alter each of those individually, but KTM apparently did
real testing in the dirt. The default settings are pretty good.
There’s no reason to eliminate front-wheel anti-lock, and
the traction control can actually help, not hinder. For a wild
ride, you can leave the horsepower at 125, eliminate traction control and giggle under your helmet as the bike spins
wildly, but you won’t really get anywhere.
Of course, the 1190 had the same options; you didn’t
have to carry around all 150 horses if you didn’t want
to. But, the real improvement this year is in suspension,
particularly the front. The fork holds itself up in the travel
much better under hard braking. It will still bottom harshly
if you combine a G-out with a sharp edge, but you can’t
fight physics. The KTM now has suspension that’s comparable with the Africa Twin. We can’t wait to get them both
out for a ride.
What about the street? The 1090 is still a crazy-power-
ful bike, just not as outrageous as some other machines
in this world. It’s not in the same league as a Ducati
Multistrada, a KTM 1290 or even an 1190. If you’re experi-
enced on pavement, you might miss it. The 1090 is a little
torquier than the Yamaha Super Tenere; it’s more along
the lines of a BMW R1200GS. It’s more nimble than either
of those on street and dirt.
THE NEXT STEP
Apparently, the war continues. Now that manufacturers
have come to the realization that people really do take
adventure bikes off-road, there’s an ongoing competition
to make them dirt-worthy. We couldn’t be happier. For
us, the 1090 is a distinct step forward; however, we don’t
think that 1190 owners should rush to trade in their bikes.
With a little suspension work, you’ll get everything the new
bike offers and still have your 150 horsepower when you
want it. The real step forward is that the 1090 lowers the
primary barrier for entry to this world with a price that isn’t
that much more than the dealer price on a 500EXC dual-sport bike. For real off-road guys, that probably means it’s
finally time to start making more room in the garage. ❏
Continental TKC80 tires are
standard on the 1090—yet
another indicator of its dirt