KTM KTM 790 Adventure first impression review

KTM 790 Adventure first impression review

We’ve just taken delivery of a 2020 KTM 790 Adventure for a full and thorough test, here are Toad’s thoughts after an initial 100 miles

LAUNCHED in 2019, the KTM 790 Adventure was the bike that KTM hoped would rewrite the middle-weight adventure rulebook.

Borrowing all of the firm’s knowledge and know-how from the world of enduro and rally racing, the 790 Adventure blends real-world usability and proper off-road ability. Sadly for me, the bike has been somewhat of an enigma to me, passing me by almost every chance I get to ride one – frustrating to say the least!

KTM 790 Duke review

The meat of the bike is that 799cc parallel twin-cylinder engine that the bike shares with the outgoing 790 Duke. One of the first things that struck me about the bike is how different the character of the engine is in this model. The Duke is all popping and banging and doing its best to lift the front wheel from the ground. The 790 Adventure though is a much more refined ride. It’s pokey enough, with 95bhp on tap and has perfectly set up fuelling and throttle mapping, but next to the Duke it almost feels restrained!

After schlepping back from KTM’s Silverstone HQ, I wasted no time in getting the little KTM’s toes muddy and instantly realised that the only thing holding this bike back was my meagre off-road riding ability. I found it very easy to get on the bike and immediately ride at the maximum of my ability, with the ample reserves of the bike offering a sizeable safety net.

The easiest way I can describe the bike while riding off-road is by saying it’s a bit like a giant BMX with a 100hp engine slotted into the frame! It is so agile and easy to ride that it constantly flatters you, making you seem like a much more competent rider than you are.

As with any modern-era adventure bike, the KTM 790 Adventure features an array of electronics for the ride to fiddle and fettle with. I’m still working through them but I do need to highlight the bikes slide control system, kind of traction control for hooligans! It allows you to kick out the back end of the bike and send some roost’ skywards but taps into the bike’s IMU to prevent you from having too much fun. It’s a great feature for the less experienced off-road rider and gives you a kind of secure feeling while still having some fun.

Hitting some more technical sections the good news continues as the slow speed handling of the bike is just as good. The ABS is very good and the light clutch and perfectly set up RBW throttle makes fine control of the bike feel almost trials bike-like in its accuracy. The only slight issue I found was the engine isn’t a natural-born plugger. It is torquey, make no mistake, but the low-end isn’t quite up to those low-revs, almost tick over climbs over obstacles. That said, the controls are light and easy to use meaning you can get over, you just can’t be quite as lazy as you can on some bikes.

So, all in all, a very positive first day spent on the orange bandit, I’ll be cranking on some more miles both on and off-road in the coming weeks so stay tuned for more updates!