2017 adventure bike of the year: KTM 1090 Adventure R

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Since the demise of KTM’s 990 Adventure in 2012, true off-road fans have been left craving a new powerful, large, but capable off-road bike. The outgoing 1050 Adventure never really hit the spot, but now their prayers have  finally been answered with the all-new 1090 Adventure R. It delivers the all-round fun of the old 990, but with more of everything. Now rider aids make it accessible for everyone, not just for those who grew up on motocross tracks.

KTM launched two new 1090s this year: the more road-biased 1090 Adventure and this taller, 21in front wheeled R version, which I’ve tested three times and each time it leaves me with a beaming smile.

The R produces 125bhp and 80.4ftlb of torque (compared to the old 1050’s 95bhp and 79ftlb) and although it’s confusingly called the 1090, capacity remains at 1050cc. KTM also offers a 95bhp variant that can be restricted to 47bhp for A2 licence-holders.


Standing tall on fully-adjustable WP forks and shock, there’s a generous 220mm of suspension travel at both ends. The big front wheel amplifies the towering stance further, but the KTM’s narrowness and lack of weight make it a machine not to be afraid of. On the road the dirt-focused tubeless Continental TKC 80 tyres are the KTM’s only limitation and can cause instability when you’re hustling, but at normal speeds the 1090R is a polished and competent package.

Set the manually adjusted screen to its highest setting, sink into to its comfy seat and it’s more than capable of clocking up big miles in comfort. During the summer we took the year’s adventure group test winners of all shapes and sizes to the glorious roads and dusty trails of Mount Etna in Sicily to find out which is the best and the 1090R that came out on top.

I can’t remember the last time a bike delivered so much fun and enjoyment both on and off-road. You could happily hammer motorways, clocking up 600 miles on three tanks of fuel or ride off-road all day, no matter what the terrain with ease. The 1090R still uses the old 1050’s clocks and switchgear and I’m unsure how long its extreme off-road tyres will last on the tarmac, but those minor gripes aside, I’m hooked.

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Adam Child

By Adam Child

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