This past Monday, I returned from 6 days of riding through Death Valley, the Mojave Desert, and other parts of Southern Nevada and California. My steed was a KTM 790 Adventure R.
As you can surmise from the title of this thread, I LOVED this motorcycle! Everyone's riding experience and style is unique, and all things are relative--I can only compare the 790 to other adventure class motorcycles I have ridden.
Those of you that know me, understand I tend to lean towards "dirt"--the more technical, the better...up to a certain point where I #FAIL! I also know that I am going to beat the crap out of any motorcycle I own. I've proven that a few times!
For the past 10 years, I have been beating up my 2011 BMW F800GS. When that bike launched back in 2008, I lusted it BAD. I kept scanning for deals on used ones, and in early 2011, finally broke down and bought a new one--I couldn't resist the white color scheme.
I have loved my F8! It has lived up to it's promise in my eyes. It really feels like a dirt bike in relatively gnarly terrain....until you drop it and have to pick it up. My F8 has taken me thousands of miles through Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, South Dakota, Wyoming, etc.
I have experience on other "adventure class" machines such as: KLR650, DR650, Vstrom 650, Africa Twin, KTM 690, 990, 1090, 1190. I think I've only ever ridden a big BMW GS a few feet, so can't really compare it. I do remember being amazed at how well balanced it is with a low center of gravity.
So what about the KTM 790?:
IN EVERY WAY YOU CAN MEASURE, THE KTM 790 ADVENTURE R IS SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER than my BMW F800GS.
This is a little unfair since my F8 is 10 years old, but when compared to my F8, the KTM 790:
- Seriously less weight, AND that weight is lower on the bike
- A LOT more power
- Seriously better suspension--like WOW
- Better brakes
- Incredible engine braking--almost like having a "downhill assist" feature
- Lower seat height
- Higher ground clearance
As I started down the highway, the love affair started to bloom. The 790 on the highway is almost as good as any fine sports-touring machine I've ridden! It is a dream on the pavement. I was on knobbies. A good set of street tires would make the bike a no-compromise sports touring bike.
Once into the rougher roads, that super low center of gravity, incredible power and suspension really started to shine! I'm not sure of the exact specs, but the 790 is at least 50 lbs lighter than my F8. Then consider how much of that weight is down low on the bike, it's a HUGE difference.
I ran through some roads that had the equivalent of whoops sections, and this bike's suspension is like a honey-badger when it comes to the rough stuff: IT DON'T CARE. Don't tell Barry, but I got airborn more than a few times. Normally, landing a loaded ADV machine is a bit "interesting"! The 790R didn't seem to care at all. In fact, I think she liked it and wanted more.
On the other end of that suspension spectrum, when in slow, very technical rocky bits, it was too harsh. I clicked her all the way plush. This helped a lot, but it was still quite harsh when hitting rocks at slow speed. Being able to run through whoops at 50 mph, though, makes up for it!
My only real complaint about the bike is she doesn't have any torque below 4,000 RPM. HOWEVER, if you read about the new KTM 890 Adventure, this is one of the main reasons the 890 was created--it supposedly solves the low-end lugging thing and adds even more improvements...at the cost of about 15 more pounds as I understand. I wouldn't hesitate to own a 790, though! A little throttle and clutch slipping, and you have all the "low-end" you need!
Simply put, the 790 is the least compromise motorcycle I've ever enjoyed. I've never been more comfortable in all terrain conditions. I've never been more comfortable at the end of 300 rough miles.
I have a fever, and the only cure is more 790....or 890!