Long term update: Summer starts here

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The first few days with a new bike are always a voyage of discovery. I’m running a KTM 1050 Adventure this year and I recorded my first week with the lanky V-twin adventure bike.

Day 1: Friday, March 20
Round mirrors? It’s often the little things that grab you first - and I can’t remember the last time I rode a bike with round mirrors. Whatever the shape, they work well and there’s no blurring as the revs rise so I’m sure I’ll soon be used to looking through the round windows.

First sight of the 1050 Adventure is good, with a purposeful and functional design that suits my tastes. It’s no-frills, but I’m not fussed by frills. The clocks and dials are simple, to the point and give me the info I need - gear, speed, revs, time and a fuel range countdown.

It’s got radially-mounted front brake calipers, another good thing, ABS to keep the stopping power in check and traction control to keep the rear wheel in line with the front. There are three riding modes - sport, street and a soft mode for riding in the rain. But there’s no enduro or off-road riding mode, and that’s a reason why my time that lies ahead with the KTM is unpredictable.

The lack of a dedicated dirt riding mode suggests this is really a road bike dressed up for adventure. But then the standard tyres are Continental’s new TKC70s, which are as knobbly as tyres will go before they stray into dedicated off-road rubber. And there are other touches that suggest dirt leanings, including removable footpeg rubbers. There seems to be a slight identity confusion, but I’m sure we’ll discover the real picture quite soon.

Whatever, the first few miles on the go suggest it’s going to be fun. In the sport riding mode there’s plenty of power to hand, with 95bhp and 79lbft of torque to propel us up the road. The brakes feel strong, but generate a lot of dive in the soft and non-adjustable forks. And the tyres take some getting used to, with a feeling of movement as the contact patch rolls off one tread block and onto the next.

The impressions from the first 30 miles are good and there’s more positive news when I get home - there’s also no parking light, so I can’t accidentally turn the ignition key too far at shutdown and leave a battery-killing light illuminated. It’s been a good first day.

Day 2: Saturday, March 21
Off to the local Triumph dealer (to get a drain plug washer for partner Charlie’s Street Triple). The tyres still feel odd. I think I’ll take them off and save them until I’ve got some off-roading opportunities. This is primarily a road bike so I’ll try one of the new road-going adventure tyres released this year.

Today I get a better handle on how to operate the menus for the clocks. The rider gets to choose what’s shown on the ‘favourites’ screen. I go for trip distance, fuel range, riding mode selected and total mileage so far.

With time for a little more exploration, I find the underseat toolkit. This is my first-ever KTM and I’ve heard good things about the comprehensive toolbag, but its sheer wonder still impresses me. It even has a pair of pliers - and a bottle opener!

Day 3: Sunday, March 22
The first proper rideout, on a sunny Sunday with Charlie and the Street Triple for company. The 1050 needs fuel for the first time and drinks 17 litres through a shallow filler neck that makes fuelling slow going.

If the spec sheet is right, there are another six litres of go-juice sloshing around inside - and my fuel economy testing starts here.

It’s a relaxed ride, Charlie’s first of the year, and the 1050 is in its element. The elevated riding position and grunty power delivery make it easy to sweep past Sunday dawdlers and the chassis happily rolls through bends as we ease back into riding country roads.

After a lengthy wait at a level crossing, the Triumph won’t start up again so the 1050 is pressed into pillion duties as Charlie hops on the back for a lift home to get my van to recover her ailing bike.

She likes the 1050’s passenger perch because it offers plenty of footroom, a view of the mirrors and clocks and has grabrails with enough clearance to actually grab them. I see some two-up escapades in our future.

Day 4: Monday, March 23
We’re 100 miles into the first full tank and the onboard display is saying it’ll be another 200 miles before we need another. That seems about as optimistic as a bet on me winning gymnastic gold at the Rio Olympics, but we’ll see (about the tank range, not the medal).

A quick play around with the riding mode shows the softer ‘street’ to be better until the engine is up to temperature, with a smoother throttle response as I navigate the streets of my home town.

Day 5: Tuesday, March 24
Another simple commuting day. The display is still promising a 300-mile range. If it’s right, I’ll be spending less time than ever in petrol stations.

Day 6: Wednesday, March 25
Take the back roads to work, and try a little bit harder for the first time. The suspension at both ends starts to protest and the handling issue from the dirt-orientated tyres only increases so I back off and resolve to wait until I can adjust the suspension and change the tyres. It’s no bad thing to relax a little.

Day 7: Thursday, March 26
The 1050 is pressed into taxi duties again, giving a colleague a lift home from work. I increase the preload to stop the inevitable sag, using a Torx key from the toolkit. With the extra ride height, it’s another thumbs-up from the back seat.

Day 8: Friday, March 27
As I start the morning ride to work the fuel range countdown is chilled out, telling me there are 60 miles until the next stop. Within five miles it’s traded Bob Marley mellow for Prodigy panic, flashing up a ‘low fuel’ warning that stays up in my face until I work out that pushing one of the buttons will make it go away.

It now tells me I have enough fuel for 30 miles. I stop for fuel anyway, to get an economy reading for this update. The 1050 necks down 18.82 litres after covering 185 miles, making for 44.63mpg.

There should still be another four litres of fuel in there, which gives a theoretical range of 226 miles before empty. That’s a pretty handy range, and I can live with stopping every 200 miles.

I’m now getting well used to my bike for the year and I have a whole summer to look forward to. The first service is looming large, as are new tyres and further fiddling with the suspension as there is also shock rebound to play around with.

I’d like to see if something can be done about the soft front-end, and the noise is severely muted so something to free up the V-twin sound would also be welcome. But the signs of my first week with the bike are almost exclusively positive.

Read the latest stories causing a buzz this week in Long Term Fleet…

Tony Hoare

By Tony Hoare

Former MCN Consumer Editor