The sight of more than twenty KTM 1290 and 1090’s, lined up on either side of a huge blow up KTM arch at the entrance to the magnificent Arabella Hotel near Hermanus, was truly something to stir the blood.
Resplendent in their striking orange, black and white livery, this was the first look at the highly anticipated ‘S’ models. The ‘S’ is the more road oriented model in KTM’s Adventure line up – 19” as opposed to 21” front wheels, with slightly less wheel travel and suspension set up for rapid road use. Like anything with an Adventure label from KTM, they still claim off-road prowess with the mag wheel Shod ‘S’ model.
We set off towards Gordons Bay into the teeth of a howling, blustering gale. I was astride the 1290 S. Having ridden the ‘R’ model in Peru, I was familiar with the gargantuan shove from the 1301cc motor. 160 hp at 8750 rpm and a torque curve that is as flat as Table Mountain, is an absolute guarantee of huge performance. Crack the throttle and the big Katoon paws the air before taking off like a rooster with a fire in its tail-feathers.
Every gap in the mountain allowed huge gusts of wind to do their damndest to blow us off the road. It is a tribute to the stability of the new KTM’s that there were no mishaps– the wind was that severe! Stopping on occasion to admire the magnificent view across False Bay, we struggled to keep our footing as the wind had its wicked way with us.
A highlight of the launch was having Sam Sunderland, 2017 Dakar winner for KTM, as well as our own Alfie Cox, a Dakar legend in his own right and Joey Evans, the only South African finisher at this years Dakar, along for the ride.
At Gordons Bay, we turned inland on the N2 towards Botrivier and thankfully, the wind abated. We could now give the magnificent machines their head and significantly turn up the wick. Following Riaan Reveling, the stupidly talented Marketing Manager from KTM, we blitzed the straights and strafed the corners – only at 120 kph plus VAT, of course!) The drought gripping the Cape was obvious as we traversed an arid landscape and empty dams. We rode a short stretch of hardpack, dusty dirt road to emphasize the versatility of the ’S’ model. With hard road tyre pressures, although capable on dirt, the 1290 ’S’ I was riding, was prone to some headshake on rutted dirt. However, the standard steering damper, kept things nicely under control.
After lunch, I swapped to the new 1090 S. Sporting a totally new motor, the overall balance of the bike is great. 125 hp and 109 Nm of torque is not to be sneezed at. Smooth and free revving, the 1090 is a blast! Descending a swoopy mountain pass in the company of Bike SA’s Gavin Morton and Superbikes Clinton Pienaar, I was blown away by the stability, poise and outright pace of the smaller KTM. Current 1190 owners will recognise the instrument layout and electronic package of the 1090, however, the 1290 is different and sports the class leading dash display of the 1290 Adventure ‘R’, with its wonderful state of the art electronics package.
Day 2 dawned with a light breeze and somewhat cooler. This was the day for the ‘R’ models. KTM 1290 Adventure R and 1090 R share similar chassis and suspension with up-rated springs and damping and progressively sprung WP shocks. Familiar 21” spoked front and 18” rear wheels, allow fitment of almost any suitable off-road rubber. Our bikes were shod with Continentals epic TKC-80’S- the go-to choice for serious off-road adventure. And off-road, it certainly was!!
Dirt highways, jeeptracks, steep, loose, rocky ascents and descents, we rode them all. Both KTM models established their off-road superiority, out of the crate, and and probably above anything else available on the Adventure bike market. Love them or hate them, these KTM’s set the standard against which Adventure bike off-road ability, is judged. On a rutted, loose and sandy uphill, we watched in awe as Sam, Alfie and Riaan demonstrated what the new R’s are capable of. Riaan then hopped on a 1090 and rode up a nearby hill strewn with rocks and bushes. I would have been intimidated by the trackless hill on a 250EXC. Riaan rode to the top, pivot turned and rode down again – all in a days work!
Both the big KTM Adventure R models are excellent. So much so, that I question the need for the ‘S’ model – the ’R’ model seems able to do it all and more. However, the ‘S’ model, with its lower seat height, will allow shorter riders access to the KTM Adventure experience. The 1090 has as much bike as you will ever need but the 1290 provides as much as you could ever want. Aggressive pricing is going to turn our highways, byways and trails orange – mark my words.
Once again, a huge thanks to Franziska, Riaan and the KTM team for the privilege of attending this epic launch of a very fine range of motorcycles. It was wonderful to see Franziska on the back of Alfie’s bike and Riaan, absolutely living the passionate KTM lifestyle. Well done guys, you deserve the ongoing success, which I believe is coming!
For more information visit: www.ktm.com/za