Off-Road Adventure At A Whole ’Nother Level

KTM expanded its lineup of adventuresome models for MY2017 with the 1090 Adventure R, and the Austrian manufacturer carries that directly through into the 2019 model year. The factory touts the “R” as its most capable machine once the blacktop turns to brown, and it brings its considerable experience with dirt bikes to the design table. Stealth knobbies and street-legal lighting make the “R” a true, go-anywhere bike, and the liter-plus lump churns out well over 100 ponies to give you plenty of power with which to work. Ride-quality electronics round out the package, so you can count on some built-in safety when you’re traipsing beyond the civilized reaches.

  • 2017 - 2019 KTM 1090 Adventure R
  • Year:
    2017- 2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V-Twin
  • Displacement:
    1050 cc
  • Top Speed:
    137 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    14999
  • Price:

KTM 1090 Adventure R Design

2017 - 2019 KTM 1090 Adventure R
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2017 - 2019 KTM 1090 Adventure R
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2017 - 2019 KTM 1090 Adventure R
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The “R” is built as a globetrotter that can blaze its own trails and perform in both rocky and soft terrain.

As with any adventure bike, there’s a balance to be struck between roadworthiness and terrain-tackling ability, and since these two endeavors are as disparate as chalk and cheese, there’s usually a bias one way or the other; and so it is with the 1090 Adventure R. The “R” is street-legal, true enough, but it’s built as a globetrotter that can blaze its own trails and perform in both rocky and soft terrain. Rugged rubber and wire wheels set the stage right out of the gate, even if the close-fit front fender is somewhat streetier in its construction.

The blunt nose and short flyscreen punch a hole in the weather for your trunk with stock handguards to protect your meathooks, and it’s too bad that the factory didn’t integrate the front turn signals with the handguards or mirrors, because the standoff blinkers just look like an afterthought. Oh well, I’ll just chalk it up to the off-road bias and move on.

Behind the glass, a pair of LCD screens join a half-round analog tachometer to deliver the instrumentation and display the status of your electronic rider aids. In profile, the “R” displays the classic adventure flyline, mainly due to the fuel-tank hump and subtle rise at the subframe, and while it has the hardware to support a passenger, I would hazard a guess that the pillion gear is meant mainly for on-road use. At any rate, the fold-up footpegs and large J.C. handles take care of business, though there’s only the slightest shoulder to segregate pilot from pillion, no doubt to enable some fore-and-aft weight shifts for technical terrain.

KTM’s reputation for firm seats still holds true, but the factory offers a set of “ergo seats” purported to be much more comfortable for much longer at a stretch. A minimal mudguard mounts the rear blinkers and uses the tag as an extension to the coverage with the taillight nested up under the little luggage rack on the tail for protection.

For the most part, the “R” looks like it will be forgiving of a drop, but if you lay it down, you can probably kiss a front blinker bye-bye.

KTM 1090 Adventure R Chassis

2017 - 2019 KTM 1090 Adventure R
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2017 - 2019 KTM 1090 Adventure R
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2017 - 2019 KTM 1090 Adventure R
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Off-road-tastic features include 21-inch front wheel, ample ground clearance and wheel travel, and off-road specific ABS.

For strength, the factory went with tubular chrome-molybdenum steel members on the 1090 Adventure R in a modified Trellis format it calls a “space frame.” As usual for the brand, the engine serves as a stressed member to give the structure its final stiffness in a bid to keep the frame’s weight down at only 21.6 pounds.

In the rear, a die-cast aluminum swingarm rocks robust stiffening ribs to boost strength with minimal mass. The steering head rides at 26-degrees from the vertical to fall near the agile end of the spectrum, and the 9.8 inches of ground clearance and 8.6 inches of suspension travel ensures that you’ll be able to tackle some seriously bumpy stuff, though that does push the saddle up to 35 inches off the deck.

Inverted 48 mm forks float the front end and a PDS shock supports the rear, all from WP, and all fully adjustable so you can dial it in right where you want it. Laced wheels round out the rolling chassis with a black rim and polished spokes. The tires are Continental’s TKC 80 Twinduros, and they have treads that are both deeply trenched and have generous street flats in an effort to perform anywhere, particularly since it leads off with a 21-inch hoop, which is a plus for off-road work.

As for the brakes, there are dual 320 mm discs and four-pot calipers to slow the front and a 267 mm disc in the rear for brakes that would be considered generous on the pavement, but may be a tad overkill on looser terrain. To prevent problems from over-braking, the factory chucked on a Bosch 9M-Plus ABS that’ll feel good no matter what surface you’re on, and it comes with an off-road specific setting that’s specially tuned for uncivilized surfaces.

Frame: Chrome-moly tubular space frame, powder-coated
Front Suspension: WP USD Ø 48 mm
Rear Suspension: WP-PDS Monoshock
Steering Head Angle: 64°
Suspension Travel, Front/Rear: 8.7 inches / 8.7 inches (220 mm / 220 mm)
Front Brake: 320 mm, Brembo four-piston radial fixed caliper, brake disc
Rear Brake: 267 mm, Brembo twin-piston fixed caliper, brake disc
ABS: Bosch 9M+ Two-channel ABS (incl. off-road mode, disengageable)

KTM 1090 Adventure R Drivetrain

2017 - 2019 KTM 1090 Adventure R
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2017 - 2019 KTM 1090 Adventure R
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2017 - 2019 KTM 1090 Adventure R
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Engine is smooth with lots of power; it's a better experience than the 1190.

Power on the 1090 Adventure R comes from a 75-degree V-twin plant to the tune of 80 pound-feet of torque with 123 horsepower on tap, and it carries some electronic goodies to help you manage it. Ride Modes let you dial in your power delivery, and as with the ABS, it comes with an off-road-centric profile that seeks to maximize traction on the softer surfaces. Add the Offroad Traction Control feature to complete the dirt-tastic package and you have the tools needed to keep the thing dirty-side down.

A pair of 103 mm bores and 63 mm stroke gives it a total displacement of 1,050 cc. It uses no less than three oil pumps to circulate the life’s blood and help carry away waste heat along with the liquid-cooling system. As for induction management, the Keihin EMS and ride-by-wire throttle control takes care of business with smooth power delivery and transitions, and the spark is delivered by a pair of plugs for positive ignition, fuel efficiency and low emissions.

A slipper-type clutch couples engine power to the six-speed transmission, and it provides a lighter pull at the lever along with yet another layer of traction protection by preventing rear-wheel hop on roll-offs and hard downshifts.

Engine: Two-cylinder, four-stroke, V 75°
Displacement: 1,050 cc
Power: 123 hp (92 kW)
Torque: 80 lb-ft (109 Nm)
Bore x Stroke: 103 mm x 63 mm
Starter: Electric starter
Lubrication: Forced oil lubrication with 3 oil pumps
Transmission: 6-speed
Cooling: Liquid cooled
Clutch: PASC (TM) slipper clutch, hydraulically actuated
EMS: Keihin EMS with RBW, twin ignition
Chain: X-Ring 5/8 x 5/16"

KTM 1090 Adventure R Pricing

2017 - 2019 KTM 1090 Adventure R
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2017 - 2019 KTM 1090 Adventure R
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2017 - 2019 KTM 1090 Adventure R
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MSRP rolls for $15k in the usual black, white, and orange livery.

The 2019 KTM 1090 Adventure R rolls for $14,999 in the usual black, white, and orange livery. As usual, the factory offers a full line of option equipment and custom bits that’ll give you no shortage of opportunity to inflate that sticker.

Color: Black/Orange
Price: $14,999

KTM 1090 Adventure R Competitors

2018 - 2019 Honda Africa Twin
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2017 - 2019 KTM 1090 Adventure R
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Only Honda offers a DCT model, but the KTM is much more off-road oriented.

Since the 1090 Adventure R is such a serious machine, it deserves only the most serious company, and so with that in mind I grabbed Honda’s CRF1000L Africa Twin for my head-to-head. The “AT” avoids the bird’s-beak look as well with a blunt nose and close-fit front fender like the KTM, but the windscreen is a bit taller, and it’s clear, so the AT delivers a bit more protection and better visibility.

As for the flyline, the Honda a tad swoopier with more rise at the tail opposite an abrupt fuel tank to form a deep swale for the rider. There’s little doubt that the saddle shape on both are designed with your freedom of motion in mind, so we’ll call them roughly equal on technical surfaces. They diverge sharply at the tires as the AT’s hoops have a street-centric profile against the decidedly knobby KTM rubber, and again at the front forks as Honda relies on non-adjustable Showa stems to float the front end.

The AT seeks to meet the “R” at the brakes with large discs and ABS protection, but falls short of the off-road tuning KTM brings to the table. Displacement favors KTM as the AT runs a 998 cc lump, and it shows in the power figures; Honda claims 94 horsepower against KTM’s 123.

Honda also falls short in the electronics department to leave KTM with all the top-shelf wizardry. Well, almost. Honda has something rare in its Dual-Clutch transmission that delivers automatic-like operation, and does away with that nasty old hand clutch and foot shifter in a bid to make riding more convenient. At $13,599, Honda can’t rely on the price difference to win this battle.

He Said

“For the extra money, it’s worth it to go ahead and spring for the 1090 Adventure R, at least against the Africa Twin. There’s a lot of value to be had from the electronic rider aids, especially since the factory gave them all off-road modes. That’s a rare treat right there, and one that off-road adventurers will appreciate.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “Acceleration is snappy, and the bike is quite light for the class. The “R” is the to more off-road oriented compared to the base 1090 Adventure, and there’s a nice electronics suite. The seat is hard, no surprise there, but it is shaped nicely to cup your butt. This was the entry-level bike for KTM’s adventure stable, but with the 790s out, the 1090 is now to next step up. Comparing the 1090 to the 1190, I’d go for the 1090. The engine is smoother and has plenty of power and torque.”

KTM 1090 Adventure R Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: two-cylinder, four-stroke, V 75°
Displacement: 1,050 cc
Power: 123 hp (92 kW)
Torque: 80 lb-ft (109 Nm)
Bore x Stroke: 103 mm x 63 mm
Starter: Electric starter
Lubrication: Forced oil lubrication with 3 oil pumps
Transmission: 6-speed
Cooling: Liquid cooled
Clutch: PASC (TM) slipper clutch, hydraulically actuated
EMS: Keihin EMS with RBW, twin ignition
Chain: X-Ring 5/8 x 5/16"
Chassis:
Frame: Chrome-moly tubular space frame, powder-coated
Front Suspension: WP USD Ø 48 mm
Rear Suspension: WP-PDS Monoshock
Steering Head Angle: 64°
Suspension Travel, Front/Rear: 8.7 inches / 8.7 inches (220 mm / 220 mm)
Front Brake: 320 mm, Brembo four-piston radial fixed caliper, brake disc
Rear Brake: 267 mm, Brembo twin-piston fixed caliper, brake disc
ABS: Bosch 9M+ Two-channel ABS (incl. off-road mode, disengageable)
Dimensions & Capacities:
Ground Clearance: 9.8 inches (250 mm)
Seat Height: 35 inches (890 mm)
Fuel Capacity: 6 gallons (23 l)
Fuel Consumption: 42 mpg (5.61 l/100 km)
Dry Weight: 456.4 pounds (207 kg)
Top Speed: 137 mph (est)
Details:
Color: Black/Orange
Price: $14,999

Further Reading

Honda Africa Twin (CRF1000L)

2018 - 2019 Honda Africa Twin
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See our review of the Honda Africa Twin.

KTM

ALLYN IMAGES - DO NOT DELETE
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Read more KTM news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: ktm.com, honda.com, photographer credits: F. Lackner, R. Schedl, M. Chytka

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