When you mention adventure riding, large adventure bikes, like the BMW R1250 GS or Ducati Multistrada 1260 come to mind. However, these large adventure bikes have drawbacks because of their weight and size. They can get stuck more easily in some situations, and when dropped on a trail are much harder to get back upright. That's why we're seeing more middleweight (600-900cc) adventure bikes, like the BMW F850 GS, Yamaha Tenere 700, and KTM 790 Adventure these days.
We already tested out the KTM 790 Adventure earlier this year. When I tried it out, it was like love at first sight. I usually ride a dirt bike every day, but the transition from dirt bike to this middle-weight adventure-tourer felt natural for me. In fact, it felt very much like just “a big dirt bike”.
Recently, we finally had the chance to take a closer look at the more aggressive and higher trim level of the bike, the 790 Adventure R.
If you are in the market for a middleweight adventure bike and you're not afraid to take your big adventure bike beyond the usual Starbucks and into the horse trails, here are the 10 things that will make you consider getting the “R”.
Riders who prefer a more aggressive riding on dirt would know that standing-up riding is the way to go. While windshields are a great for long highway rides, they can pose a problem when on trails. Thankfully, the 790 Adventure R has a relatively low one. Low windshield provide some protection from the wind on the highway but don't obscure the view too much. This is important when you have to ride while standing up to get a better view of the technical terrain. And if you happen to hit a rock or log that brings your bike to a sudden stop, you're less likely to crash into it if it's low.
Higher ground clearance
The Adventure R sits really high above the ground, having 263mm of ground clearance versus the standard 790 Adventure’s 233mm. This means that you can absolutely tackle the more gnarly single tracks without having to worry about a cracked engine crankcase.
The Adventure R also boasts a longer wheelbase, which is 1,528mm compared to the standard model’s 1,509mm. A bike's wheelbase partially dictates its handling. A short wheelbase is easier to turn. However, a longer wheelbase gives the R a slight advantage in high-speed stability than the regular 790 Adventure. This is actually good as, beng an adventure tourer, it's expected to take on some highways and national roads just as much as tight trails.
Bigger and better suspension
With more serious off-road-touring in mind, KTM has fitted a better suspension package in the R. It boasts of a 48mm WP Xplor front and Xplor PDS for the rear, both with longer 240mm of travel for maximum off-roading prowess. Also, both the front and rear are are fully adjustable for compression damping, rebound damping, and preload, whereas the non-R variant’s suspension can only be adjusted for preload.
Low center of gravity
Thanks to the unique tank design of the KTM 790 Adventure and Adventure R, the weight is kept down low. Keeping the weight lower to ground makes the bike more stable and less likely to top over to the side. This pays dividends on the trail, giving the rider greater mobility and confidence when riding off-road.
Metzeler Karoo 3 tires
Since the Adventure R is a more off-road-oriented adventure bike, it comes with Metzeler Karoo 3 tires for its 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels as standard. As you can tell from the tread pattern, the Metzeler Karoo 3 was specifically designed to be ridden on off-road while still providing excellent grip on highways.
Staying true to its off-road-oriented features, the R gets an enduro-style fender as opposed to the tire-hugging low fender of the standard Adventure model. This may seem trivial but for trail riders, a higher bender works wonders especially on muddy terrain. Low, tire-hugging fenders cause the mud to under the fender, which may eventually result in a stuck-up front wheel. With a higher fender that's less likely to happen. It also looks good, especially if you’re a fan of dirt bikes like me.
If you’re a fan of the Dakar race and off-roading in general, you would definitely appreciate the single-piece rally seat of the Adventure R. Road bikes typically have split-type (two-piece) seats, with the rear higher for the pillion rider. This makes it harder to shift your weight forward or backward (a critical skill when trail riding) by sliding your but up and down the seat. With the one piece seat, it's easier to slide forward and back, giving you more freedom of movement to shift your weight when off-road.
Rally riding mode
When we tested the 790 Adventure, there were only 3 riding modes: Rain, Road, and Off-road. With the Adventure R, it gets the same three plus Rally mode. Unlike the other three modes, this one is customizable. The rider can select the amount of traction control intervention from 9 levels. He can also adjust throttle response to his or her liking. This is critical as trails have surfaces with varying levels of grip. You'll need something more aggressive on hard pack roads but something that's more likely to lock up on slippery surfaces.
Proudly Philippine made
KTM may be an Austrian brand, but this bike is proudly made in the Philippines. Just this year, KTM has added the 790 line of big bikes to its roster of motorcycles assembled in Santa Rosa, Laguna. By getting this bike, you're not only getting a capable adventure cycle, you're also supporting a Filipino company and Filipino jobs.