This section tries to cover the good and the bad aspects of different bikes. We have tried to be impartial and go with the majority to give you an idea as to which bike may suite you best for your particular purpose. This information is constantly updated so if your bike's not there, or we've missed something, tell us. The bikes appear in no particular order.
Austria's KTM has produced several large trail bikes again mainly using Rotax power which were rarely seen in the UK where KTM was exclusively a competition marque. Since the development of their own four stroke engine KTM have been increasingly involved in the DualSport and road market. Their main contender for the big trail role was the Adventure which looks like the obvious overlander's choice. However levels of vibration have provoked criticism,a real flaw for a bike that should be capable of huge distances.
KTM's latest creation the Adventure 950 looks good, here's what we think so far noy having rode it yet:
The KTM, was of course, the star of the show. At last we see it in the flesh.
On first appearances, my impression was good, but I wasn't overwhelmed. That said, on a second inspection later in the day it became apparent that this is, a well sorted tool. If it's got enough torque to go with the BHP and it proves to be reliable, then BM have got real trouble and Africa Twin owners have got somewhere to go at last.
Obviously, it's a little early to call, but make no mistake, the KTM is well thought out. We always knew that starting with a rally bike, then making it into a road bike was the way to go, rather than the opposite. That's what gave us the Africa Twin, and this is what's given us the KTM Adventure 950.
All the weight is carried real low. The Oil tank for the dry sump is a very heavy duty cast and polished alloy affair that sits low across the front of the engine. It seams to form a stressed member to carry the very substantial plastic (proper stuff too) bash plate that smoothly protects everything down under, right back to the swing-arm. It also carries the bottom mounts for the side mounted fuel tanks, which come nearly as low as the rear swinging arm pivot mount.
The brakes look well up to the job, and the exhaust is a work of art, both on the Adventure and the 950 Duke. Both have neat, sexy twin high level pipes. The adventure's pipe work stays high, wrapping around the motor, rather than just going underneath, and the back pot's pipe loops neatly down between the swing arm and back up to keep the lengths right and help with flow, no short cut's here people.
The seat looks big enough and comfy enough for the longer journey. It is long enough for two, but has no steps or bumps in it, making sliding back and forth easy. The rear sub frame is very substantial, with many natural mounting points and enough structure to hold luggage racks.
Over all, the quality and finish is pretty good. Some of the engineering solutions are ingenious and looked superb. From straight ahead though, it looks a little strange. Starting narrow at the top and getting wider and wider towards the bottom. On viewing, this in my mind is potentially the bikes main and only apparent problem. The widest part of the bike by far is the bottom of the side tanks, if you have an off, these will make contact first. They are strong plastic, so dents won't be a worry, but it will sure make a mess of the paint. Although there are plenty of places to mount some protective bars, one has to wonder how wide they would have to be to protect the tanks properly. It has to be said that, from every other angle, it looks the business.
Cast your minds back to the first artist impressions of the 1000cc Africa Twin that appeared (pic on this page). We all got very excited and prayed Honda would produce it. Well, they didn't, and we got the Vara. Now, many years later, and it's here. The only difference is, it's made by KTM. Is that a problem!? Only time and many miles will tell I fear.
Yes, I want one. But over the years I've learnt, never to by a bike on looks and speck alone. A good long test ride and some real world use. That's what many of us will need before parting with the dosh I suspect.
I've got many miles to do in 2003, miles I know the BM (like an AT) will do without a hitch. If KTM want me to long term test their new bike, I'd be more than happy to. Within 6 months, we'd know the answer, and hopefully could all place our orders. The only other alternative is for one of you lot to buy one and come on all the trips. Any one interested!?
Start saving, if it lives up to the promise, you will be wanting one.
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