James Oxley takes a ride to the Peak District on the KTM 790 Adventure to test its two-up touring credentials.
I’ve spent the past few issues of ABR waxing lyrical about the joys of riding the KTM 790 Adventure. It’s one of the most capable all-round adventure bikes I’ve ridden and is vying for the top spot on my all-time favourite bike list, it really is that good.
I’ve ridden it over twisty mountain passes in the Alps, tackled green lanes along the Trans Euro Trail in England, and spent countless hours on the motorways of Britain clocking up more miles than I’d care to remember, and the bike has performed superbly throughout.
However, there is one important aspect of motorcycling that I hadn’t experienced on the 790 Adventure until recently and that was two-up travel. There used to be a time when riding with a pillion was a seldom occurrence for me. My biking life was very much a solo affair apart from the odd occasion when a friend asked for a joy ride, or a stranded mate needed a lift.
This all changed when my wife, Karina, caught the motorcycle travelling bug during her maiden trip to the Alps a few years back, and commuting aside, I now spend just as much time riding with a pillion as I do without. So, for me to ever consider the 790 Adventure for a permanent spot in the Oxley garage, it would need to comfortable for us both to ride two-up.
So, one Sunday, Karina and I took a ride to the Peak District National Park to find out for ourselves. There would be four hours of motorway and A-road travel simply to get to the Peaks and back, plus plenty of riding in the park itself. If the KTM didn’t perform as a two-up traveller, we’d know about it by the end of the day.
Mounting some of the taller adventure bikes as a passenger can feel like scaling a climbing frame, so I was pleased to see Karina hop on behind me with ease. The 790 Adventure isn’t a tall bike and she appreciated the fact. We hit the road and soon discovered there is plenty of room for two onboard with wiggle space to spare. Karina found the foot pegs were in a comfortable position and appreciated the large grab rails. The KTM had got the thumbs up so far.
On the motorway, the 790 Adventure’s 94bhp provided enough power to make cruising and overtakes pretty effortless. True, a more powerful engine tends to make two-up travel a more relaxed affair, but there were plenty of ponies in the KTM to enjoy the experience.
However, the front end of the bike felt rather light which only got worse as we delved into the twistier roads of the Peak District, including Winnats Pass and Snake Pass. Of course, I should have adjusted the suspension before we left home as I was riding with a pillion and a full set of metal luggage, but I’ve become lazy of late riding bikes with electronic suspension that adjusts at the touch of a button. And, to cap it off, I’d foolishly forgotten to take any tools with me on the ride.
So, I adjusted my riding style which included making a concerted effort not to let the light frontend wheelie. Honestly, it wouldn’t have taken much power to do so. I strongly suspect the problem would have been eradicated by a few clicks of the rear shock, and I’ll let you know if it does the trick in a future issue.
This issue aside, Karina and I returned home from our day of riding in the Peaks very happy with how the KTM 790 Adventure performed. It’s certainly comfortable and powerful enough to make two-up travel a pleasure and we both agreed we would be happy to tour on it abroad. Bring on the Alps.