KTM Adventure Bike Buyers Guide (Part 1 of 3)

With the plethora of high-quality performance driven adventure bikes on the market, how does one choose the best option? The market is literally overflowing with amazing options for the decerning Adventure pilot. For instance, the tired and true BMW 1200 GS Adventure equipped with the rock-solid Boxer motor or the Ducati Multistrada/s with its class leading 160hp v-twin. Or, perhaps the middleweight BMW F800 GS or Triumph Tiger 800 XCx is the answer to the question on every Adventure riders mind, what bike provides the perfect balance between off-road performance and everyday comfort?

In order to make the best buying decision, you must answer a few questions. First, how aggressive do you want to be off-road? While all adventure bikes provide the opportunity to venture off of the tarmac and into uncharted territory, some are better equipped for the rocks and logs that mother nature will through at you. Second, What is your current skill level? All of the current adventure bikes on the market will make the beginner rider grin from ear to ear. But, if you happen to have super human powers the likes of Chris Birch, you might find yourself wanting more out of the street biased options.  Finally, is the raw experience of turning the throttle on a 100+ horsepower motorcycle enough to get your juices flowing or do you crave the creature comforts that only a fully equipped luxury bike provides? Answering these questions will help you narrow down the vast array of options available to you into three broad categories that we will discuss in this series of articles.

Answering these questions will help you narrow down the vast array of options available to you into three broad categories that we will discuss in this series of articles. Now for the disclaimer…I ride and sell KTMs making me a little biased when it comes to motorcycle buying decisions. These articles are my take on the adventure market. It is important to do your own research and make sound buying decisions based on your needs and preferences rather than blindly following some internet writers babble…So, without further ado…lets get onto the reviews

Adventure Sport


The Adventure Sport category combines solid sporty road manners with a slight off-road edge. These bikes are comfortable enough for daily use but capable of tearing up mountain passes or exploring the thousands of miles of dirt back roads that crisscross the country. Experienced road riders will feel right at home on these pavement pounding beasts due to the class-leading performance of these models. At the same time, those new to the off-road world will appreciate the lower seat heights and mild off-road capabilities that will allow them to get their feet wet in the off-road world.

The contenders

  • BMW R1200 GS
  • Triumph Tiger Explorer
  • Yamaha Super Tenere
  • Ducati Multistrada/s
  • KTM 1190 Adventure



BMW R1200GS 

MSRP $19,445


  • Engine – 2 Cyl. Boxer, 1,170cc
  • Power – 125hp @7,750 rpm
  • Torque – 92 ft-lb @ 6,500 rpm
  • Suspension Travel Front/Rear – 190/200mm
  • Seat Height – 33.5/34.3in
  • Ground Clearance – 195mm
  • Tank Capacity – 5.2 gal
  • Weight (Fully Fuelled) – 524.7 lb
  • Power to Weight ratio – 0.24 hp/lb
  • Service Intervals – 6,000 miles


  • No diving with Telelever fork
  • More torque at lower revs
  • More 2-up comfort
  • No chain maintenance with Cardan


  • Heavier weight
  • 525 lbs fully fuelled
  • less performance 125 hp
  • Just 195 mm ground clearance
  • Rudimentary traction control function


Triumph Tiger Explorer

MSRP $15,899


  • Engine – R3, 1,215cc
  • Power – 137hp @9,300 rpm
  • Torque – 89 ft-lb @6,400 rpm
  • Suspension Travel Front/Rear – 190/194 mm
  • Seat Height – 33.0/33.7 in
  • Ground Clearance – 150mm
  • Tank Capacity – 5.2 gal
  • Weight (Fully Fuelled) – 571 lb
  • Power to Weight ratio – 0.26hp/lb
  • Service Intervals – 10,000 miles


  • No Chain Maintenace due to shaft drive
  • Cruise Control
  • Low Seat height


  • Heavier at 571 lbs
  • Less engine performance at 137 hp
  • No Off-Road modes available
  • No electronic damping adjustment available


Yamaha Super Tenere

MSRP $15,090


  • Engine – R2, 1,199cc
  • Power – 112hp @ 7,250 rpm
  • Torque – 86 ft-lb @ 6,000 rpm
  • Suspension Travel Front/Rear – 190/190mm
  • Seat Height – 33.3/34.3 in
  • Ground Clearance – 190mm
  • Tank Capacity – 6.1 gal
  • Weight (Fully Fuelled) – 584.2 lb
  • Power to Weight ratio – 0.19 hp/lb
  • Service Intervals – 6,000 miles


  • No Chain Maintenance due to shaft drive
  • Low seat height
  • ZE version has 84 damping adjustment settings
  • Tubeless cross spoked wheels


  • Heavier at 584 lb fully fueled
  • Less engine performance that is limited in first 3 gears
  • Slim 43 mm Kayaba fork
  • No ABS modes, difficult to disengage


Ducati Multistrada/S

MSRP $19,695


  • Engine – 90 degree V2, 1,198cc
  • Power – 160hp @ 9,500 rpm
  • Torque – 100 ft-lb @ 7,500rpm
  • Suspension Travel Front/Rear – 170/170 mm
  • Seat Height – 32.5/33.3 in
  • Ground Clearance – 180mm
  • Tank Capacity – 5.2 gal
  • Weight (Fully Fuelled) – 518.1 lb
  • Power to Weight ratio – 0.31 hp/lb
  • Service Intervals – 9,000 miles


  • More power at 160 hp
  • Cornering ABS
  • Keyless Ignition
  • Cruise Control


  • 17 in cast street wheels
  • Low ground clearance
  • No EDS
  • Less stability and stiffness from single-sided swingarm


KTM 1190 Adventure

MSRP $16,699

24668_1190 Adventure MY 2014


  • Engine – 75 degree V2, 1,195 cc
  • Power – 150 hp @ 9,500 rpm
  • Torque – 92 ft-lb @ 7,500 rpm
  • Suspension Travel Front/Rear – 190/190 mm
  • Seat Height – 33.9/34.5 in
  • Ground Clearance – 220mm
  • Tank Capacity – 6.1 gal
  • Weight (Fully Fuelled) – 518.1 lb
  • Power to Weight ratio – 0.29 hp/lb
  • Service Intervals – 9,300 miles


  • More ground clearance at 220 mm
  • Larger fuel tank at 6.1 gal
  • Lowest weight fully fuelled at 518.1 lbs
  • Highest level safety features
  • Industry leading ABS and Traction Control


  • Chain Maintenance required
  • Higher seat height
  • No Cruise control



Adventure Sport Wrapup

For the rider looking for the most power available look no further than the Ducati Multistrada/S. At 160 hp and 100 ft-lb of torque, the Ducati lays down an impressive 0.31 hp/lb power to weight ratio. Unfortunately, the Multistrada/S leaves a little to be desired in the Adventure category. The cast wheels and low ground clearance severely limit its ability to compete offroad. In addition, the Ducati has looks only a mother could love…okay, that is purely my opinion…but still. The Ducati is an excellent option for everyday commuting and pure fun. You will pay a premium price for all of that power though.

The Yamaha Super Tenere has been gaining a lot of traction in the adventure market. The tubeless spoked wheels are a bonus for those looking to head off the beaten path, but the weight (584 lbs fully fueled) and dinky 43 mm forks would have me second guessing any off-road excursions. I do appreciate the shorter seat height even at the cost of ground clearance. But 6,000 miles between services? Come on Yamaha, you can do better than that! The Yamaha is the bargain of the group…But is it really a good deal if you don’t get what you really want?

The Triumph Tiger Explorer weighs in at 571 lbs making it the second heaviest bike in the group. Add to that the fact that the traction control lacks any kind of off-road mode, the suspension is not electronically adjusted, and bikes power to weight ratio is a little low, and the cast wheels scream blowout and you have the makings of a subpar adventure bike. The 10,000-mile service intervals are enticing, but finding a quality Triumph dealer that stocks parts may be a little tricky in some parts of the country.

And that brings us to the BMW R1200 GS. For some the search for an adventure bike starts and ends at their local BMW shop. After all, BMW practically invented the category. Unfortunately, being first doesn’t equal being the best… Many riders have a love-hate relationship with the BMW Boxer motor, what with its vulnerable cylinder heads sticking out of the side of the bike waiting to be smashed by a rock. The 1200 GS also has the second lowest horsepower in the group and terrible service interval equal to Yamaha Super Tenere. Personally, I would rather be riding than waiting for my bike to get out of the shop. The Telelever forks on the BMW do reduce dive under braking, but offer less feedback and stability over traditional upside forks found on the other models.

The leader of the group, in my opinion, is the KTM 1190 Adventure. The ample power (150 hp) from the 75 degree V-twin is smooth and predictable and the 95 ft-lbs of torque will have you lofting the front wheel off the ground with ease. The weight (518.1 lbs) is tied with the Ducati Multistrada for best in the group giving it a respectable 0.29 hp/lb power to weight ratio. While the chain drive setup does require more frequent maintenance it is lighter and gives you the ability to adjust final drive gear ratios to match riding conditions. A chain drive system is also much easier to service in your own garage. The KTM has gained a lot of support by the aftermarket community so finding quality accessories will be a joy.

Next up…. Serious Off-Road





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