First Impressions – KTM 1190 Adventure & Adventure R.


Touratech-USA’s General Manager, Paul Guillien and Chief Riding Officer, Iain Glynn took both models of the new KTM 1190 out for a test ride this weekend. Here are their first impressions about the new bikes.


The motor is based on the 1190 RC8 R from KTM’s superbike program. The 1,195cc of displacement, DOHC four-valve cylinder heads, and dual ignition help this motor produce 150HP. The engine feels great with smooth and controllable power at all revs over 2,500 RPM. The power plant has an ideal torque curve, not peaky, just very nice.

Electronic display:

KTM has added a large secondary LCD display for the on-board computer. There are up to 14 pages of information depending on the bikes options. There is a pod with buttons on the clutch side of the handlebar which allows you to control all of the settings which include: ride modes, traction control, ABS, power levels, suspension settings and more. This LCD also shows a wide range of motorcycle and trip data. The rider can also customize the display to show a ‘favorites’ page to show preferred information.

Ride Modes:

The KTM 1190 offers four ride modes: Sport, Street, Rain and Off-road. We were very happy to discover the modes can be changed while riding. Using the buttons to select the new ride mode, the rider simply has to close the throttle and the bike switches over to the new mode. You no longer have to pull over and watch your friends ride away from you while changing the settings.  This was one of our favorite discoveries on the test ride.

Beyond the ride modes, Traction Control and ABS settings can be shut-off when the rider is looking for the raw experience without any computer intervention.


The Adventure model comes with electronically adjustable suspension that is controlled using the buttons and LCD computer display. This allows instant changes to the suspension which is great when you add a passenger or luggage. This is a great choice for the touring customer who wants a fast and easy way to change the suspension set-up.

The ‘R’ Model offers a WP rear shock that has manual adjustments for spring pre-load, high and low-speed compression and rebound damping which can be fine tuned to the terrain, cargo and riding style. The front of the ‘R’ bike boasts a 48mm upside down WP fork which has adjustments for compression and rebound damping. KTM has done a great job providing highly tunable suspension to the performance minded enthusiast.


The transmission is very smooth with good gear spacing. While there are 6 gears on this bike, we don’t think many people will find a use for the 6th gear unless they are looking to push deep into triple digit speeds.


We fell in love with the soft high-traction handlebar grips. The seats have an adjustable height feature and have foam that feels supportive and allows the rider to move around on the bike. The windscreen is adjustable but only when you are stopped, due to the double lever design. Many riders will find the windscreen is better suited to off-road riding than high-speed street riding.  The wind bubble is smaller than other bikes in this category.

We’d like to see grip heaters standard on these bikes, but for now it’s an add-on according to the team at KTM. Cruise control would also be a nice addition to this bike especially on the touring-oriented Adventure model.


The brakes on the KTM 1190 are nothing short of amazing. They have a great feel at both low and high speeds. The ABS wasn’t too intrusive and the linked brakes work well.  


Lateral stiffness of the frame and suspension is very good. The standard version feels slightly stiffer while the ‘R’ is a little more loose but not in a bad way bad. The die-cast aluminum lattice swingarm is a work of art.

Steering stabilizer:

An integrated WP steering damper comes standard on the KTM 1190. We were unable to induce head shake and felt the bike to be very stable. Turning is very predictable on both models, but has more of a sport bike feel on the standard model, however both feel good even at low speed. The bike has much more turning range lock-to-lock than on the KTM 990.


KTM has done a fantastic job creating a bike to compete with the other 1200cc bikes in the adventure-touring segment with the KTM 1190 Adventure. More power, ride-by-wire throttle controls, ride modes, electronic suspension and a competitive price point will help them challenge the BMW R1200GS, Yamaha Super Tenere, and Triumph Explorer.

KTM has continued its legacy of producing the most off-road oriented machine in the big bike class with its Adventure ‘R’ model.  The ‘R’ is the only big bike that comes with a 21” wheel and has a pretty impressive suspension configuration that is highly tunable. They’ve included the ability to turn off traction control and ABS which is appreciated by those of us that want to ride aggressively in the dirt. The black and white color scheme of the ‘R’ model is stunning and the KTM orange accents state the company’s montra; “Ready to Race.”

Click HERE to see our complete line of accessories for the KTM 1190 Adventure/R.