KTM's secret 790 Adventure spied

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These are the first decent images of KTM’s next adventure bike – the 790 Adventure, which isn’t expected to arrive in dealers until early 2019. KTM CEO, Stefan Pierer, recently confirmed to MCN that this model was under development, but also confirmed that we would see the 790 Duke roadster first, which is expected to arrive as a 2018 model – suggesting that this bike is still two years away from entering the range. 

KTM 790 Adventure – Highlights

  • All-new 790 parallel-twin
  • Two new models
  • Serious off-road ability
  • Full LCD dash
  • Twin fuel tanks

The new 790 will extend KTM’s already strong range of adventure bikes (see below), and is likely to add two models into the mix, following the firm’s well-trodden path of offering a road version, and a more aggressively off-road focused R version. This test mule looks likely to be the R version, with a 21” front rim, and 18” rear, as well as a massive pair of fuel tanks that could see it being capable of serious distances between fill-ups. It’s devoid of the trademark orange frame and engine-saving crash bars, but this is a very early  – and very black – prototype.

What stands out most is how seriously focused this prototype looks. There’s very little to suggest that this is a soft small capacity option for those deterred by the 1090 or 1290, but rather that this is an even more authentic world-crosser, capable of almost enduro bike levels of off-roading, while maintaining enough manners and refinement to tour on tarmac in comfort over long distances. Think of it more as an oversized versatile Dakar bike than an undersized globetrotter. It’s the true spiritual successor to the 640 Adventure that ran from 1997 to 2007 – and which was possibly a decade ahead of its time.


While the front-end appears to be wholly borrowed from the 1090R, the swingarm is different, and features a directly mounted monoshock, removing the complexity of a linkage, with the shock mounted more horizontally thanks to the space created by the parallel twin’s lack of a rear-facing cylinder – also helping to centralise mass, and delivering a package that’s far more accessible and simplistic for field maintenance.

Clearly missing any finished bodywork or lighting solutions, we can assume it’ll mirror the 1090’s bodywork fairly closely, while the photos reveal a huge LCD dash nestling upright in the front cowl. Beneath and behind the rider, the rear subframe is sizable and looks beefy enough to take a decent compliment of hard luggage.

This is a serious adventure tool that has the competition firmly in sight. As Pierer told MCN: “The Africa Twin needs to look out.”

The 790 Adventure in detail


Running on DID Dirt Star rims, the front wheel is a 21”, while the rear is an 18” – which underlines this bike’s serious off-road intent. The rim sizes open the 790 up to the most serious off-road tyre options, while not precluding more dual-purpose options. The more road-focused standard bike is likely to run a 19/17” combination on cast wheels, just like the 1090 Adventure. 


The configuration is clearly parallel-twin, making this the 790 engine that KTM have been developing for several years, and which will first be used in a 790 Duke model for 2018. While there are no specs available, KTM have already said that they are targeting the Africa Twin with this model in terms of overall performance, which means that while the KTM will likely boast slightly less power than the AT’s 94bhp, it should also have less mass to drag about, too.


This test mule has more gaffa tape than actual bodywork, but the silhouette is clear enough. The relative lack of final bodywork does have benefits, though. The twin fuel tanks are clearly visible, each with it’s own filler, and a crossover pipe running between the tanks. The front end is clearly devoid of its nose cowl and the split LED headlamp that’s sure to be fitted, while the rear end looks to be a hacked item from another model.

Rider aids

While there’s no way of identifying the rider aids fitted from these images (beyond the provision of ABS, which is a legal requirement) it seems highly likely that the new 790 will use the same systems fitted to the base model 1090, which means three rider modes for the stocker, and four for the R, plus multi-mode traction control and ABS.


It all looks like pretty standard fare for a KTM adventure model here – with a fat fully-adjustable WP fork up front, and beefy fully adjustable monoshock at the rear. What is very clear from the images is that they are conventional units, with no hint of semi-active suspension on show. This isn’t a surprise, as cost and complexity aren’t welcome at this end of the adventure market.

KTM’s 2017 Adventure range

1090 Adventure, £11,299 – 125bhp | 228kg | Seat 850mm

Replacing the single-model 1050 version, this is the road-oriented of the new 1090 pairing. As such is gets cast wheels in more road-friendly 19”/17” rim sizes, and there’s an A2 version available.

1090 Adventure R, £12,149 – 125bhp | 230kg | Seat 890mm

The nutty brother to the standard 1090, the R gets all the usual modifications, including the orange frame, crash bars, 21”/18” laced rims and longer legs for better off-road ability.

1290 Super Adventure S, £14,299 – 160bhp | 238kg | Seat 860/875mm

Replacing the standard 1190, the new S (for Street) is the only 1290 to wear alloy rims (19” front, 17” rear), gets semi-active WP suspension, and is the lightest of the 1290 trio.

1290 Super Adventure R, £14,499 – 160bhp | 240kg | Seat 890mm

All-new for 2017, this insane offering will replace the 1190 R. It’s the only 1290 not to come with semi-active suspension, instead boasting fully adjustable WP units, and a 21” front wheel.

1290 Super Adventure T, £15,499 – 160bhp | 249kg | Seat 860/875mm

The only model that effectively carries over from 2016, the SAT is a Euro4 version of the previous Super Adventure, with semi-active suspension, traction control and laced rims.


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