[New Arrivals]

KTM’s Adventure Models: A Short History

2 years ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: Marco Campelli, Sebas Romero

So you’ve caught our initial video feedback about KTM’s landmark new Adventure models – the 790 Adventure and 790 Adventure R – after we first sampled the machines at the international media launch in Morocco three weeks ago, but you’re still wondering exactly how these new mid-capacity models fit into KTM’s lineage of ‘Travel Enduro’ bikes, right? And when did the “Adventure” model moniker actually begin for KTM as a brand?
Well, the release of the KTM 620 Adventure in 1997 effectively launched the Travel Enduro story for KTM. So let’s track the evolution of KTM’s Adventure models since that time…

1997: 620 ADVENTURE

In terms of the name, the release of the KTM 620 Adventure in 1997 was the model that started the Travel Enduro story for KTM. Derived from enduro and inspired by rally, the LC4 single-cylinder engine machine looked a close match for its Dakar stage-winning stablemate. A competition-developed chassis loaded with high-end components provided pure off-road ability mixed with distance capability, thanks to a large fuel tank and reinforced subframe for fixing cases to carry much more than the essentials. Completing the authentic ‘rally-bike’ feel, it featured two programmable tripmasters and a roadbook holder was available on request, as well as a remote control for the instrument cluster and a GPS connection.

1998 – 2007: 640 ADVENTURE

After just a year, a raft of changes saw the model become the KTM 640 Adventure with a capacity rise from 609cc to 625cc and with the main visual difference being the removal of the twin, low-slung exhausts. They were re-homed neatly under the seat for better ground clearance. The model remained in production for 10 years, bowing out in 2007.

2003 – 2006: 950 ADVENTURE

The next landmark moment for KTM’s Adventure range was once again forged from proven competition performance in the world’s toughest race. KTM’s first twin-cylinder engine – the powerhouse LC8 75-degree V-twin – propelled the KTM 950 Rally to Dakar success in 2002, raced by the late Fabrizio Meoni. The following year, using 75% of the same parts, the KTM 950 Adventure and higher-seated KTM 950 Adventure S were introduced for customers.

2006 – 2012: 990 ADVENTURE

After four years of production, 2006 saw the introduction of the KTM 990 Adventure with many revisions, including a capacity rise to 999cc and fuel injection. Over its seven-year production run, the ‘S’, ‘R’ and special-edition ‘Dakar’ models were also offered with differing seat heights, components and power levels. The 990 was also the first KTM to feature ABS.

2013 – 2016: 1190 ADVENTURE & 1190 ADVENTURE R

The arrival of the KTM 1190 Adventure and KTM 1190 Adventure R in 2013 heralded a new era of technology and versatility for KTM in the Travel Enduro segment. Sophisticated electronics – married to improved ergonomics and a radically more powerful LC8 engine – introduced more riders than ever to KTM’s unique approach to adventure riding, on and off-road. Just a year later, included on these bikes was ‘Cornering ABS’ – and according to KTM, “The premier of this system created a major milestone in motorcycle safety”.

2015 – 2017: 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE

Adventure went ‘super’ in 2015 with the addition of the KTM 1290 Super Adventure, later becoming the ‘T’ in 2017. This model boasted an incredible 160hp from its bigger 1301cc engine, a huge 30-litre fuel tank, and provided the debut of many new electronic rider aids – including cornering lights, cruise control, motor slip regulation (MSR), hill hold control (HHC), automatic indicator turn reset (ATIR) and semi-active suspension.

2015 – 2016: KTM 1050 ADVENTURE

Joining the same year was the KTM 1050 Adventure, providing 95hp of pure, undiluted Travel Enduro fun in a versatile and agile chassis. This 1050, however, had limited appeal to the (off-road-centric) Australian market, because it was not available in a version with spoked rims.

2017: 1290 ADVENTURE S & 1290 ADVENTURE R

The year 2017 saw the introduction of four new models to the range, led by the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S and KTM 1290 Super Adventure R. These took the best of KTM’s electronic developments, adding a TFT display, Quickshifter+, full LED headlight with integrated cornering function and the option of the KTM My Ride system – providing smart phone connectivity for call handling, music playing and turn-by-turn satellite navigation.

2017: 1090 ADVENTURE R

The same year, off-road adventure riding went to new extremes with the arrival of the KTM 1090 Adventure R – a bike that could create its own path with the willingness of its rider.

2017 – 2018: 1090 ADVENTURE

Joining them was the KTM 1090 Adventure to satisfy more street-biased riders, offering a power output of 125hp matched to sophisticated electronics and a capable chassis.



The creation of the compact LC8c 799cc parallel twin-cylinder engine offered KTM engineers a blank canvas to create an all-new chapter in KTM Adventure history, beginning in 2019…


Following their official unveiling at Milan’s EICMA show last November, both 790 Adventure models are scheduled to arrive in Australia in June, 2019. KTM Australia has confirmed that the 790 Adventure R comes with a $22,695 (Ride Away) price tag, while 790 Adventure will retail at $21,195 (Ride Away).
How do those prices compare with the rest of KTM’s 2019 Adventure Range? Here’s a summary of the recently announced RRPs, all of which are listed as “Ride Away” (in other words, they include on-road costs):

  • 690 Enduro R: $17,595 Ride Away
  • 1090 Adventure R: $24,295 Ride Away
  • 1290 Super Adventure S: $28,395 Ride Away
  • 1290 Super Adventure R: $29,195 Ride Away

Given that there have been significant increases in price in the 1090 and 1290 models since their launch in 2017, KTM’s National Brand Manager, Tam Paul, explained that, “We have been faced with many external pricing pressures in recent years, so the team at KTM Australia has been working hard to minimise the impact to the rider. In review of currency comparisons, we are priced in line with our European counterparts and we believe all models represent exceptional value.”








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