KTM took the unusual step of doing a semi-reveal of its upcoming 2019 790 Adventure R for participants of its European Adventure Rally in Olbia, Sardinia yesterday. Bridging the gap between the enduro class bikes and the giant 1190cc and up Adventure machines, the 790 is bound to be a hot ticket in the growing middleweight adventure class.
Not only did rallygoers get a chance to look at the thing all clean and pretty in pre-production prototype black, they also got a chance to see it in action with Chris Birch aboard. Chris Birch is an eight-time New Zealand Enduro champion who has won the Roof of Africa three times, stood on the Red Bull Romaniacs podium seven times, and competed hard at Erzberg, Last Man Standing and the Dakar rally. He's this guy, and he rides the 1190 like it's a trials bike. It's safe to say the 790 Adventure would've looked like it had wings and rockets attached with Birch on board.
The 790 will, upon launch, face off primarily against Yamaha's own effort in this space: the T7 Tenere 700, which is currently in a similar state of semi-reveal. Both bikes start from the premise that if you really plan to go off-road as much as on-road, the liter-plus adventure bikes are too big, heavy, expensive and intimidating for most riders.
There's always some fancypants like Birchy who can make a 1290 Adventure do Superman backflips without breaking a sweat, but there's a reason why dirt bikes are feather light: you've got to drag them through mud, haul them out of bushes after spectacular ejections and pick them up five times after you've fallen over on some precipitous slope where you're struggling to get purchase with your boots. The smaller the bike, the stronger your body English feels in controlling it. You do still want a bit of bulk when it's time to hit the freeway, but the middleweights do make sense.
Ahead of the full reveal at EICMA in November, KTM has shared the following snippets: the 790 Adventure's engine is the new LC8c, a 799cc parallel twin that will make a broader spread of torque through the revs, and thus presumably less peak horsepower than the 790 Duke streetbike, which makes 105 hp (78 kW).
KTM claims it'll have a tank range over 400 km (250 mi), which is a truly adventure-worthy figure. The seat height will be approachable low – at least, compared to the big bikes – and a low-slung fuel tank will help keep the mass of the thing low and controllable.
Suspension will be fully adjustable WP gear, long travel and with a progressive damping system (PDS) on the shock instead of a linkage. Brakes will be radial 4-pots at the front, and the bike will feature on- and off-road ABS options.
The wheels will be spoked, some ergonomics will be adjustable, all the lights will be LED, and the bike will carry a "full suite of electronic rider aid options, including lean angle sensitivity and ride mode technology."
That's all we know for sure. Looking at the pictures, the bike that went out in Sardinia is wearing Conti TKC80 road/trail tires, as well as a chunky metal bashplate arrangement. There are also some carbon side covers, though, and we doubt you'll be seeing those on the standard bike, so it's best to treat this as a prototype and a preview.
There's no official video from KTM, but Chris Birch posted the one below on his personal profile. It's a GoPro POV video, so you don't see much of the bike, but it'll give you a sense of what you could do with it if you were an uber-fit kinaesthetic genius too.
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