August 02, 2020 By Maynard Marcelo

Bike Review: 2020 KTM 790 Adventure / R

Unlike our other bike reviews, we did this particular review during the 2020 Touratech Travel Event held earlier this year just before the government-imposed lockdown. The ride event kicked off at the KTM BGC showroom on the morning of February 8, 2020. Together with  some 50 other riders we took off shortly before 7am. Maki Aganon rode the KTM 790 Adventure while I was on the 790 Adventure R, graciously lent to us by KTM Philippines for the event. 

The 790 Adventure R is the more off-road centric of the two. Choose this if you’re serious about adventure riding.

The 790 Adventure is the more road-biased of the two 790 adventure bikes. The 790 Adventure R on the other hand is the more off-road centric, with its higher ground clearance and fully adjustable WP suspension. The 790 Adventure R also looks more aggressive with its one piece enduro style seat, shorter fly screen, and higher set front mudguard, but mechanically they’re the same. They are both powered by the LC8c parallel twin motor borrowed from the 790 Duke, but tuned for more midrange power. Peak power is rated at 95 hp at 8250 rpm and a maximum torque of 66 lb-ft at 6500 rpm (103.26 hp @ 9000 rpm and 64.16 lb-ft @ 8000 rpm for the 790 Duke). The LC8c is smooth throughout the rev range, vibration hardly affects the clarity of the side mirrors.  

The 790 Adventure with its taller windscreen, lower seat, dual-sport tires, and wheel hugging front fender is the more road biased bike of the two. Choose this if you rarely venture off the road.

With a curb weight of just 189 kg., these modest power and torque figures translate to rapid acceleration when you twist the ride-by-wire throttle, depending on the ride mode you choose. There are three ride modes available on the standard 790 Adventure; Street, Rain, and Off Road. There’s also a Rally Mode which is exclusive to the 790 Adventure R. In this mode, the ECU pre-selects various settings; it disables the rear abs but not the front, and throttle sensitivity and traction control intervention can be adjusted to different levels. 

Speaking of riding modes, fiddling with the different settings is made easy with the scroll buttons on the left-hand switchgear and large 5-inch full-color TFT display that automatically adjusts brightness depending on ambient lighting. Like on the 390 Duke, the TFT display can be paired to your mobile phone via Bluetooth so you can see or receive incoming phone calls, text messages, emails, and listen to music. There’s a paid app called “KTM My Ride” that can be downloaded for Android or IOS phones that will allow you to unlock additional features. Below the TFT screen is a standard 12v power outlet for charging mobile phones or GPS receivers.  

Our destination for the day was the Unisan Sands White Sands Beach Resort in Unisan, Quezon some 220 kilometers from our starting point in KTM BGC. Our route, which was chosen by draw lots, took us through SLEX and Startollway, then through the towns of Ibaan, Rosario, San Juan, Tiaong, Candelaria, Sariaya, and Lucena where we took the Maharlika Highway towards the Bondoc Peninsula where the town of Unisan is located. 

The journey there allowed me to assess the touring ability of the 790 Adventure R, which surprisingly for an off-road bias bike, is quite comfortable. Not as comfortable as standard 790 Adventure, but comfortable enough for multiple hours on the saddle. The handlebar placement is also natural whether you’re standing up or seated. The only drawback, for me at least, was the 890 mm seat height which sadly is not adjustable. If you’re as tall as me at 5’7, you’d be challenged to reach the ground with one foot so careful planning is needed before coming to a complete stop. If you think this is a potential problem, the standard 790 Adventure’s seat is lower at 850 mm with two height adjustments. 

The 790 Adventure’s fuel tank ingenious design is slung down the sides of the bike, with the main tank volume placed as low as possible to the center of mass.

The aluminum-tapered handlebars can be adjusted 6-ways on both bikes for a more personal fit. The lower windscreen on the 790 Adventure R also provides less wind protection at highway speeds compared to the taller screen on the standard 790 Adventure. These windscreens are interchangeable so you have the option to buy a taller screen for touring on your Adventure R, or vise versa. Hand-guards are standard on both bikes. 

The 790 Adventure R is equipped with fully-adjustable front and rear WP Xplor suspension, while the 790 Adventure is equipped with standard WP Apex suspension.

We were caught by a sudden and heavy downpour in Pagbilao, Quezon. While drenched down to my underwear, I never felt insecure knowing KTM’s excellent electronic rider aids will keep me safe in any riding conditions. There’s also something about riding on 18 inch rear and 21 inch front wheels that make you feel you can conquer any terrain. Potholes and other road debris you normally encounter on Philippine roads are no longer a major concern but mere annoyances. Despite having wire spoke rims, both bikes use tubeless tires. The 790 Adventure R are fitted with Metzeler Karoo 3 addventure tires while the standard 790 Adventure rolls on street-biased Avon Trailrider tires of the same size. 

Both bikes use tubeless tires. The 790 Adventure R are fitted with Metzeler Karoo 3 adventure tires while the standard 790 Adventure rolls on street-biased Avon Trailrider tires of the same size.

If you plan on doing more off-road riding, then you are better off with the 790 Adventure R with its beefier fully-adjustable WP Xplor suspension and slightly higher ground clearance. But if your rides are mostly kept on paved roads with the occasional dirt roads then the 790 Adventure, with its standard WP Apex suspension, is more than adequate for the job. Both suspension set up offer a plush and well controlled ride regardless of terrain. Braking duties are handled by a pair of floating 320 mm discs with 4-piston radially mounted calipers up front and a single 260 mm disc with double-piston floating caliper on the rear. These have cornering ABS and offroad ABS modes.   

The TFT display can be paired to your mobile phone via Bluetooth so you can see or receive incoming phone calls, text messages, emails, and listen to music.

Weight, or its lack thereof, plays an important role in the 790 Adventure and its R sibling’s quick and easy handling on or off the road. Weighing at just 189 kg, the 790 Adventure bikes accelerates, turns, and stops with hardly any effort. To describe it as “the Scalpel” (the moniker given to the 790 Duke) of adventure bikes is quite plausible. Thanks to clever engineering, the 790 Adventure possesses a low center-of-gravity that enhances agility and makes it very maneuverable. Unlike most motorcycles the 790 Adventure’s fuel tank ingenious design is slung down the sides of the bike, with the main tank volume placed as low as possible to the center of mass. This not only significantly lowers the center of gravity, it also makes the bike narrower between your legs for more freedom to move. The 20 liter fuel tank is made of tough materials that’s highly crash resistant according to KTM. 

 

The ride to and from Unisan, Quezon was thankfully uneventful. But that’s not to say it’s boring. It’s very fun to ride actually. It’s uneventful because the bikes performed flawlessly and kept us safe all throughout our journey. And for me that’s all that matters. The 790 Adventure and 790 Adventure R presents the best argument that a serious adventure bike need not be big, heavy, and overly powerful to be fun and rewarding to ride. Sometimes, a well engineered middleweight bike with superior electronics like the 790 Adventure and 790 Adventure R is everything you will ever need. 

Another compelling reason to opt for the 790 Adventure is extreme value for money. Last month KTM Philippines announced huge price cuts because the 790 bikes (790 Duke, 790 Adventure and 790 Adventure R) are now built in the KTM Philippines plant in Santa Rosa, Laguna. From PhP 820,000 the 790 Duke is now priced at only PhP 599,000 (a whopping PhP221,000 savings), the 790 Adventure from PhP 883,000 to just PhP 699,000 (a PhP 184,000 savings), and the 790 Adventure R from PhP 957,000 to PhP 749,000 (another whopping PhP 208,000 savings). This development makes any of these bikes a no-brainer choice, and quite possibly the deal of the century you shouldn’t miss.  

Engine: efi, liquid-cooled, inline-2, 4 stroke, 8 valve, dohc

Displacement: 799cc

Max Power: 95 bhp @ 8250 rpm

Max Torque: 66 lb-ft @ 6500 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed

Seat Height:  850 mm (790 Adventure), 890 mm (790 Adventure R)

Fuel Capacity: 20 Liters

Tire, Front: 90/90-21

Tire, Rear: 150/70-18

Brakes, Front/ Rear: 2 Discs/Disc ABS

Curb Weight: 189 kg.

Price: PhP 699,000 -790 Adventure, PhP 749,000- 790 Adventure R 

+: Low center of gravity, responsive motor, agile handling, electronic rider aids, value for money

-: Not much

C! Rating 10/10 

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