The Break the KTM 790 ride - A trip around the USA.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by windblown101, Sep 8, 2019.

  1. Vrode

    Vrode Testing...1..2...

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    Thanks for a great RR! Looking forward to a debrief of the 790.
    WalterMitty2 likes this.
  2. Bonnie & Clyde

    Bonnie & Clyde Wishing I was riding RTW

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    Thanks for the report it was epic and inspirational. I am interested in what you packed in the Reckless 80, camp kit etc. tire repair etc.

    I use the same bag on my 950 SE but I have 3 extra molle pouches and its all full! I know I over pack.
    windblown101 and MCCOYBOY like this.
  3. oldtechdude

    oldtechdude oldtechdude

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    Awesome RR! I truly like your writing style WB - concise, humors, real.
    I am thinking seriously of "upgrading" to a 790 Adv R so I am also looking forward to your debrief.
    Thanks for sharing.
    windblown101 likes this.
  4. Monzo

    Monzo n00b

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    Excellent RR! Thanks for taking the time and effort.
    windblown101 likes this.
  5. MaddBrit

    MaddBrit Now officially a Yank.

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    Allen, Tejas. Blissful state...
    Bravo!

    :clap
    windblown101 likes this.
  6. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    Ya'll are awesome, Thanks. Your interest in the trip and wanting details on the bike, mods, impressions, trail damage/gremlins, gear report is coming. I have one more 12 hour work shift to knock out tomorrow and then I'm off for two days. I'm going to do my best to make the report worthy of the wait! Standby...

    :D
    Hivernaut, MTBRALPH, BLucare and 3 others like this.
  7. scfrank

    scfrank Old farts riding club. Supporter

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    Great report! Appreciate the effort.
  8. Bademeister02

    Bademeister02 Adventurer

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    Germany
    Had a blast reading your report and i am looking forward into the summary of bike impressions etc. Thank you for that! It always amazes me what awesome landscapes and sceneries are available to you guys without even leaving your country! Some day my trusty 950 will find its way over the atlantic, ready to hit the american trails (if your government lets me enter^^). Greetings from good old Europe!
  9. Scribe

    Scribe £Bob£

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    Location:
    In my natural state
    It's an old finishing school for young ladies, if memory serves. I live in the area and have ridden by it approximately 218 times.

    Great report. You actually did break the KTM at one point, right? (By "you" I mean the OP, just quoted this post to get the pic.)
    RedDogAlberta likes this.
  10. cBJr

    cBJr Adventurer

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  11. Pepe le pew

    Pepe le pew Adventurer

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    Near a hollar
    Well done. Id love to hear more about the 790 and how it performed on this adventure as i am tempted to go look at them. I live real close to you. Hit me up if you wanna ride sometime.
  12. readonly24

    readonly24 Been here awhile

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    In the dirt
    Thanks for your RR, it was a pleasure to read.
  13. flyinturbo

    flyinturbo Been here awhile

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    132
    I knew I'd find your ride report sooner or later!

    Great running into you at that gas station in the middle of nowhere. (I don't recall where we were in Utah...) We were the two guys on heavy adventure bikes, me on the Ducati and my buddy on the BMW.

    Moab was fun but we stayed on the pavement!

    Great ride report! Hope to run into you on the trail someday.

    -G
    windblown101 likes this.
  14. pzvt

    pzvt Been here awhile

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    Aug 30, 2010
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    101
    Thanks for the report. Is the 790 the holy grail between the 1200 and 450?
    windblown101 likes this.
  15. AZ Mark

    AZ Mark Long timer Supporter

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    Wickenburg AZ
    Great Ride Report... Thanks for the efforts to take us along! :clap:clap:clap
    windblown101 likes this.
  16. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    May 17, 2010
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    Star Tannery, VA
    After action report: I have a total of 11,203 miles on the bike at this point. As I sit here in introspection regarding my impressions of the bike it struck me that in the long run what a motorcycle doesn't do to annoy me tends to get taken for granted, things it does exceptionally well get enjoyed, and things that annoy me either get worked around or become an unbearable thorn that festers over time. With that in mind let say that as I tested the bike pre-trip there were things I wanted to address before living with it for hours at a time every single day for a month. Even though I touched on it previously I'll start with the mods I made and why I made them.

    Handguards: Because my bikes do get dumped and broken levers suck. The OEM handguards are not built for that kind of punishment. I installed KTM branded Cyra Center-reach handguards and they have held up exceptionally well and fit on the bike nicely.

    Mirrors:
    Any solid stem mirror attached to a brake or clutch lever perch is just waiting for the right moment to break the perch it's attached to. That not only sucks because it's disabling, it's also expensive. Been there done that and others I ride with have as well. Double Take mirrors and the like are an option but I prefer the cleaner more stable view offered by the CRGs and with the Rottweiler handguard mounts. I've not broken either mirror on 3 different bikes and countless contacts with brush, trees and the ground. In fact the set you see on the 790 is the first set I bought and I have moved them from one bike to another over time.

    Heated Grips:
    I've come to appreciate the better feel and bike control that thinner gloves provide. I'd much rather crank up a set of heated grips when it's cold and ride with thin gloves than ride with heavy gloves, especially when off pavement. I prefer the discreet control of the KTM heated grips over the last generations which integrated into the multi-function menu system. I find it quicker and easier to operate them with the single button control.

    Cruise Control: Eek! Yeah, I know, I'm ruined (first time I ever had a bike with it BTW). If you don't want a motorcycle with electronic cruise control I warn you not to spend time on a long straight highway on a motorcycle that has it, or like me you'll be ruined. For any other type of riding it's useless and unwanted but man, for those long stretch stretches the difference in ride fatigue is eye opening due to more freedom to move around.

    GPS Mount: I chose the KTM handlebar mount over some of the other options because it places the GPS low and out of harms way and does not add mass and leverage to fatigue the headlight housing/fairing.

    Steering Stabilizer: The OEM unit works fine in my opinion but during testing of the bike I found there were a few times that I would have liked it to have a highspeed damping circuit to really clamp things down when an unexpected severe hit caused the front wheel to deflect (rare but it happens). The stock unit doesn't offer this, the Scotts stabilizer does, so I bit the bullet and installed one on a TripleClampMoto submount.

    Handlebar: From day one I felt that the OEM handlebar had more sweep than I like when off-road (queue annoyance #1). It tended to allow/make me ride with my arms at my sides. When I installed the submount stabilizer it made it even worse and raised the bars which felt awkward to me. I eyed the stock dirtbike bars on my KTM 250 XC-F and stole them off that bike as an experiment and they are still on the 790 today. Feels like a proper dirtbike now. ;)

    Footpegs: Stock footpegs were fine but the seat to peg distance was pretty snug for my 34" inseam (queue annoyance#2). I wanted to try a tall seat first before making a change to the pegs but a tall seat was not available before I left on the trip so a set of Bosley -20mm adventure pegs that were sitting on the shelf that I had run on my 690 ended up on the 790. The change though small was greatly appreciated by my knees and also eased the transition from sitting to standing.

    Quickshift Delete: The bike came with the QS+ enabled and no way to turn it off. It worked fine and of course you can still use the clutch but any time I preloaded the shifter slightly in anticipation of shifting gears or accidentally brushed the shifter with my foot while offroad the bike naturally thought I wanted to shift and would cut the ignition or blip the throttle (queue annoyance #3). I had the dealer install the option package just so I could disable the QS. I never enabled the QS once during the entire trip.

    Rear Rack: I didn't have an issue with the small rear OEM rack or the rear grab handles. I actually found the grab handles convenient for shoving the back of the bike around and as an aide when picking the bike up. However I wanted a bit more real estate to the rack and no one makes a nicer rear rack than Perun Moto in my opinion so I got one. The rear grab handles were removed because they interfered with how I wanted the Mosko luggage to lay.

    Custom fabbed luggage standoff: I preferred how the Mosko Reckless 80 sat on the bike with the rear side plastics removed. However that meant the left side bag could swing in and potentially foul with the swingarm during off-road action so I grabbed a piece of 1/2" galvanized electrical conduit and fabbed up a stand off for the left side.

    That's it for the mods and why I did them. Up next after a cigarette: Living with the 790 for 8000 miles...
  17. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    May 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    5,102
    Location:
    Star Tannery, VA
    Living with the KTM 790 Adventure R:

    The Motor: The 790 is always ready to play if your in the mood and content to drone for miles as well, just don't lug it. Over 4k rpm you're gold and once you get to 6000 rpm the motor is singing, by 8k it's at full song and the rush gets real for an 800 cc motor and carries that power well to redline. In lower gears it will provide smooth power to move the bike along from around 3000rpm, however once in third gear or if accelerating moderately to hard it much prefers to be at the 4k mark or above, otherwise you'll likely feel a bit of that typical low rpm KTM twin roughness asking for a lower gear to be chosen. Vibes are well within my tolerance level and not at a frequency that spikes an annoyance.

    I stalled the bike occasionally when in slow technical terrain before my trip. I only stalled
    the bike in slow technical terrain once during the entire trip. How much of that was the motor loosing up and how much was it me learning the bike I can't be sure of. But it's a non-issue.
    Verdict: Thumbs up.

    Transmission: Very slick and easy shifting and well spaced out gearing that matches the motors characteristics well. Neutral can get a bit tricky to find when the oil and motor are very hot when the oil has some age on it, other than that it's literally perfect in my opinion and the neutral issue is a seriously small nitpick compared to past KTMs I've owned. I did drop one tooth on the front sprocket (oops forgot that one on the mod list, will correct that) to tailor the bike a bit better for my use.
    Verdict: Thumbs up.

    Clutch: Lots of talk when it was first announced KTM would be using a cable clutch on this bike. It works fine but the engagement zone is a touch narrow and out near the end of lever travel. I've gotten used to it and slip the clutch regularly in technical terrain without complaint. Still, I do like KTM hydo clutches.
    Verdict: Still out for deliberation.

    TBW: I've heard a few theories as to why the 790 occasionally exhibits a very slight but perceptible delay in response to twisting the throttle. It doesn't feel like an actual bog, more like a momentary delay or disconnect between the throttle hand and the motor.
    All I can tell you is I do notice it occasionally yet it has not made the "Thorn in my side annoyance" level, but it could some day... On the other hand, throttle response is smooth and only approaches what I would consider snatchy is when you put the throttle in "Rally" response mode.
    Verdict: Thumbs down, and only because of that intermittent and very slight lag that crops up now and then. I have hopes it will be addressed in a future software update. Many riders swear they have not noticed it but my observation has been borne out by riders much better than I, YMMV.

    Suspension: I think the suspension is very good, especially considering that any factory production suspension is built as a one size fits all. I'm 175 without gear for reference.
    Out of the box the front dives a little more than I like on the brakes. is a little harsh in small chop, and the rear exhibits a bit of typical non custom tailored PDS hop over obstacles. However these issues rate more as an observation than a complaint. The suspension is still extremely good box stock, early reports indicate it can be even better with a little work. We can all appreciate a suspension that is personally tailored to our weight and riding style. ;)
    Verdict: Thumbs up.

    Chassis: I find the low speed natural balance exceptional on this bike. The low slung gas tanks, the geometry, perhaps magic anti-gravity units hidden inside somewhere, I dunno. As a rider who tends to pick their way through the rough stuff more often than blast over it when on a ride far from home this is huge and earns HIGH praise in my book. Most importantly and easily taken for granted with the chassis design and could easily be taken for granted by it's absence is the lack of negative handling surprises. The bike not only behaves itself well, it is forgiving of rider error. Very confidence inspiring IMHO.
    Verdict: Big Thumbs up.

    Ergos:
    The bike fits me exceptionally well (6' tall, 34" inseam, 175lbs) with the mods I made to the handlebars and footpegs. The seat is not a comfort seat but I did put 8000 miles on the bike in 4 weeks and didn't have to have my butt operated on so I'd rate it as fair to good. The OEM windscreen in the low position worked best for me. It broke the wind off my chest and didn't cause undue amount of buffeting or noise at the helmet. The high position buffeted my helmet around too much. If you want a bike with a whisper quiet air pocket to tour on, my advice is to look elsewhere. ;)
    Verdict: Thumbs up.

    Sub systems:
    KTM Quickshift+:
    Touched on that in the mods section. Works fine, don't have a use for it.
    Verdict: Abstain.

    KTM Electronic Cruise Control:
    Control integrates well with the bike and is intuitive to use after just a short time of getting familiar with it. +/- lever to fine tune speed. Can over ridden for acceleration just by twisting the throttle and will automatically resume the set pace. Can be turned off with clutch, either brake, or turning the throttle past closed slightly.
    Verdict: Thumbs up.

    KTM Heated Grips: Unlike some, I prefer a discreet control for the KTM heated grips rather than having to control it thru the joystick and multi-function menu system. I find it more convenient to turn them on/off and control heat level with juts a single button dedicated to the job.
    Verdict: Thumbs up.

    Build/design: I've been on record panning KTMs quality control and have not changed my position on that but this section is not about quality control and more about the overall engineering and design. With the exception of the factory supplied "splashguard" which strikes me as weak for the bikes intended use and an oil filler that is tucked in too far under the gas tank to be convenient I have found the overall build design and quality to be exceptional.
    Verdict: Thumbs up.



    What other similar ADV style bikes have I owned?

    Tiger 800XC (with a Ohlins suspension) - Abused off-pavement many many times.
    KTM 690 (Adventurized) - Yep, been there and done that.
    KTM 1190R - Very nice bike, but no 790 off-road.

    What other bikes have I tried or considered in place of the 790?
    Thought about a CB500X w/ stage 3 rallyraid set-up - Just didn't peak my interest.
    Test rode a Honda AT - meh...
    Yamaha T7? Sure why not! Because there aren't any to test ride in the US, that's why not, LOL.

    Would I buy a KTM 790 Adventure R again today after this trip?
    In a word: Yes. If mine got totaled tomorrow I'd take the insurance check and put it towards a new one.

    Gear, load out, gremlins, and trail damage along with a couple of (the best!) vids yet to come. But not tonight. Need to chill for a bit. :)
  18. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    If it checks the right boxes for you then yes. :)
  19. bmw111

    bmw111 Adventurer

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    New Hampshire
    Damn, you're crushing this report! Thanks a lot. I'd like a bit more explanation than "meh" on your opinion of the Honda AT test ride, if you feel like providing that. :hmmmmm Just from a curiosity level.
  20. windblown101

    windblown101 Long timer Supporter

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    Thanks!

    I'm going to refrain from an in depth opinion of the AT since I only test rode it and have never lived with it. "Meh..." was my way of saying it didn't strike me as a bad bike, just not one that I wanted to add to the stable. I tend to lean towards bikes with a bit of attitude and already owned (and still do) the 800XC which I call my "Sensible" bike and enjoy it for it's calm demeanor. The AT was perhaps a bit too much like the 800 in that regard for it to make sense to buy.
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