KTM 1190 Adventure R or how I dated a bit chubby chick for three days
Instead of telling you a long list of technical details about this bike, like the four different traction control settings and the amazing V2 engine, let me tell you how this bike makes you feel. That's kinda the point of my blog. If you want technical details, then google it and you will find a lot of information. On the technical side - this bike is amazing.
Adventure R is KTM's touring bike that is focused more on off-road, in other words, it’s a bike that you take more often to the road less travelled or you travel to parts of the world where there is no asphalt. Now off-road is what KTM is known for, that’s what made them famous - made them big and successful. Their EXC and SX bikes are the absolute pinnacle of enduro and motocross technology. Average motocross and enduro bikes weigh about 100 kilograms. Adventure R is 217kg and if you add fuel and all the extras like bags and protection stuff that had already been added to my test bike, it's probably closer to 250+ kg's. So in a family, where all the daughters are skinny supermodels, Adventure R is more like that a bit chubby chick in the back of the room. That's what today's post is about.
I got the Adventure R as a demo ride for three days. So the goal was to try everything: city, B-roads, gravel roads and complete off road.
As my starting point was the KTM’s dealership in our capital, let's start from the city. I got the first reaction when I reached a red traffic light and decided to lane split between a semi and a public transport bus - the Adventure R felt so wide, that it felt like it won't fit. You have a large ass, lady, I said in my helmet. To be honest, it only felt like it, as the handlebars are the same size as on usual dirt bikes. So it’ll fit pretty much anywhere, but it sure feels wide. Also, the seat height is high, I'm 185 cm and my feet barely reached the ground. If you are a shorter rider, this might be an issue. Dirt bike style big handlebars have another huge advantage, it allows lane changes to happen in an instant. When I read reviews about Adventure R, I knew that everybody was praising its handling, but I never really believed it. It really does handle like a 600cc sports bike and the mighty V2 allows wheelies easily in first three gears. Didn't dare to try from fourth on anymore.
As the Adventure R is meant to travel the world, then I wanted to see how she feels on longer journeys. My work takes me quite often to Poland and back, so I wanted to see if I would want to make those 10-14 hour trips on it. So I did a day of 400 kilometers with one break in the middle. It felt like I had done only 40 km. It really eats kilometers. The engine pulls so easily that in a split second you are doing speeds that in the Estonian Republic would send you for sure behind bars for a few of day. The wind is directed away by an awesome adjustable windscreen and the hand warmers will keep you warm. Thanks to the engine, passing somebody is safe and fun, as in any gear you have the grunt to get by. What's even more amazing is it’s not just a bike that you can ride 200 km/h to enjoy it - it's also completely fine to just cruise with, so you can think your own thoughts and meditate.
And in here you feel it's good that this girl has got some weight. I passed a semi at the last second when another lorry was coming towards me. As I passed it, side winds wanted to push me into the opposite traffic, from where the other lorry was quickly advancing towards us. The bike shook a bit, but then pushed me back where I wanted to go. So if you ever run into a small pickle with another bloke at the local pub it's good to know, that the girl you came in with can punch at least as hard as you can.
The thing I was looking most forward to about the Adventure R was to see how she would handle off-road. I'm more an off-road guy and the word motorcycle adventure for me has to be something with mud and roads that aren’t easy to pass. Not too far from my place, there is railway and next to it a maintenance road - basically just two tracks made by SUVs that maintain the railways from time-to-time. In some parts, it's pretty solid, almost like a really seldom-used gravel road and sometimes proper mud, including some small creeks and bushes - a perfect adventure. It's obvious that you wouldn’t take this KTM to a hard enduro track unless you are Chris Birch (there is a video of him at the end of the blog), but I wanted to see, if I could take a random path into the woods and still get away with it. A couple of clicks to make the suspension harder, clutch and front brake lever a bit more down, so they would fit my standing up riding position and we were ready. First thought looking at this maintenance road was - am I really going to take a 15K EUR bike to mud? I think it's the same feeling that SUV guys get when they lift their trucks up and add mud tires and then never take their machines off road. But Estonian KTM dealership owner always says KTMs are meant to be used, so I went for it.
In the beginning, the track was straight and solid, without effort we did 70-90 km/h. Suddenly we hit a bump of drainage pipe. A bit unexpectedly we got both wheels airborne - a fat girl can dance!
Later we hit some mud and got stuck. Now you can really feel the weight. In places where an EXC enduro bike just jumps over, you have to ride through it with the Adventure. We got stuck very thoroughly and there is no way you are lifting this 250 kg girl by yourself. So I put it sideways, pulled the wheels as hard as I could to move it a few feet to the more solid ground, pushed it upright, started it up, walked next to it and prayed. It worked! And so did the Touratech protection bars. Luckily the mud was without rocks, so after a wash, the bike did not have a single scratch :) Adventure for sure.
When mud ended, we hit gravel roads and that's where the R shines. It feels like she was made for gravel roads. Turn the spido to three digit numbers and let the back end slide a bit. Without effort you are making 20-30 meter drifts. Wow! I can sure ride, was my first thought. Traction control probably helps along in off-road setting, was my second taught. I really couldn't tell where and if it intervened. But it really was like taking a confident and funny girl out to a date and she makes you feel like a rock star. Anyway she proved what I had always believed - paved roads are a complete waste of taxpayers money.
When sports bikes and full dirt bikes are those women that let you have amazing fun on the weekends in a perfect track setting, then Adventure R is a woman you want to have next to you in an everyday situations. You can travel with her, commute with her, take her to a date or have fun with her in the mud, pretty much everything you are in the mood for. After the third day, I was in love with her. When driving away from the dealership I was looking back and thinking that hopefully I will see you soon, Chubby!