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Thursday
Feb032011

So after 10,000 miles, how do I feel?

It has been a while since I've posted anything new to my site, and I've been wanting to write a review of my new bike, so here goes nothing.

Back in August, after a ton of research, I bought a 2010 KTM 990 Adventure.  This was to be my first KTM as well as my first Adventure bike (although I cut my teeth on a Kawasaki Super Sherpa, and that thing was an adventure from day one).  I tossed and turned over this bike because I really wanted it, but it came with a heavty price tag.  After going over my budget, saving money, and most importantly, talking to Kim, I finally pulled the trigger.

My new bike!

From the very first time I rode the bike off the lot, I noticed two things: it feels heavy when standing still (especially because I'd been riding a SXV 450 for the last few years), but somehow becomes feather light as soon as you start moving.  I quickly jumped on the highway and was cruising at 75mph no problem.  It was cold and rainy, so I only rode about 60 miles that first ride.  I can tell you though, as soon as I parked that bike, I was chomping at the bits to get back on it.  And, I wanted to see what this thing could do off road.  Was it really a dirt bike that could easily handle the fast lane on the interstate?  I had to know.

The next ride was strait to the mountains, to a trail known as Saxon Mountain Rd. This trail is pretty mild, but does have some rocky sections as well as a nice climb to the top.  I felt right at home on the big KTM.  The thing has power on tap, and the only thing that kept me from really giving it hell was the Scorpion MT90 enduro tires.  Great street tire, but it really leaves you hanging off road.  The KTM spins Scorps up like top, which makes for some fun/sketchy hill climbs.  No matter, I was going on cross country trip in two weeks anyway, so I'd need those Pirellis.

I rode a few more times off road in the Left Hand Canyon OHV area and on the Switzerland trail out side of Boulder before starting to gear up for my trip to Canada.

It was very apparent to me that, indeed the KTM is a very capable off road bike.  It might not chew up road miles like a GS, but make no mistake about it, this is a 90HP dirt bike.  So then, how would it fair driving mostly highway all the across the country and up to Quebec City?  Again, I had to find out...

About a month before I got my bike, a coworker of mine that lives in New Hampshire asked if I wanted to do a "work trip" on my new bike.  KTM says it's as good of a road bike as a dirt bike, so why not right?  So I loaded it up and head out:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 This trip would take about 10 days and cover about 4800 miles and through 17 states and two Candian proviences.  It was very ambitious, especially on a bike that I was totally un familiar with.

 

 Map of my motorcycle road trip

The very first thing I noticed, was how fat the bike felt with the panniers and gear on it.  This was all new to me, and honestly, I didn't like it.  Then I reminded myself that adventure riding/touring isn't about who finishes first, it's about finishing and taking your time, and letting the trip be the fun, not just the destination.  Enough about the trip, how'd the bike do?  Well let me just say this: if you want to go across the country at 80mph on the interstate, get a GS.  The KTM can totally ride that pace all day and it did, as I spent most of my time on the HW, but it's taxing on the rider to ride this bike in those contitions.  There is a lot of buffetting and the panniers just feel foriegn on this thing.  Like a leach sucking the damn life out of the bike.  Don't get me wrong, this bike could go around the world (like any bike really), with no problem, but get a touring bike to do seriuos road touring.

Now would I ride across the country again?  You bet your ass!  In fact, I'm taking pavement up to Banf, Canada in September to ride the Continental Divide Trail.  But, I'll be on fun two lane back HWs the whole way up.  This is indeed what this bike loves.  Ride a back road or Interstate to a trail, and then give it hell.

Now, what the KTM does do better than any other big aventure bike is off road.  This freaking bike shreds off road.  As proof, check out some my pictures/video from a trip I took to Moab, UT (check out all my pictures here) via the Kokopeli's trail (oh yeah, I changed the tires to Dunlop 908's... ;) ):

Working on a sandy hill climb

 

Ok, now just a strait forward bulleted list of things I like and don't like

Likes/Loves

 

  • Boat loads of power
  • Weight down low so it doesn't feel as heavy as it is
  • Good adjustable suspension
  • Sounds freaking sweet
  • Great off road
  • Great all around bike
  • It's a god damn mad man to ride (on and off road)

 

Dislikes

 

  • A PIA to change the oil
  • Turning off the ABS every time I get on the bike freaking sucks (I should have gotten the non-abs R version)
  • Buffetting from the wind screen can be a pain on really long rides (over 500 miles)
  • Front suspension is too soft for an aggressive rider like me (same with the wheels)
  • Ugly as sin (I love rally bikes, but KTM missed the mark IMO)

 

So in the end, let me just say this: there is no perfect do it all bike in my opinion. But, the 990 is as damn close to it as I've ever ridden.  It has become my favorite bike I've ever owned, and the only one that I can't ever see myself parting with.  While I love the sheer no compromise ideals behind bikes like my SXV or MX bikes, or Italian V-Twin sport bikes, I love the fact that I have a bike that I can communt on daily, ride like I stole it on and off road, and then load it up and ride the highway to TX with my dad on his Goldwing.  I gotta say, I think I finally found my gal.

 

- - Rob

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