With the prices of latest adventure bikes continuing to rise, proudly owning the newest model can put a critical pressure on the family finances. In an effort to redress the stability and supply an alternate choice for ABR readers, we’re going to be wanting on the used adventure bike market. For the first, we needed to decide the KTM 990 Adventure, the bike that just missed the boat to international stardom…
It’s 2003 and we’re in a parallel universe. After testing the KTM, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman agree that it’s the right bike for his or her try and circumnavigate the globe. The pair take their proposal to KTM and the advertising males assume it feels like an amazing challenge to become involved with. It’s a singular probability to showcase their bikes to a worldwide audience they usually happily present three box-fresh and absolutely fettled 950 Adventures for the trip.
The next TV collection ‘All Across the World’ is an astounding success, taking journey motorcycling to a massive audience and bringing KTMs into dwelling rooms the world over. Motorcyclists from California to Canberra are impressed to purchase an journey bike and clearly the only choice is a KTM.
By 2008, when the collection is repeated on the BBC, the 950 has been changed by the 990 and the Austrian company’s inventory worth is growing as shortly as its advance orders, a lot in order that they need to build a completely new manufacturing unit to keep up with demand. Ten years after the present, KTM’s market dominance is so full they determine to sell its off-road division to BMW because it’s simply not as profitable as feeding the worldwide demand for adventure bikes…
OK, so the truth of what occurred after ‘Lengthy Means Spherical’ is slightly totally different, nevertheless it’s still essential to keep in mind that the 950 was indeed the bike of selection for the journey earlier than KTM stated no. It was newly developed, superbly balanced, relatively mild and absolutely outfitted for adventure from its giant tank to the easy-to-mend chain drive and traditional suspension.
KTM had gained the earlier three Dakar rallies earlier than the 2003 collection and information and know-how gleaned from those wins was written by means of the large V-twin like a stick of Blackpool rock – no marvel McGregor and Boorman needed this machine on the staff.
Will Ewan and Charley lastly journey KTMs?
Fifteen years after the original collection and 12 after Lengthy Approach Down, there’s a plan to add a 3rd trip, however at this stage which bikes the pair will use is yet to be decided. With the new KTM 790 Adventure proving a winner on and off street, you’d need to hope it was on the attainable record and, in that case, you’d also should hope that there’s a special man in command of advertising for the Orange Big this time spherical…
However we decided to take a step back and hunt down a 990 and take a look at simply what made this platform so good first time round. The original bike, the 950 Adventure was launched again in 2003, and was subsequently upgraded to 990 in 2006 when the gasoline injected motor from the Super Duke was added.
Barring a couple of beauty modifications within the intervening years, the 990 managed another six years in manufacturing till being ultimately discontinued in 2012 when the 1190 was launched. When you’d bought one of many last ones within the showrooms, you’d have needed to pay round £eight,000. I do know – I was selling them!
Not wanting to return too far and begin taking a look at a 950 over fifteen years previous, we found a 2010 990 Journey mannequin at AMS Bikes in Tewkesbury, simply down the street from the ABR workplaces. With a number of swift telephone calls a check was organised, and the trusty Ténéré was pressed into action for the temporary schlep up the M5 to gather the 990.
The KTM was an choice when buying the Yamaha, however with the Austrian bikes holding larger prices than the equivalent Japanese machine, the Ténéré received the vote. Driving the two back-to-back, I’m fairly positive I made the improper determination…
The KTM 990 on check was a completely immaculate one owner bike. Wanting at the condition, it might be straightforward to assume it had had little use in its eight-year life. But on the contrary, the bike was displaying a staggering 47,000 miles on the clock, simply slightly lower than my own every day hack, a Yamaha TDM 850 from means again in 1995.
Used and enjoyed
At around 6,000 miles a yr, this was clearly a machine that had been completely used and loved, however then cleaned meticulously after! Displaying the bike to the group again at the workplace no one might consider the mileage, or indeed keep in mind having a motorcycle in such good condition that wasn’t new…
So how does the 990 add up? Properly, the bike runs a 999cc 75-degree V-twin motor, the highest finish of which is nearly completely hidden by the tank and lower panels of the bodywork. The bike was originally fitted with a two into two exhaust system with twin excessive mounted pipes exiting slightly below the seat and emitting a satisfying burble that increased to a lovely howl at full chat.
Our bike had ditched the dual system and normal airbox for a Rottweiler intake package and a Rottweiler two into one conversion terminating in a Yoshimura end can, the effect of the intake noise and exhaust turning the original burble to an indignant bark and the howl to an virtually deafening scream on the prime end. Unsociable, but oh so good on the similar time.
Plenty of energy
Energy clever, the 990 got here from a time earlier than we have been obsessed with large bhp figures, so the 105 on supply was lots sufficient for every little thing from spirited driving to off-road adventures. The consumption package and Yoshi pipe raised that a tad, taking this bike simply over 110 bhp when it was final checked out on a dyno. When it comes to torque, the V-twin does the enterprise as anticipated, the original bike putting out a powerful 100 Nm, however the engine work on this one had made considerable features – it feels like it might pull a practice out of sentimental mud!
Like its Dakar ancestors, the Journey runs a chrome-moly trellis body with an aluminium sub-fame at the again. Suspension at the front comes from chunky 48mm WP USD forks with adjustable pre-load that ship 210mm of travel. At the rear there’s a WP single shock on a non-linkage PDS system that provides you precisely the identical journey because the front.
And what does this all weigh? Nicely the 990 is listed at 209kg dry, in order that’s a very good 20kg more than the new 790, but then again there’s 200cc extra motor underneath the bodywork. Add in the 19.5 litres of gasoline in the tank and a splash of coolant and oil and the final determine is round 245kg, so comparable with a Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin.
But these are all simply information and figures – what does the factor experience like and do you have to think about buying one?
Properly, the very first thing to note out on the street on the 990 is just how properly balanced the bike is from the get-go. The massive twin tanks that fill each side of the bike look large when off the bike, but as soon as rolling, the ergos are good and surprisingly slender because of that V-twin motor.
The second thing is how incredibly crisp the motor feels – this bike has completed the equivalent of driving round the world twice and yet the engine feels as sharp as if it was coming as much as its first service. There isn’t a upper valve practice noise, the six-speed transmission is buttery and the clutch continues to be tremendous mild after almost 48,000 miles – unimaginable stuff. For those who have been worrying about shopping for a excessive mileage KTM this bike knocks that fear proper out of the water.
The robust motor combined with the intake package and free-flowing Yoshi can mean that the bike’s acceleration is each spectacular and virtually deafeningly loud. Hitting the quick A roads to the north of Evesham and burying the throttle, the 990 takes off like a jet fighter, but seems like a Lancaster bomber. With plenty of torque on tap, you possibly can shift shortly by means of the field or maintain the modifications again to get the motor actually screaming, it doesn’t really seem to matter.
Lumpy fuelling at low revs
When issues get a bit of slower nevertheless, the motor does reveal the difficulty that each one 990s had, which was to have slightly lumpy fuelling at low revs, despite apparently numerous attempts at remapping the bike’s ECU. This is notably evident off-road because the bike is a tad vulnerable to cough stalling when you’re on the pegs and trickling the KTM by means of the tough stuff.
By at this time’s requirements, the cockpit on the 990 is the factor that basically exhibits the bike’s age. When new bikes are coming with greater and larger TFT screens, the KTM’s small digital show tucked behind the unadjustable display seems extremely minimal, but provides virtually all the info you need – velocity, revs, mileage, journey meter and a primary temperature gauge.
The crucial thing it doesn’t have is a gasoline gauge which, given this bike is capable of setting off into the unknown with little further preparation, seems an enormous omission. Sure, the dual tanks look tremendous cool and it feels proper Dakar-like once you refill one aspect then the other at the BP station, but as soon as the juice begins operating low you possibly can hardly peer in to see how a lot is left as you journey!
Stripped back dash
The age of the cockpit can also be highlighted by the fact that the clear plastic on the face of the dials had gone a bit milky on this bike – a alternative unit would freshen things up an amazing deal. That apart, the stripped-back look to the dials takes it again to the knowledge you really need when driving, before we realised we would have liked to be informed the air temperature and reminded of our tyre pressures whereas we listened to Radio 2 on Bluetooth…
With its uncluttered bars, minimal switchgear and neat clutch and brake perches topped by hydraulic reservoirs, the texture of the driving position and bar dimensions could be very very similar to my own EXC250 and this familiarity makes the 990 immediately likeable. What’s also likeable is the natty little pocket in the centre of the tanks on your toll cash and essential paperwork – a very good concept if you will be masking massive distances on the bike.
The saddle is on the firm aspect of the spectrum but, being a KTM, that is to be anticipated. The EXC version is a bit like a plank so I’m glad to have any consolation in any respect! It’s barely stepped too, but if you end up on the dust it’s flat sufficient to can help you move fairly freely.
Dealing with is a revelation
When it comes to handling, the 990 Adventure is a revelation too and compares very favourably to 2018 fashions. As a proper off-road succesful adventure bike, the bike comes with the 21/18 wheel combination which ought to make it rather less secure at larger speeds, but there isn’t any signal of this.
On model new 90/90 and 150/70 Pirelli Scorpion twin sport tyres, the bike consists both at velocity and through the quicker corners – it simply does what you anticipate it to. The suspension is in the same camp too, with a sparsity of adjustment and options however which nonetheless mix to make a superbly competent and confidence inspiring experience, whether on blacktop or hearth roads.
The off-road dealing with additionally reveals simply why McGregor and Boorman needed this bike for his or her round the world jaunt. I found some nadgery byways just to the south west of Stratford on Avon and the bike is super secure and planted even when the going will get sketchy. The standing position is great, placing your head absolutely over the headstock, and the footpeg to bar to seat place works properly.
Surprisingly flickable for an enormous machine
The footpeg still had the rubber inserts so lacked some grip, but as it’s only an 8mm nut to bin them and get spiky pegs, it’s all good. At sluggish speeds, the largely enclosed motor does get a bit scorching underneath the collar but the radiator fan cuts out and in as required to get the temperature back down once more. Shifting the bike around on the quicker bits, the KTM is surprisingly flickable for an enormous machine and I’d have gladly taken on tougher going had my time and, perhaps extra importantly, AMS allowed…
The one aspect of the bike I’d have appreciated to have both upgraded or freshened up a bit of bit would have been the brakes. There’s a pair of meaty 300mm floating discs up front with Brembo twin pots, but compared to the radially mounted set-ups on newer bikes, the brakes lacked a lot really feel. It may need been a brake service and a few totally different pads would have made the difference, but because the bike got here, they weren’t my favourite.
The again brake was advantageous with its smaller 240mm disc and dual pot caliper and the ABS at both ends is nice to have, even when I never truly had to apply the anchors sufficient to call on the system.
So, it’s time to return to the query – do you have to purchase one? The answer needs to be a powerful sure – the KTM 990 Journey continues to be an astoundingly good motorbike and a strong purchase. I’ll have only had the bike for a short while, however I liked the mixture of the superbly balanced chassis and the robust motor.
As a direct comparison to my Ténéré, the KTM is a vastly extra succesful machine in just about every department, and that’s in all probability why the 990s hold their value far better than the Yamaha, despite comparable initial prices. This bike might have been loaded up then and there for a transcontinental journey, with no more preparation than filling the tanks and slinging your passport into the cubby gap on the tank.
What extra would you like from an journey bike?
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