Do we need more Big bikes or smaller/lighter ADV DS tourers?

2015 KTM 1290 Super Adventure | FIRST LOOK

KTM confirms that they will add 1290 power to its Adventure lineup for the 2015 model year.

  • KTM has confirmed rumors that it will repurpose its stunning, 1,301cc Super Duke R powerplant for a new adventure touring machine, dubbed the “1290 Super Adventure.” Good news for anyone not satisfied with the current 1190’s straight-line performance, and likely bad news for every other manufacturer. This new ADV will combine the already successful 1190 Adventure platform with the V-twin from its flagship naked bike, and according to KTM will add a list of unique new features.

    Want to see our latest ADV action feature? CLICK HERE for our August issue cover story “Down & Dirty” and see how the 1190 Adventure R fared in our 2014 off-road MC Comparo.

    We anticipate an updated suite of electronics, including traction control, KTM’s lean-angle ABS, and electronically adjustable suspension. Word is the Super Adventure will share space in the stable with the current 1190 Adventure and 1190 Adventure R, at least initially. Expect the 1290 Super Adventure to make a public appearance at the Intermot motorcycle show in Cologne in early October, and land on US shores sometime in early 2015.

    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!

    23 thoughts on “Do we need more Big bikes or smaller/lighter ADV DS tourers?”

    1. Taken me fourty years of riding to figure out big bikes are not necessarily the best for adventure riding. Small bikes cost peanuts to buy, run and fix. You can easily lift a little bike onto a van or train if things go wrong. You see much more as you go more slowly, they’re easy to pick up and if the worst happens, cheap enough to leave behind. They don’t give out the wrong messages about being rich, in fact, people come and talk to you more….
      Is it just me having this revelation?

      1. I need a bike though that can handle gear. When you travel long distance or even over a weekend the bike needs luggage and have enough power to take me where I’m going. Small bikes are great unloaded but not comfy for touring IMHO

    2. I need a big bike for hauling big loads and passenger on the interstate
      The Tiger 800 and GS 800 are too tall for me.. We need LOWER LIGHTER BIKES

    3. 650cc seems to be pretty good overall even though long distance travelers have done well with 250-400cc motor

    4. This new KTM sounds like it will be a phenomenal bike, following in the footsteps of the much-acclaimed 1190 Adventure. For me personally though, this is just TOO MUCH bike, and I think a significant segment of ADV enthusiasts feel the same way. Too expensive, too high, too heavy, too powerful.

      I hope that manufacturers put more thought and effort into designing mid-size ADV bikes, like the Suzuki Vstrom 650 (which I own), Triumph Tiger 800, BMW 800 GS, Kawasaki KLR 650…(Yamaha? Hello???)

      These smaller bikes have more than enough power for highway cruising while loaded up with gear, and are much more agile off-road, a bonus for novice ADV riders.

      Just my $0.02 🙂

    5. I am torn on this topic. I ride a 1200 GS, but do not go hard off road. I have, but it’s just too much bike for me on hardcore trails. It handles beautifully on forest roads, and I am happy with that. Like Leslie, I need the power and space to travel longer distances and am willing to give up some dirt-worthiness.

    6. More at the smaller, lighter end. Even my 30+ year old bike with 60hp is more than adequate to carry a full touring load much faster than needed. I don’t see how to easily justify more unless you are two up besides saying you want it….

      Anything more than something like your F8 would too heavy for anything than a dirt/gravel road. Too much technology on modern DS bikes. It may make it a little safer but also makes them more fragile.

    7. I’m in the market for a light ADV bike. I’m 5’4″ so a lot of them are too tall for me. I’m looking at the F700GS and G650GS. I want it to be an occasional trail bike but mostly long distance street riding. I’m finding that bikes with a lower seat option are really hard to find. Not fair!

      1. F700GS with a low seat should make you feel confident…my in seam is only 30.5 but I comfy om the stock suspension of the F8 with a low seat.

    8. I would love to take this for a test ride, just for the experience, but it’s too much for me. After running my R1200GS at 190km/h on the autobahn (a speed it can reach in around 12 seconds from a standstill, 2-up and fully loaded) I’m not sure I’m wanting for more power. Even my fully loaded F800GS can do 160km/h in its sleep and without cracking a sweat (for riders or bike).

      The other issue is that with the power this KTM develops, the only time it’s useful is at speeds I can’t ride in this country (and it’s not worth it *just* for my annual pilgrimage to Germany) – at anything lower, cranking the throttle would result in the front wheel coming up and the traction control rudely intervening.

      An Austrian magazine did acceleration tests of the naked KTM 1290 Super Duke (with the same engine), clocking 0-100 in between 4 and 5 seconds because the rider couldn’t keep the front end on the ground. Video at

      It was shown up by the enormous, heavy and much less powerful new R1200GS Adventure by nearly a full second! Video at

      Obviously 0-200 between these two bikes would be a completely different matter, but it’s not often most people can do these sorts of speed which makes it a moot point.

      Off road or in the rain you’d no doubt need to be in a reduced power mode of some sort… and I’d be interested to see someone handle full power on this bike with knobbly tyres…

      But, there’s another point of view as well – with all that power in reserve, the KTM would undoubtedly be an extraordinarily relaxed bike when ridden normally/nicely over long distances. It would devour any hills you could throw at it with no effort at all. But then again, the regular 1190 version (or the BMW 1200) does so already…

      So that leaves status… who has the fastest/most powerful adventure bike… Starbucks debate, perhaps?

      KTM really needs to revisit their middle-weight adventure bikes – they used to have 600cc adventure bikes but they have now migrated this class to naked, supermoto and dirt bikes exclusively.

      Rumour has it BMW is soon to release some interesting bikes – a sort-of GS type bike based on the S1000R/RR and a small capacity (4-500cc??) range. As several people above have mentioned, the latter would seem to be very welcomed in the marketplace. If a weighted down F800GS can achieve 60mpg on a long journey, imagine what BMW can do for economy/range with a 4-500cc bike…

    9. Hmmm, a conundrum? My 800GS has proven to be plenty powerful for my needs, on and off road, even when burdened with gear. Yet, more times than I like to admit, it has also proven to be PLENTY to lift from a gone-down position, especially after I’ve exhausted myself climbing a treacherous pass or hogging through sand. For adventure riding, I wouldn’t need a more powerful machine, and I certainly wouldn’t want anything heavier.

    10. I have no problem with bigger bikes. Frankly my Super Tenere is better at most everything than my heavily moded DR650 was. That isn’t saying too much considering the decades between design dates on the bikes. I even raised my eyebrows on the BMW superbike based ADV (light) tourer coming out. 190hp may be too much but I am game to try. Really I am open to all options. Just read about a Honda Grom going to Alaska, why not. I think there are some great bikes in the >800 or <250cc markets but the area in the middle has the most potential and all the current offerings are significantly or severely dated. The KTM 690 and 650 V-Strom are really the only modern bikes with the demise of the Husky. Where are the "Big 4"? I would love a mini Tenere based off a WR450, or a CRF 450 Transalp. I see lots of great entry and middle weight bikes out there but few ADV Tourers.

    11. For the normal person the 800’s would seem to be ideal for ADV setup. As far as larger ADV bikes, first you have to look at why they produce and why these bikes sale. These bikes are for the enthusiast who wants the bike to be more than an ADV bike. They can only have one bike and they want it all. Sport bike, tourer and dual sport. I am 6′-5 1/2″ 290 lbs. For me the 800’s are to small except for the Triumph which had a fairly large frame. It came down to the Triumph or the KTM 1190 R. Mind you I came of a Kawasaki C14 so I was a sport tourer, but he older I got the Connie was just to painful. So I wanted to get into ADV Touring and I wanted a bike that was capable in all uses. In the end I broke down and got the KTM Adventurer 1190 R. Yes it is tall. Yes it I heavy 515 wet for and ADV bike. Of course this is relative to the Connie which tipped around 670 lbs. Bottom line is I it does everything well. Very well. That’s why it won Motorcycle Mags 2014 best all around bike. So while I am happy with the 1190 and I don’t plan on giving her up. If it was next year and I was in the market I would duel over the 1290. I test drove a 1290 Super Duke and the motor is absolutely off the chart. Awesome. Even today here on the East Coast, West Coast dealers and individuals are scowering the Eastern coast KTM dealers for unsold 1190’s paying premiums and shipping them out West. So the demand is there and they are awesome bikes. There are only two drawbacks for me as far as the 1190 is concerned. Heat at he seat in hot weather, and being as big as I am the front springs are way to soft. The only way to overcome this is to dail the dampening both rebound and compression way up. Why makes the front end way to hard for offroad work. At some point I’ll have the springs and valves redone. Other than that it is an absolutely awesome bike.

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