A quick look at the new KTM 790 Adventure R for your next BDR

By Ron West
July 18, 2019

790 bike at film premiere

The KTM 790 Adventure R  at the Southern California BDR Film Premiere

Well Shit……

Just when I think I have my 701 Enduro set up as the near perfect BDR slayer, KTM comes out with the New 790 Adventure R.  I really had no intention of even throwing a leg over one, but KTM tossed me the keys for an extended 3-day demo and to show at a recent screening of the CABDR-South in Southern California.

Initial sampling of the bike’s ADV capabilities

KTM store front

The KTM / Husqvarna North American Headquarters

I picked up the bike at KTM / Husqvarna North American Headquarters in Murrieta, Ca. and headed down the freeway toward the famed Ortega Hwy— and into the Cleveland National Forest for an initial sampling of the bike’s ADV capabilities.

The bike handled freeway speeds with ease and I could easily see spending hours in the saddle traveling to even the remotest BDR in comfort, and with a reported range of 280 miles your Blatter may well need emptying before the tank needs filling.

At my height of 5’10” there was no helmet buffet and the wind was just about visor-high. I’ve never owned a supermoto, but I did notice in the twists and turns of Ortega (a Butler Map G2 route) I was carrying about 15 mph more into the turns than I normally do, in complete comfort.

Spending a week riding in the deserts of California

790 bike side view

KTM 790 Adventure R on the road

Quinn Cody, who was instrumental in the development and testing of the 790, gave us brief insights into this new KTM last year while we were filming the CABDR-South documentary. When I asked him about the bike, Quinn would get this little twinkle in his eye, and the corners of his mouth would turn up into a smile. He simply said, “You would like it Ron”.

After spending a week riding together in the deserts of California, Quinn knew a little bit about me. First, I don’t have the legs of a giraffe or the strength of a mule. The bike’s reasonable seat height of 34.6 inches and balanced handling is something most BDR riders would appreciate, even negotiating difficult routes like the CABDR-South. The 790 hides its weight of 417 lbs (Dry) better than an Armani Three-piece suite and its engine is smoother than your best ’80s pick up line.

Speaking of lines, if you take a bad one and get the bike out of balance, it all but rights its self and is as forgiving of bad choices as Mother Teresa. The balance is enhanced by the unique fuel tank, lowering the center of gravity similar to the how BMW achieved its balance with the boxer engine.

As to the suspension, I think KTM is trying to put after-market suspension companies out of business. The new Xplor suspension is really that good. Unless you ride hard, or tip the scales at an unhealthy weight, about all you need to do is adjust the clickers. KTM managed to still get 10.4 inches of ground clearance, even with the reasonable seat height with the fully adjustable suspension. You will feel like Aladdin gliding over the desert on KTM’s version of a magic carpet.


790 bike front view

Front view of KTM 790 Adventure R

So, what do you actually need to do to this bike prior to tackling any of the BDR’s? Add luggage, period. No, seriously, your choice, hard or soft. That being said, we all know half the fun of a new bike is accessorizing to what we think we need, but really just want. And since when does Adventure Riding have anything to do with need anyway, especially when it comes to a new Bike. So, farckle away my friends, farckle away.

790ccs for a BDR adventure bike?

790 bike tail view with BDR sticker

BDR appropriate

And now to the question you all have on your minds: 790cc’s for a BDR adventure bike? Seriously? Ok then, let’s talk power. There is enough. KTM somehow wrung 95 HP of low end grunt out of this all new LC8c engine and with a service interval of over 9,000 miles you can tackle multiple BDR’s before heading to the service bay.

One of the key new features of this adventure bike is the electronics package and specifically the “Rally Mode” for on the fly selection of traction control. Lest ye be fearful of deep sand or loose hill climbs, fear no more. Just dial in the traction options and the grin on your face will still be present around the evening campfire.

Can a 790cc Adventure bike really handle the rigors of your next BDR? I dare say yes, but if you think you need more CC’s KTM has you covered with the 1090 or 1290 Adventure R, particularly if two up is your thing. Or try this new Is a 790 cc bike for your next BDR and save all the cc’s to email all your friends and tell them you may just have found the holy grail of Adventure bikes.