2012 KTM 990 Adventure first ride

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If this KTM Adventure 990 looks familiar then that’s entirely deliberate – but this is no limited edition ‘Dakar’ version, as debuted last Spring, nor the full-blown ‘R’ version – it’s the standard 2012 Adventure which, like its R brother, boasts a host of modifications and improvements for this year, before an all-new model is expected in 2014.

In a nutshell, both versions now have a power boost – producing 115bhp compared to the 2011 standard bike’s 108 – courtesy of a revised ECU.

The R model is more off-road orientated, with greater ground clearance, crash bars and sump guards, while the standard bike, in addition to the power boost, gets extra crash protection as per the R model and new colours, but the OTR price still remains under £10,000.

The angular Adventure has always stood out in a crowd but in its new blue and orange paintscheme, complete with new orange crash guards, it’s glaringly distinctive.

The twin filler caps are still contentious and you have to fill both tanks individually to get the full 19.5 litres but the design does enable the bike to remain thin.

The clocks, too, are starting to appear dated, which is to be expected as the basic design harks back to the original 950 Adventure of 2004, and the function buttons on the left of the clocks are a little fiddly, especially in winter gloves.

Most rivals now have a mode button which enables you to scroll through the clocks on the move, but the KTM doesn’t.

But I can forgive the dated clocks once the big 999cc V-twin barks into life. Power and torque is instant – from as little as 2000rpm. Big handfuls of throttle in the first two gears will get the front light – but there’s really no need to rev the V-twin as it has a huge spread of torque.

Just keep firing out the torque, tapping in the gear changes and you’re rewarded with instant fun.

Quick, safe overtakes on country roads require merely a tap down one and a whiff of throttle. Keep it pinned and you’re looking at over 130mph before the KTM runs out of puff, yet at the same time the big Adventure will comfortably cruise at 90mph all day long.

In fact, the now even perkier engine is the KTM’s ace card. As it’s so versatile it makes the Adventure so much more fun. Up the pace and you can ride on the waves of torque and attack any road with confidence.

Alternatively, if you aggressively attack a road there’s so much oomph you’ll struggle to keep the front wheel on the ground in the lower gears.

In short, the added extra top end and midrange has simply made an already great powerplant better still.

To read the full test pick up a copy of the February 8 issue of MCN.

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Adam Child

By Adam Child

Former MCN Road Tester with 15 years road testing experience on all kinds of bikes