ADB Editor, Mitch Lees, recently rode the new KTM 1090 at the international press launch in the New South Wales Blue Mountains, here are his five favourite things about the new machine.
The 1050cc, 125hp LC8 V-twin hasn’t changed much since it was called the 1050, so it’s great to see it has retained its mid- to top-end punch. Unlike other adventure bikes, the 1090R needs to be ridden high in the revs if you want to get the most out of the engine. I was left searching for a little more torque and bottom-end grunt to help slide the rear. After a few lame drifts I worked out I was best leaving the engine map on Street or even Sport mode and then switching off the traction control and ABS.
If you’re riding technical rock sections leave it in off-road mode as it softens the throttle and produces a less aggressive power curve, while also adjusting the TC and ABS to suit.
Fortunately, KTM’s electronics system allows you to chop and change what you’d like regardless of the engine mode you select. This has pros and cons. Being able to select whatever ABS or TC mode means more versatility and a more rideable bike.
The 1090R does not come standard with an Akrapovic, but all the test bikes had one. Not only did the Akro improve top-end but it sounded tougher than a $2 steak. It looked factory as well.
#3: WP Shock
At 100kg with gear I struggled to get the 48mm WP fork to hold up on big hits. The compression damping was excellent and the fork floated across shallow, choppy stuff but, even after winding on the preload two clicks, I still managed to bottom the fork too easily. If you’re planning on riding hardcore off-road with big holes and erosion mounds begging to be jumped, go up a few springs.
The fully adjustable WP shock was excellent. Not only did the 220mm of travel soak up all the bumps without the need to see a chiropractor, but it provided excellent drive when the trail got choppy. Up a difficult sandstone climb the rear-end refused to break traction and that was with the traction control turned off.
For an adventure bike I was impressed with the standard gear KTM offers to protect your top dollar purchase. The handguards not only provide excellent protection for when you bin it but also shield your hands from the elements. A tough set of ’pegs with removable rubber inserts offer two positions while the crashbars have remained and are, as always, well out of the way and ensure nothing else gets damaged in a tip over. The windscreen is adjustable and, at 185cm when fully extended, did enough to stop the wind from battering my face.
For a bike with more than 1000cc, the 1090’s agility is its best feature. KTM has once again employed a chromoly-steel trellis frame, which tips the scales at just 9.8kg, and enables KTM to keep the 1090R at 207kg dry.
The bodywork is new and the 23-litre fuel load is deceptively low in the chassis. The narrower tank allows you to grip better with your knees when standing and navigating technical terrain.
The handling felt more like an EXC than an adventure bike. Last-minute changes in direction could be done by just leaning on the ’pegs as the weight felt central and low. Unlike most adventure bikes the 1090R does not feel top heavy and even a novice adventure rider would feel confident.
WORDS // MITCH LEES PHOTOS // GREG SMITH & JEFF CROW