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KTM 990 Adventure 2009 - Our long-term toy


by Marc Cantin ,

2009 KTM 990 Adventure Long-Term 1
2009 KTM 990 Adventure Long-Term 2

I just picked up a 2009 KTM 990 Adventure, that truly dual purpose machine made by a bunch of Austrian fanatics. We will be using the bike as a daily driver, as well as take off for various trips and report on the bike's and our behaviour in the coming months.

The Adventure model first hit the European market as the 950, with a smaller version of the ubiquitous LC8 V-Twin, still today one of the most compact engine of that size on the market. These first machines were more dirt- than street- oriented, with a narrow seat more akin to an Enduro machine, and simple carburetors that could be "adjusted" to provide better throttle response than the stock, flattish but legal setting that came from the factory. The 950 did prove its mettle with wins at the Paris Dakar in the early 2000s before the team switched to the better suited single cylinder models for these crazy races and has been undefeated since then in that toughest race of all.

By 2006, the 990 Adventure had arrived, complete with electronic fuel injection to draw the maximum torque and driveability from the bigger engine, a wider seat as well as softer ergonomics, moving the bike a little closer to street riding while keeping it's dirt creds intact. The 2009 model we are riding now has gained yet again in smoothness and sophistication, while still maintaining it's off-road prowess.

2009 KTM 990 Adventure - pretty in orange and black, but striking in white

What do you do with a bike that is equally at home on pavement as on dirt? You find the right roads and go for it over the summer months. As lead rooster, I get first dibs on the bike and will visit Cape Breton at the end of June, planning a route that will mix paved with dirt roads, something we have plenty of in rural Quebec. Luc Brière, a real off-road nutter, is planning a dip in James Bay, using all dirt roads on his way to the Tundra from Montreal, while I also plan on a long loop across North-Eastern Quebec, either the Abitibi or Labrador, but staying below the tree line and away from the really mean bugs farther North.

We are also planning to run an all dirt road loop from Montreal to the Vermont-Mass border, for our Pascal Bastien, who has also mentioned his favourite dirt road across the Papineau - Labelle Quebec provincial park.

We will also ride the 990 extensively on the street, and run a comparo with similar larger hybrids such as the BMW R1200GS, Honda Varadero, Triumph Tiger, Suzuki V-Strom or Buell Ulysses. I would also like see how the Adventure measures up over long distances on the road, such as a mostly pavement run to the Washington DC area. These are the best plans of mice and men, and may change given the advancing age of our testers - I am keeping my fingers crossed!

And finally, I will be attending the Ertzberg off-road Super Enduro torture event in Austria in early June, and will get to ride an Adventure as well as an SM in the Styrian Alps, so stand by for the lowdown on the Adventure in the coming months, and the SM during my trip (More on this later!).

Photo Credit : Philippe Champoux, Matthieu Lambert