Tag Archives: KTM 390 Adventure

More Adventure Twins for 2020

In last year’s end-of-year preview I wrote ‘… the future looks bright – we’re gonna have twins.’ And twins we got: the long-awaited XT700, Guzzi’s 85TT, a ’19-er’ CB500X, and the KTM 790s. Only the Norton 650s remain stuck in the birth canal while the unplanned Enfield 650 twins popped out later.
It’s time to review what’s new or in store for 2020.

202-drstromSuzuki V-Strom 1050XT
As a travel bike, the one-litre DL dating from 2002 was always overshadowed by the 650. There was nothing wrong with big Strom but the 650 did it all as well for less cost, weight and fuel and, as is often the case, the smaller engine simply felt better.
Now, imitating Honda’s Africa Twin and a few others, Suzuki have clad some 80s-style Dakar livery on the DL thou’ in an attempt to recall Gaston Rahier’s 1988 750 desert racer (below) as well as 202-DR800the not-so-successful DR 800 S Big production bike (left) from the same era. The DR 800 may have failed to catch on (can you imagine the vibration?) but was the first big trail bike (as ‘adventure bikes’ were called back them) to feature the now-iconic beak.
They’re calling the new model the V-Strom 1050 (XT, above left), though capacity is the same 1037cc it’s been since the 2014 makeover. Y202-vstromou can see (below left) that it’s not hugely different in profile to the current DL1000: the motor has been lightly upgraded (mostly for emissions) and which now delivers (less) peak torque at a useful 2000rpm less. The headlamp is Katana-ish (another revived 80s classic) and, just like the new 1100 AT (below), it’s hadronbeen liberally wired up with more electronics than the Hadron Collider: “… the [V-Strom 1050] system incorporates the Motion Track Brake System, Hill Hold Control 202-vstrom1050System, Slope Dependent Control System, Load Dependent Control System, Cruise Control System, Suzuki Drive Mode Selector (SDMS) and a Traction Control System plus a System Control System.” I made the last one up.
The 1050 XT version is spoked tubeless with bashplate, protection and other adv paraphernalia, plus a tool-free adjustable seat and screen, adding up to 246kg. The plain 1050 (above left) currently goes from under £10,000 in the UK and features cast TL wheels, less gear and 10 fewer kilos. Tanks on both are unchanged at 20 litres.
Of course what we’re all actually waiting for is a new,
injected DR650 or DRZ450. Not this time round.


202-nordnHusqvarna Norden 901
Just as the KTM 690 begat a barely different Husky 701, it’s no great surprise to see the 790 or now 890 KTM parallel-twin motor reappearing under a Husqvarna badge (owned by KTM’s CEO).
That’s your Norden (left and below) – only a concept right now but you can see it looks both functional and quite good valvemarker(the two are probably related). Note the virtual sidestand – a first in motorcycling – and what look like nifty fluo tyre valve markers – a smart idea we used to use back in the day (right). Wheels don’t look tubeless but you’d hope they will be, and there’s lots of protection and cladding to keep that motor snug and warm. Feel free to add your own speculations.
Two days later… it’s coming for 2020.

Harley Pan America 1250

202-revmaxIt’s nearly 2020 and Harley have decided it’s high time to clamber aboard the adv bandwagon with the Trail-Glide Pan Am 1250. Details are scant but the ‘new’ DOHC, liquid-cooled Revolution Max engine claims no less than 145hp, putting it up there with Multistradas and the like, but with oddly less torque than a 1250GS. By current H-D standards it’s hard to think it will weigh less, cost less or go anywhere near as well, but the bloke in the vid below seems to manage OK. It all seems a bit incongruous but who knows, stick some deafening pipes on it and it could be a trans-continental hit.

Honda Africa Twin 1100

202-at11Twenty sixteen’s CRF1000L Africa Twin was a deserved hit for Honda, selling nearly 90,000 units and even tempting a few GS12 riders away from their BMWs.
The new CRF1100L gains some capacity to cover power lost to new emissions standards while, like the 1050 Strom, getting a fuller suite of electronic riding aids and modes. I suspect what some might call gimmickry has now become a relatively cheap way to add value and safety claims to a new model. If any of them were serious about such things, TPMS would be a standard fitting, especially on a so-called adventure or travel bike. The new dash is TFT, it’s lighter by 1.5% and the frame is new.
The jacked-up Adventure Sport version gets a 28-litre tank (up from 19), a better screen, protection, electronic suspension, cornering lights, Christmas lights and best of all: tubeless tyres. And like the 1000L, it’s still a great-looking machine and available in have-your-cake DCT.
Stock screen notwithstanding, all this underlines how good the original CRF1000L was all along. Soon after writing this, I bought one. With discounts and so many around, hopefully used prices will put one of the best, big-capacity all-road travel bikes in reach of more riders. Some even hope it may give rise to a smaller 750 AT or – even less likely – an adventured NC750X. Is that the alarm waking me up?


Ducati DesertX 1100

Terruzzi-Cagiva-1989-3The well-sprung 800-ccc Desert Sled is the best of Ducati’s retro Scrambler range, and now the 19-er shod Scrambler 1100 202-scram1100(right) has been thoroughly jazzed up into the Desert X concept based on – you guessed it – Cagiva’s 900cc  Elefant Dakar desert racers of the 80s and 90s (left or click the link for more Elefant porn) ridden by Serge Bacou, among others. Back then iirc, Ducati owned the Cagiva brand. The suspension is yellow, the front’s a 21″ and the tank is said to be a serious 30 litres. Bring it on!


Yamaha Tracer 700

ScramlogoHaving liked my XScrambleR 700, I can’t help thinking the same-engined Tracer could make a faintly better travel tracer700-2020.jpgbike if you don’t want, need, like or can’t afford the XT700. Yes, the front is still a 17 (a 19 can fit, I found) but a Tracer has more weather protection and a 20% bigger tank. I’ve spotted the still pretty fit-looking original model (left), going for just 6000 quid new.
Now there’s a 2020 version with a bold new look, much improved adjustable suspension (the 700 CP2 range’s weak point) including USDs, an adjustable screen but with a wet weight still under 200kg.


202-90rBMW have done a clever thing: they’ve bored out the 853-cc F750/850GS motor to 895 and given it the ‘sports adventure’ XR look from the ballistic fours. Behold the F900XR. Being a grunty, 270-degree twin, not a migraine-inducing five-figure redlining four makes it a whole it more desirable and accessible. Yes, like a Tracer it’s got a 17 on the front but call me shallow, it sure looks good. The electronics package looks identical to the 750GS I recently rode, which is more than enough. Perhaps I’m just having a confused Pablovian reaction to the red paint job and XR suffix.



Husqvarna 701 Enduro LR

202-701g2The Husky 701 is amazingly economical for what it is but has now gone Long Range with a 12-litre tank up front adding up to 25 litres with a potential range of 600km. All it needs is a fairing and a seat you can sit on.
As it happens I had a quick spin on a friend’s radically lowered 701 out in Morocco last month (left) and can confirm the current, second-generation model is much smoother than the 701 piledriver I rode a couple of years back.
You’d wish they’d go all the way and make a mini Norden out of a 701, like the old KTM 640 Adventure. I suspect I’m not the first person to have this thought.



KTM 390 Adventure

202-3390Here, at last, is the 390 Adventure, with a motor based on the unchanged 373-cc, 43hp Indian-built Duke right down to the claimed 15/45 final drive. The rebound-adjustable suspension gives it a lift and adds up to a 170-kilo wet weight with the 14.5-litre tank  – all up 202-390-Engineabout the same as the G310GS I know well. You’d hope the 390 will ride better on the dirt and, being KTM, surely they’ll offer a 21-inch ‘Adventure R’ option alongside the 19-er pictured below.


See you at the back end of 2021.

Reviewing AMH7’s bike predictions

While flicking through AMH7 looking for ideas for the 8th edition, I spotted the box, right, previewing bikes just out, thought to be on the horizon or ones we’d wish to see. Written in 2016, it made an interesting read. The easier-to-read text is at the bottom of the page.

First up: a couple of clangers: when it comes to P-twin 270° crankshaft timing – now all the rage – I clearly got my V4 Crosstourer mixed up with Honda’s more interesting NC750 twins.
Less obviously, I also assumed the short-lived 650 Husky Terra/Strada engines (similar to the BMW 650s) would be used in what has ended up as the SWM SuperDual 600 X and T (above right). It seems the older but lighter TE630 motor passes Euro 4 emissions regs for the moment. That same motor is also used in the predicted AJP PR7 which is now out, as well as the current CCM 650 Spitfires and CCM’s forthcoming adventure bike to replace their short-lived GP450.

So, did the CRF1000L Africa Twin become an instant classic? It’s certainly become a popular adventure-styled bike, though not necessarily as popular a travel bike compared to the old 750. Probably because today’s range of great bikes makes the new AT less unusual.
The talk now if of a new 1100cc version for 2020, and possibly a 700- 850 after that, because the Africa Twin concept easily outsells the older and less fuel efficient V4-engined Crosstourer 1200 and Crossrunner 800. I’d love to see the heavy NC750X turned and not just styled as an all-terrain travel bike, but that’s a bit too radical. So will rallyfying the CB500X and calling it a mini AT. The alternative is a new P-twin engine for the 700/850 which seems unlikely unless it’s attached to a rang of bikes like the CB500s. Will they pitch it against the tech-heavy KTM790 or the plainer XT700? If the original 1000L is anything to go by, Honda will aim at the Yamaha.

Still with Honda and, hallelujah, in 2018 they surprised us with a CRF450L! Saly, it took one quick look to realise it was just their 450R dirt racer with indicators and – bizarrely for Europe – detuned by over 50% down to 25hp. Worst still, it costs nearly 10 grand and – officially – requires oil changes every 1000km. As my Himalayan has proved, 25hp is nearly enough to live with, but 1000-km oil changes are not, let alone the asking price. Yes, oil changes could be pushed if the bike is not hammered, but not by several 1000kms. Using the CRF…L designation for a street legal dirt racer was a bit of a dirty trick.

The 660 motor in Yamaha’s XT660Z did indeed fall foul of emissions regs, but seeing only Tracers and XSR700s, my assumption that a CP2-engined Tenere had been overlooked was too gloomy. After an advance promotion as drawn out as Honda’s Africa Twin, the XT700 will finally reach European dealers by September and the US a year later. And with the much admired Tenere brand and knowing the brilliant CP2 motor, I predict the XT7 will become an instant classic even faster than the AT.

As we all known Enfield’s Himalayan did also come to pass. There’s me on mine in the Sahara a couple of months back. Read my 4000-mile review here. And so did the KTM technically sophisticated 790 parallel twin on road and all-road versions, a category which is now described as ‘midweight’. At around 200 kilos, it’s about as heavy as you want in a travel bike.


They say a KTM 390 Adventure may also due out for 2020. The 440 SWMs turned out to be nothing special, playing it safe with retro styling and branding. Who knows, they may bang out a modern travel bike with the 29-hp 440cc motor, but currently discounted by 30% in the UK suggests they’ve not caught on.

Look out for more hit and miss predictions in next year’s fun colour AMH8

Now a compact parallel twin rather than the original V, thirteen years after the XRV750 ended (the XL1000V Varadero has been expunged from the records) I’ll stick my neck out and say the new Africa Twin (right) will become an instant classic.
Adopting both the irresistible off-beat 270-degree crank of the Crosstourers NC700/750s (and Super Téneré), there’s also optional ‘automatic’ DCT shifting and traction control, both fine tuned for off-roading. The ABS version is 232 kilos wet, but the 21-inch front wheel puts it closer to the KTM category than the GS12, while being much cheaper than both. The fact that they’ve ‘only’ given it 96hp (the same per litre as the CB500X) means they’ve side-stepped the giant adv horsepower race and the 18-litre tank could be good for 400 clicks.
They’re even calling it a CRF1000L to capitalise on the 250’s success. In that case let’s hope they fill the gap with a modern day XR400/Dominator hybrid, a rallyesque CRF450L single with a load-carrying subframe. While we’re dreaming I suppose we’ll settle for an injected DRZ450 or a similar sized mini-Ténéré. Isn’t anyone paying attention to CCM’s GP450?
Talking of which, they say in Europe new emissions regs may spell an end to the XT660Z. The ABS version may be the last gasp, but as it is the XT-Z’s UK price alongside the very popular MT-07 is having the same effect. When a street scrambler-styled XSR700 was annonced, there was some hope the 07’s brilliant 700cc, 270°-crank motor might also get Ténerised, but it now looks like it’ll just be a Versys- or V-Stromlike MT-07 Tracer.
Instead, AJP’s PR7 rally-raid clone might be out by now, last I heard using the Husky twin-cam TE630 engine and not the Minarelli-built XT660Z’s motor. We can also expect an Enfield Himalayan by the time you read this, an adventure-styled 500 which might see Enfield try and break from their reliance on old-school plodders.
‘They say’ – or should that be ‘we are all hoping for…’ a mid-weight KTM parallel twin as an alternative to the beserker V-twins. You can add a mid-weight Triumph to that wish list too, though the 800-cc triples are lighter than you’d think.
As for an adventurised KTM 390, some would sooner see the tasty SWM 440 prototypes (above) reach production, even if the SWM’s RS650 and SM650R (rebadged old Husky Terra/Strada 650s) TE630s) will probably come first.