KTM 990 SMT motorcycle test


SMT as Sacrement Membre…. the tourist !!

Test on 100 passes and 3,000 kilometers

All dressed in matt black, the 990 SMT has, like the range, a physique that does not leave marble. We like it or we hate it, but we have to admit that the designer has broken the bag a little to match all the gear. At KTM we do in the triangular and the sharp and the SMT, posed on the lateral, by its side beast at rest, obliges the passer-by to take a look. Be sure if you invest in this machine you will not go unnoticed !


This machine is in fact a Supermoto on which we have grafted a pair of saddlebags. I remember the 70s when we went to the end of the world with the Brellons that we usually used to get out of the way on the Corniche des Cevennes. Well, I found in this SMT a little the same spirit. The letter T signifying of course "Travel" it was necessary to make some modifications on the traditional SM without removing the flavor and the way of being. How to take a pure and hard supermotard on a trip? Well quite simply by equipping it with a fairing integral with the frame, a luggage carrier sole, a windshield which can optionally take on beautiful proportions, hand guards and a stepped saddle more wide and lowered by 2 cm.


Along for the adventure. Oh sorry, the name is already in use by the brand.

In the saddle

Adjustable levers, hand protectors, the handles are relatively thin, we feel a real research to ensure driving comfort. RAS on the ergonomics of the handlebars. There is just a little moment of surprise about the somewhat unusual position of the brake lever, slightly shifted to the left, which will tell me you favor an easy grip with two fingers. The rest of the comodos are traditional.


The frame is the same as that of the SM but the travel of the superb inverted fork still from WP has been reduced a little. The spoke wheels come from Marchesini. Braking is provided at the front as well as at the rear by the Brembo house. Would we be riding the Supermoto? Anyway, it still looks like him.

In the "socks" series, the machine is fitted with the latest generation Michelin Power 2CT tires… .. which we have never been able to fault, whether in the dry or the wet..


The double exhausts rumble generously and whatever the condition of the coating, the original superbly suspended machine in White Power completely adjustable (fork and combined) but which we had left in "standard" configuration for our test, is hardly never faulted. Corner brakes and pickups on bumpy surfaces seem to be the terrain of choice for a motorcycle that exudes safety.


The dashboard, like all the brand’s models, is not the most complete. We appreciate the partial fuel reserve totalizer which takes over when we reach the end of capacity (180 km before that happens and an autonomy after passage in reserve which borders on 60 km) but the displays are still too small and there may be a little too many gaps for a use that still wants to be "Touring".


The digital display of the counter is a little optimistic (96 counter for 90 real and 138 for 130 km / h). From a practical point of view we discover after a few manipulations and being careful not to be in the sun, not to have big gloves and to spot the button: 2 partial trips, the reserve trip, the time, the mileage total and outdoor temperature. The tachometer is completed by a battery of warning lights: changeover to reserve (to be reset after refueling), high beam warning lights, oil pressure and indicators. It is completed by a classic very visual needle tachometer.
On the other hand, you can find an optional European type external socket, which is very useful for powering the GPS..

The braking dosage controlled by this lever shifted to the left requires a little adaptation time. Each control has a thumbwheel setting, but it is not easy for the uninformed to use. The selector falls well under the foot as well as the tiny rear brake pedal. The wide footrests are equipped with removable rubbers they hardly vibrate.
The wide Renthal handlebars require a small adjustment to adapt to the morphology of each one but once this done we have a good position and the control is very easy. Free locations allow easy mounting of a GPS. The ignition key is in the central position and a flashing light, which I absolutely did not understand the usefulness of, starts up once the key is removed, like an intuitive alarm.


The first impression that emerges from the first turns of the wheels with this SMT is the extraordinary lightness of the front axle. I even thought for a moment that I had an inflation problem because the machine easily took an angle at the slightest request. Well no, the bug is like that. Heritage or original sin, I was going to have to get used to it this machine had everything of a bicycle, a bicycle with more than 110 donkeys that pushed it up the ass.


The trunk of the twin cylinder is such that the SMT is likely to be put on the rear wheel at the slightest request. But it is done without risk, very gently…. like I’m in a wheelie! Come on, rest the front Marcel, it turns !! I did not try to raise the rear too much during heavy braking, but it is quite possible and relatively easy. Morality, as long as you are a little crazy you will be able to wear only one tire at a time !!
Well, go crazy enough, we are here to test and not to make us hate !!

In the city

This is not the terrain of predilection for motorcycles, at least in the version with the two enormous parallelepipedal “baskets” which adorn the rear. Indeed, their wheelbase is such that you really have to be careful when pulling out from behind a vehicle or when you want to pass in the middle of a line. The worst part is that the bike is so light and easy to maneuver that you don’t think about it. The 990 SM must like it, but the SMT dreams of forgetting the suitcases.


In addition, in traffic jams, the engine warms up quickly and we end up with both an enormous noise of a hair dryer and a gentle heat which rises along the fairing. If in winter it must be relatively bearable, as soon as the ambient temperature exceeds 20 ° it turns into torture.

Apart from the noise coming from the rear disc, it is relatively difficult to resume the bike smoothly below 2,500 rpm. It is therefore necessary to constantly play with a box which fortunately is of a faultless locking and an exemplary softness..



Large axes, this means cruising at a stabilized speed while watching the speedometer with one eye and the other pairs of binoculars, with the third the limit signs
and the last, the reactions of other users. This is not really ideal, unless you want to let yourself be lulled by the purring of the big twin which will soon fall asleep..


Apart from that RAS, it slows down, it accelerates, it swallows the bitumen like a Strasbourgoise a plate of sauerkraut, hidden behind the large bubble (option) you can ride with your helmet half open. The bi does not vibrate too much, but for this little game, it is better to have a real GT with regulator and integrated car radio.


The departmental: it is there !!!

The SMT 990 arrives not without displeasure on the departmental roads. Its lightness and maneuverability give you the impression of transforming yourself into a pilot … In this game, you will even take maximum pleasure in catching the vast majority of your friends as long as you understand how the beast behaves.

It allows you to rediscover the pleasure of riding a motorcycle, and you even surprise to appreciate the drops of drizzle, despite good protection provided by the high bubble.


This is where you’re going to love the engine’s stretch, its pickups at 3000 rpm with that ass kick that sends you into the stars. This is where you will be safe thanks to this braking from beyond the grave (which would be even more reassuring with an ABS even if it is not quite in the Supermot spirit !!). This is where you will find yourself playing with the box in twists and turns of pins and up and down passes..

This is where you will find in this bike like a kind of new wave spirit, with this rebellious side and its nonconformism à la Truffaut.
This is where you’ll get more than your footing, where you’ll wonder why this is going to stop at some point or another, where you’ll feel the adrenaline trickling down your lower back, unless it is. the sweat of having to drive this machine like a racehorse.

This is where you will understand what the motorcycle can bring pleasure when it is found in the element that suits it best..

This is where you will take yourself for a pilot, where you will never reach the limit of the tires, where you will not be able to defeat the handling regardless of the poor quality of the coating..
This is where you will also take reckless risks and if you keep doing bullshit like that you are going to put yourself in one..


You will have understood this motorcycle is a machine to eat the Col, to thread along the tortuous departmental roads, to thread curves as my grandmother threaded her hook, to play up and down the valley or by cow and by calves, to swallow turn after turn, to resume after a pin on a furious gas that will throw you into the next pin.

You will have understood that this is where the bike is at ease, that it will express itself perfectly, that it will fully develop its full potential, that it will give you so much pleasure that it is is erectile, that it will make you smile even if the atmospheric conditions are deplorable.

In fact this motorcycle is a push to crime as soon as the road rises and the straight lines are no longer blessed, it is not far from being the absolute weapon as long as you know how to use it and that you are Seriously Members. Tourist !!


When I took the bike from KTM I was warned, be careful braking is quite impressive…. Well seen doctor, he is not impressive, he is insane. It makes you wonder if it is not even oversized compared to the machine. The rear disc, perfect retarder and stabilizer is relatively easy to dose but the double front disc requires a minimum of skill especially at idle. On the other hand in heavy braking it is a real happiness! The enormous inverted White Power absolutely does not dive and the machine stops in a pocket square even in the most extreme situations.


As far as braking is concerned, however, there is a hearing problem. And apparently after discussion with a pair of other SMT users, this would even be a recurring flaw. When hot and at low speed, the rear brake emits a most unpleasant squeal that makes the populace turn around. In the city it makes people uneasy. I heard it was coming from the platelets. But please, Mr. KTM do something quickly because after a while I no longer dared to press the pedal !


The saddle is very comfortable and long journeys, even on departmental roads with not always very smooth surfaces, are not an ordeal. The passenger is also well installed, can be a little high because he will take the full brunt of the turbulence, the proximity of the exhausts seems however to present if not a certain risk at least a build-up of heat which could be very unpleasant once the beautiful. season come. It has two grab handles that fall well under the hands. Our testing machine was equipped with a high bubble (optional) which, even if it is affected by an unpleasant vibration, has the quality of protecting effectively, however at the expense of aesthetics. The fork crown protects well but we can regret some hot air rises which are unpleasant limits especially in town when the fan starts up, which is very common.


The bike can be equipped with the choice of tiny triangular boiled cardboard saddlebags which are certainly very aesthetic but which will be full with two briefs and three pairs of socks…. or large suitcases which we can only regret not being able to integrate even a jet helmet and which, moreover, have no security: opening by a hook, detachment of the support by another simple hook and even total disappearance the suitcase support with a simple screwdriver by acting on the 3 “quarter turns”…. Well seen for ease of maintenance but we can fear their rapid disappearance !


Under the saddle, it is a fair grimace. If you can find a very complete tool kit, with even the bottle opener that goes well, there is no question of inserting a U, or even a tire sealant. By packing well, we will find just room for a little rain pants.


The fuel cap is not hinged, like many supermot machines, with the risk of knocking it down; a little annoying.


The composite oil pan acts as a protective shoe. A very good point for checking the oil level and for ease of filling. The bike we had was equipped with a set of crankcases which seem extremely effective and which have the merit of not disfiguring the machine..

The SMT is equipped with two crutches, one lateral and one central. The lateral deserves, as on the Adventure, to be a bit less straight and especially to have a slightly larger seat. The central stand, perfectly integrated into the bike and absolutely not disturbing the ground clearance, is very easy to use, the bike crutching on a simple support.


Toolkit is complete.

A rear suspension adjustment is located within easy reach on the right side of the machine.

Electrical equipment is very efficient. In code as in lighthouse it is the TOP.


Over the 3000 km driven on the SMT, fuel consumption has stabilized at 6.8 liters per 100. The displayed tank capacity is 19 liters, including 4 liters of reserve, which gives a relative range of around 280 km..



Acquiring this SMT means wanting to do GT with a Supermoto. Well, we tested the machine over 3000 km, it is indeed possible.

It is true that for those who cannot limit their desire to let the power of the beast fully express itself, you risk surprising the motorhome that you overtake on the rise of the Galibier, right on the rear wheel with weapons. and luggage !

Without falling back into the image of Dr Jekyll and his buddy, it’s easy to say that this bike has two faces. This is probably why the luggage kit can be removed so easily. All year round, we will go to arsenal with our friends on the ascent of Col St Pierre and in July, in the saddle my sweet, direction the big blue through the castles of the Loire history to wear down the central part of the tread.

This machine produced with great seriousness may interest a certain category of travelers but it will all the same remain in a very particular niche and that is surely its main fault or its main quality..
Too typical for some, not enough for others, this KTM SM .. T is all the same in the spirit of the house of Mattighofen. Admittedly, it could hardly be considered as a real GT but it fits perfectly in competition with a Triumph Tiger and other Ducati Multistrada which are part of this new generation of "Sports Road Trails".

To manage to reconcile the comfort of the driver and the passenger, the possibility of taking luggage, an exemplary road holding, a demonic braking and an inexhaustible engine box on the same machine it does not seem easy to do. Well yes !! So here we have the perfect bike. well no !!
But why ?
I would say she is everything too! to be sold to honest people !

Strong points

  • Engine box
  • Handling
  • Braking

Weak points

  • Motor heating up
  • Tank capacity
  • Hardly legible dashboard

Competitors: BMW 1200 GS, Ducati Multisrada 1200, Honda Varadero 1000, Moto Guzzi Stelvio, Triumph Tiger 1050, Yamaha XTZ 1200 Super Tenere


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2 thoughts on “KTM 990 SMT motorcycle test

  1. For my part the Monster 1100 EVO is a success concerning of course its exploitable performances but especially for its general line very typical sporty roadster, with a superb original exhaust line which maintains balanced proportions. The silencers neither too long nor too big diffuse a bewitching sound. I much prefer the Monster 1100 EVO to the 2010 model whose exhaust line reminded me more of a trail bike than a roadster.

  2. Do you have a link to listen to this twin with these new pots????

    I know the old soundtrack perfectly, not the new one

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