With its 1290 and 1090 Adventure (and Super Adventure) models, KTM has nearly conquered the big-bore adventure-bike market (sorry BMW). But total world domination isn’t complete until the lower classes have been scooped up, and with these spy photos of what we presume is a prototype of the 790 Adventure, the Austrian firm looks to be setting its sights in that direction.

First and foremost, we can tell this is the 790 parallel-Twin engine by the twin exhaust headers coming from the front. They dump into an under-engine collector before exiting out the exhaust canister mounted on the right side. Obviously, power figures are a toss up at this point, but we’re hoping for a crankshaft number somewhere near the century mark, which would give it an advantage over its two main rivals, the BMW F800GS and Triumph Tiger 800XC, which made 81.3 hp and 84.0 hp, respectively, to the wheel when we tested them in 2014. It might even outgun Honda’s Africa Twin, which spat out 85.7 hp when we tested it in the 2016 Wire Wheel Adventure Bike Shootout.

Look closely and you’ll see the twin pipes coming from the front of the engine, indicating this is KTM’s new 790 parallel-Twin.

Look closely and you’ll see the twin pipes coming from the front of the engine, indicating this is KTM’s new 790 parallel-Twin.

What’s puzzling to us is the bulbous object that appears to be heavily wrapped in duct tape on the left side of the bike, just below the drooping extension of the fuel tank. The motorcycle you see in the photos is clearly a test mule, so one guess is that it’s simply some sort of testing device used at the factory, though it’s hard to say with any kind of certainty. Or perhaps it’s just a way of disguising KTM’s newest engine.

Think back to February, when we broke the news about what we thought was the 890 Duke. Signs now point to the engine being 800cc instead of 890, but nonetheless, it was the first time KTM’s parallel-Twin broke cover. Then of course, KTM uncovered the 790 Duke concept at EICMA 2016. It’s difficult to compare the 790 Adventure seen here to that early Duke, as the adventure bike’s bodywork hides many of the bike’s features. However, the swingarms on both machines look very similar, if not identical, and the forks, too, look similarly robust.

KTM is clearly trying to hide something, as evidenced by the engine component heavily wrapped in tape.

KTM is clearly trying to hide something, as evidenced by the engine component heavily wrapped in tape.

Sticking to the adventure theme, we clearly see dirt-focused knobby tires on what appears to be a 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheel. WP suspension adorns both ends, with the front fork looking to be quite a beefy unit. The shock is partially hidden in these photos, but it appears to have a respectable amount of travel as well. Oddly, the rear swingarm looks like it was pulled from a 690 Duke, its girth seeming a little wimpy compared to the swingarms used on the 1090 or 1290 Adventures.

Radial-mount Brembo calipers bite on twin discs up front, and wheel-speed sensors are visible, too, indicating at least ABS, but also the potential for an IMU that could manage the latest in cornering-ABS abilities and lean-sensitive traction control. Other odds and ends include a centerstand and a rather robust subframe – easily strong enough to support a passenger and luggage. The nose area looks to be unfinished, with a headlight wrapped in black plastic, including a blacked-out windscreen. An LED taillight is also visible, but who knows how close it is to the actual finished product.

The rear of the 790 Adventure looks more complete than the front, with a sturdy subframe that appears ready for another body and some hardbags. A 21-inch front and 18-inch rear should make it an attractive bike for those who want a rugged off-roader without the heft of a 1290 or 1090 Adventure.

The rear of the 790 Adventure looks more complete than the front, with a sturdy subframe that appears ready for another body and some hardbags. A 21-inch front and 18-inch rear should make it an attractive bike for those who want a rugged off-roader without the heft of a 1290 or 1090 Adventure.

We’ll provide more information once we get it. In the meantime, take a look at the photos yourselves in the gallery below and come up with your own conclusions.

  • Old MOron

    Hey Trizzle, why is the test rider’s face always obscured in these spy shots?
    Yes, you guys are making money off his likeness, but since he’s on public roads, he’s fair game. Isn’t he?
    Maybe it’s a professional courtesy to protect the rider’s identity. Is that it?

    • Kevin Duke

      Yeah, pro courtesy exercised by the photog.

  • Craig Hoffman

    The mid sized ADV segment is heating up. This bike and Yamaha with the FZ 07 based model. Good stuff! These bikes have appeal. Big enough to do the street, but far more manageable in real off road than a gargantuan large ADV bike.

    • Tanner

      horseshit. Nobody is buying the current mid-sized adv bikes (BMW 800, Triumph Tiger 800). by far the best selling motorcycle in europe is the R1200GS. Best selling adv bike in the world. The mid-size segment is a dud

      • Auphliam

        To be fair, I think the price tags are hurting those two particular bikes more than anything. Hell, a 800GS costs as much as an 1190Adv R. The Tiger XCx is nearly $17K as well.

      • Kevin Duke

        I believe the ADV market is undergoing a shift. People have been buying big ADV bikes because that’s where all the action was. But the Africa Twin proved that ADV riders who want to venture off-road don’t require 1200cc of power to have something highly desirable. If this KTM can be made as powerful but lighter than the Honda, I bet it’ll sell quite well.

      • Novatoan

        I think a lot of that has to do with weight. How much does an f800GS weigh, again? Around 475 lbs. The GS is 500. If they can bring these bikes at 200kg or less, they might have a point.

        The 800 Tiger has never really been offroad worthy when compared to a BMW or KTM. And the AT runs circles around it. The F800 seems abit porky for what you get.

  • Old MOron
    • spiff

      I’d say so.

    • Kevin Duke

      Well, it is if you threw away every part of the Nuda and replaced them all with new ones. 🙂

  • hipsabad

    Is it me or does the bike look way too low for real ADV work. Doesn’t seem to be much suspension travel there

  • Novatoan

    A lot of riders have a hard-on for an ADV bike in this displacement category. I’m not one of them. But I think KTM will end up owning the segment. I don’t know what Triumph and BMW’s sales numbers are, so I could be wrong.

  • Titosfuneral

    For adventure riding outside Europe or North America the big bikes are too big. This looks the size and weight of a 650 thumper with horsepower to spare… I’ve been waiting for KTM to do this for 10 years

  • Marc Daniel

    Why are people still buying the KLR650, which attracted buyers for over 30 years? Because there is nothing similar on the market combining the versatility, dirt ride ability and also affordable price tag. I found myself leaving the cruiser behind and racing the unpaved county roads up and down. I would have never damaged the paint on my classic bike either, so keep catching dust in the garage. Yes the BMW is the shit, yes the KTM 1290, 1190, and 1090s are great, and the new Honda is a super constructed bike, and the engine of the Triumph is perfect, but all these bikes are fairly heavy for off road in some heavier stuff and cost a lot. If Yamaha, KTM, and whoever can come out with a well thought off model for serious off road adventure biker they will be successful… uhhh and Kawasaki can bring a new KLR , which wouldn’t be a KLR anymore because thumbers are done with… WHYYYY… we would be happy. The market is shifting and has never been as strong as it should be past 10k or even 20k in United States Dollars, comparable Euro, or whatever it is the bikers pay with down under. So where are we now??? Realistically the market ought to attract more 20 and 30’ish people who are not having 10k in the bank as emergency money besides their Lexus in the garage. I know that a whole lot of the worn leather jacket wearing generation biker who went to school with me and who are more worried about the grandkids going to the zoo with grandma and grandpa then buying a brand new bike. The market could maybe recoup from the sluggish sales with a hip 700 cc offering, which attracts not only the kids but also us old spunkers to put another bike in the garage next to that 90’s Goldwing, 85’ish KLR, or the collection Harley with 2 inches of dust on them. I would be glad to ride the county roads up and down again, and escape the farmers cursing me when they only see my exhaust pipe. So Yamaha T7, KTM 790 or whatever may be coming I am watching too. Well be safe out there !!!