A bike with this many faults should leave me with an overwhelming feeling of disappointment, but it doesn't. This is the KTM 990 Adventure and the first thing that you'll notice is just how fast it likes to travel. The second thing that you'll probably notice is the fact that the brakes are really quite rubbish. Saying that they're 'Quite Rubbish' is actually being kind, but I get into trouble for writing words like 'Shit' and 'Crap'.
A fast bike with rubbish brakes should be enough to make any sensible rider walk away, but before I get onto the finer points of the KTM 990 Adventure, here are a few more flies for the automotive ointment. The headlight is poor, the throttle and fuel mapping sucks, the seat is apparently hewn from solid granite and the foot of the side stand sinks straight into anything that's slightly less stable than cold tarmac. On the face of it, that sounds like more flies than ointment, but when the ointment is pure snake oil, it becomes very easy to ignore the flies.
To be honest, I can't really say 'Why' the KTM 990 Adventure is so good, it just is. The engine is overflowing with grunt and the standard exhaust system sounds like James Earl Jones gargling with treacle. On fast 'A' roads the front and rear WP suspension makes you feel like you're riding a focused sportsbike, but jump onto the rough stuff and the same bike suddenly feels like a full-on enduro. I have no idea how KTM have achieved this amazing cross-over, but I'm ever so thankful that they have. A bike that can be so good on both 'A' roads and 'No' roads, should absolutely stink on the motorways, but yet again it doesn't. The seemingly tiny screen deflects the wind away from everywhere but your shoulders and the seat that I criticised earlier, is actually quite accommodating on long hauls. If it was legal in this country, then all day three-figure cruising speeds on the KTM would be an absolute joy. On smooth paved roads it lacks the refinement of BMW's 1200 GS Adventure, but in place of that refinement KTM have given it a beautiful sprinkling of fun-dust. As a bike, the KTM insists that you become actively involved in every process while the BMW seems to delegate many of those functions to it's on-board butler. Simon 'The Locksmith' French, was kind enough to join me on his shiny new BMW 1200 GS Adventure for an afternoon of fun around Finchingfield in Essex. It was an opportunity for us to ride both 'Adventures' together and of course, there were two apposing verdicts. Neither bike was 'Better', but they are just so totally different. Personally I'd go for the fun-factor every time, but then I still haven't really grown up. The BMW is a proper bike for adults, but the KTM just keeps reminding me why I love bikes.
I'll stop there before I run out of things to write in the magazine. However, given the choice between my Triumph Tiger and the KTM to ride around the world, the experience would have been far richer and much more fun aboard the KTM.