(Óbidos, Portugal) If the KTM brand has become synonymous with excess of all kinds, certain types of frames force Austrians to put reason before passion. Intended as much for the road as for the trails, the 890 Adventure gains nothing by falling into the extreme. Ride on the handlebars of a balanced KTM.
On the tightrope
As the Austrian brand KTM regularly dominates off-road competitions of all kinds, excellent off-road performance is expected from the various adventurers the manufacturer offers. But these bikes don’t promise pure performance, but rather the best possible balance between on-road and off-road use, and that is the mission of this improved 890 Adventure for 2023. Less powerful than the monstrous 1290 Adventure R and less “trail” oriented than the pointed 890 Adventure R, the 890 Adventure lives on the tightrope separating road and mud.
A targeted evolution
To achieve this delicate balance with the 890 Adventure, KTM did not need to reinvent the model in any way. However, the latter has recently had to deal with the arrival of stiff competition from excellent machines such as the Triumph Tiger 900, Ducati DesertX and other Husqvarna Norden 901. An update was therefore necessary and it takes the form an evolution targeting the suspensions (recalibrated and offering more adjustments), the line (improved thanks to a much more attractive front section), the level of comfort (higher thanks to a better windscreen and a better padded saddle ) and electronic functions (more advanced and easy to access).
A known and proven base
The 890 Adventure has always been a fine example of a middleweight adventurer and even without considering the elements of the review, there are no complaints that we are dealing with an instantly recognizable frame. The mass is not only reasonable, but also judiciously centralized thanks to an innovative plastic fuel tank surrounding the engine, while the chassis offers a solid and precise behavior that you get used to instantly. Everything from the brakes to the gearbox to the ergonomic choices work well or tame effortlessly. This is the advantage of an established base: the mistakes of youth have been settled and we can focus on improvements.
One of the first aspects of the 890 Adventure appearing noticeably better is that of ergonomics and comfort. KTM bets so instinctively on extreme and performance that shortcomings related to normal daily use are not uncommon. This was the case with the previous version whose saddle was not impressive. For 2023, this is significantly improved with better padding and a more natural shape. Plus, a new larger windshield offers significantly increased protection from the elements without causing annoying turbulence. On the other hand, the suspensions continue to be a little too firm.
At home on the trail
If the firmness of the suspensions deserves to be pointed out on the road or on unpaved path, once the cadence is higher on the trail, both the rear shock and the front fork start to work as they should. It’s not about suspensions that wow in rough terrain, but rather components that always prove competent and up to the task. You really have to drive extreme to catch them, to the point where the R version of the same model should probably be considered, since it is designed to take the worst abuse.
The rest follows
For the rest, the 890 Adventure is very pleasant in the dust. The ergonomics are perfect, the steering is as agile as it is precise, and the 105-horsepower parallel twin pushes really hard when the revs climb while being generously torquey at low revs. As for the newly updated electronic riding aids, they do their job effectively in a wide variety of off-road conditions and can be set to intervene a lot or very little, depending on the rider’s preference. Note that “shortcuts” in the menus allow you to quickly switch from one setting to another, which is as practical as it is welcome.
In a class where a few new features have stolen the show lately, an updated 890 Adventure isn’t the most exciting news out there. Never mind, the Austrian model has the advantage of being a known and established value that will be refined in 2023 with concrete improvements, both on the road and on the trail. Another element playing in favor of the KTM: at just over $15,000 in a category where $20,000 is becoming common, its price remains under control. Neither the most spectacular nor the most successful of the middleweight adventurers, she ultimately pulls through more than honorably, and at a reasonable cost.
Brand: KTM Model: 890 Adventure
Warranty: 2 years/38,624 km
Engine: 889cc liquid-cooled parallel twin
Transmission: 6-speed, chain final drive
Fully fueled weight: 215 kg
Front brake: 2 discs with 4-piston calipers and ABS
Rear brake: 1 disc with 2-piston caliper and ABS
Front tire: 90/90-21
Rear tire: 150/70-18