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World Launch – 2019 KTM 790 Adventure | Bike Tests | Latest Tests | Top Sellers in Australia

We head to the far east of Morocco, where KTM’s dominant Dakar squad train no less, to ride the firm’s all-new mid-capacity adventure bike

I don’t wish to sound like I’m blowing orange dust up the collective quoit of the Mattighofen Massive, but, I do love its shit. I love what it makes, how it makes it, and the way it makes no apologies for making it. No other major manufacturer asserts its difference with such deferential fervour, and whenever a new Kato is waiting in the wings ready to quench the thrills of a hyperactive Red Bull generation, you can always rely on it being a bike with something in spades; spunk, with an emphasis on the punk.

Any relatively young upstart company which delights in repeatedly destroying HRC’s Dakar dream can only be admired; young punks who know the flow better than anyone when it comes to dallying in the dirt. And you can bet all their rally-winning ways were built into the 790 Adventure R, together with a toothy wedge of sand-encrusted smugness. Race on Sunday to Saturday, repeat for another week, sell on Monday. It’s the KTM way.

The middle ground of the adventure market has the hottest property right now, with brand-new metal from KTM, BMW, Triumph and Yamaha in the line-up of adventurers with enhanced off-road ability. This is great news for ride-far-and-wide freaks, because at last we are seeing a flood of bikes to occupy the space between too-big-for-the-bush 1200s, and the trusty but tired old big-bore singles; the underdeveloped mainstay of many true blue bush adventurers for decades. With both Suzuki’s venerable DR650 and Kawasaki’s KLR650 in the top 10 for overall sales in Oz in 2018, there’s certainly still a thirst for the low-tech, low-cost option, and there’s no doubt that big-capacity adventure bikes remain a big draw for both blacktop tourers and the more adventurous.

But, flagman my words, things are about to change, and mid-capacity multis are where it’s at.

Europeans are accustomed to big adventure bikes being by far the most common motorcycle on the motorways. But here in Australia, I do wonder what percentage of them are on their way down to the Olde Bull and Bush, as opposed to on their way to tackle bulldust in the bush. Thankfully, KTM accommodate both choices.

The standard 790 Adventure model is targeting the adventure traveller with less experience, shorter legs, or  just less off-road riding on their agenda. The R-model, on the other hand, just wants to be the most off-road capable adventure bike on the market.

Read the full test in the current issue of AMCN (Vol 68 No 19) on sale now