Thread: Highland Motors
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Old 02-28-2008, 09:43 AM   #103
John in Leeds
Gnarly Adventurer
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Joined: Jan 2007
Oddometer: 378
So I've had a go on the KTM 990 Adventure

KTM 990 Adventure

Not everyone gets the chance to try one of these back to back with a Highland, so how did it go? Remember the Outback is a couple of years out of date (manufactured í05) but itís an interesting comparison anyway.

First impressions of the 990 Ė how sophisticated, reasonable seat height for 18r and 21f tyres, same Pirelli Scorpions as the Highland. Twin tanks, why? Lots of plastic, wouldnít want to drop it. Starts first touch from cold and idles cleanly.

All controls where you expect them, easy clutch, quiet gear change. No vibes, beautiful, first impression as you take off, feels like a Honda Africa.

Suspension works well, no clattering over bumps and pot holes, steers evenly.

Opening up no immediate power until 4000 and an annoying hunting at steady speed and low throttle, hmm.

Open up, power in plenty really gets up and goes as the revs rise, not manic but a nice well sorted linear progression to 9000 Ė didnít go over that as only just over 1000 miles on odometer. Red line to just over 9500.

Really good aerodynamics Ė despite a windy, blustering day went up to 100 nice and stable. Then up to 120 in top but seemed to run out of puff in the wind but very creditable for such a high bike. For comparison the Highland struggled to 110 on the same piece of road 30 minutes later (new engine running in but I donít expect much more).

Fuel light came on and put in £5 to get back in left hand tank. Shit fuel light stayed on. Went off some 5 minutes later when (I think) fuel flowed into the right hand tank with the sender unit. A posh bike like this should have a fuel gauge.

So handling was smooth and predictable, no surprises, but no real chucking about (itís not my bike).

Brakes twin discs on front enough power but would like more feel. Rear did some funny stuff as though some thing was catching particularly when layed over in low speed turn control situation, strange, it looked ok and had nothing loose. (later: wonder if it was the abs as it felt like it was pushing back)

Good looking bike, instruments clear and easy to read. But I look round and I wonder how long all the panels and strange placed ancillaries would survive in a rugged adventure environment.

Servicing every 4000 miles with cam check every 12000, lots of bodywork to remove and I understand quite expensive.


Highland Outback

KTM 990 Adventure


Rough as a bears ass

Smooth linear


Instant pull from low revs

A little soft at the bottom


Does not continue up

Superb when revved


Lighter weight. Can really throw it around

Stable but more ponderous

Suspension comfort

Top on rough

Top on road


I know itís there

What seat?


Barn door



Spot on

No complaints
Includes ABS


10 stabs then wait to warm up

Push and go


Old fashioned, basic

Much better

Of the bike

Easy to push round and pick up. Does not damage easily

Has centre stand. Heavy to pick up, expensive to drop


Easy until main 10000 service. 20 minute oil and filter. Clearances donít move

Has centre stand but apart from wheels, tyres brakes are easy. I donít like the look of all that plastic


Pick one up for 4grand

Twice that

If anyone is going to make the most of Highland it has start with the engine. Twin inlet to release the top end power a little more weight in the flywheel to improve the smoothness. Frame to improve access (although KTM donít seem to bother). Some improvements to the aerodynamics and looks. That would do me Ė light, fast and nimble. Needs major work to make the most of that super light and torquey motor. Folan have a 1200 version but I donít think itís needed.

Do I want a KTM Adventure? Nice modern long distance iron, but I would want the new one next year and then the next etc etc. Not enough character for me to keep and a real money pump.

Please remember this is just a couple of hours ago and not the product of a thoughtful measured assessment.

John in Leeds screwed with this post 02-28-2008 at 12:27 PM
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