KTM 790 Adventure R review The perfect tool for dedicated off-road

The more I ride monster adventure bikes, the more I prefer mid-range ones.

I mean, beasts like the BMW R1250 GS, Ducati Multistrada and Triumph Tiger 1200 are great, but they’ve more power and speed than you’ll ever need in the real world, and they’re so heavy that like Range Rovers, the closest most of them will ever get to off-road is parking on the pavement.

Nope, give me machines like the Tiger 800 or 900, Multistrada 950 or my long-term Honda Africa Twin – all the power you need unless you’re going touring with a gorilla on the back, and lighter and easier to handle.

Which brings me to the KTM 790 Adventure R I was just about to leap aboard. It’s mostly the same as the Adventure, but with longer travel suspension, shorter screen, a single seat and Rally mode for true off-road hooligans who always fancied a go at the Dakar but haven’t got 60 grand down the back of the sofa.

Dinky: The neat TFT screen includes Rally mode for Dakar hopefuls
Dinky: The neat TFT screen includes Rally mode for Dakar hopefuls

It’s got much the same dinky but informative TFT screen as the 390 Adventure I’d just been riding, but with a few more modes to play with: Street, Rain, Off Road and the aforementioned Rally.

The mirrors, obviously bought from a retro charity shop, are round. Remember round? Still, at least they work.

The engine’s nicked from KTM’s 790 Duke, which with 105bhp at 9,000rpm is the most powerful parallel twin around, and retuned to produce 94bhp at 8,000rpm and more torque at lower revs, which is much more useful for a bike biased towards serious off-road use, where midrange grunt is more important than top end lunacy.

Road: Not its natural environment, but still impressive
Road: Not its natural environment, but still impressive

As you’d expect, it pulls like a starving greyhound chasing a fat rabbit all the way from 3,000rpm to 8,000rpm.

Like all KTMs, it’s more gnarly than the Africa Twin, BMW F850 GS and Triumph 800 or 900, but that’s why KTM owners buy them, for the raw excitement rather than a smooth ride from A to B.

At 209kg it’s also lighter than all of the above, which adds to the lusty progress both away from the lights and for overtaking.

Cornering: With light weight and lots of grunt, it's a delight
Cornering: With light weight and lots of grunt, it’s a delight

That relatively light weight makes cornering a happy marriage of precision in and power out, accompanied by a glorious snarl, and braking, with big twin front discs and a four-pot calliper, is as brutal but controlled as acceleration.

With that long-travel suspension, the front end genuflects under hard braking like a nun meeting the Pope, but if you find that unsettling, balance it with the rear; and lean-sensitive traction control and cornering ABS will sort you out even if you come into a corner hot and get a bit ham-fisted on the anchors.

Sideways: It can also go in a straight line if required
Sideways: It can also go in a straight line if required

As on the 390, the seat’s a bit on the firm side, meaning a break after an hour is much needed. Note to KTM – bottoms are people, too.

Mind you, the 20-litre tank will give a useful range of 200 to 250 miles, depending on how hard you ride, so after that you’ll be wanting a break anyway even if you do have buns of steel.

So if you’re a serious off-road junkie, this is the tool for you, and if like me you’re a road rider who likes maximum fun out of mid-range bikes, go for the standard Adventure.

Rock: And roll. This is where it performs best
Rock: And roll. This is where it performs best

Mirror Motorbikes

Oh, and while I was at McCallen’s the dealers, I had a whizz on the Merida e-bikes they now stock. Fascinating, if expensive.

* Bike supplied by Phillip McCallen Motorcycles phillipmccallen.com

The Facts: KTM 790 Adventure R

Orange: Well, it is a KTM, after all

Engine: 799cc parallel twin

Power: 94bhp @ 8,000rpm

Torque: 66 lb ft @ 6,600rpm

Colours:  Orange; white

Price: £11,299

Edge: Please don't try this on a big Harley
Edge: Please don’t try this on a big Harley

Valentino Rossi: The Definitive Biography

Stuart Barker is to writing what Valentino Rossi is to riding, although he probably gets paid a bit less.

After best selling biographies of Barry Sheene and Evel Knievel, the latter soon to be a movie, he’s now turned his pen to the Greatest of All Time, and the result is a brilliantly entertaining and informative read to bring Rossi fans up to date after Mat Oxley’s 2001 biography and Rossi’s 2005 autobiography.

Brilliant: The new Rossi biography by Stuart Barker is a great read
Brilliant: The new Rossi biography by Stuart Barker is a great read

Since then, of course, Valentino has gone from being the brightest light in the firmament to struggling to shine against other stars such as Stoner, Lorenzo, Márquez and Quartararo.

That conflict, of course, makes for a great story, and Stuart nails it, with fascinating interviews and an insight into Rossi as not only the happy-go-lucky chappie to his fans, but the smiling assassin who could be cruelly ruthless to rivals such as Max Biaggi and Sete Gibernau.

The result is a must-read for not only Rossi fans, but all bike nuts. It’s £14.39 in hardback, or £7.19 in Kindle, on Amazon.

Get £30 off your insurance here: MotorcycleDirect.co.uk

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