I spent a couple of hours yesterday at my local dealership looking for my next bike. I've been looking hard at the new Tiger 800XC's, and while they don't have an XC demo on the floor, they do have a roadie. They also stock KTMs, and while I wasn't looking much at the 990 Adv, I figured it would be fun to try it also. The test loop they ask you take is unchaperoned. You head east one freeway exit, get off on a a tight, twisty 2-laner, then back onto the freeway to the dealership. It's probably 15 miles round-trip. There were two guys in front of me in the Tiger demo line, so I asked if I could ride their demo KTM 990 Adventure first. To even the playing field, both bikes were white, so they should be equally fast. A few lines about what I'm looking for. I've been between bikes for about a year and a half after getting tired of my previous bike, a Harley Night Train that I had built as a bobber, which was lowered and with ginormous apes. Great bike, but not the best for travelling on to say the least :eek1. I had traded an '04 1150GS Adv for it. I loved that bike too, and done a lot of miles on it, but at the time my two kids were very young and I realized that I wasn't going to be doing any Alaska trips anytime soon - so when my little brother finally found his Harley Fat Boy after years of saving money, I got the Harley bug again, and made the switch. I also have a '93 Ducati Superlight that's currently being rebuilt. I like quirky bikes, I guess you could say. I love long rides, mostly on street, and don't mind freeway time as long as I'm seeing something new. I ride year-round in Seattle, so I need something that's commuter-worthy in crap weather. I have done Iron Butt rides, solo and rallies, and I want something that's capable of multiday rallies (though probably not the Big One any time soon). When I had the GS, and before had a DRZ400, I loved exploring the dirt roads and trails of WA state. I didn't expect to like the KTM much. I've read too many folks saying that the bike is crap on the freeway, at least compared to the R1200GS, and that it's really best at dirt and if you have to ride pavement to get to the dirt, so be it. However. Oh man, what a grin-maker. The demo KTM had Akrapovic pipes on it, which is probably cheating, because they sound so good. The Tiger 800 is a strong bike also, actually a very nice bike, but I was surprised at how, uh, "generic" it felt. Some notes I made to myself: KTM It had far better than expected wind protection. At 6', 200# with a 33" inseam, I was surprised at how much of my upper body was protected from the wind. I did note some backpressure on my head. Not abusive, but noticeable. I loved how narrow the tank area was - it gave me a good lower body position. Reach to the bars and pegs was very comfortable. Fit seems really good to my body. I liked being able to slide fore/aft. The KTM was a ton more fun than the Triumph at the engine (except for the last 1500rpm on the Triumph's tach, where it screams). Just more usable. more fun to turn into corners. More fun to aim at the potholes. A bit of an unfair ocmparison there, since I didn't ride the Tiger XC. Mirrors were surprisingly good but left side had vibes that blurred the view. The right side was fine. Both felt tight. When you're demo'ing a bike on the freeway and you may theoretically be in triple digit speeds, it's unnerving to not have a good view to your rear for policefolks. This demo bike definitely had fuel surging issues. It surged a bit off idle, and a bit in the 4k range also, I think. And the Triumph THAT TRANSMISSION!! It's majestic. I as absolutely blown away. Now, I've been on Harleys and BMWs and Ducatis for many years, none of which have good transmissions, but still. Wow. Engine up high, when revved, was a thrill. There is little front-back seat room - you're locked into one position and can't move around. You're also pushed forward a bit. Setting the front seat height adjustor to high and the back to low levels you out. This could be fixed with an aftermarket seat. It was wider at legs, not uncomfortably so, but noticeably so. Shorter seat to pegs, even on high seat and with no footpeg rubbers. Not as comfortable for the low body as the KTM. The wind protection wasn't nearly as good as the KTMs - both for coverage or cleanness of the air. I'd want a wider and taller screen for sure, but upper body and shoulders are in the wind ay more. That's fine on dry days, but in the rain, it gets annoying. The bar was weird. It was both too flat (front-to-back angle) and too far away for my tastes. That's fixable, but it was just an odd feeling. My demo bike's mirrors were wacky. The left was loose and wouldn'tstay put; the right was aimed wrong and not movable. I told the dealer about this on my return and they fixed it before the next guys. Counting myself, I saw 5 guys go out on Tiger demos, and only me on the KTM. When I came back, I took out the KTM again just because... nobody else was in line, and I wanted to see if I had been too positive in my first ride. Here's the bottom line for what I felt... The Triumph is a great bike. The transmission and engine was great. The cockpit display was good. The engine, when wound up high, was a thrill. It was a bit boring till it got wound up, though. The KTM was fun. Fun fun fun. Quirky, growly, oh-crap-now-I-have-to-see-if-I-could-actually-LIVE-with-one fun. I'm a reading/research junkie, and I've been reading a ton here I need to go ride an R1200GS along the way, before I buy something, but I've been on them before and found them competent but not giddy-fun. That's not a bad thing. Just depends what you're looking for. The problems for the KTM for my type of riding are pretty well known. Valve checks are longer to do than on the GS, for example. Gas mileage at mid-ish 30-s isn't great. There's a crapton of plastic to take off for most home maintenance. I already have one fiddly-to-do-valves on bike, do I want another? So, a few offhanded comments/questions to Orange Crush. I actually called the service dept for this dealership on drive home to start checking into "just how maintenance intensive IS this thing, anyway?". They quoted me ~$150 for the non-valve checks, and ~$500 for the valves. They also said that the Triumph's valve service would cost about the same. They said they usually do valves at 12k intervals on the KTM, though they're spec'd for check sooner. Does that cost sound in the ballpark? Fuel pumps and water pumps (both, or am I mistaken?) are the reliability worry, it seems in my last day's reading. The newer bikes are supposed to be "better", but what does that mean - if I found a deal on a 950 which had a new pump, is that up to spec on '10+ bikes? I see that the bike has a 450w alternator - which means that running Gerbings liners and also PIAA 910s for night lighting is probably out... 91 octane gas, right? Not regular, but high octane? Or are folks running 87 with no problems? So... what should I keep in mind while I'm thinking about whether my head should follow my heart and start looking for an LC8 adventure and using it at least partly for long tours on the road in addition to exploring the dirt in the Pac NW?