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Photo by Bettina Hoebenreich, At the foot of the Bear Glaciers, eternal ice, British Columbia, Canada

Adventure is what you make it

Photo by Bettina Hoebenreich, at the foot of the Bear Glaciers, British Columbia, Canada.



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  #1  
Old 8 Apr 2021
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390 Adventure - first impressions

I had the pleasure to pick up my GF's brand new set of wheels today - and I got to play with much of the day while she was away for work. Ok, this is very early days - so not a review - first impressions only.

Wow what a bike!!!

The elctronics on this bike, and all the riders aids - it is out of this world! In this price bracket it is unheard of. Even my brand new T7 that costs twice as much is a neanderthal in comparison! Sure, you might think it is a pain having to reset the ABS every time you stall the bike - but seriously - we get why KTM has set it up that way - people would get themselves killed otherwize and they lawyesr get fired. It is the norm on all makes these days anyways. Anyhow, it is easily fixed with a dongle if one is that bothered by it.

The bike even comes standard with clickers on the suspension - at this price!

KTM has gotten a lot of criticism for the forward leaning angle of the footpegs - with claims that the stand up riding position becomes very aquard. After having tried it, I assume much of this perceived criticism must derive from an echo-chamber of people just parroting what they have heard, but not really having the faintest clue what they are talking about. I do get why it is not to everyone's liking, but it has its benefits - and it is a better option for what this bike is meant for. Anyways, it really sin't that bad. Infact, when you conscider the total package of limiting factors (ground clearance, alloy wheels, travel length of shock travel, wheel size, etc) - it makes sense to have these pegs at a forward angle rather than perfectly horiozontal. My reasoning behind this is that the other limiting factors will make most riders take it a bit easy on the rough stuff - not demanding as much standing up as if one was gunning it all the time. This means more time spendt sitting down than on other rides meant for riding more agressively. Sitting down the forward leaning angle offers both more comfort and agility and is the better setup fpr how this bike will be ridden 99% of the distance. In asia for instance, the main market for this bike, riders sit where westerners stand. This nimble bike will get you through anything sitting down - if you take it easy. That much said - standing up is really not that bad - just not so good that you would want to do it for long durations at a time, nor ride very agressively on really rough terrain.

The footpegs are however a bit high for offroading (it shares a street bike platform, where footpegs need to be high to avoid them digging into the ground when leaning full angle on the track). The main issue here is that you stand higher than you might be used to on other dual sports or adventure bikes, with less grip on the seat and tank, and more forward leaning. So yes, a bit aquard - just not bad. Having the footpegs lowered would result in a slightly more comfortable knee angle when riding in the seated position for a long time, and slightly less straineous when standing up (one would for this purpose probably make the pegs horiosintal at the same time and add some bar risers). I have seen after market footpegs that sit 1,5 cms lower and perfectly horiozontal - though not sure if the difference is great enough to justify the time abd money. My guess is that my GF's bike will never see such an "upgrade" - as the standard set up is more than adequate for taking her anywhere she will brave to go (she is very brave).

This bike comes stock with a bash plate and radiator protector - both are inadequate for anything more than light offroad riding - the same might go for the hand protectors. They are ok - but something that most of us would want to upgrade (as has my GF). The OEM Crash bars are good, and something which I also think is a must have (comes standard in some markets I believe).

The stock tires are very much road biased, but they are good enough that these will not be replaced before they are worn out. I would have no qualms taking these on just about any terrain, except for maybe mud (where I have qualms with mostroad legal tires anyway). I would have preferred less road biased tires - but these are really quite ok.

I don't really like cast wheels on a bike that will go offroad - but many will prefer the ease of mending the tubeless tyre on these vs the tubed spoked OEM wheel upgrade (which really doesn't cost that much). I guess my GF will keep these wheels until she destroys them, or if going on a very long trip off the beaten track.

The stock windshield is short - but at 90 km/h I wasn't bothered one bit. As my GF will only seldom ride speeds above 100 km/h, and virtually never above 120, this will probably never be upgraded. It is however good to know that anything that will fit the 790 will also fit the 390. Givi has some good options.

KTM does not officially offer OEM heated grips for this bike, but there is a kit meant for a ten year older KTM that will work on this bike (it's been ordered, but not fitted yet, so I really don't have any more information to share as of yet - but will as soon as I do).

The ground clearance isn't much to brag about - but neither are many other bikes in the adventure class. But, as this bike is not meant for gunning it offroad - it will still tackle any track you put it on - in its own pace. Agian, with alloy rims - how hard would you ride a terrain where ground clearance and shock travel was a major issue? One has to conscider the total package when making an opinion of individual traits such as this one. However, if ground clearance is a big concern - then no economical upgrade can resolve this - something to think about when coosing this bike (most of the other issues can easily be ironed out without breaking the bank).

The suspension - wow! In this price bracket - no complaints. In fact, in this price bracket I can't think of anything that comes even close! Sure you will bottom it out if you ride the bike to the maximum of your abilities on rough terrain, but so will you on a T7 (though not as early). But for the smaller stuff - I can't see how it won't soak it up with comfort and without loosing much traction.

The handling of the bike is superb. It feels allmost like a bicycle - abeit a tall one. My GF has never ridden a manual before (only 10 hours on a scooter). Tippy toing - fifteen minutes in - she was running through the gears, accelerating and breaking hard, turning the handlebars full, crawling and flicking the bike... Had she ridden my F650GS Dakar, that pictire would have looked a lot different. So, even if the bike is tall - don't let the hight scare you - this bike is the easiest bike I have ever ridden.

The quick shifter - she chose not to opt for it. It is probably a fun toy to have - but not one she felt was worth the money (I agree - the money is better spendt on other gizmos). Anyhow, should she ever want it, it is only a quick software upgrade at the stealer.

The bike has some serious power for it's size and weight - 43 HP and 37 Nm torque! Conscidering that the XT660Z tenere only has 5 hp more (albeit 58 nm torque though), one must really appreciate how much umph KTM has squeezed out of this engine. Also, conscidering that you for a five year old tenere, with far less advanced tech, will pay the same as a brand new 390, one must also appreciate the value in terms of power for your money. It's not really fair to compare these two bikes as they are too dissimilar on other attributes - but for the value, there is a comparison to be made - and one which for my GF's intents and purposes, the 390 Adventure wins easily. A better comparison - one which many these days seem to put at the top of the list for budget adventure bikes (with many references to our heroine Itchy Boots), is the Royal Enfielf Himalyan... with only 24 HP and 32 NM Torque (about the equivalent HP of my Vespa GTS 300).

I am 186 cm tall, and the bike feels a bit towards the small size for me - but not so small that I felt cramped at all - except for full handlebar turns. I would still prefer a bigger bike for myself (thats why I've bought a T7 Rally for myself - but I would still have no problems going RTW on this bike (I still will want to borrow it from her every now and then - it is a lot of fun).

The seat is a bit too hard for my liking though. If I was to have the bike for myself - that would be something I would fix - maybe just some sheep skin, maybe change the whole saddle? My vertically challenged GF however, she will have to weigh the cons of a higher seat vs a more comfortable seat - not something of someone of my height would have to cosncider (she is 173 cm tall with an inseam of 87 cm if I remember correctly - with both heels 2-3 cms off the ground).

The one thing that bothers me the most is the available luggage options for this bike. The OEM rack will only work with the OEM bags. The OEM side bags are in my opinion inadequate for adventure motorcycling. They are small, they are not waterproof, there are no means to fasten stuff on their outside, the closure mechanism is a zipper (will likely break in a fall or from regular usage). Also the side loading will get tiresome real quick, and even more so as you will have to deal with zippers. The only good thing to say about the OEM panniers is that the rack is discrete, they are competetively priced, they sit tight on the bike (narrow) and you can use them with a pillion (though this is not a bike you would want to ride with a pillion on for more than a few kilometers). There are some hard pannier options for this bike, i.e. Holan.pl, but not any soft panniers that I like. Givi has something which resembles Mosko Backcountry - but is much inferior. What I wan't is Mosko, Kriega, Lonerider, or the likes. I have seen a setup with Mosko, but it is too wide and rides too high and looks like crap. Hopefully there will be more suitable options available soon (I am not a fanboy of giant loop or any rackless setup for anything but a types of trips - and even then I would much prefer Mosko Backountry). The search for luggage continues - I will update you once we have decided.

Competitors
When she bought this bike, the closest contender was the Himalayan - for its value. Although even cheaper than the 390 Adventure, it just didn't offer the value that the 390 Adventure did. In comparison, the suspension, the power, the riding aids... it was so far behind in everything, but the looks. Even though the Himalyan looks far better than most adventure bikes out there, with all it's nostalgic pedigree and insignia - it feels a bit gimicky I think. What's up with two fenders - one high and one low - just for looks? Also, the cutout on the tank which not only is too small to fit even a short rider, but also inhibits standing up and reduces fuel capacity - just for looks? I think they went too far to meke it look good - to the point where form over function becomes a bit gimicky. I won't argue that the Himalyan isn't capabale or that it doesn't offer great value - it does so in buckets - just not remotely close to that of the 390. Sure the 390 costs a bit more, but neglible when you conscider how much more you get for that little extra bit of money.
If there was to be a top contender to this bike, for me personally it would be the Honda CRF300L Rally (not for my GF as she hated how it looked - and looks matters). Had it not been for the fact that she got such a great deal on a brand new leftover from 2020 - with immediate delivery, and that she would have to wait ages for the Honda - she might still have conscidered it. The Kawasaki Versys X 300, a used one, could have made the cut - but there was none to be found in our country at the time. She did for a while conscider a used Yamaha XT660Z Tenere, but in the end felt that the 390 was a better beginners bike and offerred better value on these merits. The Honda CB500X was also conscidered, but was pricier, and in the end offerred less value, and she did not like the looks.

Personally - if I had the option to choose between my fully kitted BMW F650GS Dakar and this bike, for myself - I wouldn't have to think twice. Even if I could get the Dakar brand new - I would still have chosen the 390 Adventure with a bit of kit thrown on. Where you will have to use a bit of muscle on the Bimmer, telepathy will do the job on the KTM - it is that easy to ride! I think the only thing of real value to me that I would have felt I would have given up, would have been the ground clearance.

I believe that the 390 is something she can grow with, and also live with to the bike dies - though if I know her right, she will want a beast of an adventure bike in some years - and I will have to fend her off my T7 with my tire irons.

For her now, as a beginner, I think she has found a perfect bike for her - one which she after a long search has become utterly in love with... ans she has allready named (Tigger). It all looks very promising - and as I have given her advice, I am really relieved with the outlooks. Choosing your first bike and getting it right requires a lot of luck - especially when everything for a beginner seems so abstract!

I bet we will see our share of these bikes passing us on our journeys!
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Old 9 Apr 2021
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And that was the good things about the 390 ADV.

Now the negative stuff:

- no power under 4000 rpm, absolutely no power under 4000 rpm. Which mean it needs to be raced. Like KTMs slogan «Ready to race» that is. Lug along on a bad gravel road in second or third gear just above idle and the road turns much better for a while and you want fast accelration..... nah, it aint gonna happen.

- dry weight 158 kilos. That means probably around 175 kilos wet, at least. Its actually many kilos heavier than the 690 Enduro.

- Cast wheels and moderate suspension travel....

- seating position was awkward forward leaning. Imo that is. Could possibly be solved by twist the handlebar a bit backwards...?

If you want a bike to race around backroads and some firm gravel roads its probably a good bike. For a serious travel and overland bike? It wouldnt be my first choice. But its good that there are many models to choose from...
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Old 9 Apr 2021
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Originally Posted by Snakeboy View Post
And that was the good things about the 390 ADV.

Now the negative stuff:

- no power under 4000 rpm, absolutely no power under 4000 rpm. Which mean it needs to be raced. Like KTMs slogan «Ready to race» that is. Lug along on a bad gravel road in second or third gear just above idle and the road turns much better for a while and you want fast accelration..... nah, it aint gonna happen.

- dry weight 158 kilos. That means probably around 175 kilos wet, at least. Its actually many kilos heavier than the 690 Enduro.

- Cast wheels and moderate suspension travel....

- seating position was awkward forward leaning. Imo that is. Could possibly be solved by twist the handlebar a bit backwards...?

If you want a bike to race around backroads and some firm gravel roads its probably a good bike. For a serious travel and overland bike? It wouldnt be my first choice. But its good that there are many models to choose from...
I disagree that this bike is not suitable for serious long distance adventures. I also don't think this bike is "ready to race", and that it is meant for travel and definately not racing.

Sure the 690 could be kitted to a better ride for this purpose - but it is a poor comparison - it is a much more expensive bike. When lookimg at the price bracket that the 390 Adv falls in, it is comparatively awesome to a lot of other adv and dual sport bikes out there - for long distance adventure motorcycling. The 690 is in an entirely different bracket - and would for me for that reason also be kittet differently. For me personally, the KTM 690 Adv and the Husqvarna 701 was at the top of my list - until the Tenere 700 came about... After adding up all the mods I would have put on the 701 to get it the way I would want it, the added cost alone would equal that of a decently kitted 390 Adv. Now; I've so far spendt probably close to 4 or 5k USD in kitting my T7, but I find it more justifiable when conscidering the resale of the bike.

Yes, the bike does lack in power below 4000 rpm and stalls quite easily - then again, if this is a serious concern, some of this issue can be remedied through canging sprockets (KTM offer it as an OEM powerpart) - without killing the bank. Turn off the traction control, and with some grippy tires and feathering of the clutch - you will with the stock sprocket get through anything I'm sure. And if you go for a new sprocket - do you really want to do +150 km/h on this bike anyways?

It might not be great at riding long steep slopes with very little grip - but on a long trip, there won't be much of that - and the bike will endure it just fine. Torque is mostly relevant when you have grip and wheels don't spin. So in mud and sand you will mostly be ok. Rock beds, or very slow speed navigation, etc - torque is required. Then again, on a long trip - how much of this will most riders have to endure? We are most often talking about sections where with the stock sprocket the feathering of the clutch will serve you just fine (PS! I have not tried it with this bike yet). But on ok gravel roads and tarmac - the sportyness of this bike will make it shine. Cosncidering the typical mix of riding conditions for most o an RTW, many will prefer to sacrifice the bottom end torque for some a bit higher up - as this will serve you better most of the time. There are many reports of adventure riders that change back to the origibnal sprocket - because they think it is a better trade off. And, going RTW - what percentage of total hours spendt on the bike will be on the really narly stuff? More than 1%?

Like I said in the initial post. These are early days and first impressions only - I may very well change my mind after seeing the bike getting put through its paces. So far though the bike seems to manage quite well at 3000 rpm, and barely manages at 2500 - but I agree, it is at 4000 Rpm it starts happening. From 5000 it starts getting fun. At riding with a lot of varied speeds and shifting - I've so far found that I like it best between 5 and 6k rpm, especially in fourth and fifth gear. I've yet to ride it hard as it is being broken in though. Time will see.

Still - my first impressions need to be way off for me to write this bike off as an unsuitable as an RTW adventure bike. The ammount of adventure bike you get for your money has blown me away. Does that mean it is for me personally? No! I've got other needs and more money and experience to fulfill those needs. If I didn't have the means to get exactly what I wanted - I would have been content with being stuck with the 390 Adv.

Last edited by Wheelie; 9 Apr 2021 at 13:14.
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Old 9 Apr 2021
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I disagree that this bike is not suitable for serious long distance adventures. I also don't think this bike is "ready to race", and that it is meant for travel and definately not racing.

Sure the 690 could be kitted to a better ride for this purpose - but it is a poor comparison - it is a much more expensive bike. When lookimg at the price bracket that the 390 Adv falls in, it is comparatively awesome to a lot of other adv and dual sport bikes out there - for long distance adventure motorcycling. The 690 is in an entirely different bracket - and would for me for that reason also be kittet differently. For me personally, the KTM 690 Adv and the Husqvarna 701 was at the top of my list - until the Tenere 700 came about... After adding up all the mods I would have put on the 701 to get it the way I would want it, the added cost alone would equal that of a decently kitted 390 Adv. Now; I've so far spendt probably close to 4 or 5k USD in kitting my T7, but I find it more justifiable when conscidering the resale of the bike.

Yes, the bike does lack in power below 4000 rpm and stalls quite easily - then again, if this is a serious concern, some of this issue can be remedied through canging sprockets (KTM offer it as an OEM powerpart) - without killing the bank. Turn off the traction control, and with some grippy tires and feathering of the clutch - you will with the stock sprocket get through anything I'm sure. And if you go for a new sprocket - do you really want to do +150 km/h on this bike anyways?

It might not be great at riding long steep slopes with very little grip - but on a long trip, there won't be much of that - and the bike will endure it just fine. Torque is mostly relevant when you have grip and wheels don't spin. So in mud and sand you will mostly be ok. Rock beds, or very slow speed navigation, etc - torque is required. Then again, on a long trip - how much of this will most riders have to endure? We are most often talking about sections where with the stock sprocket the feathering of the clutch will serve you just fine (PS! I have not tried it with this bike yet). But on ok gravel roads and tarmac - the sportyness of this bike will make it shine. Cosncidering the typical mix of riding conditions for most o an RTW, many will prefer to sacrifice the bottom end torque for some a bit higher up - as this will serve you better most of the time. There are many reports of adventure riders that change back to the origibnal sprocket - because they think it is a better trade off. And, going RTW - what percentage of total hours spendt on the bike will be on the really narly stuff? More than 1%?

Like I said in the initial post. These are early days and first impressions only - I may very well change my mind after seeing the bike getting put through its paces. So far though the bike seems to manage quite well at 3000 rpm, and barely manages at 2500 - but I agree, it is at 4000 Rpm it starts happening. From 5000 it starts getting fun. At riding with a lot of varied speeds and shifting - I've so far found that I like it best between 5 and 6k rpm, especially in fourth and fifth gear. I've yet to ride it hard as it is being broken in though. Time will see.

Still - my first impressions need to be way off for me to write this bike off as an unsuitable as an RTW adventure bike. The ammount of adventure bike you get for your money has blown me away. Does that mean it is for me personally? No! I've got other needs and more money and experience to fulfill those needs. If I didn't have the means to get exactly what I wanted - I would have been content with being stuck with the 390 Adv.
Well - first of all I never claimed or wrote that the 390 ADV isnt suitable for serious long distance adventures. So I dont know where you got that from?
I only wrote that it wouldnt be my first choice for above mentioned purpose. I can add that it wont even be my second or third choice for that matter. But that its unsuitable for such trips - I have never claimed.

Yes the 690 Enduro is much more expensive, we all know that. I merely compared the weight of the two models. Isnt it peculiar that a bike almost twice the engine size of the 390 ADV still is lighter? What does it tell us? Definetively not that its a bike aimed mostly at bad roads....

150 km/h on the 390 ADV? For a long distance travel bike loaded up with camping gear, food and water, spare parts, tools, clothes and personal stuff - no I would never get near that speed neither with the 390 ADV nor any other potential travel bike. What I would want of such a bike is to have useable power at low rpms - something that will come in conveniantly and useably 1000 times more often than racing at 150 km/h and something he 390 ADV dont have at all.

Its interesting and maybe a bit amusing that you compare the T7 with the 690 Enduro and the Husky 701. Theres a 40-50 kilo weight difference between those bikes and thus they are not even in the same leauge imo. But whatever floats your boat.....

It would however be great if you or others did a long distance trip with the 390 ADV and came back with thoughts about its capability and reliability for such a trip. Im looking forward to that....unfortuneately we are all more or less stuck were we are due to a certain virus...
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Old 9 Apr 2021
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I misread you - sorry.

In terms of T7 vs 701... Different class of bikes - so didn't mean to compare them - only stating it was one of my top choices before the affordable T7 became available.

I really wanted the 701 for the low weight and offroad capabilities and power. But, it lacked in other areas - most which could be resolved by throwing a lot of time and money at it - which would have made the bike heavier, and comparatively a bit closer to the T7 - somewhere in-between. Added support for luggage (weak subframe), new cockpit and lights, long range tank, custom saddle... a really long list of mostly unnecessary luxuries.

As for the 390 - plenty of YouTube videos from India showing what this bike is good for... As a commuter, as an offroad toy, as a work horse... or as an adventure bike. A whole aftermarket industry is being built up around both this bikeand the Himalayan in India - with all sorts of sweet stuff not yet available in the west. Funny thing - if we go to India on a 390, it is an Adventure bike. The thousands of locals riding those very same roads and distances daily - what kind of bike is it to them?

So the 390 is not your first or second choice. Well, like I said, it is not for me either - I am a big guy, I also have experience with heavier bikes, and I also shop in a different price bracket. But I am seriously impressed by it - so much that I will probably buy the 125 for my son in two years time - as his first bike (if there is truth in the rumors that KTM is working on one). And, like I've made clear - I would be a happy rider if was stuck with one.
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Old 11 Apr 2021
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I misread you - sorry.

In terms of T7 vs 701... Different class of bikes - so didn't mean to compare them - only stating it was one of my top choices before the affordable T7 became available.

I really wanted the 701 for the low weight and offroad capabilities and power. But, it lacked in other areas - most which could be resolved by throwing a lot of time and money at it - which would have made the bike heavier, and comparatively a bit closer to the T7 - somewhere in-between. Added support for luggage (weak subframe), new cockpit and lights, long range tank, custom saddle... a really long list of mostly unnecessary luxuries.

As for the 390 - plenty of YouTube videos from India showing what this bike is good for... As a commuter, as an offroad toy, as a work horse... or as an adventure bike. A whole aftermarket industry is being built up around both this bikeand the Himalayan in India - with all sorts of sweet stuff not yet available in the west. Funny thing - if we go to India on a 390, it is an Adventure bike. The thousands of locals riding those very same roads and distances daily - what kind of bike is it to them?

So the 390 is not your first or second choice. Well, like I said, it is not for me either - I am a big guy, I also have experience with heavier bikes, and I also shop in a different price bracket. But I am seriously impressed by it - so much that I will probably buy the 125 for my son in two years time - as his first bike (if there is truth in the rumors that KTM is working on one). And, like I've made clear - I would be a happy rider if was stuck with one.
The Husky 701 has a long range edition with a 25 liter tank, so if you get that one it wont need a whole lot more. The T7 has only a 16 liter gas tank and for serious overlanding thats not enough imo. So even that bike needs extra equipment for serious business.

The expression «adventure» or «adventurebike» is to me a ridicilous joke of an expression. What does it mean? Anything can be an adventure and thus any motorbike can be an adventurebike. I will not go any further into that discussion. I just notice that its a label that is heavily misused - and that definetively includes KTM too.

Afaik I couldnt find any real long term review of the 390 ADV, nobody have ever ridden it around the world or from London to Sydney or Alaska to Patagonia - and thats of course because its a quite new model and that most borders are and have been closed the last year. Yeh - some «long term review» of 5000 or 10000 kms. Thats not a long term review. Thats a first impressions review....
I would as I mentioned earlier on really have liked to see a decent long term review, something like a 100 k kms review or so. Then we would have had a chance to know how reliable this model is. KTM isnt exactly known to be the most reliable brand, the 690 and the rocker arm wear problem for example.

Actually you wrote a pretty decent review as you called it your first impression of the bike. And thats what it was. You just forgot to mention the negative sides imho...
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Old 4 Jun 2021
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A small followup - still early days

About 1500 kms so far - much of it done by my girlfriend who is getting her licence.

This bike still impresses me. So much bike for so little money. Also, my GF having had the opportunity to ride a few bikes now, says that it is by far the easiest bike of the lot - even though it is so tall that she has to tippy toe it (other bikes beien various honda CB's of some sort, 500-600 ccs.

My thoughts so far is that it is a very good and inexpensive platform for some serious travel. The bike ergonomics is very comfortable right out of the box - both for me at 186cm and my GF at 175cm.

The bike has a lot of punch, is quick and nimble, accelerates fast, is well balanced, got very decent suspension, ok stock tires (wouldn't change them until worn out) and corners like it is on rails.

The off road ergonomics is a bit weird. A common complaint is the angle of the foot pegs. This however I have not found to be anything that I have really thought about. In fact, it lends itself to a more comfortable ride when sitting down. Where it does get a bit weird is that the foot pegs sit a bit high - which means less leg grip on the tank and seat, in addition to the handlebars being a bit too low and forward. To be fair, foot peg uprades and handlebar risers is a common upgrade on most adventure bikes. Still, even with larger, lower and flatter pegs, and handlebar risers, you won't be able to rectify it completely - if using the more typical dual sports or adventure bikes as a benchmark. However - the difference is not that great, and I am feeling as though it is just me being picky. In the end, I would have no qualms taking this bike for some serious off road riding. Standing for hours at end would however get far more tiresome on this bike than for instance on a Honda CRF 300 Rally.

The power train is jerky and the tolerances for choice of gear is far less than for instance on my much more powerful Tenere 700. If I was to do a lot of very difficult terrain, I would have changed the rear sprocket - something I would have done on most bikes anyways. I would however consider this a bit earlier than on my Tenere 700 which has a lot more torque.

I think a really good comparison to this bike would be the Honda CRF 300 Rally - which for me would be my personal closest contender if I was to choose an adventure bike in this size and price bracket. Here I would say that the Honda is more dirt oriented and the KTM more road oriented. The Honda can with its larger wheels, greater ground clearance and suspension travel - handle everything and will excel in the rough stuff. The KTM can handle almost everything but the most extreme ground clearance issues. It will perform great in the rough stuff, just not as well as the Honda. On the other hand - it will ride the piss out of the Honda where the surfaces are more firm.

The suspension on the KTM i think is far more superior to the Honda, even though the travel is far shorter. My first impressions of the Honda is that it is so plush and soggy that it made me wonder if they replaced the shock absorbers with a big pile of memory foam instead. If I was to go for the Honda, I am pretty certain I would have to do something about the suspension.

So far, these bikes for me come in at a tie in performance attributes. One is more off road oriented than the other. The off road grunt is more appealing to me - but if I was to be honest with myself, I ride far more of the not so technical stuff than I do the technical stuff. Riding the KTM is simply intoxicating!

In the end though, if I was to go RTW and had to choose between the two, I would probably choose the more sedate Honda over the fiery KTM - mostly because it is a Honda (reliability, dispersion of bike dealerships across the globe, etc). Maybe also to be on the safe side knowing that I had the most capable (confidence) bike for the toughest bits, and because the "wannabe" within me find the off road image that the Honda portrays a bit more appealing (yes I can be that superficial). But if I had to live with a bike at home, and take it on some longer adventure holidays every now and then - it would have been the KTM for sure - it is simply spectacular!

Fortunately for me, my selection avilable to me doesn't stand between these two bikes only. My newly acquired and fully tricked out Tenere 700 Rally, at 2-3 times the cost (upgrades depending), is sooooo much better than these two bikes, at just about everything.

I had the pleasure this past weekend to take an advanced riders course with Pål Anders Ullevålseter (placed second in the Dakar). I got to ride the hell out of the T7 in the MX track. I also got to ride +200 kms on dirt roads, with the needle pointing north of 145 km/h - struggling to keep up while he was doing wheelies. I am no expert rider, but I found that there is nothing stopping me on the T7. Coming from a a WR250F and a BMW F650GS Dakar (among others), Every prejudice I had towards the capabilities of a heavier adventure bike in rough conditions, in the hands of a novice, is now gone. Now the BMW Dakar seems like an ancient relic and a piece of crap in comparison. The T7 Rally was for me just about perfect.

I still might have considered a lighter and cheaper bike for RTW - but only on the basis of economics alone - mostly because I wouldn't be able to get full coverage insurance that would cover theft, fire or damage to the bike - I would constantly be worried of anything happening to it.

Since that training course I changed the rear spring to 90kgs - but that was just me being picky - there really was no need, except that I sometimes ride two up and often travel with heavy luggage on long trips (tools and spares). I might change the foot pegs, but again, there really is no need. The stock windscreen is perfect, the handle bar position and height is perfect, the seat is good... All it needed were your typical protectors and luggage. I will write a first impression review on the T7 in a bit. But in short, there is in my opinion no other bike that comes even remotely close to the T7 at this price bracket (with the typical extras like luggage, protectors, etc). In fact, if I could have any bike in the world for free, there is only only one other bike that i would have, and it is orange and cost a LOT more (KTM 890 Adventure R Rally!

To sum up my first impressions and how it stacks up against MY favorites... presupposing I can only own one bike:
  • Honda CRF 300 Rally wins for a round the world trip, or for a long and rough trip where you plan to sell the bike afterwards. Knowing I could probably buy three or four decently kitted CRFs for the price of a single fully kitted KTM 890 - I would surely sleep sounder at night when travelling in locations where I had nothing but third party insurance coverage. Also, knowing I had Honda reliability, combined with a vast global network of dealers, I would sleep better still - on an RTW that is.
  • KTM 390 Adventure wins if you do not plan to go RTW (but would like to have the opportunity to do so should opportunity knock) - but instead plan to go on the occasional long or short distance rough trip - and also keep the bike as your daily ride at home
  • Royal Enfield Himalayan - an honorable mention in the price bracket above. It wins in style, and you can be confident it will take you RTW as well as turn heads when pulling up to your local cafe.
  • Yamaha Tenere 700 Rally wins for both RTW and as your daily ride at home - presupposing you can afford it... and also presupposing you can travel with it in places where you only have third party insurance - without being worried sick about anything happening to it.
  • KTM 890 Adventure R Rally wins at everything if money is no object and you don't care if you have to pay an obnoxious extra amount of money for only incremental benefits over the T7 - and if something happens to it, you will just buy another from your pocket change.
  • Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports with latest DCT (wheelie control) - an honorable mention in the heavy and pricey category - it wins as the "most beautiful adventure bike in the world", and for those that have a particular fetish for electronic rider aids. It also wins as the better touring bike of the lot - for those that spend an exceeding amount of riding time close to civilization and prime roads.
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