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2015 KTM 1190 Adventure R

Back To River Road

Classic Velocity

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The day dawned grey and with a very fine mist of rain. Temperatures were cool. Not ideal for a ride, but this had been planned for a while and it was going to happen. On to the rendezvous site.  

Breakfast with friends and a Yamaha Tenere, meant a trip down river road to New Hope. This is a favorite road on a weekend morning before the traffic gets heavy with herds of Harleys. Even 2up, the 1190 barely notices the additional weight under acceleration. If this machine was on street tires, it would be a monster on the street, and a decent touring rig.  

Playing around with rain mode revealed a more docile throttle response, which was fine for slick corners on the TKC 80s. As things dried out though it was back to street mode. The stock seat which was temporarily back on the bike proved why it is only good for short stints. It is thin and feels like you are sitting on the seat pan after about an hour.  Passenger accommodations are reportedly similar.  

Sport Mode

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Today was a chance to play around on paved roads. It was also a chance to spend some time in Sport Mode to see how the machine handled. It is the one mode that I have not really used much. Off-road gets frequent use, as does Street. I have used rain mode a few times in the wet. So for this outing, I found a twisty section and changed modes on the fly which is a really cool feature. The most obvious difference is the throttle response. It is noticeably more sensitive, and I had to be careful mid corner, particularly with the TKCs. Truth be told, I found it a bit snatchy. There is no automated suspension, so nothing happens there. There are changes to traction control, and ABS as well in sport mode, but I was nowhere near the limits that would sample that. In the end, I like Street Mode better. It may not be as sharp, but for my riding, it feels more suitable, and delivers all the power this beast has to offer.

Back in the Dirt

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A beautiful day, a few hours, and the 1190R. That's all you need. On this day, a mix of 60 road miles and 60 dirt miles was a perfect combination. Rothrock state forest, and Penn Roosevelt state park connected by some side trails, and then onto Whipple Dam state park. There was nobody on the trails, and a great canopy of green to shield from the heat but let just the right amount of light shine through.  I did discover that off-road ABS mode allows for a surprising amount of slip before it engages!

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Service Alert

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Suddenly, the service alert is on when the bike starts. It is frustrating that there is no info about the general nature of the issue and whether to continue riding. It is not at a mileage threshold, so this will have to wait for the dealer to sort it out....or not. A call to the dealer revealed that KTM triggers the service alert by either time or mileage. In this case, time triggered the alert. A forum provided the simple method to reset the alert. 

Fuel Guage Follies

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All of a sudden, a few maladies have begun to pop up. The first is the fuel garage. This is well documented on the forums, but the mystery is why this has persisted across models and years ! In the case of KTM, it is a simple manufacturing flaw with the fuel guage float. It gets wedged at the top of its travel, and then reads full forever. It also results in an errant mileage range estimate. Forums suspect that it causes range to read in km rather than miles, giving you 440 (in my case) to go.

The fix is to remove the plastics, pull out the fuel guage tube, open it up, lightly sand the float, and reinstall everything. In my case, there was a noticeable burr on the float that was probably the culprit. It was a 30 min annoyance to fix. I cannot say why it took 2600 miles to start happening, but some suspect that the float swells in the combination of warmer times and fuel chemicals. Regardless, this is an inexcusable issue not to have been remedied on a machine in this price range, and with this much electronic sophistication.

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Now reading correctly... 

Now reading correctly... 

Sporting Around Sproul

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A cool and cloudy morning left the roads completely clear in the early morning. That gave the 1190R a chance to clear its' lungs. The twisty roads leading to Snow Shoe allowed for spirited progress and the most acute lean angles that we would dare on TKC's. A turn to the east entered the Sproul State Forest, and off onto the first gravel road. The Sproul Forest is an alternating patchwork of heavily wooded forest and meadows. The danger of the early hour was that the deer were active, and quite a few were startled by the 1190R. Fortunately, no close calls. However, once back on paved roads, we did have a close encounter with a Black bear walking her two cubs across the road in a very leisurely manner. It was hard on the brakes, and then we pulled over to watch them play for a minute before they scampered away. An incredible experience. 

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Then it was back off-road for a while before emerging not far from Renovo. The road from Renovo to Loch Haven is a great ribbon of sweeping curves following the river. This was another test of the cornering capabilities and lean angles of the TKC's which were surprisingly good, but squirmy. After a brief stop for breakfast, it was a 30 mile highway blast before returning to twisty roads to finish off. 

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Finishing Farkling

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A multi-hour garage session allowed us to finish wiring the Clearwater lights. Rather than hack the factory harness or tie into the high beams, I opted for a simple handlebar-mounted switch. This was also a chance to try out the ram mount for my trusty handheld Garmin.

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Cabin Fever Fest

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A February weekend with almost 70 degree highs and sunny skies meant that all the frustrated two-wheeled faithful were out on the roads. It felt like the middle of summer with herds of Harley's and squadrons of sport bikes. To complete 2 days of riding, the 1190R got some exercise running through Amish country and some two-lane highways. With cinders still on the roads, and snow melt in places, it was a reminder of just how powerful this machine is. I actually rode around in rain mode for a while, which limits the bike to 100hp. That was plenty for the roads and conditions..... Over hill and dale, past a Llama ranch where the animals looked way overdressed for the warm weather, alongside a fox at full trot, past cornfield stubble, and back. It was a great to be back on two wheels for more than a few minutes. The road calls...

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Recall Rendevous

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A recall letter (details below) provided a good excuse to ride to the dealer 80 miles away. The day was colder than expected, so it required all of the cold weather gear. The work was done swiftly as it mostly involved re-routing the ABS modulator wiring. The return trip was a little better as the temps were in the upper 30s by that time. The windshield offers decent protection, and the heated grips were on high for the first time. Although not difficult, it is a pain to have to go through menus just to change the heated grip levels. 

 

"KTM is recalling certain ADVENTURE models to the workshops of authorized KTM dealers for a check of the ABS modulator´s wiring harness. Following market investigations by KTM it has been determined that due to deviations in the assembly process, in isolated cases contact may occur between the wiring harness and the ABS modulator. Measurements have shown that an electrical connection may be created via the brake line between the ABS modulator and the vehicle ground. For this to occur, the wiring harness must be frayed and must be in contact with the ABS modulator and the brake line must be electrically conductive. This only occurs in very rare cases. A conductive brake line can overheat and ultimately melt which can result in failure of a brake system circuit. The routing of the wiring harness must therefore be checked and if necessary corrected at the models mentioned below. The following models are affected by the recall:

KTM 1190 ADVENTURE up to and including model year 2016

KTM 1190 ADVENTURE R up to and including model year 2016

KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE up to and including model year 2016

Customers to whom the affected motorcycles have already been delivered are being informed by a personal letter and are asked to immediately contact an authorized KTM dealer to arrange an appointment for replacement. In addition, customers can check online in the “Service” area of the KTM website to determine if their motorcycle is affected by this recall. The check and correction of the ABS modulator´s wiring harness will be carried out at no cost to motorcycle owners, but must be performed by authorized KTM dealers only."

Against the Elements

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The forecast was technically accurate, but not useful. A high in the sixties, partially sunny. For mid-November, this was going to be an ideal chance to get in a few hours of riding. I completed a few errands with the temps in the high 50s. A few hours later, the sky was slightly overcast and a slight breeze was picking up, but the temperature still read almost 60°. I rode off to the north and west towards the mountains, and noticed that the wind was picking up significantly and that the temperatures were dropping even with a relatively minor increase in elevation.  within 20 minutes, the wind had changed to ferocious gusts, and the temperature had plummeted into the low 40s. I pulled over to insert the jacket liner and to grab the warm gloves that I had fortunately kept in the top case. I put the heated grips on low and then on medium, which is tedious with the 1190 as it requires going through the menus. A severe weather alert popped up on the phone and although only an hour into the ride, it was obvious that the plan three hours was not going to be a smart idea.

I reluctantly plotted a more direct course back home. There would be no photos and video from the scenic Lookout point that I had in mind today. By now the wind was actually moving the bike when the gusts hit. A very disconcerting feeling, and I was glad to be on the larger KTM. I headed onto the interstate ramp, and merged into the slow lane going east. The faster I traveled, the more the gyroscopic affect was impacted by the wind gusts. I took it down a notch. Tractor trailers were being blown over a foot or so into the other lane. I steered clear of all of the vehicles and positioned myself in the middle of the lane so that I would be able to withstand a little movement left or right. I was certainly not wearing the right gear for the windchill effect. My hands were recovering, but my knees were becoming frozen. The dual sport helmet let in way too much air at these temps, and I needed another layer beneath the 3 season jacket. It was a harrowing and uncomfortable 47 miles back home.

Lessons learned? Always carry gear to cope with variable weather. Ironically, that gear was in the luggage that I decided not to mount for this short warm ride. Secondly, check the weather at frequent points and don't just rely on what you saw earlier that day. Are these obvious points, that I had heard and seen and heeded myself a million times? Yes. Did I need a reminder? Obviously yes.

Versatility Trials

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After doing a bit of dirt, and some highway miles, and some back roads, it was time to round out the other aspects of a truly versatile machine. Commuting is not the main purpose of the 1190R, but it was pressed into service as the G650GS was half apart for a lighting upgrade. Several hundred miles round trip provided a chance to try the heated grips on low and medium settings. They were hardly noticeable on low, but good on the medium setting. The windshield is pretty effective, and provides minimal turbulence due to the design. The TKC80s are not the ideal tire, but they are not bad on the highway. Of course, they are being wasted by doing interstate miles.....The Powersports seat is fine for a tankful of gas (250-300 miles), and feels like a longer stint would work as well. TBD. 

A Two-up test of 150 miles or so was next. The seat is similarly good for a tankfull, but the pegs are in a comfortable ergonomic position, and the ride is reported as smoother despite the TKCs. The route was twisty, so it was a good chance to test the Hamelin capability while having a passenger. The bike handled great on slow speed twisty roads and switchbacks. The clutch feels a lot smoother now, so I must be getting used to it, and the brakes are stellar under all conditions. The luggage also presented no problems in terms of its location, so we finally have things configured for long distance touring. All told, a good shakedown.

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The Case for a Rack

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This started at the GS Giants rally, where a riding partner had a Pelican case on the rear of his R12GS. Nothing unusual there, as I have had a case on the back of the R100GSPD, and the R12GSA, and the R1150GSA. In fact, I still have the case. However, it was the rack and mounting method that caught my attention at the rally. It was easily removed from the rack in a few seconds, unlike my fixed attachments. It had mounting pucks, keeping it firmly attached. 

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I asked Emil about his rack, and he indicated that it was from a North Carolina company called BRE breaking into the adventure market. I sent them an email to see if they had a rack for the 1190R. They said a prototype was in process. I indicated that I would like to order the first production unit. And so it was that I got the unit before they even had instructions for the KTM.  The rack fit well using spacers and the existing handle assembly. I used J B Weld to close up the former mounting holes. After miles of off-road and on-road, the case stays firmly attached, and it is great to have this case back on a bike.

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Aux Fuel

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The luggage racks came with the ability to attach a 1 gallon Rotax fuel container. Not needed under normal circumstances as the tank holds 6 gallons. However, the GSA WAS 7.5 gallons, and this puts the R back on par with the range. It also officially fills the space that was unofficially filled with the fuel bottle container. The Molle-attached pouch on the Mosko bag can now be used for something else.  

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Building Some Miles

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Some time out around the region was the first good opportunity to put some consecutive hours on the new saddle and to add a little gravel to the mix. I switched to off-road mode without disabling ABS for about 30 miles of gravel. With full luggage I did not try anything crazy, but I did force the rear to slide and it did without any electronics cutting in harshly. I will reserve judgement until a better test without a full load, but impressive so far.

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On road, the gearbox feels better with each passing mile. The engine heat is truly significantly reduced and was only noticed in a traffic jam late in the ride. Ambient temperature hovered around 90 degrees for the whole ride. The seat is also a world of difference. The only drawback is further raising the seat height. Mileage was 46.9mpg over 1.5 tanks of fuel.  

Heat Shields

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You might think that we are talking about the space shuttle, but you would be wrong. This is about the raging debate online regarding the heat produced by the rear cylinder which is uncomfortably hot for the rider's butt and thighs. KTM recognized this issue by adding under seat heat foil, which lessened the problem through the seat, but which did nothing for the hear coming up around the seat. Well the Internet came to the rescue, and KTMWORLD sold a heat deflector kit. It consists of two pieces of plastic which are intended to simply reroute the heat away from the back of your thighs. There are other solutions including changing the header pipe which is thought to be the main culprit, and bigger better side shields. This solution was inexpensive, and made only minimal changes to the appearance of the bike.  

On a short 20 minute each way ride, I did not feel the heat at all. Now this is not the same as a long ride in 90+ degree heat, but it seems like an impressive 10 minute fix so far. More to come..... 

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The Face Mask

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The front headlight on the 1190R is very impressive. It is large, it is bright, and it has that LED perimeter lighting which looks cool.  It also looks incredibly expensive and vulnerable with its position in front of the motorcycle facing all on coming objects and debris. It practically screams out for protection. Thankfully, the options for protecting it in the marketplace are many. Touratech and Altrider both make options for metal guards in silver or black. Evotech and Hepco Becker have options as well. In addition to metal grilles, there are clear lexan options. I opted for the Touratech solution. It has a well-engineered mounting solution, and it is easily removable for cleaning. For me the removable option is a big plus over other guards I have had. The one caveat is that it is easy prey for those in the know. 

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Preferred Pegs

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The stock pegs are not terrible on this machine, but they did not feel comfortable while standing. That was combined with the desire for a slightly less cramped position. Here is where the inter webs are invaluable. While there were some good options out there from BDCW and Pivot Pegz, A thread on Advrider mentioned Knight Designs. I called and they took my order, exuded exemplary customer service, and shipped same day. Outstanding service. A couple of days later, they arrived and as advertised, they are a wider and 3/4 inch lower. Not much, but an improvement.

Before

Before

After

After

Personalization Part Deux

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You often don't realize how many small things you have done to a machine over a long time. It is only in their absence that you come to the full realization that they are of some importance.bag. One example, is the tank bag. I have always been a fan of small rather than large for this key piece of luggage. Like most modern bikes, the KTM does not have a metallic tank, so the options are a strap bag or a gas tank ring. After fair amount of online shopping and comparison, I decided on a twisted throttle ION model in the Micro size. It turns out that the mechanism for mounting these has not changed since the original SW Motech bag that I still had from years ago, so this choice allows me to put that tank bag back into service or to go with the simple micro unit. Brilliant. Next up was a side stand enlarger. The online comments about the stock footpeg are true. It has a very small footprint, and will be useless on any softer surface. I found a nice machined piece online with an orange anodized finish. 

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Larger items include the seat. After years of riding, you get to know your derrière. I had some sense after just 200 miles, but by 550 miles I was convinced that the stock seat was not going to work for a full day in the saddle. The KTM comfort seat had decent reviews and is reasonably priced. With my new bike discount, it was a no brainier to try this option. Last, the touring windshield was a similar case. Although the stock seemed to work well, the touring promises even better protection during the colder months. A full ride with these options will be coming up.

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More Tweaking

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As the break-in miles tick by, there are more items that become worthy of attention. I mounted the luggage racks and the Wolfman soft bags to join the tail bag.  Everything got a good shakedown on a run to get some miles and sample some dirt. It is pretty easy to put it in off-road mode even while riding. However, the ABS also needs to be changed to off-road mode or you will retain the linked brakes !! I have no idea why one setting could not tackle both, but there you have it. The good news is that once in off-road mode, the machine allows rear wheel spin and traction slippage that felt pretty natural. 

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The fuel warning at 1 gallon to go is pretty obnoxious and you cannot miss the yellow triangle, flashing fuel gage, and full screen warning all going at once ! In defense of KTM, this machine has mileage around 39mpg if you ride like a nut (I did a little bit of this), and 55mpg if you cruise the highway at reasonable speeds. The chain slack was excessive, so I made a slight adjustment there after about 200 miles.  I also took advantage of the space inside the left rack to mount a fuel bottle carrier thinking that it would be good for tools and tire repair kit. 

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