KTM 890 Adventure and Adventure R on and off-road review

890 Adventure Visordown Review

We took a trip to the stunning Sweetlamb Motorsport Complex to find if the KTM 890 Adventure really can improve on the already capable 790

KTM 890 Adventure and Adventure R on and off-road review | April 2021 | from £10,999 | KTM.COM

IN 2019 KTM threw a bright orange cat amongst the established adven-touring pigeons, and the KTM 790 Adventure proved that these kinds of bikes don’t need to be tall, cumbersome off-road, or compromised on the road. 

KTM 890 Adventure and Adventure R Video Review (2021) 

KTM 890 Adventure and KTM 890 Adventure R review 2021 | On and Off-Road Review

But the good folk at Mattighofen don’t like sitting on their hands, and despite widespread acclaim for the model, they took the 2021 Euro5 introduction as a chance to spruce up the middle-weight adventure machine.

Unsurprisingly the 2021 model borrows its oily bits from the 890 Duke, although to think that this is all that’s been done is more than a little harsh on KTM’s engineers. The new engine is more powerful than the outgoing 790 yes, but it also produces more torque, less muck and has a different delivery thanks to completely revised internals.

The base model 890 Adventure is on the right, the more hardcore 'R' on the left

KTM 890 Adventure price, colours, and availability

The 2021 890 Adventure is available in a traditional looking KTM orange colour scheme (as ridden) or a stealthy black edition. It is available in UK dealerships now and priced at £10,999 OTR. There is also the R version of the 890 Adventure available, we’ll go through the specs and features later on in the article, but for reference that bike is priced at £11,999 OTR.

KTM 890 Adventure engine

The introduction of the new 889cc Euro5 parallel twin-cylinder engine brings with it a 9.8bhp increase in power and a 9lb-ft increase in torque. The rotating internals of the engine now carries 20% more mass, something that is designed to give the engine a gutsier delivery down low, aiding off-road delivery. The new engine also features a revised clutch to help with smoother, faster gearchanges, but also deal with the new motors extra grunt.

With the mornings briefing out the way, we headed out into the chilly spring sunshine for our first taste of 890 Adventure power. Our first sessions was a morning of off-road riding in the stunning surroundings of the Sweetlamb Motorsports Complex in mid-Wales. For this KTM had a fleet of 890 Adventure R machines, complete with Mitas E-09 road-legal knobblies.

No sooner had we travelled 100-yards than the internal changes to the 890 were being felt. They may be small numbers on a spec sheet but married to the heavier internals, the new bike feels more solid down low, still not the torque-fest of some of the V-twin middle-weight machines, but greatly improved over the 790. The engine also feels much more refined, with a cleaner throttle connection, smoother delivery, fewer vibes, and more accurate gearshift/quickshifter set up.

After churning ruts and landing some jumps on the R, we took to the standard bike for an afternoon road ride, looping around the Elan Valley and reservoirs and heading back to Sweetlamb via the fast and flowing A44. Away from the trails and on the open road the 890 is still as hard revving as before and even more eager to build speed. The improved PASC anti-hopping clutches gobbles up over-exuberant downshifts, while the quickshifter+ (optional) makes for precise and slick up and downshifts.

KTM 890 Adventure suspension, brakes, and handling


The hardware fitted to the new 890 is the same as the previous bike, although the internals have been adjusted for 2021. KTM seems to have made the bike’s base settings more of a middle ground for general road riding. The dive on the brakes has been dialled out somewhat, and the whole platform seems to be more capable when you start to push on. With plenty of adjustability on offer both front and rear, there is more than enough opportunity to tailor the set up to your requirements, but for me, on the road, this was a good enough adventure bike middle ground.


As mentioned above, the off-road riding part of the launch was riding the upgraded R version of the 890 Adventure. For 2021 the WP Xplor kit gains refined base settings and is still one of the most impressive suspension systems on and off the road. One of the best things about the 790 Adventure was how easy it was to ride, on-road, off-road, mud or gravel. It’s partly the chassis and fuel tank design, but I think most of the praise should be heaped on the hardware. The set up on the new 2021 890 Adventure and Adventure R is just as good. Off-road it is extremely plush, amazingly forgiving, and flatters even mediocre off-road riders like myself. It seems to have a magical ability to continually soak up hit after hit after hit, without ever winding up or feeling like it’s getting anywhere near flustered. Yes, the KTM might be a couple of grand more than some other bikes in the sector, but if you are serious about riding off-road riding, for this ability, it’s worth every penny and more.

KTM 890 Adventure equipment

In base trim the KTM 890 Adventure comes including the TFT dash and connectivity, although you’ll need the £7.99 app to use the turn-by-turn navigation. It is true that for the money there isn’t much that comes as standard on the 890. In fact, if you wanted to enjoy the bike that we were riding on the press test, you’ll need to pay £225.61 for the cruise control, £361.51 for the Quickshifter+, £180.34 for the Rally Pack, and £135.01 for the Motor Slip Regulation. That’s not to say that’s how people will spec the bike though, you’d simply opt for the Tech Pack instead. Adding that bags you all of the above for £796.30.

Now, KTM will argue that by offering the bike in this manner, customers only pay for what they want and that more users get a better deal. Normal humans just want a few of these parts added on as standard, a quickshifter and cruise control at the bare minimum.

One big shout out from the launch has to go to Mitas, who have again provided a KTM with some extremely noteworthy hoops. It comes in the form of the optional Mitas E-09 road-legal knobblies. The grip, feel and feedback on any surface was phenomenal, and even river crossings over algae-covered rocks weren’t the bum-clenching moments I’m used to.

KTM 890 Adventure comfort

One gripe I had of the previous generation 790 Adventure was the curse of the overly hard seat. The rest of the ergonomics were spot on, I just don’t like sitting on a slab of concrete while travelling around. KTM has done some work on this, and the new 890 Adventure is better, although an optional comfort seat might be optimal for serious adventure travellers.

What we liked about the 2021 KTM 890 Adventure

  • Still the benchmark in the middleweight adventure sector
  • 890 engine is all the best bits of the 790 and none of the bad
  • Traction control and ABS off-road have magical abilities

What we didn’t

  • Screen causes buffering around the shoulders – needs hex key to adjust!
  • Too many extras and not enough standard equipment

KTM 890 Adventure verdict

With the previous generation bike winning over so many fans and winning so many group tests, KTM would have had to try extremely hard to mess up the middleweight adventure bike’s winning formula. What is immediately apparent from riding both the standard and more hardcore R version is that the small changes internally and on the spec sheet add up to a big difference while riding. The bike’s already excellent poise has been improved, it has even better balance, and, thanks to revised base settings, there is a more defined line between the stock bike and the R.

There are still some gripes though - the base model’s standard equipment is lacking some essentials and the seat too firm for longer rides – but still, there is nothing in the middleweight adventure sector that can come close to the 890 in terms of sheer ability. If you want to own something that can waft you to work Monday to Friday but make you feel like Sam Sunderland at the weekend, £10,999 is the price, your nearest KTM dealer is the person you need to speak to.