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.
We had to wait a few years for Honda to get on-board with the current Adventure-Touring trend, but when Big Red finally did, it did with the most iconic of Honda off-roaders. The Africa Twin namesake is a lot to live up to, but the latest edition does so, not by being a hardcore Dakar performer, but by being one the most balanced, all-around big-bore ADV bikes on the market.
Last year’s Ultimate Sports-Adventure-Touring Shootout – a six-day, nine-bike extravagasm – pitted some of the lesser dirtable models (Versys 1000 LT, Multistrada S, S1000XR) against some of the industry’s more formidable off-roaders (1290 Super Adventure, 1190 Adventure, R1200GS) as well as a few inbetweeners (Caponord, V-Strom, Tiger Explorer). With this year’s introduction of Honda’s Africa Twin, Ducati’s Multistrada 1200 Enduro, and Triumph’s Tiger Explorer XCx, three more off-roady models have emerged.
It’s a good time to be a motorcyclist. OEMs keep ratcheting up the amount of standard or optional technologies available on modern motorcycles. In just the last handful of years we’ve come to expect ABS, traction control, ride modes and slipper clutches as standard equipment. Cruise control is almost ubiquitous, and electronically adjustable suspension is gaining ground quickly. Five of the nine bikes in our Epic Sport-Adventure Shootout are equipped with semi-active suspension, one has electronically adjustable suspension, while only three are bereft of the technology.
Nine bikes and riders, six days and 2,000 miles are the key ingredients going into our 2015 Ultimate Sport-Touring Adventure Shootout. Sprinkle in some off-road trekking and garnish with a few nights of camping, and our shootout souffle will be complete. Special sauce will be provided by the unforeseen occurrences that accompany any ride of this nature.
Last year, it was BMW’s fabulous R1200GS sharing the MOBO in this category with KTM’s brilliant 1190 Adventure, as each excelled in their own particular ways. This year the tie was broken by the stunning new 1290 Super Adventure, an amalgamation of the 1190 and the audacious Super Duke R, our 2014 Best Motorcycle of the Year. Previous KTM Adventure models such as the defunct 950/990 and the concurrently available 1190 Adventure and 1190 Adventure R have always had the upper hand in terms of lighter weight and more serious off-road performance (especially the R model). With the new 1290 Super Adventure, KTM ups the ante in terms of over-the-road performance while maintaining enough off-road chops to allow confident journeys off the beaten path.
One year and a handful of months ago I was returning from Spain with the knowledge that KTM had constructed something special; the 1290 Super Duke R. The SDR went on to claim MO’s 2014 Bike of the Year award, as well as similar accolades from competing publications. If you read my First Ride Review of the SDR, this story will sound familiar. In what seems like déjà vu, I’m returning from Spain with the knowledge that KTM has constructed something special; the 2015 1290 Super Adventure.