KTM 990 ADVENTURE (2003-2012) Review

Published: 23 November 2006

Now sueprceded V-twin adventure bike with true off road ability

KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Riding

Now sueprceded V-twin adventure bike with true off road ability

  • At a glance
  • 942cc  -  97 bhp
  • 43 mpg  -  203 miles range
  • High seat height (860mm)

Overall Rating 5 out of 5

Once upon a time the BMW R1200GS held sway as the only credible round-the-world capable giant trailie. Now, though, the KTM 990/950 Adventure is luring buyers away from the BMW R1200GS with its sharper styling, better handling and greater off-road ability.

 

Watch the KTM 990 Adventure take on the Moto Guzzi Stelvio, the BMW R1200GS and the Triumph Tiger

Watch the KTM 990 Adventure take on BMW's R1200GS Adventure

 

Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5

If you thought giant trailies were all about sloshy handling, monster fork dive and woeful brakes then the KTM 950/990 Adventure will turn your world upside-down. Despite the colossal 21-inch front wheel the road-holding is excellent and utterly confidence-inspiring, with perfect balance. The KTM 950 and 990 Adventure comes with ABS which is reassuring on the road and, thankfully, with a button, dispensable off it.

Engine 4 out of 5

The carb-fed KTM 950 Adventure is absolutely spot-on, with a smooth, effortless and nigh-on endless supply of easy power. The KTM 990 Adventure, on the other hand, takes the injected engine from the barking KTM 990 Super Duke. In this guise, though, the 990 Adventure somewhat sensitive and snatchy at around-town speeds or when trying to tickle along at a constant speed.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

The WP suspension, Renthal bars and Brembo brakes are of top quality and reflect the overall standard of the build of the KTM 950/990 Adventure. KTMs enjoy a high degree of reliability, born of a successful background in off-road racing and endurance events. Chain drive on the 950/990 Adventure maybe a drawback, though, compared to the hassle-free shaft option on the BMW R1200GS.

Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5

The KTM 950/990 Adventure is expensive to buy, but compared to the pricier BMW R1200GS and R1200GS Adventure it’s something of a bargain, especially if you plan to spend more time off-road than on it. Prices are slow to sink on the KTM 950/990 Adventure, and the quality plastics, though slow to age and damage, are cheap to replace. Find a KTM 950 Adventure for sale or a KTM 990 Adventure for sale.

Insurance group: 13 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Panniers, Akrapovic exhausts, alarms, hard luggage – you name it, you can have it on your KTM 950/990 Adventure from the company's extensive ‘Hard Parts’ catalogue. As stock you get ABS and plastic hand guards only.

Owners' Reviews

16 owners have reviewed their KTM 990 ADVENTURE (2003-2012) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.1 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.6 out of 5
Engine 4.6 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3.9 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.6 out of 5
Equipment 3.8 out of 5
4 out of 5

Still going strong

12 March 2013 by Journeymanbiker

I've ridden my KTM 950 solidly for the last 18 months. In that time, through two winters, the KTM has been the perfect bike for a mixed UK commute in 'mixed' weather. With a touring screen on the KTM has excelled in town with its low centre of... Read more gravity and balance as well as handled the odd 400 mile day with ease. Strong torque on the engine, great handling, Still excelling. More reviews on the KTM on my blog at journeymanbiker@blogspot.com.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
4 out of 5

10 years on my 950

15 July 2012 by charmanbaz

After 10 years of ownership you might like to know about my 950 Adventure.Tried the 990,both Adventure and SMT but rubbish fuelling still! Better brakes and stronger motor but go slow in town -no way do I go back to clutch slipping! my bikes done... Read more 46,000 now from all over Europe inc Sahara fringes,Romania and everywhere in between.Ok main deler serviced by KTM ,expensive and too frequent job- needs longer intervals, but it's never let me down.Clutch slave unit and rusty spokes,carb heaters all done under warranty long ago and yes a GEL seat was vital. Otherwise cannot think of a better bike-the 800 Triumph has similar power but not a patch suspension wise.Get an HID light if riding at night though -utterly fantastic,makes main beam redundant. Will stay with me for years yet!

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
4 out of 5

2008 990a

07 March 2009 by Fluffycat

This is my 3rd adventure bike the XT600 Tenere i still have and the XRV750 i traded on the 990. I live in NZ and have miles of great roads and tracks on my back door. I wanted a bike that was better than my Africa Twin and weight was a big part of... Read more the equation. The XRV is about 220kgs the 990 200kgs. Also the weight is lower down on the 990 and you notice this when picking the bike up and in the twisties. Off road the bike is very much above average, probably the best handling big adv bike out there. but it is sill heavy. The 990 has great handling and on a bumpy minor road you can do more than just keep up with a sports bike. The WP suspension works very well and the Scorpion rubber is very grippy in the dry and wet. Its just so easy to scrub them all the way to the edge. The motor is vee-tastic and well suited to this sort of bike, there is plenty of usable power all the way to the redline. The throttle action is bad, worse than my SP1 in fact, but fine when motoring but bad a low speeds. Did i mention that its bbbbaaaad!!!!. The brakes are not the best out there but are very good at what they do and have good feel(ABS should be turned off when riding tracks if you want to stop). For a big adv bike the brakes are above average you just cant compare them to a sports bike. The bike is comfy and comfy two up. The pillion has a seperate pearch which stops them sliding down the seat. The wind protection is average with the standard screen. With bad buffeting at around 100ish kph if you are tallish and wearing an ADV helmet with a peak, regardless of make.. trust me on this one. All that goes if you wear a normal helmet but the touring screen is the way to go for longer rides. This bike has for me beaten my XRV stupid the only area that i have my reservations is long term reliability cos its a Honda and the KTM ain't. But the 990 was the only bike that could part me from the XRV the BMW's do it differently again and were not my cup of tea maybe when i hit 90. Great bike overall the throttle can be made much better with a power commander and a G2 Throttle. Everything else is just fine will be keeping this one for a while.

Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

All the bike you'll ever need!

09 September 2008 by Anonymous

Having spent the last 14 years riding GSX-R's I took a 990 out for a test ride, not really knowing what to expect. An hour later I came back with a huge grin on my face and a week after that I was the proud owner of an orange 990 courtesy of the... Read more brilliant and highly recommended guys at Sideways motorcycles. The engine sounds suberb thanks to a pair of Akropovics and the bike pulls like a train in any gear and will happily keep up with the sports bike boys. The WP suspension is fantastic and gives a smooth ride yet still provides plenty of feel, the handling is agile and accurate. The riding position gives great all round visibility and the bike excels on motorways, twisties, touring and in town whether solo or two-up. So if you're looking for a bike that'll do anything you want, that puts a grin on your face everytime you ride it, that goes like a train and makes the GS-boys stare with envy look no further. One word of advice though, don't go for a test ride unless you're prepared to buy!!

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Insane fun

05 August 2008 by Mjollnir

Very comfy bike, especially for tall people like me. The engine is superb, and it handles quite well off road too. A very fun bike to ride. I well recomend a test ride on one if you haven't already. Read more

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
5 out of 5

KTM downunder

13 February 2008 by rogernshelton

Hired KTM950 adventure in NZ fitted with givi top box and side panniers. 10 days 2800 miles. Loads of twisties, coast roads, mountain passes, inland routes - KTM soaked them up. Suspension was so smooth, engine just burbles along, accelerates when... Read more asked, cornering so fun even with knobbly tires and luggage, easy to pick up when dropped (once).

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
5 out of 5

Dont miss the GS at all!

10 May 2007 by markward

Had it a year, 2004 model bought from Premier in Didcot. The only problem was the clutch slave cylinder failing about 40 miles from didcot!, Premier bought it back and changed it, a rare fault they say. Its been fine every since, other than the back... Read more brake needing bleeding every 2 months (no leaks?), mainly used for commuting where, like the GS, it is easily seen by car drivers and has a good high rider position. Round town fuel is poor at about 35mpg. Fitted a Scottoiler and never adjust the chain between yearly service, should be fitted at birth!! Would be nice to have ABS (which the 990 has) and heated grips etc, old GS habits die hard. Quality is the best, I ride all year and it gets all the salt etc, only the spokes and nipples let the side down, why people put up with seized brakes every year on brand new bikes is beyond me, vote with your feet and maybe the Japs will get this good. I would have bought one years ago but reliability stories scared me, things seem much better but clealrly some people still get duds. My advise is buy nearly new, 12 - 15k miles, residual warranty with the first big service paid for (about £350 if valves need doing), it seems like most that have done 10k or more are either sorted or obvious basket cases. Its different, rare and a talking piece, have fun!! and yes the 990 is jerky in comparison!!

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
5 out of 5

The Future is ORANGE

08 March 2007 by Stunty69

I bought my trusty Hopper about two and a half years ago. I went out on a test ride and that was it. I liked the unique styling, it still gets admiring looks wherever you park it. The ride is fantastic, the suspension is as adjustable as you need.... Read more Once you push the start button, the big V twin booms into life. I have fitted Skorpion end cans and as well as helping the beast breathe, it sounds mighty fine too. Remove the baffles and it really is wild. Sitting high up you get a great view of the road ahead, and potential hazards that lay ahead too. It is very good on long runs, easy to ride for hours at a time, touring is a total pleasure. It is also a mighty fine performer through the twisties too. Many a time I have 'embarrased' riders on large capacity sports bikes. The quality of the beast is excellent too. I have never had any issues with it at all. OK the rear brake isnt the sharpest in the world, but heck, its mainly used for balance anyhow. The lights are good at night, offering good wide spread of light, The mini fairing keeps a good bit of wind off too. The punchy motor is like a swss time-piece, it never misses a tick, and repsonds immediately with a turn of the throttle. It is a motorcycle that every time you ride, you cannot help but smile, It offers everything. Comfort, Speed, Power, Presence, Reliability, It holds its value better than any other motorcycle I have ever owned, and it still turns heads! For touring I have added the Ventura luggage rack. Ideal for long trips, ok not for around the globe type, but they are available if you wanna go n show what Charlie n Ewan missed out on! So my reccomendation is to find a good KTM dealer (Premiers in Didcot are ace) book a test ride and take your wallet!

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

Bought a few weeks ago on an impulse - my 1st bike in 6 years, my previous bike being a Honda X11

02 November 2006 by aranwen

I've only covered about 600 miles but so far but up to now I'm extremely impressed! This is the best handling bike I've ever ridden and is a joy on 'B'roads with its excellent WP suspension. I've also tried some 'green lane' riding and have not... Read more fallen off as yet! The bike came with panniers and a tank bag so I'm looking to tour Scotland and Ireland in 2007. Strengths: Handling, first and foremost. Comfort is good, as is wind protection. Looks grow on you quickly, lights are good too. No reliability problems so far - I had a long chat with the previous owner and the service center- no reliability issues at all so far, the bike having now covered 5200 miles. 
Weaknesses: Perhaps fuel economy could be better - 200 miles from the 22 litre tank but only if ridden with care! No fuel gauge.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5

KTM 950 Adventure bought second hand in February 2006

27 September 2006 by blueeagles

On the whole not too bad - clutch seal needed replacing - not good on a hydraulic clutch, heavy bike to push! Also chain adjuster bolt seized, KTM dealer had to re-drill the swing arm - Cheapr than a new swing arm. However, since then, happy biking.... Read more
Strengths: Storming engine - ride that torque wave! practical, comfortable (once gel seat fitted) - genueinely different and very orange. Akropovic cans sound lovely.
Weaknesses: Ease of maintenance - everything has to be done a certain way. Clutch becomes stiff when hot.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
Read all 16 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2003
Year discontinued 2012
Original price £8,695
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 13 of 17
Annual road tax £80
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 97 bhp
Max torque 70 ft-lb
Top speed 123 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 12.1 secs
Average fuel consumption 43 mpg
Tank range 203 miles
Specification
Engine size 942cc
Engine type 8v V-twin, 6 gears
Frame type Chromoly trellis
Fuel capacity 22 litres
Seat height 860mm
Bike weight 198kg
Front suspension Preload, rebound, compression
Rear suspension Preload, rebound, compression
Front brake Twin 300mm discs
Rear brake 240mm disc
Front tyre size 90/90 x 21
Rear tyre size 150/70 x 18

History & Versions

Model history

2003: KTM 950 Adventure introduced.
2006: KTM 990 Adventure introduced with injected 990cc from KTM’s SuperDuke road bike.

Other versions

KTM 990 Adventure S: Taller, stiffer suspension, no ABS, blue/orange paintscheme and a 35mm taller seat height.

Photo Gallery

  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Riding
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Side view
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Instruments
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Riding
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Riding
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Instruments
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Rear view
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Front view
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Top view
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Riding
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Riding
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Riding
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Riding
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Side view
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Rear view
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Front view
  • KTM 990 ADVENTURE  (2003-2012)
  • KTM 990 ADVENTURE  (2003-2012)
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Riding
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Side view
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Instruments
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Riding
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Riding
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Instruments
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Rear view
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Front view
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Top view
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Riding
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Riding
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Riding
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Riding
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Side view
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Rear view
  • KTM 950/990 Adventure motorcycle review - Front view