QUIKSPIN: KTM 990 Adventure low - Short Change

01 February 2012

There’s still nothing as exciting as the KTM 990 Adventure when it comes to big adventure bikes. This is the sportsbike of the genre and nothing else comes close.
Yet it’s still a touring bike at heart. That’s what adventure bikes are all about – doing big distances on bad roads. In this case, KTM has bolted on a heap of suitable accessories to enhance its mile-eating demeanour.
This test was pitched to me as a review of the 20mm lower ride-height option, but this KTM has more than just a shorter stature.
I had some baggage with me – including a backpack to carry it in – which went straight into the KTM’s panniers. They’re very well made, double-walled plastic bags with toploading lids and simple release mechanism.
KTM claims they’re “absolutely” waterproof. And they can each be fitted with a three-litre water container. But they’re wide, and it took me a while to get used to leaving enough space when I got into thicker bush.
Hidden behind them, the Akrapovic pipes barked when I hit the starter. Nice but a bit antisocial…
The minute I set off I liked the tall screen. As thin as it is, it’s extremely effective, cutting wind blast and noise dramatically – so well, in fact, I actually made comparisons with the full-dresser Harley I’d just left behind. As tall as it is, I never found it intruded on my view of the terrain.
Sitting behind the screen was so comfortable I felt especially indignant about the ergo seat. The optional gel perch is hard. Yeah, I know, it’s a KTM seat so it’s meant to be comparable to a bit of four-by-two, but I’ve done thousands of kays in the standard 990 Adventure chair and preferred its greater padding.
The engine and chassis are fast and responsive, always up for some fun. And they’re seriously capable, going hard where the fatter adventure-tourers get heavy. The suspension quality in particular gives it a big edge, combining with the fairly light, centralised mass to make the bike a lot easier to handle.
The options fitted to this testbike add significantly to the overall cost of the bike. The pannier mounting rack is $883; the pannier set is $1,626; the touring screen is $339; the ergo seat is $311; the crash bars are $667; and the Akrapovic titanium pipes are $2,135. For touring, the screen, panniers and crash bars are the best place to spend your money.
All the 990 Adventure lacks now is a traction control system, like the R1200GS and Super Ténéré have. That’d make it even easier to ride and put miles on.
Configuration 75° V-twin
Cylinder head DOHC, four valve
Capacity 999cc
Bore 101mm
Stroke 62.4mm
Compression ratio 11.5:1
Ignition Electronic
Fuel system EFI
Oil capacity 3L
Type Five-speed
Primary drive Gear
Clutch Wet
Final drive Chain
Frame material Tubular chrome-molybdenum
Frame layout Trestle
Rake 26.6°
Trail 119mm
Wheelbase 1570mm
Front: 48mm WP USD forks, adjustable rebound,
compression and preload, 210mm travel
Rear: WP Monoshock, adjustable rebound,
compression and preload, 210mm travel
Wheels Wire-spoked rims
Front: 2.15 x 21 Rear: 4.25 x 18
Tyres Pirelli Scorpion AT
Front: 90/90-21 (54H)
Rear: 150/70-18 (70V)
Brakes Brembo
Front: Twin 300mm discs, two-piston calipers
Rear: Single 240mm disc, single-piston caliper
Weight 199kg (dry, claimed)
Seat height 840mm
Fuel capacity 22L
Power 72kW @ 8500rpm (claimed)
Torque 95Nm @ 6500rpm (claimed)
Top speed 210km/h (est)
Fuel consumption 7.6L/100km
Seat height
Suspension quality
Seat comfort
No traction control
A tad loud


Protect your KTM. Call Shannons Insurance on 13 46 46 to get a quote today.