When we started our trip in early April, our bikes were hardly in the showrooms yet. We were among the first ones to get them and among the very first ones to get to ride them around (half of) the world. All new bikes - a bit of a risk when taking a long trip through some of the most remote areas on earth?

This was in March: We got the brand new KTM 1090 Adventure R (left) and the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R from Christoph and Marco of GST-Berlin.

This was in March: We got the brand new KTM 1090 Adventure R (left) and the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R from Christoph and Marco of GST-Berlin.

The Challenge

We took the bikes through everything you can imagine: extreme heat and freezing cold, on-road from Autobahn to pothole-slalom, off-road over washboard roads, rocks and gravel, through mud and sand. The bikes saw a lot of dust and a little bit of rain. Good and bad and very bad fuel. 30.000 kilometers from Berlin to Japan.

Scene from Mongolia. You don't necessarily want to get stuck here.

Scene from Mongolia. You don't necessarily want to get stuck here.

Especially the Pamir region, Mongolia and the Road of Bones in Eastern Siberia were tough on the bikes. And we dropped them approximately fifteen times, mostly standing or at low speed off-road, but also twice at higher speeds. A tough test for any bike. So, how did they do? 

Reliability

Most importantly: We did not have a single real issue. Nothing ever stopped us from traveling on. That's pretty impressive and not understood - we met quite some motorcycle-travelers waiting for parts to be shipped from Europe or Japan. Our complete list of minor issues carries exactly one item: fork oil dripping out of the 1290 after 23k kilometers overall and a week of riding in Mongolian sand. That was it.

After fitting the new fork seals on the 1290 we had the black and yellow Acerbis-socks installed. Recommended for long rides in dusty areas.

After fitting the new fork seals on the 1290 we had the black and yellow Acerbis-socks installed. Recommended for long rides in dusty areas.

Maintenance and Support 

Beyond regular maintenance we had to spend hardly any time or money on keeping the bikes running. Chain lube after every day of riding, the regular 15.000km-service and tire changes, that was it. 

With the crew at KTM Teheran

With the crew at KTM Teheran

On our way, we visited three KTM-dealers: Changed tires in Teheran/Iran, had the service done in Almaty/Kazakhstan and had the shaft seals renewed in Ulan-Bataar/Mongolia. All of them were highly competent and very helpful, offering us support on the road as well. We didn't need any spare parts, but it is a good feeling that there is someone relatively close who would be ready to help.

Thies about his KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

Among adventure bikes the 1290 is unique: no other has its enormous power and carries all the technology available today. With a styling more inspired by off-road racing than by on-road traveling it is also a true eye-catcher. In what follows I won't go through all the technical details, but rather talk about what it's like to travel with this bike.

First of all, choosing the R-Version of this bike has been an obvious and very important choice. 21"-front wheels, tires like the Continental TKC 80 and additional suspension make riding on bad roads and off-road much easier, more comfortable and safer.

The more difficult the road gets the greater the advantage of large wheels, off-road tires and good suspension. Taldyk-Pass in Kyrgyzstan.

The more difficult the road gets the greater the advantage of large wheels, off-road tires and good suspension. Taldyk-Pass in Kyrgyzstan.

Obviously, the 1290's power and torque is more than enough for traveling. It makes this bike a great solution for many other purposes as well. You'll never be last to arrive and you'll always carry that smile on your face. At the same time this power is always easily controlled. This is due to its state-of-the-art anti-lock brakes (combined, cornering) and the traction control. Both can be adapted to the prevailing road conditions. There are special modes for street, sport, rain and off-road. For purists: one way or the other, all these systems can be turned off completely.

Introducing the 1290's state-of-the-art cockpit.

Introducing the 1290's state-of-the-art cockpit.

The tablet-style dashboard of this bike is really spectacular. It is always very well readable, even in brightest sunshine and you can adapt the displayed information to your preferences. Triggered quite some oohs and aahs, too.

What I really enjoyed was the keyless-ride feature. Traveling is already a lot about opening, closing, finding, searching and losing stuff. Not having to worry about your motorcycle key is highly welcome.

No more hassle with lost keys, simply carry it on you - and attach the lucky charms friends gave you! Thanks everyone, they did a great job!

No more hassle with lost keys, simply carry it on you - and attach the lucky charms friends gave you! Thanks everyone, they did a great job!

Momme about his KTM 1090 Adventure R

The KTM 1090 Adventure R has a lot in common with the 1290, so much of what Thies has written above applies to the 1090 as well. One difference is that it does have a little bit less power. But 125hp is still more than enough and while traveling and off-road the difference between the two bikes doesn't make itself felt.

Roads like this one in Siberia call for control just as much as for power.

Roads like this one in Siberia call for control just as much as for power.

What makes itself felt is the difference in weight, though. At 207kg dry weight it is 10kg lighter than the 1290. Especially when riding under difficult conditions (rocks, mud, deep sand) a lighter bike is an advantage. A related issue is seat height, which is 890mm for both bikes. At 1,80cm I gained stability and confidence when I got a lower seat. 

Lower seat available from Touratech.

Lower seat available from Touratech.

The 1090 was also my first bike with grip heaters. I would not do without any more. On a long trip like ours this feature will from time to time make a difference between enjoying and struggling. 

We had a bad-fuel-dongle installed, which is highly recommended for traveling many countries in Asia, Africa and Central America. Thanks to that we had no problems with a knocking engine whatsoever, even with the Uzbek 80-octane-fuel sold in plastic bottles.

From time to time we couldn't help but think that this might very well be the last gas this motor could be burning. But everything turned out to be fine.

From time to time we couldn't help but think that this might very well be the last gas this motor could be burning. But everything turned out to be fine.

To sum up

KTM claims their bikes are ready to race. From our experience they are also definitely ready to travel the world: Not to mention the great fun we had riding them!

Great bikes, happy people.

Great bikes, happy people.

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