790 Adventure's Brakes Seize on COBDR - A Mini Review

Discussion in 'Parallel World (790/890)' started by Traffic, Sep 30, 2020.

  1. Traffic

    Traffic Been here awhile

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    This was supposed to be one of those trip reports with exciting photos and a detailed story. Unfortunately, four days and about 1000miles into the trip, the front brakes on my brand-new 790 locked solid dumping me hard on the gravel at about 30mph. Instead of a full trip report, I'm hoping this recap and review help me collect my thoughts on a new bike I really want to like. Here's what happened:

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    The pandemic combined with one of the hottest Arizona summer on record means we haven’t been getting out to play as much as usual. So when my friend who is new to riding got a KLR and decided he wanted to take on the Colorado BDR, I immediately came up with all the reasons we shouldn’t go: It’s hot. I don’t have the right bike together. His bike might explode. It’ll be a pain to get away from work. Etc.


    After some gentle persuasion from guys like @ADVweekend , I did what any bored, slightly depressed person with too many old bikes would do. I took advantage of that sweet sweet 0% KTM financing and bought up a 2020 790 Adventure R. @TheGearDude convinced me to take the Mosko plunge and @Camel ADV got me squared away with some hard parts. I also picked up a beautiful new Arai DS helmet, CRG mirrors from Rottweiler, heated grips, and some other goodies. Nothing commits you to a trip like melting your credit card.


    Turned out the bike needed some warranty work. The display was scratched since new and I couldn’t get the quick shifter to work, both of which the dealer fixed. Since my first ride, the brake light was on almost always or would flicker intermittently regardless of the brakes being applied. At the initial service, the service manager said the problem was the brake pressure switch that’s part of an abs module. The part was backordered and would need to be replaced later by the dealer so they could properly bleed the abs system. Hey, at least the brake light was always on, right? They told me to come pick up the bike and sent me on my way.


    The trip started great. My buddy rode out from California and we left my house in Tucson early the next morning headed toward Cortez—about 450 miles of scenic two-lane highway and barren Navajo reservation. @KENMOTO and Matt trailered out and got us setup with a nice campsite in Dolores. Here’s what we woke up to:



    The first section of the BDR is mostly boring forest service roads. We managed a couple side excursions on some ATV trails to spice things up before dropping into Telluride for lunch and a quick hop to see Bridal Veil Falls. The people watching in Telluride is almost as interesting as the rugged nature. . . I feel bad for all the Instagram boyfriends out there taking pictures of their girlfriends trying to pose in the middle of the street.

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    That night, we tucked in just past Ophir, camping next to the river. Over a freeze dried dinner, @KENMOTO and I were talking about almost causing each other to blow a switch back turn earlier in the day. Offroad ABS kick on and I thought the brake had gotten soft for a second, but pressure returned almost as quickly as it had gone. We checked the brake system for any sign of trouble. The lever was stiff and everything looked good so I turned in for a cold night without giving it a second thought. The next morning we’d start all the high mountain passes.


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    The climb out of Ophir is spectacular. A benched shale road leads to the pass that is amazingly exposed. The bike was working well even in the deep, loose rocks. Our new KLR rider was having fun and our confidence seemed to be gaining with the altitude. The real trip had started.


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    But that soft, inconsistent brake feeling came back. Slow at first, nothing unmanageable, but it became really was noticeable coming down the backside of the pass. Thankfully most are easy graded roads, not loose rock like the way up. The group was riding well so I put the brake issue to the back of my mind, writing it off as a quirk of altitude even though the extra freeplay meant the lever was flopping loosely.


    Later in the day, we jumped over to Ouray for lunch and soaked up the sights of town before finishing the rest of the passes on the route. The BDR doesn’t offer anything really technical, but the exposure and huge scale alone can be intimidating. Cresting the top of one of the passes and taking in the view, especially with broken weather and sunshine blowing through, feels like a great accomplishment.


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    Coming into Lake City at the end of the day was an awesome reward. It usually takes me a few days to get out of “work” mode and let go of the run up it takes to prep the bike and pack for a trip like this. I was finally starting to relax for the first time in a while and we enjoyed some BBQ and one of the best icecream floats ever at a turn of the century soda shop/pharmacy. Despite some uncomfortable moments coming down some of the passes with a squishy brake lever, I was having a great time. We had overcome what seemed like the toughest section of the trip.


    We got up the next day and enjoyed some coffee in Lake City, ready to push on to the fast, graded road leading toward Tin Cup and Buena. Things started easy, fast and scenic. I was settled in, finally enjoying the bike and feeling of traveling. And that’s when things got weird. About 200 yards from where this picture was taken, around the gentile turn to the left, my front brake locked solid.


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    As I was going down, my first reaction was pure confusion. I couldn’t make sense of why the front was scrubbing out from under me. My second thought was to not let my precious Arai hit the ground. Sliding on my left side, my shoulder eventually tucked pulling my head along the ground with it. After some deep breaths and a fruit snack, stock of the damage was limited to a sprained wrist, tops of both my knees were tweaked (despite wearing knee pads so I must have hit the handlebars), bruised elbow, shredded gloves and pants, and gouged helmet, shattered mirror, and scrapped plastics on the bike. Two week later, my wrist and knees still hurt to touch, but all in all I think I got off lucky.





    While I was enjoying my time on the ground, the guys picked up my bike and immediately noticed the front brake was locked solid. They had to drag and pick up the front wheel to get it out of the road. Eventually, someone was smart enough to open the front bleeder and the brake lever popped back to normal. We opened the fluid reservoir too, which immediately over flowed. Confidence in the bike totally shot, so we hatched a plan to limp the bike off the BDR and coordinate a trailer ride for me back home.


    One hand, it was great how the group came together on the trip, even though everyone’s vacation was inadvertently cut short. The highs we had are why we ride motorcycles and makes me want to do more. On the other hand, the bike is the most expensive consumer good I’ve ever bought and am in disbelief that it would fail like that. It hasn’t helped that KTM has been pretty quiet about what happens next.


    I wish there was a clear lesson here, but for now I’m mostly confused. More thoughts on the bike and what we think caused the brake failure in the next post.


    #1
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  2. grace

    grace Long timer Supporter

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    i'm so sorry to read about this incident and the subsequent crash. i feel glad that you didn't suffer any serious injuries. thank goodness for gear and thank goodness it happened on the road versus on the trail around trees, boulders or cliff.

    is it oem lever?
    made any adjustments to brakes? lever? fluids? pads? etc.

    if no and given that you have video, it appears that you have a solid case with ktm. i would think that they wouldn't want the video to become widespread. even if you made changes, that should not happen. no way.

    i run different levers, pads and fluid on my 790. so, i can't comment. i typically change all that on all my bikes.

    i had a similar incident -brakes- with a motorcycle manufacturer, in which i also crashed. the manufacturer knew of the issue and wouldn't fix it because, it wouldn't occur for 99.99+% of riders and even if it did, the likely of the rider crashing or even knowing there was an issue was very, very low. nonetheless, since i repeatedly encountered the issue, before crashing, and the dealer had documented history of the issue, we reached a settlement and i signed a non-disclosure.

    keep pressing ktm to investigate and find the root cause. the video could prove quite negative for ktm. ktm's attorneys have no doubt advised to say nothing and choose their words very, very carefully. in my situation, i actually had an email in which the company basically admitted that they knew of the issue and wouldn't fix it, partly because they weren't really sure what caused it. the techs in the shop also knew of the issue, since i kept encountering it ever few hundred to thousands miles.

    again, glad you're healthy and best of luck with a resolution.
    #2
  3. floalex

    floalex Been here awhile

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    Over here in Germany the issue is known and reported multiple times within the ktm forum.
    The cause of the issue is a malfunction in the brake cylinder. KTM lists a new version with a new part number. People with the issue who got the new part report that the issue is solved.

    So far we haven’t heard anything from KTM yet. No recall no information to the dealers. It’s really up to the dealer to trust you.
    Some riders hope something will happen if they alert the German authorities.
    #3
  4. Brilloman

    Brilloman Been here awhile

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    Glad that you are ok. I can totally understand how you could be lacking confidence in the bike now. If it is as simple as replacing a defective part then hopefully you will be able to regain that confidence. You sound like a very level headed person.

    I had a bit of a heated debate with a gentlemen from Austria over KTM going away from Brembo on the 790 a couple of years ago. Obviously it was a cost cutting move which maybe proved to be a little more of a challenge than they expected.
    #4
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  5. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    Wow. Glad you're ok and that didn't happen on a highway or interstate! Hope KTM takes care of it to your satisfaction.

    This place needs a "dislike" button.
    #5
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  6. RyanC

    RyanC Adventurer Supporter

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    Ha. So true . . .

    Glad to hear you weren't roughed up too much.
    #6
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  7. ADVweekend

    ADVweekend Robbie

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    @Traffic i had a very similar issue with my front brake, I’m gutted to hear about your crash.

    @floalex do you have a link to that German forum? I would like to check part numbers on my 790R and see whether I have the updated part on mine. I have an early 2019 but because I warranteed mine for that same front brake issue I don’t know if they replaced it with the update or just the same defective part.

    incredible bike, but the shock sucked, the front brake is sketchy as hell, and my fuel float is jammed,.. didn’t they learn about that from the 1X90??
    #7
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  8. Nowwhat

    Nowwhat I'll Go Second... Super Supporter

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    Well everything about that sucks. I crash enough without the bike doing it for me...

    Glad.you are mostly ok.

    Can see on the video that your knees are bothering you.. what were you wearing for knee pads?
    #8
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  9. EvilSteve

    EvilSteve Not so evil, not so Steve. Supporter

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    I had an issue with a MV Tourismo Veloce Lusso that I owned, the clutch "technical service bulletin" (which is the cheap way for a manufacturer to deal with faulty parts rather than recall them) went on for months, they just couldn't supply the parts. There was a small percentage of failures so they had a way to claim it wasn't recall level. I lost confidence in the bike, wouldn't take my girlfriend on it because I was worried about it failing. I ended up talking to a lawyer about lemon law because of how long it went on but gave up because it wasn't worth my time.

    I feel bad that you went down because of a fault with the motorcycle, I would expect your dealership would be an advocate for you with KTM (as mine was for me with the holes in my motor - new motor!) but if they're not, maybe consider a strongly worded letter from a lawyer-friend.

    Sorry about your injuries and your fancy helmet.
    #9
  10. Graniteone

    Graniteone 3,2,1...Beer me! Supporter

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    That is a bit disturbing, I think we would all like to know more about what to look out for. Part # in question and any other groups talking about this. I was already a little paranoid about the front brakes with some of the issues folks are experiencing with warped rotors. Having just come back from 2100 miles of aggressive riding loaded with luggage this doesn’t inspire confidence even though I had zero issues. My 1190 shit the bed on me multiple times while out riding off road and once on road and after I finally got the dealer to sort it out, I sold it as it couldn’t be trusted. I hope you have a good dealer willing to go to bat for you.
    #10
  11. grace

    grace Long timer Supporter

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    email to video to stefan pierer, ktm's ceo. also, make sure that you talk directly with ktm north america, not just through the dealer.
    #11
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  12. 9.5isCanadian

    9.5isCanadian "Missing a few pieces." Supporter

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    Yikes, I totally bummed to read about your fall and equally disturbed by the uncertainty around my front break now ........

    I echo the desire for either the forum link and or a part number so I can check on the status of my 2020.

    Stay safe and i hope you have a swift and full recovery.
    Owen
    #12
  13. Matrace

    Matrace Been here awhile

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    Amazing, we have to know precisely how it can happen, where you pressing the handle when it locked , or did the break lock by it’s own, as you were riding on a straight path,

    hope you could find the explanation and share it, In 45 years of riding I never heard such a weird story, I wish you to understand as it’s the key of the issue.
    #13
  14. Toddv

    Toddv Long timer

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    Wow, glad you're okay!! KTM has been getting off easy on a few safety issues on these bikes. Make sure they don't on this and report it. https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/VehicleComplaint/

    I read about a similar failure on Facebook where it happened to someone radomly on the highway. It souds like something isn't allowing the plunger to return fully to uncover the return port in the master cylinder. I know that on mine, if I adjust the levers to a certain point they stick, not sure if it's the same issue.
    #14
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  15. gsuks

    gsuks Long timer

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    maybe its a good idea for the owners who have had this happen to complain to a government transport agency that can make KTM do a recall!!

    locking front brakes unexpectedly is a serious safety hazard

    or is Ktm waiting for the first death?

    personally had no problem with the brakes
    but have had in the past had warped discs on the 1290 saT
    but locking brakes is the next level!!
    #15
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  16. Matrace

    Matrace Been here awhile

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    Or the last level...
    #16
  17. gsuks

    gsuks Long timer

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    very true!!
    #17
  18. gsuks

    gsuks Long timer

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  19. Jeff Sichoe

    Jeff Sichoe ruddy bastard

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    So this is a known issue with new part #'s and a recall hasn't been organised ?

    If I were a 790ADV owner i'd be sending this to my KTM Dealer and getting those new parts asap (i'm sniffing around here as a 990 / 690 owner thinking about my next purchase...)
    #19
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  20. Toddv

    Toddv Long timer

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    Most dealers will perform TSB's on request in the warranty period. I don't think they have to necessarily, but they can. Or you could always say your brakes stuck and make them do it.
    #20