I hit at a speed that would have had my old Mum raising an eyebrow in stern disapproval. ADV riders generally don’t aviate over such obstacles but here at ADB we push the limits in the interests of science.
I did bottom the forks once when a small water crossing had a deceptive sharp edge on the departure side. Katie Emm didn’t even shake her head, just carried on straight and true. The forks hold a spring in each leg, one side adjusts for compression and the other rebound. Out the back is the proven PDS with preload, compression and rebound adjustment.
The agility of the bike surprised me as despite being very stable over the rough stuff changes of direction where easy. Much to the relief of an echidna we found halfway around a blind left hander in the deteriorating conditions. This also stood me in good stead on a dirt road littered with potholes, some of which couldn’t be avoided as to miss one meant hitting three others. The suspension soaked it all up.
I’d reckon the echidna would have liked the good feel from the brakes as well, with the twin discs up front and single rear hauling the speed off admirably. I never felt the ABS was intrusive and took advantage of switching it to different modes as required. I never felt the need to turn it off completely.
Power is never in short supply when you need it with 105hp @ 8,000rpm and torque of 100Nm @ 6,500 rpm. The motor pulled well from low revs even in the higher gears with the two Dell’Orto 46mm throttle bodies feeding fuel without a hiccup. A slipper clutch ensures smooth down changes and a large oil cooler keeps the temperature in check.
Wheels are 21” and 18” and seat height was comfortable with me getting both feet flat on the ground. Gear changing was smooth and effortless and while the cable clutch is fairly light in feel, the optional Quickshifter made gear changes so much easier. I admit to being sceptical when first told of it, but I’m now a convert. I did have the occasional problem shifting up when standing, but that could simply be my size 12s’ being bigger than the designers anticipated.
Despite all my good impressions there are a few things that I didn’t like. As with most bikes meant to venture off sealed roads the sidestand foot is way too small and sinks easily, I’ve seen bigger dentist mirrors. I discovered this when taking static shots alone and had to lift the bike up again which was easier than anticipated. Why can’t the manufacturers weld a simple bit of 3mm plate about 50mm square to the side stand?
The seat is another sore (literally) point. Off road it’s not a problem as you’re up and down on the generously sized pegs a lot but when the inevitably unavoidable stretches of slab raise their ugly head so does bum pain. I’m also not a fan of the slight step in the seat. I’m an honest six foot two in the old money, so this would not present a problem to most.
Which brings me to number three, the bars are comfortable enough when sitting but too low when standing, again a problem only for taller riders and easily fixed. The mirrors gave a good blur free view enabling one to check for the roaming tax collectors with the disco lights on the roof. I’d go for an aftermarket bash plate as well, the standard unit is a bit on the thin side.
Our route took us from sea level and calm humid but overcast conditions up to altitude with rain and fog and the KTM 890 Adventure R performed faultlessly throughout. When conditions were dry and open the Rally mode allowed me to dream I was Toby Price, and when the road was fine loose gravel or wet and slippery then the Offroad mode kept me out of strife.
On the odd occasion an over enthusiastic right wrist had the back stepping out a little on the bends but it was never a worry and easily controlled. I’d like to think it was testament to my lightning reflexes and consummate skill but it’s more likely that the credit lies with the KTM engineers.
If you really need to feel like Pricey you might like one of the 700 Adventure R Rally models. This limited-production model features WP Xplor Pro suspension like the works KTM 450 Rally, giving an additional 30 mm of suspension travel front and back compared to the KTM 890 Adventure R, increasing seat height to 910mm. You also get a unique colour scheme, a high-strength steel chassis and an upgraded and extra potent engine.
If owning one of a limited-edition 700 units alone isn’t enough you also get updated engine and electronics, an Akrapovic exhaust (35% lighter than standard), the straight racing seat with RALLY mode and Quickshifter+ included. On top of that KTM throws in narrow anodized rims, clear screen winglets and racing graphics and colours, carbon-fibre tank protectors and rally footpegs.
So it’s time to face the nagging question, has my initial belief about weight and complexity of many ADV bikes changed? My thoughts on weight certainly have and the performance and general comfort of the KTM 890 Adventure R, hard seat excepted, are generally so much better. The complexity is still there, but many of the electronic features should not leave you stranded if they were to stop working so that’s not a huge issue.
Dewatering could be a chore, and water crossings are a fact of life in ADV riding, but care, common sense and checking the depth first takes care of that. So really the question is would I put down my hard -earnt on the KTM 890 Adventure R? Well there are some other adventure bikes, marked down to be tested in the coming year so I’ll reserve judgement. I will say that the KTM sets the bar very high, and who would say no to a night at the Drive-In with Dolly?
2022 KTM 890 Adventure R
Type: DOHC parallel twin
Bore & Stroke: 90.7 x 68.8mm
Cooling: Liquid with water/oil heat exchanger
Compression ratio: 13.5:1
Fuel metering: DKK Dell’Orto (throttle body 46mm)
Tank capacity: Approx. 20L
Clutch: Cable-operated PASC slipper
Wheelbase: 1528mm ± 15 mm
Seat height: 880mm
Ground clearance: 263mm
Claimed Weight: 196kg dry
Front: WP Xplor 48 with compression, rebound, preload adjustment, 240mm travel
Rear: WP Xplor with compression damping adjustment (high and low speed), rebound and hydraulic preload, 240mm travel
Front: Twin radially-mounted, four-piston calipers, 320mm discs
Rear: Two-piston floating caliper, 260mm disc
Handlebar: Tapered alloy
Front tyre: 90/90-21″
Rear tyre: 150/70-18″
PRICE & CONTACTS
RRP: $24,470 rideaway
WARRANTY: 24 months