Couple of weeks ago, I got invited by KTM to Mattighofen to take one of their new 890 Adventures for a road trip. Their project involved me and another traveler testing their new middleweight motorcycles for a week, riding the bikes down to Greece for the official press launch. The event in Nafpaktos included a short presentation and a tour of the surroundings, with a few journalists from all over Europe.
Our objective was to reach Greece in time for the press launch and meanwhile test the machine on its real travel capabilities. We rode from Austria, through Italy, and finally to Greece on a trip that covered almost 3000 km and saw us riding through some of the most iconic places the Italian peninsula has to offer.
The new KTM 890 Adventure was equipped for us with almost all available powerparts, such as higher seat (for me), rear luggage rack, pannier rack, Touratech hard cases, Akrapovič exhaust, fog lights, tank protectors, Quickshifter+, wider foot pegs, and medi kit. Available as extras on the list of parts were also heated grips and heated seats, which we didn’t have installed.
The outstanding features that are now standard for this motorcycle are instead Cruise Control (software optional), rear shock adjustable for preload and rebound, spoked rims and the My KTM Ride app.
Despite the engine looking very much like the 790 Adventure’s, it has been instead redesigned. The 890 Adventure engine produces 77 kW (105 hp) at 8,000 rpm (compared to the 70 kW of the 790), and 100 Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm (a rise of 12 over the predecessor). A further 20% more rotating mass has been added, allowing the bike to have better low rev power delivery, without increasing too much the overall weight distribution of the machine.
KTM also added some redesigned forged pistons with three rings and a shorter piston pin; despite the larger bore, pistons are now 10 grams lighter.
Two oil jets, compared to one per piston, help to cool the engine more efficiently. The weight has been optimized through wall thickness and surfaces of the material.
A new Power Assist Slipper Clutch (PASC) is another key upgrade over the 790 model. The new design allows increased oil supply at low rpm; the slipper clutch function controls rear wheel chatter while also making gear changes much easier and smoother, to coincide with long hours in the saddle.
Shorter shift lever travel and Quickshifter+ make changing gears on this beast a pleasure, especially when pushing the bike to its limits.
One big improvement has been the low fuel consumption, having almost 23 km per liter consumption at 120 km/h; the 23 liter tank allows a range of over 400 km; this is definitely a feature that every traveler is going to like. The 890 Adventure is also Euro 5 compliant for emissions. For A2 motorcycle licence holders (Europe), the bike’s output can also be lowered to 35 kW so it can be legally driven.
The electronics of this bike are state of the art. Other than “the usual” riding modes (Street, Rain, Offroad), customizable cornering ABS (Street, Offroad, OFF), Bluetooth connectivity and full TFT display, the new 890 Adventure is equipped with cornering MTC and MSC. Traction control has been improved with better reactivity and the addition of slip control (available with the Rally mode upgrade); rear wheel slip can be adjusted on the go without disengaging the throttle.
Newly improved brakes and APEX suspension give great feedback while riding the bike on the edge; I was able to apply enough braking force while riding both on- and off-road with gentle pressure on the lever. Oftentimes I found myself locking the rear wheel, after setting the ABS in offroad mode. So, yeah, with a low center of gravity and these brakes, drifting is easy with this motorcycle! Front brakes and fork were also very responsive and precise.
Rear shock rebound is adjustable now, together with preload setting; a knob is available to regulate this last feature, on the left side of the bike right below the seat. Standard seat height is 830 mm; it can be raised to 850 mm with the standard seat and to 870 mm with the installation of a one-piece Powerpart seat, which was the one I had configured on the bike when I started the trip (I am 6’3″).
Overall the bike behaved excellently in all the terrain types I managed to put it into. Even on the highway, the windshield provided great wind protection and the bike delivered almost no vibrations on the handlebar. Considering that we were riding with no rubber extensions on our foot pegs, I didn’t feel much vibration at all on my feet. Extra protection is also provided by the better aerodynamics and the presence of the tank on the lower side of the bike.
Dry weight is 196 kg, which was a surprising factor to me, since the bike felt way lighter than any other bike I rode before in this kind of sector (my old 1190 floats around 210 kg ).
The bike behaved particularly well on sharp mountain roads and off-road. The lower center of gravity and the better weight distribution, compared to standard motorcycles, allowed me to approach corners faster and change directions much easier.
Our trip started in Mattighofen, right at the KTM factory, and after hitting some traffic due to roadwork we found ourselves immersed in the beauty of the Italian Alps. Lake Misurina and Passo Giau are some of the most iconic spots for tourists and motorcyclists in general; this part of the world has some incredible sightseeing and perfectly paved roads.
I wasn’t very fond of the hard cases to be honest; their bulkiness wasn’t a feature I was accustomed to. I was constantly scraping the plastic corners of the cases while taking sharp corners, due also to the fact that the standard Avon Trailmaster AV54 tires demonstrated an excellent grip overall on dry surfaces. Anna, the other traveler involved in this project, decided to add the KTM tankbag, which was also super bulky in my opinion.
I added instead my Giant loop ZigZag handlebar bag, which was sufficient to carry my phone charger, sunglasses and whatever I needed on the go.
The Tuscan hills were also the perfect terrain to test the off-road capabilities of this new KTM; riding this motorcycle on those fast and hilly gravel roads was absolutely the best fun I’ve had in a while.
Val d’Orcia is an incredible region overall, home of some of the best wines in the world. It’s such a pleasure to go for a nice ride, explore the back roads of this region, stop in one of those beautiful medieval villages and have some amazing wine and cheese platters!
The final part of our Italian test ride was in the beautiful Amalfi Coast. The twisty roads along the cliffside and the crazy Italian drivers were surely a test for our skills.
I was indeed surprised by the perfect handling of this motorcycle, which responded fantastically on those sharp and dangerous turns.
Definitely impressed by the grip of these Avon tires, which I never rode with before and that behaved very similarly to Continental’s TKC70 in terms of performance on dry tarmac.
The KTM 890 Adventure overall was an incredible surprise for me. I decided to name it “the Claw” as it can be a really smooth and pleasurable machine to ride, but also can pull its ferociousness out in an instant and give you “ready to race” sensations, in line with the KTM philosophy.
The engine delivers impressive torque and the lower center of gravity provides a great riding experience. Overall great traction and control on every terrain we tackled, thanks to the adjustable electronics and these really good tires.
It will be tough to go back to my old 1190 Adventure now!