The competition has become fierce, as challengers try to dethrone the king of the yard, the BMW GS1200. Few have come close, like the Triumph Tiger Explorer, which I think is an exceptional machine, but for every model launched by a rival manufacturer, BMW ups its game and reclaims the throne.
Perhaps until now…
That’s because KTM’s unleashed something versatile and capable on all terrains. The KTM brand itself is world-renowned for its Adventure series, and the original 990 set a strong precedent. The 1190 Adventure, however, firmly drives the brand in a new direction.
The modern-day motorcycle enthusiast has changed and evolved and this new offering from KTM aims to satisfy both ends of the adventure/travel-rider market, from the extreme rider - who wants to create his own path and head down the beaten track - or the type of commuter who enjoys longer rides on the open road with some friends.
The result is a versatile 210kg machine, equipped with the same two-cylinder powertrain you’ll find in KTM’s RC8 superbike - a little down-tuned, of course, but this engine still kicks up a massive 110kW to the rear wheel.
The Austrian brand’s off-road and racing DNA is evident, creating an exhilarating ride, while still feeling controlled and nannied. This is thanks to the safety systems fitted to the bike, which include ABS and traction control. While both these systems do step in when necessary, their effect can be limited by easy adjustments via the on-board controls.
Now, having ridden many of the 1190’s foes, I couldn’t ignore the fact that this bike felt extremely nimble, despite its size and weight, while the power delivery was smooth and effortless.
It’s easy to manhandle through the rough off-road bits and thread through the twisties on the open road. The fly-by-wire throttle means that KTM has now managed to iron out the kinks the 990 Adventure had, where it was difficult to find a balance of power. It was either on or off.
Now, the 1190 allows you feed the power on when you need it, particularly through those rugged technical paths.
That said, laced with 110kW and 125Nm, this adventurer has more than enough grunt and acceleration to fuel your inner hooligan. At the launch, I managed to achieve speeds in excess of 250km/h.
The very knowledge of knowing you can easily cruise at ridiculous speeds and then head down a dusty dirt road and still remain in total control, is liberating!
The bike redefines versatility by introducing new standards to the segment and while it’s a beauty to ride, it’s quite a looker too.
The LED harpoon lightening in the front light cluster and more shapely lines make it an appealing machine. Add to this its high-quality fit and finish, along with the superb rider position and it’s easy to see why KTM thinks it has a winner.
The 1190 Adventure will be available in two guises. First up is the standard spec 1190, which is targeted at the ‘softer’ explorer. This model boasts an adaptive suspension plus adjustable screen and height-adjustable seat. For the Bear Grylls-type rider, the 1190 Adventure R sees the bike coming fitted as standard with a shorter screen (still height adjustable), crash bars and a bigger front wheel to name but a few.
The overall package seems good from the outset. However, pricing often dictates just how good a product really is. That’s why KTM has aggressively priced this bike at R152 999 for the standard Adventure and R154 999 for the Adventure R, really enabling itself to take the fight to the competition.
Furthermore, it’s offering its customers an extensive list of extras, so you can personalise you KTM to suit your needs and riding style.
Do we have a new schoolyard king? We’ll just have to wait and see how the public perceive this adventurer.