After a year with the KTM 790 Adventure, James Oxley bids a fond farewell to a motorcycle he rates as one of the best adventure bikes he has ever ridden
As farewells go, it was a low-key affair. I pulled into KTM’s UK offices at Silverstone, unloaded the 790 Adventure from the back of the ABR work van, and handed over the keys to a very nice chap wearing a T-shirt in KTM’s trademark orange.
“How did you like riding the bike?” he asked politely.
I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I started gushing about how much I enjoyed riding the 790 Adventure over the past year and 5,000 miles. I told him how feisty the 95bhp engine was, how agile and confidence-inspiring the bike handled in the twisties, how comfortable it was over long distances, and how the 790 Adventure was so capable and fun to ride off-road.
He nodded politely throughout, no doubt aware of the qualities of a bike he’d been working with for the past two years, but he was nice enough to let me have my farewell moment.
And then a roller shutter descended and the 790 was gone. I jumped back into the van feeling genuinely sad to have said goodbye to a motorcycle I rate as one of the best all-round adventure bikes I’ve ever ridden.
Now, in the past when I’ve made that statement, using the term ‘all-round’ usually means a motorcycle is a great package. A bike that is very capable at doing most things but doesn’t outclass the competition in any one area.
However, when I talk about the KTM, I should probably drop the ‘all-round’ and simply say it’s one of the best adventure bikes I’ve ever ridden full stop because it excels at a lot of things. This is a bold statement when you think about the competition it’s up against, particularly more powerful and more expensive bikes like the Ducati Multistrada 1260 Enduro, or the mighty BMW R 1250 GS.
OK, so the 790 Adventure may not have the premium feel, creature comforts, weather protection, and lashings of power enjoyed by those big hitters of the adventure biking world, but in terms of a pure riding experience and versatility, I genuinely believe the mid-sized KTM holds its own.
So, what makes the 790 Adventure so damn good? The answer is a cocktail of competencies that, mixed together, make the bike a pleasure to ride. The low centre of gravity produced by the saddlebag-style fuel tanks help make it feel supremely stable.
The agile handling and seamless implementation of rider aids make the bike a joy to ride on snaking mountain passes and twisty country roads. The superb ergonomics and all-day comfort seat make it one of the most comfortable bikes I’ve ever ridden.
Off-road, it’s so stable and confidence-inspiring, it has encouraged me to ride more trails this year than ever before. It’s also an agile city commuter and a very good long-distance tourer, achieving 250-miles from a tank at motorway speeds. And to top it off, my wife gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up for pillion comfort.
Is the 790 Adventure perfect? Of course not. Limited weather protection leaves the rider somewhat exposed in bad weather, and the chain has a habit of rattling more than I’d like.
It’s also not a pretty bike by any stretch of the imagination, but these issues aside, it’s a brilliant motorcycle and, at £9,799, offers very good value for money. The worrying thing for the competition is the newly released KTM 890 Adventure is even better! (Read the full review of the new KTM 890 Adventure in issue 60 of ABR magazine).