KTM Adventure Bike Buyers Guide (Part 2 of 3)


Serious Off-road 


You eat, sleep, and breath off-road, your inspiration comes from watching Chris Birch manhandle his KTM 1190 Adventure R through the toughest terrain, and you fall asleep to the sound of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman navigating the world in the Long Way Round. It’s time to grab your BDR map and tear up some dirt on a Serious Off-road machine! Bikes in this category are nimble, lightweight, and built to take a beating. Creature comforts are minimal…Who needs cruise control when you are hucking your bike off a cliff…nobody, that’s who! Without further ado, let’s take a look at the competitors.

The Contenders:

  • BMW 1200 GS Adventure
  • BMW F800 GS Adventure
  • Triumph Tiger Explorer XC
  • Triumph Tiger 800 XCx
  • KTM 1190 Adventure R

BMW 1200 GS Adventure

MSRP $22,045


  • Engine – 2 Cyl. Boxer, 1,170 cc
  • Power – 125 hp @ 7,750 rpm
  • Torque – 92 ft-lb @ 6,500 rpm
  • Suspension Travel Front/Rear – 210/220 mm
  • Seat Height – 35.0/35.8 in
  • Ground Clearance – 195 mm
  • Tank Capacity – 7.9 gal
  • Weight (Fully Fuelled) – 573 lbs
  • Power to Weight ratio – 0.22 hp/lb
  • Service Intervals – 6,000 miles


  • 7.9-gallon fuel tank
  • Aluminum Engine Guard
  • Tubless Cross Spoke Wheels
  • No Chain Maintenance with Cardan


  • Much heavier at 573 lbs fully fueled
  • Weaker Engine at 125 hp
  • Less Ground Clearance at 195 mm
  • Unrefined and rough traction control function

BMW F800 GS Adventure

MSRP $14,695


  • Engine – R2, 798 cc
  • Power – 85hp @ 7,500 rpm
  • Torque – 61.2 ft-lb @ 5,750 rpm
  • Suspension Travel Front/Rear – 230/215 mm
  • Seat Height – 35.4 in
  • Ground Clearance – 220 mm
  • Tank Capacity – 6.3 gal
  • Weight (Fully Fuelled) – 504.9 lbs
  • Power to Weight ratio – 0.16 hp/lb
  • Service Intervals – 6,000 miles


  • Ligher by 6kg
  • Lower Fuel Consumption


  • Much weaker engine performance
  • No tubeless wheels
  • High seat height (900mm)
  • Less ground clearance (220mm)

Triumph Tiger Explorer XC

MSRP $12,399


  • Engine – R3, 1,215cc
  • Power – 137 hp @ 9,300 rpm
  • Torque – 89.2 ft-lb @ 6,400 rpm
  • Suspension Travel Front/Rear – 190/194 mm
  • Seat Height – 33 in
  • Ground Clearance – 150 mm
  • Tank Capacity – 5.3 gal
  • Weight (Fully Fuelled) – 588.6 lbs
  • Power to Weight ratio – 0.23 hp/lb
  • Service Intervals – 10,000 miles


  • No Chain Maintenance with Shaft Drive
  • Cruise Control
  • Aluminum Engine Guard and Fog Lights


  • Heavier at 589 lbs
  • Less Engine Performance (137 hp)
  • No Offroad Modes
  • Low ground clearance (150 mm compared to 250 mm)

Triumph Tiger 800 XCx

MSRP $13,499


  • Engine – R3, 800 cc
  • Power – 95 hp @ 9,250 rpm
  • Torque – 58.3 ft-lb @ 7,850 rpm
  • Suspension Travel Front/Rear – 220/215 mm
  • Seat Height – 33.1/33.9 in
  • Ground Clearance – n.s.
  • Tank Capacity – 5 gal
  • Weight (Fully Fuelled) – 487.2 lbs
  • Power to Weight ratio – 0.19 hp/lb
  • Service Intervals – 6,000 miles


  • Value for money
  • Lower total weight
  • lower seat height


  • Low performance (just 95hp)
  • No slipper clutch
  • No integrated luggage case rack
  • lower performing brake package

KTM 1190 Adventure R

MSRP $16,999

32484_1190 Adventure R MY 2015

  • Engine – 75 degree V2, 1,195 cc
  • Power – 150 hp @ 9,500 rpm
  • Torque – 92 ft-lb @ 7,500 rpm
  • Suspension Travel Front/Rear – 220/220 mm
  • Seat Height – 35 in
  • Ground Clearance – 250 mm
  • Tank Capacity – 6.1 gal
  • Weight (Fully Fuelled) – 518.1 lbs
  • Power to Weight ratio – 0.29 hp/lb
  • Service Intervals – 9,300 miles


  • True off-road versatility
  • off-road-ready suspension
  • Off-road ready wheels
  • More ground clearance
  • Powerful engine with modes to adjust delivery for all conditions
  • ABS, MTC, and MSC: full off-road modes and disengageable


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

Serious Off-Road Wrapup

Starting off with the big boy…The BMW 1200 GS Adventure! What says adventure more than a 7.9 Gallon Fuel Tank? Think of all the money you can make selling off the extra fuel to your desperate buddies stranded on the side of the trail. The BMW practically makes you money…Well…It better with a $22,045 price tag. The Larger fuel capacity also comes with more weight fully fuelled (573 lbs) making this the second heaviest bike in the test. What’s more, the 125 hp motor isn’t exactly class leading performance wise. While the GS does come with an aluminum engine guard, it is dreadfully undersized for real world use forcing many to upgrade to a more substantial unit before heading to the rocks. The shaft drive system is sluggish, difficult to work on, and offers none of final drive adjustability required for serious off-road use. Is the BMW a good bike? Yes. Does it perform well on the road? Yes. Is the BMW a serious off-road machine? Not really.

Now onto little brother. The F800 GS is…well…confusing. It is an 800cc bike!! The magical smaller adventure bike that everyone thinks they want! Except…The F800 GS Adventure is only 14lbs lighter than the KTM 1190 Adventure at 504.9lbs. And the power…well…the lack of power on this bike makes it less than inspiring when you twist the throttle. The seat height will make smaller riders cringe every time they pull to a stop but the ground clearance is pretty good for those with legs long enough to touch the ground. The F800 GS Adventure is arguably the better off-road option compared to its bigger brother, but that really isn’t saying a whole lot.

The Triumph Tiger Explorer XC is a tank! At 588 lbs fully fuelled, the Explorer XC is hands down the heaviest bike in the group. The 1200 GS Adventure is lighter by 15lbs and carries an additional 2.6 gallons of fuel! The tiger does have a slightly better power to weight ratio than the 1200 GS Adventure, but the limited ground clearance and lack of off-road modes in the traction control system leave Explorer XC owners trembling in fear when the pull up to the trailhead. The class leading 10,000-mile service intervals and reasonable MSRP will leave more money in Tiger Explorer XC owners pockets.

The Baby Tiger is the hands down value winner of the group. More people will be able to dip their feet in the adventure market with the very reasonable MSRP of $13,499. The Tiger 800 XCx also has a lower seat height and lower total weight which will make beginner off-road riders much more comfortable. The power is better than the F800 making the Triumph Tiger 800 XCx a better option overall. The baby Tiger falls short when it comes to brake performance and it does not have a factory slipper clutch or integrated luggage case rack system. These are relatively minor complaints considering the overall value that this bike offers entry level riders.

The KTM 1190 Adventure R is a pavement pounding, rock crushing, beast of a bike! KTM’s flagship off-road offering features class-leading horsepower (150 hp), ground clearance (250mm), and traction control system. The tank holds a respectable 6.1 gallons of petrol leaving plenty of fuel for most adventurers. The 9,300-mile service interval and midrange price point will leave penny pincher’s laughing all the way to the bank. The off-road performance of this bike is simply astonishing! But…The 250mm seat height makes this bike too tall for vertically challenged riders to feel comfortable. If you are tall enough to touch the ground, and you want to do your best Chris Birch impression, this is the bike for you. For those, like myself, that can’t begin to reach terra firma with a 250mm seat height this bike is simply not an option.


Next up…. Luxury Adventure Touring



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