As I'm sure we all do, I can't help but wonder about what my next bike might be. I have looked at a number of machines, the latest being a Street Triple, which was a lovely machine, but I just could not see using it as a daily, year round driver. As upright as the seating position is, I found myself still leaning too far forward with too much weight on my wrists, which I am discovering are sensitive. I had also hoped the small triple would be torquier than it was. It was a wonderful little motor, and pulled eagerly, but I think I am looking for that big motor torque. I also rode a Tiger 1050 for the third time, and once again came away a little disappointed. I suppose my lack of excitement over the Tiger can be summed up by saying that as smooth and refined as it is, I find that it lacks soul. It's just not very exciting. It does everything reasonable yell, and the seat is fantastic, but I am finding it bland, and actually looked forward to getting back on the V.
Onwards and upwards, and off to the Honda/Suzuki/KTM dealer to sit on their new 990 SMT. This is the first time I have ever even considered the big orange machines seriously. I have seen Adventures around, and always thought they looked a little ungainly and odd, and never really paid them much mind. The SMT was a floor model, with no demo available, so I gave it a careful eying and was super impressed by the build quality of the machine. The attention to detail and quality of components is absolutely top notch. They really are the cats ass when it comes down to the quality of components. The seating position is perfect, the seat is comfortable, it comes with little side bags, and a mounting plate for top case. There really is not going to be much if anything that needs to be done to the bike once you get it home. It is pretty perfect as is.
I was keen to see what the big twin was like and had booked an appointment to try the only demo they had with the 990 motor, which was an Adventure 990. I approached the thing with a little bit of caution and a little bit of skepticism. It looks like a really tall bike, and right off the bat, I worried about dropping it!
Here's the SMT... very well equipped, and a very nice bike!
Test rode this bad boy!
As I mounted the beast, I was surprised to find that I had absolutely no problem flat footing on the bike. It is so narrow wasted, that it is easy to mount and easy to stand. That was my first surprise. I thumbed the ignition and the throaty V Twin rumbled to life. It has a delicious sound. Not to loud, but classically V Twin. The clutch is very light, with a nice engagement, and the tranny shifts flawlessly and very smoothly. As I pulled out I was immediately struck by how incredibly light the bike feels, and as I soon found out, this also carried over to the handling. It feels WAY lighter than it has any right to. Lighter even than the Versys. The Tiger 1050 by comparison feels kind of slow and heavy. The throttle is very sensitive, and takes some getting used to. If your throttle control isn't particularly good, you would find the throttle quite snatchy at low speeds. There are fixes for this, but by the end of my test I had gotten used to it, and could ride the bike in city traffic very smoothly. The motor pulls everywhere, and the bottom end grunt is staggering. I really, really liked it! It vibrates quite a lot, and rumbles and grunts and snorts. I would not call it uncivilized, but it definitely lacks the refined manners of the Tiger. I have decided to call it character. Which the bike has in globs. I must say, I felt a little special rolling down the street on the Adventure. It's not a bike you see often, the view from the bridge is commanding, and with the head light so high up, I found lollygaggers in the left lane were actually eager to get out of the way!
So... I was impressed with the KTM, and decided the SMT would be an excellent all rounder that I could live with for quite some time. Unfortunately, I can't afford one... or rather don't want to doll out the $17,000 with taxes it will take to put one in my garage. BUT... fortunately, for whatever reason, KTM seems to depreciate quickly, and the equally, and maybe even more delightful 950SM is well within my frugal means, and just might take the Versys parking spot in the nearish future.
The 950 is the predecessor to the 990, and the SM is the bare bones Super Moto version of the SMT (Touring). The motor is an absolute gem. They are easily fitted with top boxes and wind screens, and is arguable the most fun motorcycle ever made (from my rather extensive reading). The seat is lacking, but it is better than the stock Versys seat, and there are after market seats. It does not get quite as good fuel mileage as the Versys, but not bad for a big V-Twin. I think I'll see 36-38 around town, which is what I am getting with the V anyways. The 950 Motor is well proven, quirks are known, and the fuel delivery is spotless and fantastic. The bike is as light as the Versys with 98HP and 70ft pounds torque. Fully adjustable WP suspension, which is about as good as it gets, top of the line Brembo brakes, and can be had for ~$7000 with very low miles! I think I might have finally found my next bike!
KTM 990 Super Moto eye candy!
And finally.. a few vids to whet the appetite!
On the road