It's going to be difficult to write my thoughts on the newly released KTM 1190 Adventure without getting carried away because of the performance that their revised LC8 V twin engine has on tap, so I'll get the engine part out of the way first and try to keep an objective mind in place. So here goes................this engine ROCKS !!!!!
I have never ridden a V twin that is so smooth as KTM's offering. OK, it can be made to feel a bit lumpy if you try, but used correctly it is amazingly vibe free and in the 112 miles I put on the odometer, I suffered no tingles in my hands or feet. And the power, ohhhh the power !! I can't remember Ducati's MultiStrada being so manic when the throttle was twisted open. Maybe I've forgotten just how quick their engine is, but the KTM's is like having the throttle of a superbike attached to the long legs of an Adventure bike. But unlike the MultiStrada, the KTM is smooth enough to do slow as well and I was able to ride in sixth gear comfortably down to 35 mph without the snatchiness that V twins are prone too. Top gear overtakes from around 45 mph did induce some vibratory character if the throttle was wacked open, but in reality, I was trying out as much as I could on the bike in the time available and when I went for overtakes sitting in say forth, the bike simply lifted its skirts and headed for warp 9 unbelievably fast and smooth. But having 150 horsepower at hand I guess is the reason this bike is so relentless and the speed you can call upon at any given moment is intoxicating. I played about with the power modes, which is easily done from the simple switch on the left handlebar and it is very noticeable when doing so, especially when taking the bike away from the tarmac. 100 hp is still a lot on the dirt, but I can vouch for the option to neuter the power to the rear wheel on the rough stuff as I did several miles off road. The traction control also played its part in these conditions and you can tell that the boffins at KTM have thought carefully about how this bike will potentially be used.
All this power would be pretty useless in a chassis that couldn't cope and KTM have done an excellent job in that department also. The handling is brilliant and not once did I feel that the chassis couldn't keep up with all that the engine could throw at it. The demo bike came with the electronic suspension wizardry which seems to be the norm on these high end motorcycles these days and again, it was nice to use what is available and actually find that it does make a difference. In Sport mode, the bike can hustle along on good roads in indecent haste and truthfully, I can say it gave me so much confidence that I started to think that this bike is uncrashable. I know, that's probably a stupid statement, but the feedback offered from the White Power suspension is amazing. The big Katoom is so flickable that it's hard to think that this bike has long travel suspension and a 19" front wheel. Heck, when I got back onto my Versys, a bike renowned for its sharp handling, it felt positively lethargic compared to the KTM. Considering the size and extra weight of the KTM, this feat is quite outstanding. Street mode is obviously the compromise option and Comfort was good in taking the worst out of the poorly surfaced roads that I ride on daily. It's not GoldWing levels of plushness as it still communicates what's going on underneath you, but it is good enough to take the nasty ripples and washboard annoyances away while allowing you to make good progress if desired. I was of a mindset that I wouldn't need this modern electro gadgetry, but I now think that if it is offered, it would be silly not to tick that part of the options list. The brakes also need no superlatives heaped on them as they are simply top notch items fitted to stop the bike in a hurry if needed with loads of feel. Also the gearbox was a revelation, especially when you think how poor the early KTM RC8 gearbox's were. Buttery changes were the order of the day without one missed gear and snicking into first was a mostly silent affair.
The ergos of the KTM certainly suited me (I'm 5' 11") and I could easily get both feet on the ground. After my 112 miles, I had no aches or pains, except in my butt as I found the seat to be too hard for my boney bum. But suffice to say, that's a problem I seem to suffer with on the vast majority of bikes, but I would like to try their comfort seat for comparison. The windshield seemed to be set at it's tallest position and provided me with good wind protection for my Arai TourX. It was very effective up to XXX miles per hour and I didn't bother trying out different positions as it was fine as it was. I know some make a big deal of the easy adjustability of the new BMW 12GS's or Tiger 1200's screens, but personally, once set to how you like it, that feature is virtually redundant. And it's the little features on various bikes that seem to make a difference to how others perceive a rival manufacturers machine, like the switchgear on the handlebars not matching or something equally trivial. Believe me, when you're riding something this good, those little things pale into insignificance. But as the old saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I'll be the first to say that the KTM isn't the nicest looking Adventure bike available and that award probably goes to the Ducati MultiStrada (especially their Pikes Peak edition). But then, if we all bought these bikes for their aesthetic qualities, BMW wouldn't have the success of the GS on their hands either. Maybe it would be best to describe the KTM as functionally beautiful and the sum of all its parts make one hell of a motorcycle. The fit and finish of the 1190 is right up there and going on how many of their 950/990 Adventures have kept their looks, there's no reason to doubt that the 1190 isn't more of the same.
Overall, this is one heck of a motorcycle. The toys is has available seem to be all worthwhile while the riding experience is nothing short of amazing and it is hard not to get swept away with the available performance. But when that performance is tied together with a beautiful chassis and the feeling of go anywhere anytime, you end up with a very accomplished machine.