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Chilly’s Blog – CDC Warns ADV Obesity Epidemic
Centers for Dirt Control Caution Against Weight Gain
New KTM 1190 Adventure R
New 2013 BMW R1200GS
Move over Road King and Goldwing. New kings of the road are on the way. These announcements will bring all new levels of power and sophistication to the adventure bike market. A bigger 1190 KTM will now to go head to head with the new liquid cooled boxer. 500-pound curb weights, traction control and fly-by-wire will be on the list of technical accomplishments.
Here we are in the middle of our own sort of “Bike Week”. Over in Germany the Intermont show is in progress. That means new bike announcements will be flowing back home. Among those will be the not so secret announcements of new ADV giants from KTM and BMW.
Now even the gals down at the nail salon could probably tell you that none of this sounds much like dirt bike talk. For the most part, I stay away from BMW coverage, simply because they are not dirt bikes. I have personally owned four different incarnations of the venerable GS model including F650, R80GS, R100GS and R1100GS. Of all of those, the R100 would still be my choice for hitting any serious off road terrain.
2001 British Columbia tour
1993, “Adventure Bikes” not yet invented
Headed for Laguna Seca GP
The challenge for me with the current BMW range, is that they are fundamentally designed as street bikes, albeit very good ones at that. By contrast, the KTM Adventure line carries a very strong off road lineage. Well, up until now that is. It is the small details, like suspension, bars and pegs that make the 950/990 line feel at home once the tarmac ends. The BMW 800GS is a heck of a bike, but the first time you try stand up, it all feels just a little wrong.
So just where is this market going? To my way of thinking, KTM is making a very clear statement. They are going after BMW head on, full steam. They appear to be aimed directly at all the customers they are currently missing. Even if that means losing some of those they already have. I am not sure if I am entirely on board, but I will wager that they are going to be successful.
Let’s face it, the vast majority of ADV bikes never see much dirt. So a new KTM that is aimed at ADV riders will actually end up in the hands of many long distance tourers. That is where the BMW GS line has really excelled anyway. Now, if KTM can catch on to some of that avant-garde mystique of BMW, then they will really be on to something.
For those of us whose boots never really get cleaned properly, it leaves us with a big hole in the space-time continuum. At the recent KTM ADV rally in Oregon, I heard two common comments. The first was to ask what I knew about the forth coming new 1190 model.
But, the second and perhaps more common one was “why did KTM discontinue the 950 Super Enduro”? While some are looking for bigger and better, many feel that we left “best” sitting alongside the road and need to go back and fetch it. The SE is well on its way to cult classic status.
Of course I am talking a little tongue in-cheek here, but what happened to the middle ground? One of the other very common and serious topics of discussion is how to choose tires for the big bikes. Can you imagine the tire bill for a 150hp motorcycle with knobbies?
I have been thinking about that traction control too. Seems like a great idea at first. But as it is now, tire spin is a great control to keep the chicken winged novice from going too fast. All that wheel spin is sort of like having training wheels. 150 horsepower and traction control will lead to a bike that can accelerate at blinding speed. Now all you have to worry about is getting stopped. I hope it is not something that leads to a false sense of security.
BMW and Triumph have nice 800’s, but neither is very trail worthy. The gap in the KTM line up now seems huge. The 690 enduro is a fine bike for what it is, but it is a bit narrow in purpose. The first answer is to simply give us an Adventure version of it. Deck it out with a big tank, decent seat and a cool rally looking fairing and it would have some real life left in it.
Better yet, give us a KTM 800 with some real street (and dirt) credibility. Now that would be a revolution to the ADV status quo. When I tested the BMW 800GS a couple of years ago, I was impressed with the motor. While it was a tad short on personality, there was no denying how well it worked for nearly every situation. Now give me that kind of power with some KTM style. Let’s take back the middle class!