The endurance test of the KTM 790 Duke Adventure R

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The endurance test of the KTM 790 Duke Adventure R



The endurance test of the KTM 790 Duke Adventure R

KTM 790 Duke Adventure R in the intensive test
Is it the most off-road daily travel enduro?

According to KTM, the 790 Adventure should be the most off-road travel enduro on the market. Its harder sister, the 790 Adventure R, on the other hand, is said to be the most travel-capable off-road motorcycle of all. Participation in the Adventure Rally in Bosnia offered the ideal opportunity to put this claim to the test.

Johannes Muller

December 31, 2020

Friday noon in Ursensollen, 40 kilometers east of Nuremberg: headquarters of KTM Germany. “Do not worry, we have insured the motorcycle extra well for the occasion.” Having already mentioned the term in advance “Salvage” has fallen, the reassuring words with which I get the key to the KTM 790 Adventure R actually have the opposite effect. But the plan is in place: two and a half days of riding a pig gallop until shortly before Sarajevo. The smallest streets, minimizing the motorway, maximizing off-road – the Transeuro-Trail through Slovenia, Croatia and the west of Bosnia attracts with lots of gravel and easy terrain. On site in Bjelasnica, at the KTM Adventure Rally, tire change to Conti TKC 80, three days of harder terrain, then back 1,100 kilometers as quickly as possible. Adventure riding is the new German – the ideal occasion to test the 790 Adventure R in its element. A high-density intensive test.

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When it comes to luggage, I limit myself to the essentials, solo and without camping equipment there is no reason for bulky, heavy suitcases. So only the baggage roll finds a bomb-proof hold on the top case carrier that remains on the KTM 790 Adventure R. Tip: ROK straps have proven themselves for this. The small cutlery should also be sufficient as a navigation solution: smartphone in a hard case with offline maps and special off-road navigation software. the “KTM My Ride”-Navigation app (8.99 euros), which can be linked to the motorcycle’s TFT display via Bluetooth, covers everyday life and coming home quite satisfactorily, but is not enough for serious tasks like these. Twelve volts for the USB adapter can be found in the cockpit as standard, and thus clack, hiss and away.

Even before the exit sign Ursensollen it is clear: The one for one “Adventure motorcycle” The KTM 790 Adventure R with a seat height of 880 millimeters misses the extremely accessible, low ergonomics, the big bonus of the more civil non-R. The reasons for this are the long suspension travel (240 millimeters at the front and rear, an increase of 40 to the base) and the continuous bench. The unique selling point of the 790 as a travel enduro, even for smaller drivers, is gone. The benefit: a much more open knee angle, more freedom of movement and, of course, much higher reserves in the field. What will show up later.

The endurance test of the KTM 790 Duke Adventure R


Cockpit: A lot of information, but sometimes very small font. Simple navigation instructions can also be displayed via smartphone – practical in everyday life.

More bubbly and easy to turn than full

Initially, however, the KTM 790 Adventure R does not mediate in the Bavarian Forest “ready to race” but sheer driving pleasure. It is well known that KTM’s 790 in-line twin-cylinder, even in the 95 HP version, as it is used in both Adventure models, is more bubbly and easy to turn than full. An extremely warm-blooded, lively drive that finds its fair share in terms of performance. Nice: moderate vibration, accurate throttle response, overall very acceptable manners. Together with the wonderful Quickshifter / Blipper, which juggles the gears without jerking, and above all the pleasantly low weight of 215 kilos, driving fun is guaranteed. The 790 R puts you in a good mood. Constant jerking? Not noticeable to me. When doing stretching on asphalt, however, the R-ergonomics have disadvantages: The handlebars are too high for my 1.70 meters. The sister model is more comfortable in the long run while sitting. It also conveys the more down-to-earth, asphalt-connected driving experience.

It’s hot and dry. Conditions under which the first Metzeler Karoo 3 tires are convincing: For a mixed tire, the grip is flawless, even ample. The turning in is pleasantly neutral and even, there is even feedback. You just have to live with the extremely loud rolling noise.

KTM 790 Adventure R consumes 4.3 liters

After about 300 kilometers we reach the Austrian border. Time for a precautionary refueling stop, during which the 790 once again documents its restrained drinking habits. No 14 liters fit into the tank of the KTM 790 Adventure R, which is pulled deep to the front and down and still takes some getting used to. Makes an average of 4.3 liters when the journey is not exactly economical.

Time is of the essence, so the motorway through the Alpine republic. Here, too, the KTM 790 Adventure R presents itself as moderately reduced, the slim design for a motorcycle in this category puts comfort behind, but does not forget it. The wind protection is hardly outstanding, but acceptable, even in the higher position of the disc, which can be adjusted by means of a central screw. The bench also demands reasonable concessions. The upholstery looks spartan at first, but has advantages after long hours. Admittedly, these aspects are higher up in the specifications of the competition. The matter of comfort is roughly the same as with these high-tech camping items: They do amazing things in terms of pack size and weight. But a hotel bed is always more restful.

South on forest paths

Because the KTM 790 Adventure R is supposed to be about the fact that it is not a hotel bed in order to stay in the picture, we leave the asphalt early in the morning behind Ljubljana on the following day to make a civil route south on forest paths. The driving mode is available here”Offroad” with smooth throttle response and relaxed traction control. Cumbersome: The ABS must be switched to the off-road setting separately (deactivated at the rear, later control at the front). Why? After all, the four-way switch can be operated intuitively, as the menu structure in general raises few questions.

The endurance test of the KTM 790 Duke Adventure R


The route is the goal. And where there is a will, there a way – could be the motto of the KTM 790 Adventure R..

The handling of the KTM 790 Adventure R under these conditions is devoid of any criticism. The motorcycle is pleasantly balanced, appears light and neutral. No trace of indolence or top-heaviness. The wheel / tire dimensions are typical of Enduro, 21 inches at the front and a relatively narrow 18-inch model at 150 millimeters at the rear. That brings noticeably good driving stability and decent rollover behavior. Clearly, even under such simple conditions, the conceptual strengths of the 790 series are obvious. I would not prefer to sit on any other motorcycle at this point. However, there is an imbalance in the Karoo 3. The traction in the longitudinal direction, i.e. when accelerating and braking, is very good. In contrast, the lateral guidance, especially of the front tire, falls off. To clarify: To get from A to B on gravel, for hiking, that’s enough. Rougher things, wet or muddy, bold deposits, reveal boundaries.

ABS and TC off-road

The cleanly applied electronics on and especially off the road are a blessing: in off-road mode, the deceleration is absolutely reliable, even on gravel. ABS loose at the front, off at the rear, that’s exactly how you need it. Same with the TC: The slip that it allows is necessary – otherwise even starting up on a hill would be impossible – the net that it spans is an absolute asset.

400 km range possible

One of the special strengths of the KTM 790 Adventure R is its long range. Driving off in the morning with a full 20-liter tank, there is no reason to think about fuel all day long. 400 kilometers are possible under all circumstances, more than enough. By the way: Due to the low position of the fuel, handling actually suffers noticeably less from a full fuel drum. Concerns about the durability of this solution? There is no special reason for this, the tanks look extremely robust. There was also the same thing with 950/990 Adventure. There is no doubt that time will tell.

And again the conceptual: When, after many hours of fun in the early evening, it becomes clear that the stage destination can only be packed on the, as it turns out, sensational E 65 from Karlobag to Zadar, I turn back onto the road and the KTM 790 Adventure R transforms itself back into a one-a-a-kind asphalt motorcycle. With cornering ABS, quickshifter and lots of driving fun again. An enormously wide area of ​​application. The downside of the lightness: Without the main stand and thanks to the poor accessibility of the chain, the maintenance of the same, which is also unusually long, becomes a real mess in the evening.

Arrival Adventure Rally

On the last day of arrival, three findings are confirmed. Motorcycles can do pretty much everything, some tires, and off-road to almost Sarajevo is a long way off. In addition: The pass from the coast to Sveti Rok is a highlight, the downhill scree passage lined with cladding fragments is definitely the key point of my journey there. Notice! When things get really tricky, every pound (regardless of whether it’s a motorcycle or luggage) is too much, and it’s not a good risk alone. But even this point can (somehow) be mastered, which would bring us to the Adventure Rally after around 1,300 kilometers in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

With the TKC 80, the right tire goes onto the rims of the KTM 790 Adventure R, the luggage stays in the hotel, the spring base can be adjusted to the changed load status in next to no time and continuously using a hexagon socket – very good! The terrain becomes increasingly rough, in a group with a motivated guide the pace increases. We get down to business.

The endurance test of the KTM 790 Duke Adventure R


What works with this motorcycle depends solely on the rider, as well as the tires.

Detent rubbers can be easily removed

The ergonomics are great for driving while standing, now the high, comfortably wide handlebars are ideally at hand. The KTM 790 Adventure R looks wonderfully narrow between the knees and there is very good freedom of movement. Also good: under the rubber pegs, which can be easily removed, broad, easy-grip enduro foot pegs emerge. We test the “Rally”-Mode in which the traction control can be adjusted in eight stages while driving from the handlebars and which also shifts the throttle response of the motor into sniffing. Nice to take the load off the front wheel, but not a compelling reason to buy. Also the standard equipment “Offroad” the base 790 is sufficient for almost everything. Strangely enough, the sharp throttle response in rally mode is actually more recommended for road use.

Incredible undercarriage reserves

However, what the KTM 790 Adventure R has undoubtedly ahead of its civilian relatives are these barely fathomable chassis reserves. The roughest blows on fast passages – the kind that make you worry about tires and rims – never put the fork and shock absorber in any trouble. The setup options reserved only for the R model are also delightful. A rogue could even adjust the rebound and compression levels while driving using the quick adjusters on the fork legs.

Cross-check with the KTM 790 Adventure

Then the cross-check with the 790, whose ergonomics in direct comparison almost feels like a street motorcycle, in the same terrain. Also light and balanced, with large, but in comparison finite reserves. Ridden as courageously as the R sister, the fork will eventually break through. Both have the steering damper, which is extremely useful under these circumstances. The Standard 790 Adventure is an eminently capable trip-“Enduro”, with a softer, well-tuned chassis. It offers more than enough potential for enduro hiking and travel endurance. She also keeps up a brisk pace for a long time, before late, but clearly, urging moderation. Precisely this reminder to moderate is alien to the R variant, and that is exactly what distinguishes it. Not once will it penetrate, not once will the material set the limit. So what’s up Basically everything you dare to put in front of a travel enduro.

Total balance back in Ursensollen: exactly 3,006 kilometers in seven days, roughly a third mix of off-road / country road / motorway (had to be on the way back). Consumption: 4.3 liters super average and a large can of chain spray. The two rear-view mirrors were forgotten in the service truck and did not crash. Failure at a difficult point in Slovenia only buckled the ego. Insurance damage and salvage: None.


While the travel enduro segment as a whole is increasingly oriented towards touring full dressers, the KTM 790 Adventure R positions itself as a lively rally machine with extremely acceptable residual comfort. That requires slight concessions, makes them unrivaled off-road and brings great driving pleasure on asphalt. Indeed: At its core, it is an off-road motorcycle suitable for travel.

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