MCN Fleet: KTM 890R delivers the adventure dream – whatever you throw at it…

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Just over four months into life with the 890R and I can safely say it’s the best adventure bike I’ve ever ridden. Seriously engaging on the road – especially in the aggressive ‘Rally’ mode where second gear wheelies become involuntary! Its small enough to throw about and more precise than it has any right to be given its 21” front wheel thanks to its seriously high spec suspension, while it is the clear class leader in the dirt.

But the one area where it lets itself down is in the fairing/aero department where with the standard screen you have to endure excessive noise but even worse – unpleasant buffeting and turbulence at faster motorway speeds.

Wanna buy a new screen?

As a genre, Adventure bikes have surprisingly poor aerodynamics – and this is definitely the Achilles heel of the 790 and 890R.

To start with I thought it was probably down to my helmet choice. My go to Arai QV Pro is probably the worse with a Shoei GT Air II the best – but to be honest only marginally better. Two months ago I did 500 miles on the motorway to get to Northumberland and back for an off-road trip and used a peaked Arai adventure helmet. I was dreading the journey expecting the peak to make it horrendous and had plans to remove the peak, but bizarrely it wasn’t that bad, in fact it didn’t really seem to make a difference.

More long-term tests

The buffeting issue is a common topic on KTM Facebook forums and unsurprisingly there are plenty of opinions and thoughts out there which led to me doing a bit of my own research.

So far I’ve tried the bike with the standard screen in both the low and high positions – with the low position generating less wind protection but also slightly less buffeting. I then tried removing the screen altogether which reduces the wind protection dramatically with wind hitting your chest, but did seriously reduce the head rattling buffeting.

Riding with no screen on the KTM

I subsequently fitted the larger standard 890 screen which is 13cm higher and 10cm wider at the top. There is no question that this is the best solution I’ve found, but it’s still far from perfect as there is still excessive noise and buffeting – albeit reduced. The problem is that it doesn’t look right on the R version and is definitely too high and in the way for serious off-road use. I’ve kept it on as it’s better for the road, but it’s not really the solution I’m looking for.

My next step is to try a small spoiler to clip on top of the original screen – but if anyone out there has already found the solution – I’d love to hear from them!

KTM 890 Adventure previous updates:

 


 

Update four: KTM 890R delivers the adventure dream - whatever you throw at it

Published: 22.07.2021

I’m not sure about everyone else but it’s taken me a while to emerge from lockdown hibernation. I found myself thinking about all the things I wanted to do with the go anywhere KTM Adventure 890R, but my thoughts were devoid of any actual plan.

Well that finally all changed, kicked off by an epic multi day off road adventure ride through Northumberland and Cumbria. It was a trip literally made for the 890R. Coincidently it was 890 miles all in which included everything from big miles North on the M1 to some gnarly single track on the TET (Trans Euro Trail) route we followed.

More long-term tests

The KTM ate the boring motorway miles and seamed to get better the harder I pushed it off-road – it really is the most capable, big capacity adventure bike on the market thanks to the way it carries its weight so low, the fact that you have room to move and distribute your weight due to their being no big fuel tank on top of the bike to stop you along with the incredible Xplor WP forks and rear shock.

The do anything ethos of the 890 was born out less than a week after finishing my Northumberland trip as I loaded the cavernous KTM Touratech hard luggage on to the bike (I used Kreiga OS soft luggage when riding off-road) in preparation for a two up camping trip with my daughter in Wales. Two tents, two camping mats, two sleeping bags along with all the other paraphernalia needed when camping meant we were fully loaded.

I don’t particularly like riding with panniers or a pillion but it can teach you a lot about your bike and your own riding in terms of being smooth. The 890 holds its weight superbly and with over 100bhp on tap and 73ftlb of torque it soaked up the extra load with ease, remaining balanced without the need for constant down shifts when overtaking.

My two trips away only fuelled my desire to do more so when I got the opportunity to spend a day on the beautiful roads and trails in the Peak District I didn’t say no. It turned out to be a long day – in fact by far the biggest I’ve done on the 890.

A 10am leave, Peak District by 1pm, riding until 10pm before getting something to eat and bravely/foolishly deciding to ride home rather than find a B&B meant I rolled in to my drive at just after 2am. Apart from the buffeting and lack of wind protection from the low ‘R’ screen it was hard to fault even at the end of such an enduring day.

My strong run of riding culminated in a trip to the ABR (Adventure Bike Rider) Festival a couple of weeks ago. Due to MotoGP and work constraints as MCN’s Sports Editor – it was a flying visit, but I’d like to think I made the most of it completing two big fun laps of the off-road riding circuit, watching Graham Jarvis do his stuff on Saturday evening and meeting plenty of new people over a few beers while listening to the excellent live bands.

A quick visit to this year's ABR festival

It was also another night in the tent amongst thousands of like minded riders all living out their own take on adventure – from fully loaded BMW GSA’s with big tents to Honda CRF 250L’s with bivvy bags and everything in between.

All-in-all I’ve clocked up over 2000 miles over the past seven weeks which means the excellent Continental TKC80’s are dead. 2000 miles may not sound much but for this type of tyre, but some spirited off road riding along with fully loaded motorway miles – I think they’ve done pretty well.

I’ve now got a set of very road focussed Continental Trail Attack 3s going on as I’m intrigued just how good the 890 will be on the tarmac with plenty of grip. I’ll keep you posted.


KTM 890 Adventure previous updates:


Update three: Prepping for two up camping on the KTM 890 Adventure R

Published: 01.07.2020

Ready for a two-up adventure on the KTM 890 Duke R

Having recently returned from a five day off-road trip around Northumberland where the KTM 890 Adventure R excelled, it’s on to the next mini adventure. But this time instead of some pretty tough rocky trails and minimal luggage – I’m going camping for a night and taking my 16 year old daughter with me – which some may say will be as equally demanding!

Destination; the Forest of Dean which will provide a great contrasting opportunity to see how the 890R performs as a do it all adventure bike.

Smile please!

In terms of prep there is a bit to do. First and foremost is the suspension. To meet the demands of riding on the Trans Euro Trail in the Bordelands, all the suspension was adjusted as per KTM’s recommendations – a list of which is conveniently listed under the seat.

With preload and compression damping on the forks, and preload and rebound on the rear along with high and low speed compression damping there is a plethora of adjustment available. And unlike suspension adjustment on some bikes, the WP set-up on the 890R really is top spec meaning each and every click or turn makes a real world difference. Having essentially softened the suspension for off-road duties it’s time to stiffen it up to account for the extra weight of luggage and a pillion.

More long-term tests

And on the subject of luggage, I’m still in the negotiation phase with my daughter about how much 'stuff' she can bring. It seems my desire and general ability to travel light has not yet transferred to my first born.

Luggage loaded and ready for the off

Luckily for us both the KTM has been fitted with the stealth looking KTM branded Touratech hard luggage. When I say stealth that is purely down to them being black, and definitely not their cavernous size.

With 36 litres capacity on the right and vast 49 litres on the left there is plenty of space available. The set-up also comes with a 36 litre top box but to enable us to carry her tent - mine fits in the small pannier - we need to utilise the rear rack. We don’t actually leave until next week and it’s only for a night, but we’ve been for a dummy run evening ride just to ensure everything fits. Early indications are that we’re good to go. Wish me luck!


KTM 890 Adventure previous updates:


Update two: Itching for an adventure with KTM's 890R

Published: 10.06.2021

Our Michael prepares for an off-road adventure

Having done close to 15,000 miles on a KTM 790 Adventure R long-term test bike in 2019, I thought I knew exactly what I was getting into with the all new KTM 890 Adventure R…wrong.

Yes I know that 90cc, 9.4 bhp and 8.8lb.ft more torque may not sound much but in reality it’s brought the already potent middleweight adventure bike to a whole new level. The revised graphics also look sharper but what hasn’t changed is the stiff, focussed chassis and aggressive power delivery when in Rally mode, which have all been enhanced on the 890.

More long-term tests

I’m only 900 or so miles into life with the KTM’s latest adventure offering in which time I’ve enjoyed a trip South to visit Durdle Door and headed East for an off-road lap of Thetford forest. My gut feeling tells me the next 900 are going to be every bit as good, if not better.

Off-road pedigree

So far I’ve only done just over 50 miles off-road in Thetford forest and while the riding there is relatively tame as it’s flat with not many corners it’s still a stiff test, especially for the suspension due to long stretches of random sized whoops.

I’ve ridden the same route on a state of the art Yamaha WR250F enduro bike so I knew what to expect, but I could never have expected just how well the 890R would deal with it. You can’t get away from the fact that the 890 is an expensive bike at £11,999, but after a day riding it’s clear where the money has gone.

Shocks on the KTM 890 Adventure R

The 48mm WP XPLOR forks are simply on another level to its rivals and there were occasions on the ride where the big travel, perfectly damped suspension saved my bacon.

Due to the repetition of the whoops it’s easy for things to get out of hand as the suspension does not have time to recover before the next compression. I’m not saying you couldn’t ride the route on a Yamaha Ténéré 700 or Triumph Tiger 1200 Explorer but there is no way you’d be as fast or as confident.

Real world fast

The extra bhp isn’t a big factor off-road, but it is on the tarmac especially if you’re loaded up with panniers or have a pillion onboard. All the sub 1000cc adventure bikes boast around the same 94bhp  (the Triumph Tiger 900, BMW F850GS, Honda Africa Twin and so on) and all of them lack that mid range grunt or urgency needed for A road overtakes unless you’re riding solo.

I honestly never expected an extra 10bhp to feel so good, but in reality it’s a 10% power increase, which genuinely transforms the bike. For the first time in years I’m searching for any excuse to just take it out for a ride.

Aero woes

If you spend anytime on KTM forums the most posted topic is about replacement wind shields on the 790. Bad aero, wind noise and buffeting are a common complaint which makes it even more disappointing that they haven’t been addressed with the latest 890R.

KTM 890 Adventure R Screen

From what I can see it’s the exact same set-up and while I haven’t found the buffeting too bad even with a peaked Arai X4 helmet the level of wind noise is incredibly high. There’s talk that swapping mirrors can help or removing the lower fairing so I’ve got plenty of investigating to do because even though I’ll be doing less miles than I did on the 790R I’d like to improve the current set-up.

One simple fix is to fit the standard 890 screen which is significantly higher, but it takes away from the looks of the ‘R’ version and is arguably too big for off-road riding.

What’s next

Having had my adventure wings clipped for the last year, I’m keen to get out so have a four day trip planned this month where I get to ride the TET (www.transeurotrail.org) off-road route across Northumberland and Cumbria onboard the KTM Adventure 890R and a Yamaha Tenere 700.

Both bikes have been fitted with off-road focussed Continental TKC80s and I’m currently busy sorting luggage from Kreiga and setting up the satnav for navigation. It’s going to be a real test of the bike – a long road ride followed by long days off-road in what will almost certainly be wet conditions. We have a few technical sections to tackle but with the heavier crank on the 890R, dedicated off-road mode, multi level traction control and KTM off-road DNA - I’m expecting good things.


Update one: I want to make 2021 my year of adventure with the KTM 890 Adventure R

Published: 21.04.2021

 

KTM 890 Adventure R

With more power and even more off-road capability the year ahead on the new KTM 890 Adventure R is definitely orange and most definitely bright. I want to make 2021 an adventure starting with a five-day off-road trip to Northumberland.

The rider Michael Guy, MCN Sports and Features Editor, 48, 5ft 9in. Riding 38 years. Ex-racer, now prefers off-road adventure. michael.guy@motorcyclenews.com

Bike specs 889cc | 104bhp | 196kg (dry) | 880mm seat height

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Michael Guy

By Michael Guy

Sports Editor, former 250-racer and adventure rider