Finally rode a KTM 990 Adventure and the verdict…

Bleh, not so great…but here’s the whole story.

So I swung by Pro Caliber to see the Super Tenere they had in there
and after gawking and talking for a while (as the salesman salivated),
I left and rode down to swing a leg over the 990 for a quick seat of
my pants comparo. The salesman asked if I’d ever ridden one, I said
no, he asked if I wanted to and I just grinned as he went to get the
keys and gas it up. A quick couple of forms, copy of licenses and
signature later I was aboard and ready to head out of the parking lot.
Stalled it immediately because the clutch engaged as soon as I let it
out a teen tiny bit (opposite of how I have the KLR set up right now).
Luckily I didn’t even tip one way or the other since time and
experience have taught me to keep both feet down the first few times I
take off with an unfamiliar bike. I fired it up again and pulled out
of the parking, made a quick right onto Empire, crossed the highway
and headed down to OB.

The first thing I noticed underway was that the throttle felt a bit
twitchy, but I hoped that would go away as I got smoother with it. It
had plenty of get up and go and handled nicely. Brakes worked well
(was the ABS version) in a simulated emergency stop–and the rear
brake was especially good (compared to what I’m used to). I rode on
down to Tumalo, then made a U turn (easily) and rode back the way I’d
come rather than hopping on the highway since the climb up out of
Tumalo State Park is one I really enjoy. At this point I was feeling
much more confident with the bike, letting the leash out a bit,
leaning over a bit more. Once back up on top, I caught one of the side
streets over to the highway for a quick run up to 70ish. Wind
protection was OK, but there was more buffeting than I’m used to at
helmet level.

The throttle weirdness never went away. In fact the more I rode and
tried to be smooth the worse it seemed. Shifting was abrupt and really
annoying (as was the really long reach to the shift lever at my
toe)–again this was due to the on-off nature of the throttle. At
really low RPMs the bike wouldn’t idle smoothly and tended to surge.
The handlebars also felt too narrow for the bike. Power was good,
though. I found it all too easy to blow right through any normal speed
limits. Brakes were also good–as was comfort (aside from the narrow
bars). The thing that stood out the most to me wasn’t engine, brakes,
suspension, comfort…but the overall package and how completely
underwhelmed I was by it. I thought for sure that bike was the one. I
mean…it had to be (at least in my own little head). And yet…I got
off of it and was more like, “ehhhhh–better bike than the KLR, but so
what…definitely not $14,000 better.”

So now I’m lost. For the last several years I’ve thought, “if I could
only get a KTM 950/990, that be the only bike I need.” Now I don’t
care if I ever even ride one again. Time to move on. That Super Ten
sure seemed nice enough–and the bars were noticeably wider, the seat
felt better, the whole thing is bigger and would likely provide better
wind protection. The thing I noticed and didn’t like about it, though,
is that there’s a LOT of plastic on it–including the heat shield on
the muffler. Seemed really weird–like too much. Also noticed that the
oil filter is right behind the front wheel–in easy reach for
maintenance–and easy reach for any rock, pebble or stone on the
highway to come up and bash it in. Would definitely need protection
there. Lots of other nice features, but, it too is $14,000 and I’d be
surprised if it’s really $14,000 better than the bike I already have.
Think I need to stick with used bikes. I could easily see a used
Viffer being $4-5000 worth of good.