Base Price: $14,199 (2021); $14,599 (2022)
Price as Tested: $14,749 (Tech Pack)
After years of making primarily hard-edged, off-road-oriented adventure bikes, KTM balanced the on-/off-road scales when it introduced the 1190 Adventure for 2014. It had a more refined – and more powerful – V-Twin, and although its 19-inch front/17-inch rear wheels were spoked, they were shod with tubeless, touring-friendly 90/10 adventure tires.
The 1190 Adventure also fully embraced the then-nascent trend in electronic rider aids, becoming the first production motorcycle to offer lean-angle-sensitive ABS. It was also equipped with throttle-by-wire, ride modes, multi-stage traction control, an off-road ABS mode, electronically controlled suspension, and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
In the years that followed, KTM filled out its Adventure range with the 1290 Super Adventure (followed by R, S, and T variants), 1090 Adventure R, 790 Adventure (standard and R variants, which won Rider’s 2019 Motorcycle of the Year award), and 390 Adventure. In 2020, the 790 evolved into the 890, and we tested the 890 Adventure R you see here in 2021.
Collectively, Rider staffers and contributors have put tens of thousands of miles on all the various KTM Adventure models, and the 890 sits right in the sweet spot – not as big, heavy, powerful, or expensive as the 1290 Super Adventure, nor as small and touring-limited as the 390 Adventure. (The 1090 and 1190 were dropped as KTM dialed in its small/medium/large model offerings.) It also features the latest in electronics that allow riders to alter the bike’s performance and personality with the push of a few buttons.
Our 2021 890 Adventure R test bike arrived with just 15 miles on the odometer, and over the course of nine months we logged 3,300 miles. We burned 71 gallons of premium fuel, averaging 46.4 mpg and roughly 246 miles of range from the 5.3-gallon tank.
The 890 has a horseshoe-shaped fuel tank, with a filler on top and two sections that run down either side of the engine and end in bulbous pods, as first seen on the 790 Adventure. The design, though not especially attractive, offers several advantages: The upper tank area is narrow between the knees during stand-up riding; fuel weight is mostly down low, which contributes to better handling; and the lower pods provide some lower-leg and crash protection. Because of the tank’s unusual shape, however, it’s difficult to get accurate readings of remaining fuel, and only the final 50% of tank capacity is shown on the fuel gauge. There’s a fuel range reading on the 890’s TFT display, but it wasn’t even remotely accurate during our test.
With its short windscreen, high front fender, rally-style seat, and Continental TKC80 tires (rated for 40% road/60% off-road), the 890 Adventure R is clearly designed for heavy off-road use. On rough dirt roads and technical trails, the 890-R was well-balanced, forgiving, and exciting, especially in the optional Rally mode that’s part of the Tech Pack. Out of our testing miles, however, only about 10% were off-road. We spent most of our time flogging the 890-R on paved backroads, desolate highways, freeways, and city streets. While the standard 890 Adventure would have provided more comfort and wind protection, the 890-R never felt like a fish out of water. That sort of versatility is what makes ADV bikes such an attractive proposition.
We strapped on a Nelson-Rigg Sahara Dry Duffle ($114.95; nelsonrigg.com) for longer trips, but we didn’t add any other accessories. Other than a break-in service, maintenance consisted of checking the air in the tires and cleaning/lubing the chain, though the rear TKC80 was pretty well shagged by the time we handed back the keys.
KTM announced that the 890 Adventure ($13,399) and 890 Adventure R ($14,599) will return unchanged for 2022.