KTM racked up their 17th win in the grueling Dakar race this year. What is more amazing is that the bike that won this year, has less than half the engine capacity of the one that won in 2002. It points to the fact that if you are serious about your off-road riding, having a lighter bike certainly makes sense.
KTM launched the 1090 and 1290 models last year, and both models are available in the standard road biased version, and the R which designates its off-road prowess. The 1090 Adventure is the entry-level Adventure bike in KTM’s line-up, but as I discovered, not the lesser bike.
Although KTM wants us to believe that this is not simply the successor to the 1050 Adventure, it is pretty close. The engine has been tweaked and is now substantially more powerful than the 1050. However, it only gained a marginal amount of weight. The 1090 Adventure is aimed at the riders who will spend most of their time on tar, and occasionally venture off on a dusty road. It has alloy wheels, so if you do want to spend serious time off road, I suggest you look to the R version. That has off-road tyres, spoked wheels and longer shocks. You can also clear a full 25cm.
The biggest difference between the 1290 and 1090 is that the former has a full colour TFT display and the latter takes a more traditional approach with an analog rev-counter and two smaller LCDs on either side. A nice feature for the 1090 is that you can set up any four parameters in your ‘favourites’ list, so you can see the information that is important to you. The small screen is also manually adjustable.
Despite its on-road bias, the 1090 is not shy to kick up the odd plume of dust, should the mood arise. With 125 angry horses at your disposal, it is inevitable that the KTM will need electronics to keep everything in check. To that end there are three rider modes, namely Sport, Street and Rain.
The 1090’s power delivery is smooth and relentless. Even on a straight piece of tar, I could see the traction control light come on, but the system was not intrusive at all. Even though it does not have the all-out power of the 1290, what it lacks in power, it makes up in weight. The 1090 is no slouch, and even though this is not a sport bike, I’m sure it will embarrass quite a few sport bikes when the road gets twisty.
It is difficult to fault the 1090. The only gripe I could think of was the heat from the engine becomes noticeable almost immediately. I see no reason why you need the 1290 over the 1090, apart from bragging rights, and maybe the TFT screen. The 1090 delivers on all counts and it makes the perfect mid-size adventure bike. – Words and Pictures – Brian Cheyne