KTM Ultimate Race/Merzouga Rally 790R Review

Discussion in 'Parallel World (790/890)' started by gearheadE30, Apr 28, 2019.

  1. Ferd

    Ferd been around

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    Oddometer:
    74
    Location:
    Oakland
    Man! Excellent writing! Nice stuff!
    #41
    gearheadE30 likes this.
  2. gearheadE30

    gearheadE30 @LC8Adventures

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    Oddometer:
    2,253
    Location:
    Indiana
    haha yeah, you are probably right. There are always some older guys at our local harescrambles that kill it too.

    We all had the same, stock spring rates. Some of the guys needed a lot more preload than others to get it right, and I needed no preload at all in the rear. There is easily a 50 lb range across all of us; even with gear on you can see the big differences in physique in the pictures. Probably not ideal rates for all of us, but I would guess they targeted a 200 lb rider without gear, maybe higher. I didn't hear of anyone who couldn't get the sag set right, and knowing that owners of these bikes will probably be loading them up with luggage, the target may even be higher than that.
    #42
  3. Fabricator

    Fabricator Hello Moto Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Oddometer:
    268
    Location:
    Hoodsport, WA
    Looking at more websites that covered the race, Canadian Radek Burkat towers over Scott Myers!

    Winners_KTM+Ultimate+Race+2019.jpg

    I'm guessing he had the biggest challenge getting the stock R suspension dialed in to his liking... :lol3:lol3

    Also loved the quote from Quinn Cody from the CycleNews article: “It was pretty awesome seeing 790’s eat up 450 Rally Bikes in the dunes!”
    #43
    enduro16 and alvincullumyork like this.
  4. ThirdUncle

    ThirdUncle More will than skill

    Joined:
    May 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    529
    Location:
    Toronto
    A lot of energy expended here to say what around 3,000 of us already know: The 950SE rules the fucking world.
    #44
  5. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    May 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    6,619
    Location:
    Star Tannery, VA
    In the category of completely bonkers, no compromise, high power beast of a twin cylinder dirt bike, I'd tend to agree. The 950SE will be forever the king! I doubt we'll ever see another take it's place, just too much of a narrow niche that would be going up against a mountain of government regulations and as a production model was a complete failure from a sales perspective.

    Well, and this ain't about rare bikes that no one wanted until they developed a cult following. It's about a travel bike that handles fairly challenging dirt well yet gives a nod to long distance travel capability and comfort. ;)
    #45
  6. gearheadE30

    gearheadE30 @LC8Adventures

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    Oddometer:
    2,253
    Location:
    Indiana
    Radek pretty much towers over everyone :lol3. He probably had a little more in the clickers than others, and definitely had more preload, but I didn't hear him complain about the suspension setup. Certainly with big bike stuff like this you have to be able to adapt your riding style to the bike, though. Otherwise you just end up wearing yourself out and damaging the bike trying to beat it into submission.

    The SE is definitely a one of a kind bike, right at that confluence of good technology in design but still somewhat flexible regulations not much demand for electronic gadgets. That's a different market, though. Haven't you heard? Carbs are scary black magic! :photog
    #46
    enduro16 and alvincullumyork like this.
  7. ThirdUncle

    ThirdUncle More will than skill

    Joined:
    May 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    529
    Location:
    Toronto
    Having not ridden any of the 790s yet, I can't contribute anything beyond provocative BS here. I'm sure the 790AR's a decent bike, but what I do know is this: It weighs more than an SE, has around the same hp as an SE, has a kilos of useless electronics that the SE doesn't have -- which can and will go unfixably wrong 500 miles from the nearest road -- and really, its only apparent advantage over the SE is longer range and I suppose MPG. But so what... recall that on the 8th day, God went back to work and gave us the Rotopax.

    As to the new KTM approach to things (much of which I know is somewhat mandated by bureaucrats and/or making riding safer for those unfamiliar with offroading techniques), I rode my SE with a 1090 owner of similar competence to me on Saturday on trails I know very well. We swapped bikes for about an hour. He immediately disappeared on my SE, while I struggled to figure out his bike. His suspension was not at all dialed for trails -- fine, not his fault. We called our suspension wiz on the phone and he help us tweak it, which buddy said made a huge difference -- he rode much faster and better afterward. And I neglected to try it again after the fix.

    But what annoyed and scared the hell out of me were three things. Every time I killed the engine I had to re-find then turn off ABS and traction control. Annoying, and downright dangerous when you forget to turn 'em off and go blitzing through deep sand and your engine goes all flaky on you, or when screaming down a steep, only to discover there's NO SKIDDING ALLOWED! He told me there's a $150 dongle that leaves it set as desired. But one should not have to dongle to enjoy life. Another dumb thing was little to no engine braking. I hardly need my brakes when riding trails on the SE, except to slow down for sudden unexpected obstacles. But on the 1090, I had to learn to use the brakes all the damn time. Why? Is engine braking causing climate change too, or is getting rid of it another so-called safety enhancement? The third thing was the feeling of disconnection from trail conditions -- like riding with a thick condom on the bike.

    The longer I live, the more bikes I ride, the more I treasure my sweet, evil, ultra-competent, no-BS included 950SE.
    #47
  8. motoman250f

    motoman250f Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2004
    Oddometer:
    833
    I've been making a big deal about the 3" more ground clearance of the SE compared to the 790 and other adv bikes. That seems to make the whole bike more top heavy (thats a target they were focusing on at the price of lighter handling). but now 10" of ground clearance seems to be the standard.. Gearhead, can you say if that reduced ground clearance was any kind of issue as you were in a lot of rocks?? Thanks for this review!!
    #48
  9. Nowwhat

    Nowwhat I'll Go Second... Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,054
    Location:
    On the Ground Laughing
    Ahhhhhh love....It blinds us all......hahha

    I have done the SE thing 3 times....and loved every second of it....a muscle car disguised as a dirt bike.....

    But.... we forget all that we have done or put up with to smile on the SE...

    Gearheads bad ass Adventure is a perfect example of this....look at the purposeful mods...

    A stock SE runs out of gas in 80 miles in the SoCal desert...the suspension is right off a KTM mini bike...the Stock exhaust has been referred to as a set of nuclear reactors....the fuel pump and VRR will leave you as stranded as any ECU....the weight is carried poorly.. the carbs need love and adjusment to run the whoops..and don't forget the waterpump ....

    The 790 has great bones.....a platform suited to purposeful mods.....a sorted 790 will have much....much better suspension than a SE....will be significantly lighter...the Traction control and abs will be off independent of the key being cycled....will get 25 percent better mpg....and the low COG will just make life generally better......

    we can't fight progress.....hahaha the 790 is a better mousetrap.....
    #49
    cjracer, godwinmt, Tripped1 and 3 others like this.
  10. ThirdUncle

    ThirdUncle More will than skill

    Joined:
    May 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    529
    Location:
    Toronto
    A muscle car disguised as a dirt bike..... well put. And true all you said, but my bike's had almost all the mods, switch-outs and upgrades you allude to, other than the shock -- and now that @alongat I found me an 990ADV unit, and its new spring is awaiting pickup at the dealer, I'm zeroing in on something like perfection. I've had no major carb dramas, other than rear cyl choke cable strangely popping out, til I fixed it in with a ziptie.

    I hope you're right about the 790R being a worthy contender -- just so I don't have to beg @keener to help me do a lumpectomy and switch to an 1190 if ninefitty ever gets tired... Though I might do both.
    #50
    Nowwhat and keener like this.
  11. motoman250f

    motoman250f Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2004
    Oddometer:
    833

    Speaking of love,(just jabbing you ;-) ,,,, the new bike mania has the potential to be more blinding than anything in the rear view mirror! JMHO the 790 is a better mousetrap if you like the motor as a stressed member, if you like less bottom end power, if you like less ground clearance, if you like new bike risks, if your sure of the mods and related weight savings. Its clear to me the 790 is a great adv bike,, offroad weapon platform? Hoping you prove this for the rest of us!!
    #51
    enduro16 and Nowwhat like this.
  12. Nowwhat

    Nowwhat I'll Go Second... Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,054
    Location:
    On the Ground Laughing
    Just takes a little work and some great vendors.....
    20161030_151238.jpg
    #52
    cjracer, turbofan790, Junya and 6 others like this.
  13. new2adv

    new2adv Converting gas into wheelies since 1974

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2018
    Oddometer:
    973
    Location:
    Great White North
    That's a pretty awesome looking bike! I get why it would be hard to part with it.
    #53
  14. Yellow Pig

    Yellow Pig Allergic to asphalt! Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2004
    Oddometer:
    9,350
    Location:
    SoCal -T.O.
    More like a Trophy Truck than a muscle car!
    #54
  15. motoman250f

    motoman250f Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2004
    Oddometer:
    833
    That's what i'm talking about.. the 790 is going to be a better platform and create a better mouse trap than that!! That i gotta see!
    #55
    Nowwhat likes this.
  16. motoman250f

    motoman250f Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2004
    Oddometer:
    833
    My prediction is that it will equal that SE,, better in some ways worse in others. Your modded 790 superimposed over your SE, would like to see that!
    #56
  17. gearheadE30

    gearheadE30 @LC8Adventures

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    Oddometer:
    2,253
    Location:
    Indiana
    All your complaints are the nature of the society we live in now, unfortunately. What manufacturer wants to risk liability if someone gets hurt because the "safety systems" on the bike didn't activate because they were "accidentally" switched off? While I'm not a fan of that reality, it's not likely to change. At least KTM makes the dongle, which is more than can be said of most other manufacturers.

    No engine braking is, in fact, an emissions thing also. :muutt On decel, the bike opens the idle control valve (or electronic throttles) in order to maintain an appropriate amount of hydrocarbons and airflow to make sure the catalytic converters stay lit off. Carbureted (and older fuel injected) vehicles will mostly or completely cut fuel on deceleration and either don't have an idle control valve or don't have logic to open it. Double whammy of increased pumping losses and less power produced by combustion means more engine braking.

    Well, yeah compared to my 950, I had to be more careful with my line selection. But it is exactly as you say - it is a tradeoff. Most people would say my 950 also feels very top heavy. Once it starts to go over, the only thing you can do is get out of the way. It's a lot easier to save the 790 because it carries that weight lower. And most people would never use all the ground clearance that my 950 has, and will only rarely use all that the 790 has. KTM has to satisfy a very wide audience; for everyone else there is the taller WP Pro hardware. A stock 950 or 990 adventure, especially the 215mm ones, have less ground clearance than the 790R especially once there is someone sitting on it.

    Yep, pretty much. Especially with big bikes, it's all a compromise.
    #57
  18. enduro16

    enduro16 Long timer

    Joined:
    May 15, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,211
    Location:
    The woods of northern IL.
    And a whole lot of cash... It might be a better mousetrap for some , KTM 950SE still works for me, I've got less than half of what it would cost for a new 790r with no farkles, but bring on the farkles and the cash!
    #58
  19. LocuL

    LocuL Gnarly Steward

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,109
    Location:
    Denmark - Jutland
    Talk about useless amount of power and top heavy.

    The 790 stripped enthusiastic. Abs, brakedisc/caliper, anti Cat, ti heads...
    It will slay our old cages. At least shake em up good. 10151350949778547.jpg
    #59
  20. chippertheripper

    chippertheripper motorcycle junkie Supporter

    Joined:
    May 30, 2009
    Oddometer:
    11,195
    Location:
    s.e. mass
    I will be running around the woods with another FF with an SE.
    I anticipate there will be laughs, a couple pictures, and maybe a quick clip of my ass tiptoe-ing through the tulips on the new whip.
    I’m thinking a proper skid plate and bark busters, which may necessitate some type of different/better radiator guard, some sort of rack/luggage system, and whatever suspension sorting I need to blaze this thing through the woods.
    You can also find me lounged out with the cruise set going back and forth to work, and wherever else life may take me.
    THEN my hope is to keep it until I’m too old to get on a motorcycle anymore...aka dead, or at least on a ‘wing at that point (too). Yes, I just said I’m going to ride a gold wing when I’m dead.
    #60
    nhbubba and motoman250f like this.