Adventure motorcycles are choice do-it-all solutions for motorcycle riders who want to venture off the beaten path. And for those seeking a lighter and more manageable adventure bike, one with serious off-road chops, KTM presents its 2020 790 Adventure R ($13,699). This R-spec model adds heavy-duty suspension and a few other tweaks designed to make life more accommodating when the going gets rough.
The R-Spec 790 is powered by KTM’s recently released 799cc LC8c parallel twin. This ultra-compact engine features an unique bottom end setup and engine firing order designed to emulate KTM’s signature 75-degree LC8 V-twin.
This affords good torque feel off the bottom with upwards of 50 pound-feet torque from 3,500 rpm. Top-end power-wise, the LC8c engine pumps out 85.4 hp at 8,230 rpm. This twin has a pleasing character and exhaust note, with just the right amount of engine vibration. You know you’re at the helm of a KTM. A underslung and generous capacity 5.3-gallon fuel tank feeds the engine and gives a range of nearly 200 miles.
Related: 2019 KTM 790 Duke MC Commute Review
A highly customizable electronics suite lets you tailor the 790’s powertrain from mild to wild. Of the four settings (Street, Off-road, Rain, and Rally), we preferred Rally mode since it offers the most aggressive power delivery. We also valued the ability to independently tweak ABS (Off-road setting was our favorite both on the street and dirt) and the on-the-fly adjustable slip (wheelspin) control. Curiously, heated grips aren’t standard, however the OE-fitted hand guards provide a degree of protection from chilly air.
A 5-inch color TFT display serves as the rider’s command center. While replete with information, menu navigation is clunky and the fonts could be larger. Still we appreciate the ability to activate “dark mode” (white characters on a black background). Bluetooth connectivity is another welcome feature, allowing you to pair your phone and Bluetooth-enabled headset to the motorcycle for on-screen navigation and music control. Still, we hope KTM replaces this older display with the new and ultra-slick setup employed on the 2020 1290 Super Duke R.
On the road, we love the 790’s cozy ergonomics package. The cockpit is accommodating for a 6-foot-tall rider and the standard 790 Adventure’s tall clear windscreen wasn’t missed. Instead the R model’s tinted fly screen provides effective protection, even in its lowest setting. The height is adjustable, however it requires an Allen wrench (included in the tailsection’s tool kit).
More adjustability comes in the form of handlebar position (fore and aft), clutch and brake levers, as well as the rear brake pedal. As opposed to the standard model’s adjustable rider height two-piece seat, the R model uses a fixed single-piece component. This design makes it easier to slide back and forth when navigating challenging terrain.
Suspension-wise the 790 R benefits from a larger-diameter enduro-style Xplor WP fork. In addition to tool-less compression and rebound damping adjusters, the suspension includes a twist-style three-way preload lever, so riders can tweak the spring tension, based on weight, terrain, or riding preference. Handy red wipers visually demonstrate fork travel so you can adjust preload accordingly.
Rear suspension duties are handled by a four-way-adjustable PDS-type shock mounting directly between frame and swingarm. In total the 790 R has 9.4 inches of suspension travel—0.7 inch more than the standard model.
The 470-pound KTM handles beautifully on and off pavement. Simply put, 21-inch front, 18-inch rear wheel-equipped ADV bikes shouldn’t handle this well on asphalt. The suspension glides over rough pavement yet has enough damping support when loaded with the dual radial-mount Brembo front disc brakes. The OE-fitted Bridgestone Battlax Advenurecross AX41 tires have a surprising level of bite against asphalt yet deliver acceptable grip over dry hard-packed surfaces.
If there was room for only one motorcycle in the garage, KTM makes a strong argument for that spot. The 790 impresses with its cozy manner around town. Yet when it’s time to gear up and head out of the city it eagerly complies. Factor in its fantastically capable enduro-style suspension and highly customizable electronic and chassis components and you have a practical motorcycle that’s up for most any adventure.
Helmet: Shoei RF-SR
Gloves: Firstgear Airspeed Textile
Boots: Alpinestars Oscar Monty
2020 KTM 790 Adventure R Technical Specifications And Price
|ENGINE||799cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled parallel twin; 8-valve|
|BORE x STROKE||88.0 x 65.7mm|
|FUEL DELIVERY||Fuel injection|
|CLUTCH||Wet multiplate slipper clutch; cable actuation|
|FRONT SUSPENSION||48mm WP inverted fork, three-way adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 9.4-in. travel|
|REAR SUSPENSION||Sachs gas-charged shock, three-way adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 9.4-in. travel|
|FRONT BRAKES||Radial-mounted 4-piston calipers, 320mm discs w/ Bosch 9.1 MP ABS|
|REAR BRAKE||2-piston caliper, 260mm disc|
|WHEELS, FRONT/REAR||Die-cast aluminum; 21 x 2.5-in. / 18 x 4.5-in.|
|TIRES, FRONT/REAR||Bridgestone Battlax Adventurecross AX41; 90/90-21 / 150/70-18|
|SEAT HEIGHT||34.6 in.|
|FUEL CAPACITY||5.3 gal.|
|CLAIMED CURB WEIGHT||470 lb.|
|WARRANTY||12 months or 12,000 miles|