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.

2008 Triumph Tiger 1050

On the prowl with Triumph’s 2008 Tiger 1050

As “adventure” bikes go, Triumph’s Tiger 1050 is one sexy cat. I’d thought as much since the first photos of this bike surfaced in 2006, but standing there looking at the bike, there was just no denying it.

I’ve long been a fan of bikes like the Tiger–BMW’s big GS, Ducati’s Multistrada, and Suzuki’s V-Strom–but I’ve always wondered why they had to look so…functional. With the Tiger 1050, Triumph has proven that it IS possible to build a sexy adventure bike. And, as I would soon discover, the bike is more than sexy. It’s a genuinely great motorcycle. A bike you can ride to work, to your favorite local twisty road, or across the country (with the optional hard bags and a few other accessories).

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2000 Triumph Thunderbird Sport

Not quite sure what it’s supposed to be

The late 90s/early 2000-era Thunderbird Sport is an interesting mixture of classic good looks and sporting ability. Between the chrome, beautiful paint and lace wheels, the bike can easily be mistaken for just another modern interpretation of a 60s or 70s motorcycle. When you get a little closer, though, and notice things like the dual disc brakes up front and fully adjustable suspension, you realize there may be more to the bike than just a walk down memory lane.

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