KTM 990 ADVENTURE (2003 - 2012) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
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
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
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.
EngineNext up: Reliability
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.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
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 vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
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.
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.
|Engine type||8v V-twin, 6 gears|
|Frame type||Chromoly trellis|
|Fuel capacity||22 litres|
|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|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||43 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£93|
|Annual service cost||-|
|Used price||£4,500 - £5,500|
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How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||97 bhp|
|Max torque||70 ft-lb|
|Top speed||123 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||12.1 secs|
|Tank range||203 miles|
Model history & versions
2003: KTM 950 Adventure introduced.
2006: KTM 990 Adventure introduced with injected 990cc from KTM’s SuperDuke road bike.
KTM 990 Adventure S: Taller, stiffer suspension, no ABS, blue/orange paintscheme and a 35mm taller seat height.
Owners' reviews for the KTM 990 ADVENTURE (2003 - 2012)
17 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.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
Version: orange with ABS
Best feature is the riding position which is comfortable and being able to switch off the ABS. Also, good cornering once you set the suspension up,although the rear shock pumps up when you thrash the bike,making it even higher when you stop afterwards.Worth remembering if you are 5 8" or under.The small compartment between the tanks is far and away the most useful thing on the bike.
Bike best at sweeping A roads and windy Broads. Good at off road, forestry tracks, fields, fording rivers and all that. Brakes are mediocre and need a strong pull on the lever. Seat is uncomfy so I re upholstered mine with different foam and is now good for 350 miles before ache sets in. Pillion is good. Fuelling is the worst I have had on any bike I have owned.I got BSD to sort it. If more reliable, it would be an ok all rounder. Needs more poke for two up riding with luggage.
Engine is Jerky on and off the throttle. Dismal in traffic unless you get it sorted by proper technician i.e., BSD,not KTM people. Useless under 3k revs,quite vibey. Steady power from 4k up.Good engine braking. Noisy and rattly though. Good for powering round bends without fear of sliding. I get around 160miles to a tank since BSD sorted it.
Poor quality bike, with paint cracking and peeling off after 10,000miles, rusting spokes, bolts, exhausts and self tapping screws into unthreaded plastic. Guaranteed short life span there. Tanks are very difficult to refit after they have been off, as the fasteners don't want to meet up with the mounting points. Mine has been unreliable, sometimes not wanting to start, then starting perfectly the next time. Neutral light comes on when in second gear. The wiring loom is a mess. Fuel pump failed after 8k. Bike ran so hot due to fuel starvation, you could see through em. The heat off the pipes melted the back mudguard and possibly damaged the rear shock internals.
The dealer charged me £450 for an ECU replacement after they crashed the original one in their workshop. KTM Spares are extortionate,I get after market parts where pos and buy 2nd hand parts from ebay. Dealers are rip off merchants. Do the valves yourself for 60quid, and save 400. Change oil and filter yourself and save 120 labour. Brake pads are a dodle. Take forks off and take to independent mechanic for fork seals and head races.save at least 600. The bike is higher maintenance than an old Ducati.
Best feature is riding position and height. Great view of the road. Standard trail attack tyres are fine. Panniers are ace. Massive mind you, but hold loads and make great seats when camping. Headlight is absolutely rubbish. After market spots are a must. Ktm style tank bag is also very good.
Buying experience: Bought vey lightly used from a dealer, who was not up front about the bike not having a master key. Be careful when you buy, especially from dealers. More crooked than private sellers in my experience. Mine is a 2008 model on a 2010 plate.
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 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 email@example.com.
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 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!
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 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.
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 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!!
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.
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 asked, cornering so fun even with knobbly tires and luggage, easy to pick up when dropped (once).
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 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!!
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. 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!
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 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. <br>Weaknesses: Perhaps fuel economy could be better - 200 miles from the 22 litre tank but only if ridden with care! No fuel gauge.
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. <br>Strengths: Storming engine - ride that torque wave! practical, comfortable (once gel seat fitted) - genueinely different and very orange. Akropovic cans sound lovely.<br>Weaknesses: Ease of maintenance - everything has to be done a certain way. Clutch becomes stiff when hot.
I bought this bike 6 months ago and loved it from the off - great riding position (1000 miles in a week no problems), huge fun in the twisties (went past a R6 with my topbox on), lovely big v-twin noise. Then things started going wrong. Oil light came on the morning after I got it back from the dealers (in mid-Essex). They kept it for a couple of days, then returned it saying there was no problem. Next day, same thing. 2 weeks to sort out. Headlight and spokes needed doing under warranty (only because I found that out - the dealership wouldn't have offered). 3 weeks. The back brake stopped working, and as I couldn't be bothered to send the bike off again, I asked for the bits to be sent to me so I could do it. That took a week. Then it started overheating - after having it for 3 weeks they told me that it was the water pump which took 3 weeks to fix. To top it all they offered me an sh1t trade-in against a 950 supermoto 'as it's had a few problems'. Can't wait to sell it. <br>Strengths: Riding position, comfort, handling, attitude. Weaknesses: All of that's useless when it's sat in the workshop. A brilliant bike let down by arse reliability and a worse dealer network. I might as well have a Ducati.
For a bike that's meant to be 'Enduro' it's anything but. Now done 4000 miles (January 2006) since new, got the bike mid October 2005. Given it's pedigree, it's a complete let down. Constant problem with back break, slow speed breaking the break howls and vibrates back thro the foot break lever, change of break pad cured this. 2000 miles later problem has started again. The front break is now starting to squeak and vibrate up thro the forks when breaking. BIG PROBLEM: Engine cut out when changing down at any speed/gear. It nearly threw me off on a motorway roundabout! Running like a sick dog at the moment, carbs, plugs, valves???? seems to needs constant setup, unlike a Jap machine. It's back at the dealers again, lost count how many times it's been in now When it runs ok, it's great, wow in fact, but unfortunately 80% of the time it's so un-reliable. I would be interested to hear from other KTM riders who have experienced similar problems, please email me. Strengths: When it runs OK, it really is WOW "Grin Factor". Weaknesses: See my comments.
First off the bike started to use coolant from the off, there was no sign of coolant in the engine, but the coolant was going somwhere. Both cylinder head gaskets were replaced under warranty and while this did not fix the problem immediatley, after 3 0r 4 more coolant top ups and a new clip on a radiator hose the coolant useage has now stopped. However last week while the bike was parked up after ride out (Approx 5mins after I had got of the bike) The fuel tank ruptured on the right hand side, dumping petrol everywhere, Scary! The bike has never been dropped so I can only conclude that a weak spot in the plastic tank burst under pressure, Again KTM replaced the fueltank under warranty getting a replacement tank there the next day and the dealer (Colwyn Bay motorcycles) were excellent in fitting the new tank and opening up just so as I could pick up the bike. Apart from all this the bikes great when it works (4000miles so far) Oh and I appear to have a small fuel leak at the moment back we go! Strengths: Engine performace, handling, KTM warranty backup <br>Weaknesses: Realiablity, the rock hard seat.
This bike makes me smile everytime I ride it. It has covered 17,500 mile is used in all weather all year and I am still smiling. build quality is superb, reliability 100%, On road handling and agility superb, brakes take a little getting used too and could be a touch stronger but very good anyway, off road it is big but still agile and managable, comfort is excellent with gel seat fitted, engine is torquey, powerful and superb, economy good. Can I praise it anymore - not really it is an excellent all rounder I have no doubts about any aspect of the bike and would happily ride it anywhere anytime, The best all round bike I have owned in the last 28yrs of riding it beats them all as an everything bike.Upgraded pipes and re-jetting improve things in the engine department but its hard to improve anything else on the bike.KTM Heppco adventure luggage is excellent if a little limited on room. Strengths: Road presence, forgiving handling, superb engine, build quality, usability and reliability. <br>Weaknesses: Original seat, complicated oil changes, access to engine for servicing or repairs (if it ever needs repaired that is).
I bought mine with 17 inch road wheels and BT010's. I had the Duke LC4 before this and thought the 950 would have everything that the smaller bike lacked. I was not wrong. The power and handling are first class and as everyone says, you can blitz a lot of sports bikes ridden by the guys pretending to be road racers. Seat was very sore on the arse so I had it rebuilt for 100 quid. Now the bike is perfect. I really can't fault it. I have owned and ridden lots of bikes since I started biking many years ago, but this one is the most satisfying so far. Fast, safe fun. Strengths: Puts a smile on my face everytime I open the garage door. It has a unique look that I love. Quality engineering and high class fittings. Easy to push aroud. Huge fuel range. Nice and narrow - no "sticky-out" ugly BMW type cylinders so it is great in heavy traffic. Weaknesses: OK the exhaust does get hot - I will fit akropovics when I get some cash. Seat is hard but new ones seemingly have a gel filled seat. I got mine redone and its fine.
A B road blaster that will anihalate most things, fully adjustable white power suspension front and rear, Brembo brakes front and rear, stainless lines as standard,a free reving dry sumped V Twin, saddle bag tanks for low centre of gravity making it very flickable, seat hard but fitted gel pack in the seat, problem cured. <br>Strengths: Torque, Torque and more Torque very little will keep with it out of the twisty bends. Weaknesses: The heat from the underseat exhausts on a sunny day is tremendous, how anyone can ride something like this in a desert is beyond me, you can heat up a ginsters pasty under the seat.