KTM 890 ADVENTURE R (2021 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Replacement for the 790 Adventure R
  • More off-road focused than the standard 890 Adventure
  • Now smoother and more refined than ever

At a glance

Power: 104 bhp
Seat height: Tall (34.6 in / 880 mm)
Weight: Medium (432 lbs / 196 kg)

Prices

New £11,999
Used £12,000

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Second-generation bikes are always a step above their predecessors due to the fact that small irritations have been ironed out and this rings true of the 890 Adventure R.

Smoother, more refined, better handling and even more capable off-road, the 890 Adventure R is a brilliant option for anyone serious about venturing into the unknown.

It’s a shame a few options aren’t standard fitment on a bike costing so much but there is no denying that this is a quality product that has now matured into a better overall package.

KTM 890 Adventure R on the road

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Although the WP XPLOR suspension are the same units as in the 790 Adventure R, KTM have revised their settings for the 890 R and taken a bit of the off-road focus out of their road settings.

While KTM still have suggested on and off-road suspension settings on a sticker under the seat, which are quick and easy to input through the onboard tool kit, the road settings are now firmer and make the R more settled when you up the pace.

It’s only a click here and there but it makes the difference, although the tyres remain the limiting factor... The 890 R features KTM’s latest version of their traction control system (MTC), which now independently monitors wheel slip and pitch angle and is also faster in its reaction time, and also an uprated brake master cylinder delivering more feel.

KTM 890 Adventure R right side

On the road the ABS and MTC often prove their worth as the Metzeler Karoo 3 tyres are very chunky in their tread and that means when you are powering out of a low speed corner the rear often lets go, especially in the wet or on polished tarmac, and the twin radial brakes easily overwhelm the front tyre’s grip.

When this happens the MTC system is smooth to intervene and only really abrupt when the bike is upright and it is preventing a wheelie and the ABS is equally effective.

Should you engage ‘Rally’ mode (an optional extra) you have the option of 9 different levels of traction control slip while the dedicated off-road ABS setting (standard fitment) deactivates the angle sensitivity as well as the ABS function to the rear but retains some ABS at the front. The ABS can be deactivated completely if you wish for off-road use.

KTM 890 Adventure R rear shock

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The parallel twin has grown by 90cc to 889cc and with it not only become Euro5-compliant but also gained 20% more rotating mass, a boost of 9.8bhp and 8.8ftlb peak performance, a reworked gearbox and a reinforced clutch.

While the power and torque gains seem marginal on paper, to ride the 890 motor is far more refined than the 790 engine and as well as less mechanical noise is smoother and more enjoyable to use with far fewer intrusive vibrations thanks to new balancer shafts.

It still has the quick-revving nature that made the 790 so engaging, and is more than fast enough for road and off-road use, however it now has the rough edges knocked off and is better for it.

Overall it feels a more developed motor than the 790 and although there is still a slight tendency to stall at lower revs, which is annoying, it’s a noticeable step up in terms of its manners and performance.

The tweaked gearbox is beautifully slick and with the optional quickshifter (which has also been updated) snicks up and down the box with ease.

KTM 890 Adventure R 889cc parallel-twin engine

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The 790 did encounter a few teething troubles in its early days, which is to be expected on a brand new model, so hopefully KTM will have addressed them all on the 890. The signs are good and KTM do know how to build a rugged bike. Service intervals are every 9000 miles with valve clearances at 18,000 miles.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
3 out of 5 (3/5)

Considering the R costs a penny shy of £12,000 it is a shame that KTM have pared back on its standard equipment. If you want cruise control (its new buttons are standard fitment) that will be an extra £225.61, the up/down quickshifter is a further £361.51, MSR (engine braking control) £135.01 and adding ‘Rally’ mode will be £180.34.

Or you can buy the ‘Tech Pack’ for £769.30 which has them all for a discounted price. Heated grips are £225.66 extra and while the dash has connectivity, you need to pay £7.99 for the KTM MyRide Navigation app to add a basic ‘turn-by-turn’ navigation system.

If you want all these, and you probably do, it ups the price tag by £1002.95. Oh, and a centre stand is £180.36 extra...

However, that still brings the KTM in £400 cheaper than the range-topping Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro (or £600 if you want it in green).

If price is your primary concern, a Yamaha Ténéré 700 starts from just over £9500 but it's considerably down on power and has none of the bells and whitles of the KTM, even in standard trim.

You might also consider the similarly parallel-twin engined BMW F850GS Adventure. The base model is £900 cheaper than the 890 Adventure R; like the KTM, however, the price soon starts to build as you add equipment to the spec sheet.

KTM 890 Adventure R front

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

If your goal is exploring hard to reach areas the 890 Adventure R has most boxes ticked. As standard you get ‘proper’ off-road sized wheels with chunky Metzeler Karoo 3 tyres, an off-road riding mode (Rally mode is extra), metal bash plate and big 20-litre tank which is located on either side of the bike to lower its centre of gravity for better handing.

You also get top-rate WP XPLOR suspension, a TFT dash with connectivity, angle-sensitive electronics, radial brakes, 12v socket and even a new cruise control switch, which you need to pay extra for it to do anything.

The problem is that when you treat the R as a road-going adventure bike you tend to wonder where things such as cruise control, an up/down shifter, heated grips, an adjustable screen, etc are.

KTM 890 Adventure R TFT dash

Specs

Engine size 889cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8v, parallel twin
Frame type Tubular steel
Fuel capacity 20 litres
Seat height 880mm
Bike weight 196kg
Front suspension 48mm, WP XPLOR forks, fully-adjustable
Rear suspension Single rear WP XPLOR shock, fully-adjustable with high/low speed compression damping adjustment
Front brake 2 x 320mm discs with four-piston radial calipers. Cornering ABS
Rear brake 260mm single disc with two-piston caliper. Cornering ABS
Front tyre size 90/90 x 21
Rear tyre size 150/70 x 18

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 62 mpg
Annual road tax £96
Annual service cost -
New price £11,999
Used price £12,000
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 104 bhp
Max torque 73.8 ft-lb
Top speed 130 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 275 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

2019 – KTM launch the 790 Adventure R. A more hardcore version of the 790 Adventure, it features higher-spec WP XPLOR suspension, increased ground clearance and more rugged styling.

2021 – The 890 Adventure R replaces the 790 Adventure R.

Other versions

Alongside the R model the 790 Adventure has also grown into the 890 Adventure for 2021 and gained all the same updates.

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