KTM 950 or 990 Longevity, dependability, reliability?

Discussion in 'Crazy-Awesome almost Dakar racers (950/990cc)' started by Bonnie & Clyde, Feb 12, 2007.

  1. Bonnie & Clyde

    Bonnie & Clyde Wishing I was riding RTW

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,140
    Location:
    Gardnerville NV
    Hello KTM guys and girls, I will be honest, I am a BMW GS guy but I am lacking some off road excitement. I am thinking about a KTM adventure the big one 950 or 990, for my daily transportation. I am a bike only guy I ride an 1150 GS every day no car. I take trips on my bike <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on">Mexico</st1:country-region>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Canada</st1:country-region>, <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Alaska</st1:place></st1:State> and the BMW is great but some times I just want to open it up and rip on the off road and do some single track. The GS will go most places I want to go but it has to be done slower than I would like and frankly it just doesn’t have the suspension for hard off roading. All that said can I get some honest answers and if possible unbiased opinions/thoughts about your KTM’s abilities.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    How about a list of questions and those that would could you answer the questions that you have an answer to?<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    I haven’t really seen any high mileage KTM 950 or 990’s are they out there? <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Longevity, dependability, reliability?<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    What about the water pump issues any real issues or just over publicized?<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Can you ride it every day and not have to fiddle with it?<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Will the frame take a heavy load like luggage and a passenger?<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Will it go to <st1:State w:st="on">Alaska</st1:State> and back or through <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Copper Canyon</st1:City> <st1:country-region w:st="on">Mexico</st1:country-region></st1:place> with mo worries?<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    How about fuel range on a tank of Gas? Some times on trips its 700 miles or more on the boring highway. <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Is it comfortable for an all day slab ride to get some where and then have fun?<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Will it go all the way around with mo major issues?<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Lets start there and see what kind of response I get. If there are other issues I am not addressing post them for me. Remember I need to able to ride this bike every day and it be like a Swiss watch (I know nothing is perfect). :D <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>

    Thank you in Advance.
    #1
  2. jalencar

    jalencar Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2004
    Oddometer:
    41
    Location:
    Ourinhos, Brazil
    HI There.

    I have a 2004 KTM 950, the silver model, fisrt year to come to US.

    Mine is not a daily driver but I ride it to work about 3 times a week.

    I have about 20000 miles on it now, I've been to Alaska, Continental Divide, Nevada Rally with Scot HArden to name a few.

    MY bike did had the water pump problem, but that was something that happen on the first models if I'm not wrong.

    I love that thing, Ruins like a champ, great offroad machine. I 've run it on the sand hill in west texas. take a look a some of the places. http://www.jpalencar.smugmug.com/Motorcycles

    My will run aprox. about 260 miles on a tank of gas.

    Let me know if you want any more detail.

    Take care.

    John
    #2
  3. Zen Slug

    Zen Slug Spineless Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Oddometer:
    6,062
    Location:
    Near Vana
    :lurk




    The fact that KTM's appear to have more problems than BMW's and yet their owners complain about them less is very telling to me. I asked a buddy once why he thought this was and he said, "it's because when everything comes together and is working like it should the KTM bikes are just SOOOO much FUN that nothing else matters anymore"


    I see a 950 Adventure in my not-too-distant future:ricky
    #3
  4. InfoManiac

    InfoManiac Always Learning

    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    5,892
    Location:
    San Antonio, TX
    +1

    I'm paying off my debts and starting a KTM 950 Adventure fund.
    #4
  5. rpilottx

    rpilottx Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,498
    Location:
    El Paso
    I have a 2005.5 950S and somewhat of a love/hate relationship with the bike. To answer some of your questions first I have seen a couple 950's with 50000-60000 miles and good dependability. I have just over 12000 miles on mine without a single issue.

    The love/hate relationship is based on the fact I have ALWAYS wanted a GS but the closest BMW dealer is 250 miles away and I already have a 2004 KGT. The 950 is a blast and the fact that the only 950 dealer in New Mexico is 40 miles up the road is why I have a 950 and not a GS. If you don't mind doing your own maintenance, the 950 is fine. And I don't mean it is any more maintenance intensive then any other high performance machine. Unlike the latest version of the GS, there are no computers to worry about, just chain and carborators. I guess my biggest complaint is a fuel range of less then 200 miles(but it appears a 44 liter tank may cure that problem). Off road, it leaves the GS in the dirt so to speak but all the reviews say the GS is a better machine on pavement(wind protection and ABS mainly).

    The waterpump is a known issue but my dealer(Badlands) says he has yet to replace one even on bikes with 30000 miles and I believe him. If you are worried, KTMTwins sells the complete kit for $90 bucks I think. Also, there are issues with the fuel pump and clutch (which seem to depend on how hard you ride). The fuel pump can be replaced with a unit from Napa(try that with your GS).

    The only reason my 950 has not seen more mileage is because I also have the KGT and a 2006 640 Adventure. I want to get rid of one of the three so I have room in the garage but honestly can't decide which one to sell.

    As far as long days are concerned, I took my stock 950S to Las Vegas in December, 2005, for a Jimmy Lewis school and rode one 700 mile day using the stock seat. Any problems I encountered were cured by a Renazco seat a month later. I did 2040 miles in 47 hours last summer on my KGT and honestly prefer it for long stretches of pavement(cruise control!) but am having trouble deciding on which KTM (950 or 640) to ride to Tierra del Fuego in the fall of 2008.

    So that is how much I like both KTM's.
    #5
  6. MarkN

    MarkN Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,958
    Location:
    Dorchester, Dorset.UK
    Zen,

    Totally agree with you. I have had a sting of BMW's and none of them were any trouble. My 990 has been back to the dealer because it dumped it's clutch fluid and the back brake went spongy. I have also suffered a flat battery but wouldn't change it for anything. I love this bike, it's the most fun I have ever had on 2 wheels and I've been riding for 22 years.

    Cheers

    Mark
    #6
  7. SQD8R

    SQD8R Eat squids and be merry

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    Oddometer:
    7,428
    Location:
    The Village: 75°53'34"W, 45°17'42"N
    Forums are designed to allow owners to solve any issues that may arise. More often than not, and this includes all forums not just OC, we see a repeat of issues. I wouldn't be concerned about buying a 950 because of the issues presented in a forum. I'd be more concerned about the feedback and level of technical information available from that forum. If the forum is showing a high number of issues that simply aren't being resolved then that would make me second guess my purchase. Thankfully OC is not that type of forum.

    If you go to the last page of OC and sift through the technical posts, ignoring the rants, you will see a few key issues with early 950's. Once addressed by you or a competent dealership you are as reliable as any other make or model in my mind.

    The fact that you have riders like Antware with over 50,000 miles, touring Alaska and other parts of NA, with, and correct me if I'm wrong, no issues shows the robustness of the 950. Keep in mind his is an older model as well. 2004 or 2005. The updates required then have been done on more current models.

    Remember forums are designed to solve issues so you have to expect to see them listed here. You have to sift through the malaise in order to get to the relevant stuff.
    #7
  8. gefr

    gefr Life is a trip

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    4,786
    Location:
    East Med, Greece
    My experience.
    #8
  9. Bonnie & Clyde

    Bonnie & Clyde Wishing I was riding RTW

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,140
    Location:
    Gardnerville NV
    I guess my biggest complaint is a fuel range of less then 200 miles(but it appears a 44 liter tank may cure that problem). Quote (rpilottx)

    Is this tank out for the US market?
    Is the 990 with EFI any better on fuel consumption?

    I really appreciate the response.
    #9
  10. cpmodem

    cpmodem Orange Caveman

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    Oddometer:
    7,103
    Location:
    masa yee yah tee 59° 14' 9" N / 135° 26' 42" W
    Mine's an early '04. I ride it a disproportionate amount of the time, considering I have 5 other bikes that run fine. I ride ~60,000 miles a year which I divide amongst all of my bikes. The 950 now has over 38k miles without a problem. I have ridden it all over North America and wouldn't hesitate for a moment to ride it anywhere in the World. There's a couple of 950 guys down in Punta Arenas right now. I get an average of 35-37 mpg, and I ride the living crap outta it. I have an aux fuel cell that I can mount in 5 min that allows me to double the range to over 400 miles between stops. Mine burns no oil between 5k services and I haven't had to change shims in the valve train since the first check at 10k miles. The chain gets lubed when I think of it. The first one lasted ~25k miles. I'm still on the original sprockets.

    I put a little bit wider windscreen on for more protection at high speeds on the Interstate, and I had Bill Mayer build a custom seat for long days in the saddle. I routinely put in multiple 1000 mile days and have done a handful of 1500+ miles days without discomfort.

    I ride mine every day and it hasn't let me down once, butt I have other bikes if it did. If you're looking for a Swiss Watch, get a Honda (butt be advised they're not as reliable as they once were). Maybe Rolex makes a m/c you could buy for like about $150k :D

    There's no guarantee anything will work forever without a problem. YMMV, of course, and my experiences are my own and not necessarily indicative of the average owner's result.
    :jkam
    -cp
    #10
  11. nevgriff64

    nevgriff64 ɹǝpun uʍop ɯoɹɟ buıɥɔʇɐʍ Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    Oddometer:
    17,623
    Location:
    Melbourne Australia
    Hi cp..

    Have you got any photo`s of your aux. fuel cell mate..

    I`m planning a trip around Australia (15 500Ks) starting August this year and would love to see different options of carrying fuel before I fork out for the 44 litre tanks..

    I have also done 8500Ks so far on my 05 950s and hasn`t missed a beat.. The best bike I have owned by a country mile..

    Cheers Nev.
    #11
  12. cpmodem

    cpmodem Orange Caveman

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2004
    Oddometer:
    7,103
    Location:
    masa yee yah tee 59° 14' 9" N / 135° 26' 42" W
    I'm thinking of getting a set of the 44's to give me a 600 mile range :jkam
    -cp

    [​IMG]
    #12
  13. nevgriff64

    nevgriff64 ɹǝpun uʍop ɯoɹɟ buıɥɔʇɐʍ Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2005
    Oddometer:
    17,623
    Location:
    Melbourne Australia
    That`s a very nice set up you have there mate..

    Thanks for the photo.. :thumb
    #13
  14. SkylineKeith

    SkylineKeith Motorcycle Junkie

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,644
    Location:
    wherever my bike's at
    The KTM is great off road and I enjoyed my 950. I could not enjoy it for any distance on the slab. I planned all my distance rides via backroads, not that there is anything wrong with that. I no longer have my 950. I now have a GSA. That being said, I am considering getting a 950 super enduro for the really fun stuff that I know the GSA is not capable of doing. Alright orange crush, don't flame me, he asked, I told. I still loved my KTM and look longingly in the for sale section.

    PM me if you want specifics.

    Keith
    #14
  15. MarkN

    MarkN Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,958
    Location:
    Dorchester, Dorset.UK
    No, the 990 is worse. It also holds less fuel because the fuel pump is inside one of the tanks so you lose about 1/2 ltr. There is a long thread on this issue in OC somewhere.

    Cheers

    Mark
    #15
  16. LC8rider

    LC8rider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2006
    Oddometer:
    682
    Location:
    Preston, UK
    I ride quite often with a mate who like you owns a 1150GS. When we stop to fill up we always seem to put the same amount in (unless I have a mad moment and give it the berries). If I'm being a good boy, I can get anywhere between 43 to 49 mpg, that's given me 230 ish miles to a tank. When I'm not being a good boy, I get a lot less mpg, but by then I don't care either :wink: .
    Oh, as for reliability, it's more reliable than my ex ever was :lol3 (better ride as well).
    #16
  17. rpilottx

    rpilottx Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,498
    Location:
    El Paso
    Have not seen the 44 liter tank yet but it is supposed to be available this spring and projected cost is about $1500. Andrew at Adventurer's Workshop has seen the item and says he is impressed.
    #17
  18. Hair

    Hair Free to a good home.

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2003
    Oddometer:
    15,723
    Location:
    Northern New Mexico
    I've owned both. The earily 950s had some issues. The later ones don't seem to.

    What's there to say.
    The GS will be better at 2 up. More room.
    The GS is better at wind management.
    The GS is way easier to set the valves on.
    The GS is more of a finished product. Wire connectors, fuel systems, Stuff like that.

    For road miles only I'd stick with the GS.
    For Road miles with some easy off road. Still the GS.

    The 950 is more like a dirt bike.
    It's one of the best tracking bikes that I've ever ridden.
    It's a hoot to ride.
    You can expect more maintance. Fork alinement, valves, stuff like that.
    One big thing that I like about the 950 is that it is a very capable machine with the stock tires on it.

    The GS can't do much in loose stuff with Torances.
    #18
  19. SkylineKeith

    SkylineKeith Motorcycle Junkie

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,644
    Location:
    wherever my bike's at
    :nod

    A moto mag sumed it up, it's a great bike to connect the trails if you live close to the trails. The GS will get you to the trails.

    The KTM will walk away from the GS in the rough stuff...but again, as everyone knows, it's all rider. I do miss my KTM and I am trying to figure out how to have both.

    #19
  20. PvtIdaho

    PvtIdaho Deck Spotter

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,299
    Location:
    Guam
    I went down to my dad’s house to borrow the 1150 last week. I hadn’t been on it in a few months. My immediate impressions were: Low!, Slow, and wide, in that order. The 950 shifts much, much smoother too.

    After riding it for a while, the GS did seem like a Cadillac on the freeway by comparison to the 950.

    The bottom line for me (and the recent ride on the GS confirmed it) is I get excited about riding the 950 and find the GS to be a nice but bland ride.

    05.5 950S, 8100 miles, already had to replace the water pump, 27-30 mpg off the highway, 42+ mpg on the highway, warranty fix of starter clutch, minor dents in the front rim.

    Test ride one and see what happens…
    #20