950/990 SE/ADV to 790R

Discussion in 'Parallel World (790/890)' started by CC Ryder, Nov 1, 2019.

  1. CC Ryder

    CC Ryder Adventurer

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    Who has moved from a 9*0 to a 790R? Please be honest, is it worth it?

    I am first on the list for a 2020 KTM 790R here in SLC, Utah. I currently own a 2008 950 SE and a 990 Adv. I seek mostly challenging dirt or fast dirt rides. I am having a tough time deciding if I want to spend the money on the new 790R.. It's not just the purchase, but the BUILD that costs so much. I can't keep them all. Clearly the SE is the off-road king of the two. but, for reasons beyond dirt supremacy, I am more attached to my 990Adv.

    My plan has been to sell the SE, keep the 990 and buy a new 790. The 790 has hurt values of both of my current bikes.. I'm thinking I should take the extras that I can use off of my SE and lower the price.. as there hasn't been any serious interest in the first week. Who's looking for a sweet SE?

    Sometimes, I think I should just sell the SE, and try to put the 990 on a diet and roll with it as my only Adv bike, it is also extensively setup.. and I love it. Other times, I want new and wonder if I will even care to own my 990 after buying a new 790.

    I really love everything about my 990.. I never get tired of staring at in the garage.. sort of like my dirt bike.. honking on it in the dirt is somehow more rewarding than the SE.. maybe its just me. I did rent a 790r for a day, and I know I can ride it faster in the dirt and I liked most of what I learned about it.. But, I'm still just not sure 100% of the time!

    Who regrets their decision of spending thousands for a 790 and giving up their perfectly setup 9*0?
    Who kept their 990 in addition to purchasing a 790? Do you still ride it?
    Another thought has been to sell them both, buy a 790 and a 1190/1290.. Is the 990 the closest to perfection for owing one Adv bike?
    #1
  2. Nowwhat

    Nowwhat I'll Go Second... Super Supporter

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    Ugggh

    Yup a few of us have gone through this..

    I ended up selling my 990...putting my SE on a diet and adding a small fairing

    Thought it would be the perfect adv bike

    The 790 has surpassed my expectations in every regard. Light years ahead of the SE for me.

    So now a 790 for adv and a 1290 for street fun
    #2
  3. Aus LC8

    Aus LC8 Australian Adventurer

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    By way of background, I also currently have a 950 Super Enduro R and a 1290 Super Adventure (T). Over the years I have had LC4 620 Super Comp’s, 640 Enduro’s, 2 x 950 Adventures and 2 x 1290 SAT’s. I have also had BMW R1200GS Adventures, Yamaha Tenere’s, Yamaha XT’s, Aprillia Capanord, Cagiva Grand Canyon and a range of Honda ST1100-P’s, ST1300-P’s, BMW R1200RT-P’s and Yamaha FJR1300-P for work bikes.


    I loved my 950 Adventures and always swore that I would never part with them, however, new bikes came along, I changed and subsequently regretted loosing my beloved 950’s. My 1290 Super Adventure is a fantastic bike and in my opinion far superior to the R1200GS Adventures but it is not a 950 Adventure. In recent years the Big KTM adventures have become more refined, heavier, larger and less of the hard core, ready to race rally bikes that they originally were. There is just something about the raw nature of the 950’s that sends a shiver up my spine and brings joy.


    So, why did I add the new 790 to my stable? My 950 SE-R is a keeper for life, but as these ludicrous, insane bikes are now aging, I don’t want to wear it out. Despite having stocked up on all the possible parts that I could need, such as spare carb’s, airboxes, carb seal kits, rubbers, seals and the like, I still want to enjoy the bike for as long as possible. So, to spread the KM’s I have been looking for another off road enduro bike for exploring forest and logging roads and adventuring in places seldom seen by most people. I had been planning on purchasing a 690 Enduro or Husqvarna 701,. Having waited for the 2019 690,at the last minute I decided to try the 790 instead.


    So what do I think? Is it a 950 SE-R well no but importantly it is no less a bike that the legendary 950, just a different take on it.


    The stand-outs


    Feel – This bike feels the closest to my 950 Adventures of anything I have ridden since, whilst far more civilised, it has a similar if not even thinner feel between the knees. The pegs are a little closer to the seat, so you are seated with your knees a little more in front and the steering is a bit lighter, but the feel is very familiar. I did find that the lower tanks do occasionally touch the inner leg when grounding a foot in a corner, but they are not obstructive and I don’t notice them now. The weight of the bike is carried very low, so it feels a lot lighter and more flickable than my 950. At speed, it is easier to throw around than the SE-R and feels comparable to a 690 when charging fire roads, only with a more planted front end feel.


    The 790 has the feel of a rally bike, which feels like KTM is returning to its roots and personally is what I like.


    The ergonomics are good for standing on the pegs off-road.


    Airflow on road is very good. There is definitely less buffeting than on the 950 and even the 1290, making for a comfortable ride on road.


    Suspension – The suspension on this bike is excellent. It jumps and lands with poise, and controls compression extremely well. The bike easily hit 2 foot erosion control mounds at 60kp/h without any issue. On road it feels firm but off road it is very controlled. Bump control when charging dirt single and double track is excellent and it handles ruts, erosion, roots and rocks without fuss. You certainly notice the lack of weight in the front, in comparison to the 1290, and with reduced body work over the front wheel, it is far more comfortable and poised on rough and dirt roads. You also notice the lack of ground clearance in comparison to the 950SE when hoping between them. On the 790 your foot grounds in the corners much sooner than you are expecting.


    Traction – This was a little harder to judge as my 950 is on Michelin Rally Deserts and the 790 is on Karoo 3’s. I will probably change to Michelin Anakee Wilds for a bit better bite off road. The 950 has a very analogue power delivery, which, despite the power lets you very accurately meter the power to and balance traction at the rear tyre. Off road, rarely do you exceed 5000rpm, instead short shifting. The V twins power delivery results in an exceptionally tractable engine, which can easily be hooked up, or power slid out at will. The 790’s inline twin is a different beast. Although power output is the same, delivery is very different.


    The engine loves to rev, however the 950’s level of torque is not present at lower revs. The bike sits comfortable at between 4000-6000 and is noticeably freer revving, with snappier power delivery. Where on the 950, traction control is not necessary, the 790 definitely benefits from it. The back end is very playful and loves to step out. Rally mode is fantastic fun. The Rally throttle map is brutal, and not best suited for technical and loose terrain, however this is my preferred throttle mode for on road. The street throttle map works well off road, allowing the rear to be hooked up manually. The variable traction control definitely helps on eroded and rock-strewn hill climbs, yet lets you cut loose with the throttle. The rear end is very spirited, with the rear tyre stepping out and sliding at will. By varying the level of traction control, which can be done on the fly, you can have a lot of fun….. The traction control is exceptional, with hardly any perceivable electronic intervention, yet the rear hooks up predictable and consistently depending on the level of traction control selected.


    There is still decent engine braking available, however it is not as significant as on the 950. The 950 throttle can easily be finessed, letting the engine do the majority of speed control without the need to use the brakes. Engine braking on the 790 is decent, however I did find myself using the brakes a bit more than on my 950. The chassis is very stable and allows it to be backed into corners easily and predictably on the rear brake.


    The engine and exhaust is very quiet and civilised, compared to the 950 which does take away from some of the character that the 950 has. The quick shifter is fun, and lets you grab a gear easily off road when you need to but I suspect that I will continue to use the clutch normally. I had reservations about KTM moving to a cable clutch, but in all honesty the pull is light and I can not fault it.


    Brakes – I was originally concerned about the move away from Brembo, however I have to say that these are the best brakes that I have had on a KTM and would love to have them on my 1290. I am normally not one for ABS, and turn it off whenever I can. However the off-road ABS works a treat. There is a lot of stopping power in the front brakes and the ABS on the front only, off road, lets you maximise the available traction of the tyre and the power of the brakes. When the front does slip, the ABS intervention is very smooth and unobtrusive, letting you know that you have reached the limit yet still pulling the bike up in a controlled manner.


    Objectively the 790 weighs about the same, has the same horsepower, is about the same size and has similar suspension travel as the 950SE-R but subjectively it lacks the raucous spine tingling, ludicrous nature of the 950. The 790 unequivocally has better suspension, is more civilised and has far better road manners than the SE-R. In short, would I change the 950 SE-R for the 790, well No, my 950 will be staying. However, I am delighted with the 790 and it does everything my 950 does, just as well, only slightly differently. Essentially both bikes are technically as good as each other, the 950 just has a little bit more X factor for me.


    The way I see it, my 1290 SAT is my adventure tourer, with 80%/20% adventure tyres fitted, it is my all roads, long distance, sports tourer that can tackle anything. In my opinion this bike is so much better than the BMW alternatives, and is a much better and more comfortable sports tourer than an ST1300 of FJR1300.


    My 790 is my back roads and off-road adventure bike, for exploring away from the black top, but which is also at home logging road KM’s to get to the great tracks. This bike makes the 690’s redundant and is more fun off road and just as quick as the bigger 1190/1290 platforms. Off road, the 790 will undoubtedly be just as fast as my 950 once I am dialled into it and will be the perfect platform for doing Cape York or venturing into the vast unknown that Australia has an abundance of.


    My 950 SE-R is my hard core, analogue, stupidly excessive enduro bike, that no one needs, but which adds so much to life. While it may log fewer KM’s now, with the 790 taking over the majority of dirt duties, it will be there to go out for a blast every month, where it’s uncivilised and raucous v-twin and the lack of safety nannies will keep my skills sharp, put a smile on my face and make it all worth it.


    I am glad that I chose the 790 over the 690. My view is that the 790 will be just as competent off road, however will be far better for the road miles between trails


    If I could only have one bike, the 790 makes one heck of an argument for being the perfect do it all bike. It is comfortable on the road, is as quick as the 1290 up to legal road speeds, hauls off road, is stable and fun on the dirt and jumps like a springbok. Whilst the engine lacks the V-twin character of the 950/1290, it offers the best platform available today to rival the 950 Adventure. Given the legislative limitations that are in place today, it is important to accept that a bike like the 950SE-R will never come again. With this in mind, KTM has done an excellent job with the 790 and I am sure that in 10 year’s time, it will be viewed by many, like the 950 is viewed today. However, my 950SE-R is staying, as it still provides me with too much enjoyment to part with.


    My advice to anyone considering a 790 is to go for it; it’s a great bike, very well engineered and a lot of fun. If you always wanted a 950 SE-R or love your 950/990 I doubt that you will be disappointed with the 790. Is it the same bike, no, but in my view it is a great bike in its own right

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    #3
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  4. braaap!

    braaap! Long timer Supporter

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    Amen! Brilliant capture and overview.
    The 790 is totally awesome but the ole 950s are still a hard act to follow.... Different strokes, but still too much fun on either!
    WOOT!
    #4
  5. chippertheripper

    chippertheripper motorcycle junkie Supporter

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    The simplest way I can say this is: the 790R is the proper evolution to the lc8 platform, all the way around.
    It is missing a little torque off the bottom, but it’s such an intuitive bike to ride (right out the box) you really won’t miss it.
    And all the modern electronic wizzbangery that’s wrapped up in it only adds to the experience once you get used to using it.
    #5
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  6. ebrew

    ebrew Motorcycle A.D.D.

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    Keep going back and fourth on this
    12 990r low mile bike set up to the moon or pick up a 790r and a monthly payment
    The thing get stretches of road riding for sure and two up as well
    #6
  7. CC Ryder

    CC Ryder Adventurer

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    Thanks for the reply.. Its good to hear some feedback from guys who are riding the same bikes as me and have gone through the mental anguish.

    @Aus LC8 Dude!! Thanks for the giant insight... You were feeling it.. And I can dig it. Lots of great stuff in there. You like many are incredibly in love with the SE.. I'm passionate that way about my 990 Adv.. and when I'm honking on the SE, its the greatest bike in the world.. for some reason, in the garage, my eyes are always fixated on the 990.. And tho, I can't ride my 990 as fast in the tough stuff as I can the SE, I just feel different wringing out the 990.. Feel more like a BOSS.

    Well said.. That sells it to me pretty well! I've wondered specifically about low end grunt in technical and sand.. I mostly rode fast 2 track the day I rented one.. Never got into anything difficult.

    The day I rented the 790R, I had a friend ride my 950 SE, so that I could swap back and forth throughout the day.. Honestly, I wasn't immediately sold on the 790.. It was after 3 or so hours and getting into better trails that I clicked with the it, and "went bionic" as I like to say.. I then swapped back to my SE and it felt like a dinosaur. The comparison I use to describe it to my dirt bike buddies is, the SE feels like an old bad ass 450 and the 790r feels like jumping on a brand new 300.. Buying a 300 was my best ever move in dirt bike riding. Hoping the 790 is the equivalent in Adventure bikes.

    Thanks again gents.
    #7
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  8. Nowwhat

    Nowwhat I'll Go Second... Super Supporter

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    Now imagine the 790 with a few tweaks..

    Get the ergos the way you want them...maybe 2 more teeth on the rear sprocket...an exhaust...some real tires

    It just gets better
    #8
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  9. CC Ryder

    CC Ryder Adventurer

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    Exactly! Is it just me.. or does it come with some strange bars? Outside of the bars (which are of course, a preference), I felt like the bikes ergo's were the best I've ever felt.. I'm 6.0' in boots with a 32" inseam and 180lbs in street cloths.. I felt like the bike was designed for a person my size.
    #9
  10. Nowwhat

    Nowwhat I'll Go Second... Super Supporter

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    Yup. I changed the bars to Ktm low bends
    #10
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  11. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    +1.

    I stole the stock bars of my '18 KTM 250 XC-F and installed them on the 790. Way better (less) sweep and angle for me. Made it feel natural instead of awkward.
    #11
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  12. braaap!

    braaap! Long timer Supporter

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    ^ You Guys must be Gibbons :)
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  13. Ohuraboy

    Ohuraboy Adventurer

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    Well written Auslc8, I had very well set up 950SE, extra tank, foam air filter etc etc, dyno'ed and jetted to be great bike off road and usually 2 up. Ran Michelin desert race tyres and these worked great on the tar seal but came into there own in the mud and clay to gravel and sand.
    I've sold that now and sorted the 790 as best as I can with the bits that are available. Running Michelin again in the Anakee wilds. Great on the road and can wip a sports bike on the twisty black top and gravel no worries either. Mud and clay tracks are a challenge. Bellied it in the rut then couldn't get it to wheel stand enough to clear the rut. Needs a couple of teeth on the rear and a bit of weight out of it. Love the brakes after the SE and the suspension is top notch too. Would love to ditch the fuel tank and get a SE style tank for it. Maybe Safari will make one. Can be alittle smaller and that would suit our riding on this side of the pond.
    Yep the 790 is a step forward just like the SE was when it came along. I have had XTZ750's still got my gran canyon and lots of thumpers form the 80's and 90's still ride my Z900 on the gravel just like we did when they were new because most of where we went back then was gravel. The ole Z surprises a few with its pace but lack of brakes does help.
    So for me a 60 plus the 790 is a great bike. Thought I wouldn't like it to begin with but now I love it so much so the my 500 EXC doesn't get much of an outing even in the snotty stuff.
    #13
  14. Snowq

    Snowq Been here awhile

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    My 2 cents;
    I sold my SE and got a 790 R.

    What I do miss from the SE:
    The already mentioned low end brutality and just ridiculous power delivery.
    The analog feel and ability to control engine break and traction more with the throttle.
    Looks and feel, the SE is an SE an the last of it's breed.
    Simplicity and knowing that what ever happens to it, I can fix it on the trail.

    What I don't miss from the SE:
    Having to work on it constantly, mine was a problem child that always found new ways of falling apart. (I had it down to bare motor and frame twice, maybe three times?)
    Jetting, Sure carbs are reliable and fun but will never run as well as a FI bike.
    Suspension, the SE is taller but the 790 feels so much better, smooth sailing over almost anything.
    Lack of rideraids, I actually use the rain mode when I'm tired, its pouring down and I just want to get home, the 790 TC can really be trusted where as the SE was actively trying to kill me at every opportunity.

    To be honest, I still look for available SE's once in a while.
    But If I were to leave on a trip tomorrow and had both in the garage, I'd pick the 790 - for sure.

    20190719_163659.jpg IMG_20190512_120600.jpg
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  15. CC Ryder

    CC Ryder Adventurer

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    Oh man.. That made me laugh.. Some good stuff in there... and about what I expect. I'm glad my SE has been solid.. but even a solid one.. you'd better not mind working on it. SE actively trying to kill me..:rofl
    #15
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  16. todaystomsawyer

    todaystomsawyer GNARLY ADVENTURER

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    After trying several different bikes , xb12x &t , 450 yamaha, xr650r, and the SE-R. The SE-R was the one I liked the most and sold last. Pushing age 60 this year, and can't be beating myself up on the single track like I used too. Still trying to decide between the 790 and 1290 and justifying the cost. I started having bike withdrawal after a few months, without one, broke down and bought a Buell 12XT, that couldn't be farkled anymore. (the least maintenance bike there is) , like wrenching, but would rather be riding than wrenching. Paid 4K for it, to hold me over till I can get a good deal on a 1290 or 790. I wish I could rent them both for a few weeks each, that would make the decision much easier. All the reviews on the 790 have me leaning towards it, but I like to wheelie, and we all know the 1290 is a wheelie machine, like the SE-R, so I'll wait and see what pops up for sale.
    #16