When I first started to spread the word of me going around the world with my KTM 1190 Adventure in 2015, the feedback I was receiving wasn’t so great.
KTM has a long history in racing and it has probably been one of the most dominant motorcycle brands for the Dakar and Enduro championships for the past 20 years.
But what about in terms of long distance travelling motorcycles?
In this regard, before 2010, the options for adventure riding were somehow limited to only few models. The 950 adventure and the 990 adventure wanted somehow to be the “replicas” of the dakar models, leaving the customers with some impressive experiences in terms of maneuverability and torque, but quite some challenges in regards to fuel consumptions and reliability. In this sense KTM got its bad reputation of not being “the best” bike for going long distance.
Many people complained about fuel pump issues, water pump issues, clutch, so on and so forth.
On top of the reliability issues, the extremely powerful LC8 engine, together with the carburetor and a performance oriented fuel injection system, weren’t giving much hopes in terms of fuel consumption, which could be a problem if you are adventuring in some remote areas, without bringing some extra juice.
Up to 2013, the European market (and everywhere else, matter of fact) was flooded with the good old BMW GS series, which pretty much had no comparison at the time. But then, KTM decided to release this new machine, which was still utilizing the “old LC8” engine, but with some incredible technological upgrades.
The results were stunning since the very beginning. Improved fuel consumption by 25%, electronically controlled ABS, MTC, Electronic dumping system, and much more.
So when I went to test ride one of the first 1190 landed in Australia, I soon realized, THAT WAS IT for me!
A machine that has 150hp, like a street bike, but maneuvers offroad like a dirt bike, all a little over 200kg weight? This is a dream!
So, after 4 years of travelling and almost 100,000 miles ridden with it in all possible conditions, I can say now that KTM has done a simply incredible job producing this motorcycle.
The few changes I’ve performed pretty much since the very beginning were:
– Air Filter upgrade (Unifilter, 3 stages)
– Radiator Guard
– Titanium Silencer
So in this sense, this review is based not on “regular use,” but long distance travelling, which consists predominantly in long days riding 300 to 500 miles a day, fully loaded, in any meteorological conditions, on all kind of roads.
Maintenance is probably the key for any motorcycle, and KTM is not an exception.
I always try to do service the bike myself, so I know what’s going on. There’s nothing better to grease your fingers up with your own engine oil, to understand the needs and the behaviours of your machine.
Maintaining a motorcycle in good working conditions and always checked up is the key to its longevity.
The bike though has been exposed to EVERYTHING you can possibly imagine – except fire. It has been through salt flats, deserts, mud, rain, snow, ocean winds, red sand, white sand, black sand, extreme heat, extreme cold, hail, river crossing, crashes, long hours of riding, long days in traffic, dust, and corrosion.
IT HAS LIVED A GLORIOUS ADVENTUROUS LIFE. And It still lives, matter of fact! Hence this review.
But like any beautiful thing, It’s not meant to last forever.
The first thing that gave up were the fork seals. Salt and sea breeze love those a lot. I had those leaking at 22000mi.
The other one, the rear shock, gave up after being chewed by salt and heat, since it sits next to the pipes and one of the heads. This happened after 53000mi of intense use mostly fully loaded. And I’m not a small guy neither.
The biggest “problem” I had with the bike were the water pump seals. Also this part gets particularly punished with long runs and change of temperatures.
The seals provide a separation between the engine oil and the coolant and, when they start to wear out, you will see some yellow condensation appear in your engine oil hose. Just undo the cap and you will probably be able to see some deposits on the cap itself. The first time happened to me was at 55000mi but the issue kept appearing every 25000 miles roughly.
With time, also wheels bearings will start to fail; my front ones gave up at 60000mi. So far, though, I just had my first (electronic) failure, after 95000 miles. The engine oil sensor gave up, after an historical journey. You have to give it to the little fellow right there; it did its job for quite a while.
So, after all this time riding my 1190 adventure (non R model), I can happily say that this is probably the best motorcycle I’ve ever ridden in terms of reliability and performances.
Better than most Japanese and Italian bikes I’ve had in the past.
The quality of this motorcycle is absolutely outstanding in my opinion.vIn a way I’m very happy to break the stereotypical concept of KTM not being reliable (which I didn’t know before purchasing one). And I’ll definitely be going for another KTM after this one has to be retired.
Long live KTM!