1st Impression Visually of the new KTM 1190 R

Maybe it’s a grrl thing but when we buy bikes we have to really love them visually as well as mechanically.  On Saturday, Jan. 4th, 2014 I was heading out for a haircut and decided to stop at our local shop to take a look at the new KTM 1190 in person.  When KTM revealed this bike I thought to myself “OMG, what a sexy looking ADV bike”.  Immediately I was drawn to the new look, the lines and even the KTM colours.


Having said that, seeing the bike in person,,,well???? Just did not do much for me for some reason and I was very surprised that I felt this way.  On the other hand if KTM wanted to loan us two of these for a grrls ADV ride I would of course never say no.  I did not test ride it.  Was not even planning on stopping at this local dealer and the only reason I did this day was because my haircut was delayed.  


So, what did I not LOVE?  Not sure.  It’s a subjective thing and at times hard to described.  I sat on them, the two versions..street and DS and I have to admit the seat height even with the seat on low was very high.  Higher than my ’13 BMW F800GS.  I have to fill you in a bit with the sales guy at this local dealership.  He is an older man, been selling Kawasaki and KTM’s, ATV’s etc for years there.  He does not know my name but he knows me and every time I walk in their door he tries so hard to be helpful but I find him to be an arrogant prick to be honest.

I love the guys in the back but this old man is the one you meet and seems to be the only sales guys you could buy from.  Hence, I would never buy here and I think the old man knows that.  I like to look at new models no matter where the dealer is located, but for this one local shop they would never get my business because this guy seems to like to tell me every time how much he knows about his bikes.

I have a question to throw out there….and please someone comment.  This guy says to me after I sit on the 1190 and I comment “WOW, that seat height is high isn’t it?”  He responds, “Oh, after you ride this bike for a while and all the seals get broken in the bike will settle down at least 1 1/2 inches.”  Really? I said.  I have not noticed an inch and half drop on my BMW F800GS and I have 11,000 KM’s on it.  He said, “Oh yeah, go measure your seat you are probably at least an inch closer to the ground than when you bought the bike.”  Now, I did not measure my seat height after I got home but I can tell you my bike has not sagged over an inch and I do not believe I have ever heard this philosophy from anywhere or anyone on the NET.  So, my question is this…has anyone ever had an ADV bike drop in height due to wear and tear?


Anyway, back to the bike and my visual inspection.  I would need handle bar risers as I always do on these bikes.  I felt like I was leaning forward quit a bit and the stock set up made me reach too far.  On the ADV version the shield is smaller than the non ADV version.  The KTM crash bars are attached by brackets, not a solid one piece soldered.  I was a little surprised by the set up.  Seems you have a lower bar simply attached to the frame of the bike by clamps & screws.  I am sure there is integrity here but never noticed that the stock OEM crash bars were just an add on. 


One more thing about the sales guy here.  While he was telling me all accessories on this bike I was looking at were made by KTM I said not the panniers.  They are Touratech with a KTM decal on them and he again had to correct me by saying no they are KTM stock.  No worries, I clearly can tell a TT bag especially when the panniers have the TT name embedded on the sides on this bike.  I guess I have a personality clash with this guy that he feels the need to correct everything I say.


The seat height.  890 mm unloaded = 35 inches.  Not sure what the low setting height is exactly but maybe an inch lower?  Still very high for me having only a 30.5 inch in seam.  I thought my F8 was high but this bike beats it.  The demo bike seen here


Had the seat on high and I could not even get a foot down.  I sat on it with the kick stand down.  The bike felt top-heavy but I am so used to the Beemer with the tank below the seat.  Seat pushes your legs out making me feel even shorter.  That could be resolved with having the stock seat sides shaved a bit.  Simple cock pit but just enough info at your finger tips.


Why do all bikes seem to come with a huge can as stock?



The bike comes equipped for the first time with Bosch’s new MSC: Motorcycle Stability Control. MSC enhances the existing package consisting of lean-sensitive traction control and ABS featuring a combined braking function with a world first: the first ever lean-sensitive cornering ABS. Sounds good to me even though I am not sure what this means.  😉  Not the most technically knowledgeable rider I have to admit. 


Above is the Roadie version.  I know this is going to sound superficial but I really do not like the BIG Ass KTM decals on the tank.  Look cheesy.  I feel that way about Kawasaki motorcycles.  I hate their decals.  Again, subjective and would be silly if I choose not to buy a bike because of the decals but again eye appeal sometime makes a deal. 😉


KTM uses the same brakes as BMW.  On the KTM roadie the front tire looks so small, like the larger front tire on the ADV version.  Overall though, visually the BMW 1200 appeals more to me and I look forward to taking both out for a test ride.  Not to buy but for fun and research.  We love our F800’s and they are just over a year new.  If we were in the market though I am not sure what our next bike would be.  That would be decided at the time of course.  Here is a side by side of the two BIG bikes that I can’t wait to see who “wins” the battle.  Who knows perhaps the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 might be the BIG contender and surprise for the year. 

1200 Compare

1200 side

In the end, it does not matter what I think about any bike but I am a consumer and even though I did not ride the new KTM, a visual inspection is always where my first impressions are formed to get me to want to ride a bike.  In this case, the visual was not a bad impression and I am curious about the handling and ride.  I know with today’s technology both the BMW and KTM will be awesome bikes to ride and will make many many riders very happy.



Design 2-cylinder, 4-stroke, spark-ignition engine, 75° V arrangement, liquid-cooled
Displacement 1,195 cm³
Bore 105 mm
Stroke 69 mm
Performance 110 kW (148 hp)
Starting aid Electric starter
Transmission 6-speed, claw shifted
Engine lubrication Forced oil lubrication with 3 rotor pumps
Primary gear ratio 40:76
Secondary gear ratio 17:42
Cooling system Liquid cooling system, continuous circulation of cooling liquid with water pump
Clutch PASC™ anti-hopping clutch/ hydraulically operated
Ignition system Contactless, controlled, fully electronic ignition system with digital ignition timing adjustment


Frame Tubular space frame made from chrome molybdenum steel, powder-coated
Forks WP Suspension Up Side Down
Shock absorber WP Suspension monoshock
Suspension travel Front 220 mm
Suspension travel Rear 220 mm
Brake system Front 2 x Brembo radially mounted four-piston brake calipers
Brake system Rear Brembo fixed mounted two-piston brake calipers
Brake system Bosch 9ME Combined-ABS
Brake discs – diameter Front 320 mm
Brake discs – diameter Rear 267 mm
Chain 5/8 x 5/16” X‑Ring
Steering head angle 64°
Wheel base 1,580 mm
Ground clearance (unloaded) 250 mm
Seat height (unloaded) 890 mm
Total fuel tank capacity approx. 23 l
Unleaded premium fuel (95 RON)
Weight without fuel approx. 217 kg

Author: advgrrl

Avid ADV rider! This Blog is all about the adventure in adventure riding. Researching new bikes, routes, accessories, learning about other riders and hopefully a great place for others to comment and explore with me. PLUS, up and down's, wildlife, my dogs, my life!

14 thoughts on “1st Impression Visually of the new KTM 1190 R”

  1. The guy sounds like he had a career in selling used cars before selling motorcycles. Seems to me this guy thinks women he can say anything to a woman and she won’t know it’s just BS. I would clash with this guy also. Having a daughter makes me appreciate a salesman or dealer that doesn’t talk down to her.

    About the KTM. I’ve owned many KTM off-road motorcycles and think they are one of the best bikes out there for off road riding, with that being said I have never warmed up to their adventure bikes. Part of it is the styling and the fact is has a higher center of gravity than my F8.

    1. I do believe most sales dudes don;t take women seriously on an ADV bike. However, I bet if I was in the market for a sport bike he might even tell me the truth. LOL

  2. None of the bikes I’ve owned have sagged over time either… my seats have become slightly softer over time but my legs nevertheless still barely reach the ground after 20,000km on my F800GS!

    Although I’ve never met said salesman, he sounds rather abrasive and, while he may be fairly knowledgeable and experienced, it sounds as though he is trying hard to ensure he has an answer for everything. The KTM alu panniers *are* TT Zega Pros – as you mentioned they even have the TT embossing still on them! They may have come from KTM’s own catalogue but, come on, let’s not split hairs! Hearing a customer is not ‘listening’ to a customer. I had someone with similar personality type at a tyre shop who left my bike in an unsafe state after giving me attitude (google “a tyre-ing ordeal” if you’re bored sometime).

    A bit of trivia – the BMW alu panniers (which are embossed with the BMW logo) are also made by TT for BMW (discreet TT sticker inside), but in this case the product is unique for BMW. Interestingly they cost less than TT’s branded equivalent.

    Regarding KTM’s stickers and crash bars – KTM is primarily/historially a company which makes trial/enduro dirt bikes and the stickers are a stylistic nod to the sponsorship stickers/logos plastered on competition machines… nothing that can’t be sorted with a hair dryer ;)… the clamping approach to mounting crash bars makes it quick/easy to swap out the parts if damaged, and also ensures this is the weakest point so the bars will bend/break at this point before causing damage the frame itself. It’s my opinion that this is a smarter solution than BMW and others where the mounting points are so rigid to the engine and/or frame that in certain types of crashes you can cause very costly damage to the bike.

    As much as I like the 1190 and take forums with a grain of salt, I can’t ignore *just* how many issues are being reported on this model on ADVrider, whereas the 2013+ R1200GS ‘problems’ thread has become virtually stagnant following a few reports of dodgy switches and too-soft rear brake pads in early builds, and a handful of other random one-off issues…

    But, about the ‘grain of salt’ thing – if I’d read the ‘problems’ threads for the F800GS, I probably would have been frightened off this bike as well, and mine has had Japanese levels of reliability/build quality.

  3. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the reason the “can” is soo big is because this is not only a muffler but a catalytic converter. Kinda ugly, I think…

    1. The catalytic converter is integrated into the headers on this model (and indeed on most motorcycles, as they require very high heat to function optimally).

      The main reason the muffler/silencer is so large on large capacity 2-cylinder bikes is to meet EU/ECE noise regulations (≤74dB while moving at 7.5m from the microphone), usually alongside a mechanical exhaust flap which closes to quieten the bike further at light engine loads and opens at high engine loads to increase torque. These engines have cylinders larger than most cars which make a lot of noise exploding such a large volume of air, and need more space for baffles to reduce the sound.

      Many respectable organisations feel this regulation is rubbish because it doesn’t reflect real world situations. In practice, poor road surfaces in combination with partially worn tyres generates as much or more noise than the engine/exhaust at a constant speed. But more relevant is that the manufacturers use the same muffler/silencers worldwide which means everyone is subjected to this outmoded regulation.

  4. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover-I think the Tiger Explorer 1200 in olive drab matte green is the most fugly ugly bike ever made. Looks like someone threw up lunch on it. Well, I got talked into a test ride. Mmmmm, one sitting in the driveway now. One little drive-ZOMGWTF what a bike. I have still not had the gonads to wind out 3rd gear yet. It’s like a jet turbine engine. So smooth and handles like a dream. I went with the low seat and can flat foot. No, your bike will not settle over time. The seat will mold to your posterior but the only way to lower a bike properly is with the seat. IMHO do not f@uc& with the suspension ever. It’s been designed by folks much smarter than any of us.

    I just pulled the seat on my Tiger and then built it up with bath towels to find out how the different seat heights would be-found an inch lower really made my day and lo and behold Triumph makes a 30cm lower seat.

    As for forums-only a small minority of members post at all and of that number only the ones that are problem ridden vent. I would never buy any bike after reading any forum. I know all about the engine noises with the Tiger-I’ll be pissed if I stop hearing noise.

    The KTM is ugly, The S10 is ugly, GS is ugly-its function that makes them beautiful.

    Same ugly huge can on the Tiger as well. It makes it for me the quietest bike I have ever ridden.

    So Adv Grrls-if you can fit aboard please ride the KTM. I’m too old to care how I look to other people and have learned to judge people and things on how they act, think, love and behave toward me.
    Perhaps if the frame were black or grey? How about if the large decals were peace signs or save the whales. You could also just paint them over quickly. Yes I want to hear how you think this over weight dirt bike handles and brakes. How is that whiz bang ABS that works in corners. What about it’s dirt off road potential.

    This is the shallowest post I have seen who I consider one of the best sources about ADV bikes around. I hate to say it buy now your thinking like a girl not a grrl. Put on your helmet and ride the damn thing. You can’t see the bike when your aboard.

    Lastly your sales guy is an ASSHOLE.

    1. Great reply and the post was meant to be shallow. We are not in the market I just like to see and at times ride the newbie on the block.

      As for the Tiger? We rode the 800XC and the Explorer. Both smooth bikes but we felt the Explorer to be more of a Tiger on steroids and did not impress us that much.

      Sent from my iPhone


    2. An asterisk about lowering suspensions… factory lowered options such as what BMW do are the exception and use different components than the standard versions to ensure correct (ie safe) geometry.

  5. Wow, 11/2 inches – that must be ‘guy’ measurements. I’ve done more than 30,000kms on my vstrom and I cannot notice any sag. Clearly I’m not fussed about looks – I bought a vstrom! I find if I don’t look at it as I’m walking towards it and then just get on, I don’t have to see how ugly it is 😉

    In all seriousness though, I bought my current bike because of the price. I couldn’t justify $20,000 (in Aus) on an adventure bike when I wasn’t sure how I’d go on it. Funnily enough, the bike is just great on the road, really easy to do 6-7 hour days on it with no trouble. It’s a pig in the dirt though. I know knobbies would fix that to some degree but then it’s a tradeoff on the bitumen…

    Anyway, I’m with you. Something’s got to grab your eye – and honestly I can’t imagine men are much different – they’re such visual creatures ;-). I’m doing my last 3000kms on my strom next weekend as I’m off to buy a tiger. It will be so nice to be able to look at my bike again…

  6. If you ever watched “Are You Being Served,” you might recall the line, “They’ll ride up (or down – as necessary to make the sale) with wear.” That was a situation comedy set in a department store and the line usually referred to clothing, but it was a favorite of the writers.

  7. Meghan said:
    Funnily enough, the bike is just great on the road, really easy to do 6-7 hour days on it with no trouble. It’s a pig in the dirt though. I know knobbies would fix that to some degree but then it’s a tradeoff on the bitumen…

    I was (is this the proper Oz word) gobsmacked by the ON road capabilities of the whole “OFF” road dual sport bikes.

    Like Advgrrls the though of me ever riding or owning one was remote. I was in the local Beemer shop looking for a low bike for my wife and just for the first time sat on a R1200GS-the sneaky sales person talked me into a test ride. I was amazed how much fun it was on road. Also rode the R1200….but I had off road dreams at this point.

    Yep-I was brainwashed. A bike to be beautiful had to look like a Harley-the airbrushed centerfold of your youth. The gleaming loud vee twin. Us Americans are brainwashed as to what a beauty should be in bikes.

    I’m real happy now with my Tiger and am going to switch to 100% on road tires as soon as these extra noisy Tourance EXP’s wear out (I hope soon). It’s like LOWERED Tiger on 2 doses of steroids. Actually the only thing my Tiger will not do well is go off road. Sort of funny to have purchased it as a mile eater but the beauty is in the 60 mpg and ergonomic comfort for me.

    Also consider that the closest BMW dealer is over 200 miles away and the Triumph dealer is 12 miles made it a hard choice as I did really love the boxer engine having owned a few airheads.

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