KTM 1290 Super Adventure and 1090 Adventure

KTM travel enduros in the PS driving report

1290 Super Adventure S and 1090 Adventure

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The KTM 1290 Super Adventure S is currently one of the most powerful travel enduro bikes ever: the manufacturer promises 160 hp at a moderate 8750 rpm. PS was able to undertake test drives with it and the KTM 1090 Adventure in Sicily.

S.torrents flow across the narrow mountain road that leads up the snow-covered Etna. At one point, the rains even cause half a front garden to collapse and let the soil rush onto the roadway. Again and again, lava rock lies around as rubble on the mostly slippery slope. The whole scene looks weird. From rain to fog to a slight flash of sunlight, no meteorological wishes remain unfulfilled on this doomsday day.

KTM travel enduros in the PS driving report

1290 Super Adventure S and 1090 Adventure

Entry-level enduro KTM 1090 Adventure

In the midst of that extremely uncomfortable location, there are certainly more unsuitable horses than the new KTM 1090 Adventure. In the entry-level model in the family of travel enduros from Mattighofen, the 75-degree V2 engine now has 125 hp. The power plus compared to the moderately successful predecessor 1050 Adventure results from different timing, revised combustion chambers and a new mapping. The 1090 with its strengthened twin doesn’t need to hide on narrow ground such as a mountain. The engine pushes properly in the middle, but without too aggressive punch. Further up, the drive does not run out of breath so quickly and the V2 marches bravely. Especially in the narrow, sometimes slippery bends, the soft throttle response combined with the smooth-running clutch is a positive feature.

The chassis is rustic. Apart from the preload and the rebound damping of the shock absorber, nothing can be adjusted on the entry-level adventure. The basic set-up of the WP spring elements is quite tight. The KTM is stable enough for sporty country road driving, but the response behavior of the dampers is not exactly at the top level. Otherwise the 1090 deserves praise. It has a thick 23 liter tank and is therefore recommended for large groups. Nevertheless, the handling turns out to be remarkably light-footed to lively, and there is nothing to criticize about the function of the brakes. Traction control and ABS (still the "old" system without lean angle sensors) are on board and do a decent job. The operation is a bit cumbersome, however, which is now better.

KTM 1290 Super Adventure S.

And above all nicer, as the 6.5-inch TFT display of the larger-displacement and more opulently equipped KTM 1290 Super Adventure S shows. At first glance, the large surface made of shatterproof glass looks like a kind of tablet. But groping is not – the menu navigation takes place via the buttons on the handlebar. The display provides several levels of information and there is a freely configurable favorites mode in which eight different features plus information about mapping and electronic suspension settings can be displayed at once. In addition, the display automatically changes its brightness depending on the lighting conditions, which works really brilliantly. To date, there has hardly been any better legibility with digital instruments.

Automatic switch with blipper function for 389 euros

Gimmicks such as LED cornering lights mounted on an aluminum carrier plate (switches on automatically in three stages at 12, 18 and 25 degrees inclination), cruise control, the selectable off-road mode or the larger-sized and multi-adjustable windshield are part of the standard equipment of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S. On the other hand, the well-functioning automatic gearshift with blipper function must be ordered separately for 389 euros. Or you can order the complete “Travel Pack” for 682 euros with quickshifter, hill start aid HHC, engine drag torque control MSR (opens the gas slightly when braking to stabilize the load) and the “KTM My Ride” function. My Ride allows you to listen to music while driving or to answer calls via Bluetooth. Incidentally, heated grips cost another 194 euros extra.

It all sounds a lot like an overloaded hybrid being. Fortunately, when it says KTM, it ends up being “Ready to Race”. There is this slightly revised LC8 engine with 160 hp. The engine lifts a tremendous 140 Newton meters of torque, of which 108 Newton meters are already available at 2500 rpm. In addition to the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S, there is probably no other travel enduro that can pull super athletes and sporty naked bikes so wildly over their ears in the jungle of curves. The box pushes something out of the corners, there aren’t many opponents left. If Etna erupted at this very second, the 1290 would be the ideal getaway vehicle. The seating position is comfortable, but sporty enough for motivated sprints.

Easy turning without effort

Despite the 23-liter tank, the KTM is not too wide and the front section is rally-like from the driver’s perspective, which creates a good overview. In addition, there is a neutral, very easy turning behavior without any effort. The large-caliber KTM 1290 Super Adventure S doesn’t seem a bit wobbly or restless when driving slowly. The semi-active landing gear works great in most cases and keeps the machine stable on course when accelerating, just like when throwing an anchor. It seems to be less easy to cope with uneven asphalt, especially hard edges. Noticeable: When driving through potholes, the shock absorber partially acknowledges with a short "click". One more word about lean angle sensors from Bosch: The traction control works great! Due to the insane cold and wet grip of the first Pirelli Scorpion Trail II tires, however, she rarely speaks up.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t do the KTM Adventures quite the way we would have liked. The positive driving impressions speak for themselves, and maybe there will be another meeting with the next volcanic eruption: on a little adventure, so to speak!

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